Landings: Celebrating Fishing Heritage, Informing on Fishing ChangesRockland, ME
(207) 594-9209 ext. 129
The Maine Lobstermen’s Association will hire freelance writers and work with students, bloggers, state officials and readers to cover Maine’s hard-hit fishing communities. The site will provide updates for the state’s six coastal regions on such issues as conservation efforts, new regulations, lobster prices and bait and fuel costs. The project will seek to sustain itself from donors, business members and advertisers.
Check back for future news and updates.
• December 2011
• June 2011
• March 2011
• December 2010
Maine Landings Redesign
By Ari Pinkus
Maine Lobsterman’s Association has been redesigning its Maine Landings news site (mainelandings.org) to make it more user-friendly.
The homepage has received the biggest facelift since the site officially launched in May. In addition, MLA has added more stories so users can more easily access recent posts. The banner on each page has been revamped with higher quality photos.
To increase visitors, MLA is developing a tool to feed its weekly e-mail update content through the Maine Landings news site in an effort to convert those e-mail recipients to regular site visitors. A contractor’s “behind the scenes” changes have allowed stories to be posted to multiple pages and have helped filter comments that contain spam. Content is now tagged so that it is easily searchable.
As MLA continues to expand its site, it plans a new section of content titled “Learn about lobsters” that will explain lobster biology, lobster management and fishing practices. Links to interactive games are also coming.
MLA is mulling over adding new tools, including Facebook “share” and “like” buttons and a photo blog.
In its business development, MLA has added logos of its two sponsors, Luke’s Lobsters and Smithwick & Mariner’s Insurance. MLA is refining its business model to encourage more companies to sponsor the site, particularly those linked to the “Maine brand” that will likely want to be connected to a “quintessential Maine icon,” as noted in its December 2011 report. It is offering an advertising package that includes ad space in Maine Landings and the print newsletter. MLA is targeting selected large lobster brokers and dealers to advertise solely on Maine Landings. MLA is also pursuing underwriting support from such large, Maine-based companies as well as from individuals who have shown interest in the long-term sustainability of the Maine’s lobster industry.
MLA has promoted Maine Landings through a Facebook page and weekly e-mail news updates. It also gets the word out in the association’s monthly traditional print newsletter, mailed to all Maine lobsterman, industry business and other stakeholders on the coast.
Maine Landings was officially launched on May 10, 2011 after being postponed several months due to developer delays.
The site is an initiative of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and its staff, freelancers, community organizations, fishermen’s associations, business leaders, and others involved in Maine’s lobstering industry generate the site’s content, reports Melissa Waterman, project coordinator.
The website, which is updated with new material every other day, includes stories, photos, and videos.
“The site currently consists of a home page containing the three most recently posted articles and five sub-sections which organize content by topic: Science, Management, Community Voices, People, and Miscellaneous,” says Waterman.
At the bottom of each story is a comment box that allows readers to comment on individual articles, encouraging discussion among members of the lobstering industry and the general public.
Before the MLA’s site was even launched, it was advertised to many of Maine’s environmental, scientific and community organizations. On launch day of its launch, the site was promoted to a many stakeholders, reports Waterman.
In the coming year, Waterman and her team will promote the site through the association’s e-weekly update, Facebook page, newsletter and professional and media networks. Maine Landings will also work to target support from businesses native to Maine who “may wish to be associated with a site dedicated to the quintessential Maine icon,” reports Waterman.
The Landings website, to be called mainelandings.org, faced developer delays, pushing back the scheduled launch from February 2011 to at least May. But the extra time has afforded the Maine Lobstermen’s Association staff more time to focus on a strategy for developing regular site content.
In mid-February, the MLA hired a recent graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy to serve as the association’s communications assistant - a key role for developing site content and coordinating future contributors.
The plan remains to focus on five topic pages: science, management, people, community voices and miscellaneous. Stories will take the form of personal tales, feature articles, profiles, oral histories and video, drawing from freelance writers and the group’s weekly e-newsletter.
The additional time before launch has led the MLA to consider how it will publicize the launch of Landings. The MLA’s weekly e-mail updates, newsletter and Facebook presence will all promote the new site, in addition to press releases to local newspapers.
After more thorough research focusing on the site’s sustainability, the MLA plans to focus on reeling in a combination of small advertisements and underwriting, given the organization’s strong relationship with gear suppliers and others.
One more plus: The delay has also saved some costs. The MLA has rebudgeted $2,580 from the first year to the second, due to savings from site development, marketing costs, and writer costs which will become necessary in Year 2.
Site will feature stories ‘as they come in’ and will cover topics like science, management, people and community voices.
The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is embarking on its newest adventure: The 56-year-old organization will begin publishing online weekly news stories of interest to its 6,000 active members along the state’s coastline.
Landings: Celebrating Fishing Heritage, Informing on Fishing Changes will build on the success of the organization’s robust monthly print newsletter. Section pages will be dedicated to science, management, people, and community voices, according to MLA’s plans. “Content includes personal stories, feature articles, profiles, oral histories and video,” said Melissa Waterman, MLA’s communication coordinator.
In addition, all past content from previous newsletters will be tagged on the new website to make it searchable by place and topic, and users will be able to share stories on Facebook and Twitter.
This move represents a mid-course correction for the organization. The original grant proposal called for an ambitious site that would have hired student reporters in many of the coastal communities.
But with a change in the nonprofit’s staff in the summer of 2010 - and difficulty recruiting reliable reporters, MLA leaders decided to recalibrate.
In a series of conversations with J-Lab, MLA staff members realized they could approach the challenge differently: Instead of publishing a print newsletter monthly, the editor could stagger deadlines and post some of those stories weekly. That way, the newsletter could become a compendium of stories from the website.
In addition to individual lobstermen and women, a number of public and private organizations have agreed to submit stories and images, too.
The Maine Lobstermen’s Association also opened a search for a half-time staff person who will help get Landings off the ground by generating new content and working with businesses to establish a base of advertising revenue.
A design firm from Camden, Maine, has designed a draft of the site, and the organization anticipates launching the full site by February 2011.
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