A wonderful friend in the nonprofit tech world emailed me this afternoon and asked how I would recommend organizations create RSS feeds for their news or news related to their topic of interest. Preferrably quick, dirty, cheap or free. Get that feed out the door. Here (after the more link) is the email I sent her, in case it’s of use to you. I wrote it very quickly, but I figure it works for now. Feel free to share your thoughts in comments.
Part of this is pretty easy, creating a feed of news related to your
organization. Here’s how I recommend doing that.
For a mainstream news feed, go to http://news.yahoo.com and do a
search like this
puppies OR kittens OR ASPCA
Look at the results. If you see that there happens to be an unrelated
heavy metal band named “I Eat Kittens for Breakfast” that’s in the
news a lot, you may want to make your search:
puppies OR kittens OR ASPCA – “I Eat Kittens for Breakfast”
Then, on the right hand side of the results page you’ll find an orange
XML or RSS button. Copy that link and paste it into
Instructions are pretty self explanatory there, the end result will be
some code snippets you can copy and paste to make the newest search
results appear as links on your web page automatically. It’s great.
****Now if you want to make a feed that combines mainstream news and
blogs together, this is how I recommend you do so.
Go to Ask.com and click on “blogs and feeds.” This is the best way to
avoid spam blogs.
Do a search for your organizations name, but leave out the most
general concepts from your search terms. Again, try out a couple of
searches and see what brings in the best results, using OR, or AND, or
a minus sign.
You’ll see another XML or RSS link on each search results page. Copy
that baby and paste it into http://feeddigest.com.
Now if might recommend offering both a news and a news&blogs feed, so
for the latter you’ll want to create one feed that combines both
search feeds. FeedDigest makes that very easy to do.
***So, that’s how you create a news ticker for your website. If you
want to offer those puppies up to your readers to subscribe to via RSS
in the their feedreaders (or heck, by email) then I suggest the
Take either the Yahoo! News search results feed or the news and blogs
feed that was spliced together by Feed Digest and run that baby
Feed Burner will create a very nice looking feed for you, it will tell
you how many subsribers there are and it will give you the option of
offering email as a subscription option. It will be great.
*** Now, if you’re looking for a way for your organization to publish
an RSS feed there are a number of ways to do it.
Presuming you are not currently publishing using blog software (which
automatically produces an RSS feed) then you may want to ask your web
designer to create a feed out of your regular news updates. If your
designer doesn’t know how to do that, or how to do it well, then it
should be relatively inexpensive for you to hire a freelancer to do
The easiest and cheepest way to creat an RSS feed is probably to set
up a blog to post your news updates to.
Another option, though it’s kind of crazy, would be to take your
existing news updates (presuming you write updates and they have their
own unique web addresses) and tag each one (categorize with a subject
heading) when you publish them with the same tag in
http://delicious.com. Each tag in your account has its own RSS feed,
so if you tag every news update you post, then those will all be
available as direct links via RSS. You should put that delicious RSS
feed through Feedburner so you look a little less rediculous for doing
it this way.
Ultimately, you should probably hire a consultant to really help you
leverage the heck out of the world changing technology of RSS before
you get left in the dust. Who does that kind of consulting work? Not
enough people. Ask Beth Kanter, anything she doesn’t know herself,
she knows other people who do know. Beth’s great. Ian Wilker is also a good resource. Or I can do it.