[David Strom's Web Informant] July 3, 2013: Why you should take another look at corporate blogging

David Strom david at strom.com
Wed Jul 3 09:53:32 EDT 2013

Web Informant, July 3, 2013: Why you should take another look at
corporate blogging

Lost in the overall deluge of social media and other online tools is
the lowly blog. But blogs are still one of the best ways for
corporations to get their message delivered. And before you call me
old school, consider that blogs are undergoing a bit of a renaissance
as the linchpin of a communications strategy.

A longitudinal study of the Inc 500 for the past several years by Nora
Barnes' team at UMass/Dartmouth shows that blogging is on the rise, at
least last fall when they did their most current survey.  It showed
that 44% of the Inc 500 are using blogs, compared to only 37% doing so
the year before and 23% of the Fortune 500.

What this data says to me is that the smarter startups are returning
to blogging, especially if they can complement blogs with other tools
to shape their message. This is what I have been doing for many years,
and if you are still reading, you probably agree with me. Indeed, my
own methods have worked where I   complement my blog with email
newsletters, Twitter, Facebook and RSS pointers to this content.

When people ask me when did I begin blogging, my answer is lot like
what Bob Metcalfe says when people ask him when he invented Ethernet.
Do you want the date when I first started using Wordpress to publish
my posts (January 2006), or when I first began my Web Informant series
of essays that I published via email and the Web (September 1995)?
Either way, I have been at this awhile.

Blogs are great ways for corporations to become their own publishers
and buy e-ink by the barrel. The blogging software has gotten easier
to use and more powerful. However, a lot of what makes for a great
blog has nothing to do with technology and is more of a mindset and
about proper workflow and building the right team. Think of it as
putting together all the pieces of a great publication: you need
sales, compelling content that is updated regularly, good editorial
management, attractive art -- and did I mention readers?

But really, what is at the heart of a great corporate blog is being
able to tell a great series of stories. In the past year I have had
the opportunity to attend a variety of conferences and be the
blogger-on-the-ground. Here is one series:

It is great fun, but also a lot of work. I have seen how different
companies have worked with me and how they have approached their blogs
first hand. Here are some things that I have learned over the years.

First, not all stories have happy endings. Don't force the situation,
and readers like learning from your mistakes and failures as much as
your successes. If every story is about some big customer win, the
blog will be boring and not going to have any credibility.

Second, you need more than one voice.  Mix things up a bit and involve
multiple writers otherwise it gets tiresome. While some of the best
blogs are from a single POV, the corporate blog needs to be inclusive.

Next, have a solid workflow setup before you bring your team to cover
an event. How are the stories going to get written? Who is providing
the pictures or video recordings? Is someone going to do a copy edit
(I know, a luxury now)? Workflows can mean the difference between
content that is posted error-free and within moments after the event
happens, and content that is a mess and takes days or weeks to
straighten out.

Speaking of which, try to be in the moment. This is the Internet
people. Don't post a story weeks after something happened. The power
of immediacy is compelling in and of itself.

Next, make sure you combine the blogging software (and most of us now
use Wordpress, but there are others) with complementary tools. For
example, I like to use email newsletters as a way to bring in a core
audience. If your company still doesn't do this, now is the time to
get on board. And there are better story-oriented tools such as
Storify (here is one collection for the posts that I did for the
Mendix conference last year):

Finally, feel free to experiment. Bring in some oddball ideas. Have a
roving photographer; ask your customers or competitors to contribute,
post a longer piece with some thoughtful analysis.

Need help with formulating your corporate blog strategy? How about
teaching your staff how to cover your next event? You know where to
find me.

Comments are always welcome here:

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