How to create a great blog for your brand
Date: 24 October 2012 12:07
When the PR industry first started grappling with the possibilities that online communications offered, the power of blogs appeared immense. As PR industry author and blogger Stephen Waddington says, “Blogging was going to change how organisations communicated with their audiences forever. A revolution was set to sweep through corporate communications. PR and communication teams would cease to exist as business leaders and use the web to communicate directly with their audiences. Blogs promised to fundamentally change the relationship between a company and its staff, customers, suppliers and the media. Websites would be overhauled, the press release would cease to exist and the PR industry itself faced revolution." But Waddington then points out: “We’re still waiting.
“It’s an overstatement of the case of course, but there are very few examples of large organisations – outside the media, information and technology industries – that have successfully used a blog as part of their communication strategy.”
Waddington believes that one of the reasons that there are few examples of good corporate blogs is because of the clash between personal and corporate communication. The typical life-cycle starts with an initial burst of two or three posts per week, dropping to one a week, then one a month before drying-up completely. He says: “Blogging isn’t a short-term marketing tactic. It takes time to establish a blog, develop a tone of voice and build an audience. There are fundamental differences between how people communicate and how companies communicate – and few corporate organisations have managed to bridge that gap.
“Then there is the issue of ownership. Should a blog be the pet project of a senior executive or fall within the communications or PR team, product marketing, customer relations or human resources? And legal will almost certainly want to get involved and pass judgement on blog posts and comments.”
But this is no reason to give up on blogs – just make sure they are worth reading. When it comes to generating interesting blog content, Waddington stresses the importance of authenticity, something that PRCA director general Francis Ingham agrees is vital. Ingham says: “You need relevant and interesting content, because it gives your customers and stakeholders a reason to visit your blog on a regular basis. Regurgitating your press releases will drag nobody to your website. What you say has to be authentic, reflecting your brand values honestly. And that means choosing wisely who writes in your company’s name.”
Before creating the blog, Ingham says you should question its exact role in your communications strategy: “Is a corporate blog the whole answer? Is it always vital? Well, no. It won’t be right for every organisation, and there are plenty of alternatives – Twitter, for example. But as just one part of communicating your message, and letting people know who you are, I for one wouldn’t be without it.”
Five hot blog tips
Henrietta Bannister, head of digital strategy at integrated engagement marketing agency Tangible says that corporate blogs come in all shapes and sizes. But what unites almost all successful corporate blogs are two important ingredients – relevance and usefulness. She says that by thinking about the way the blog can add value to the user rather than promoting the brand you're more than half way there. She offers these tips for transforming a corporate blog from digital tumbleweed to a total must read.
1. Define the objectives of the blog. It might be to interact with journalists, provide tips on a brand related topic or improve search rankings. Whatever it is, once you've decided the purpose, stick to it.
2. Write for your audience. Provide the reader with content that is informative, useful and which they can’t find anywhere else. The more useful the content, the more people will keep coming back.
3. Don’t forget social media. Content might be king, however, social media and multimedia rule the world. Don't underestimate the importance of including social media share buttons and multimedia content. This improves both the quality of the user experience and the blog’s Google search rankings.
4. Keep it regular. Posting fresh content on a regular basis (whether it's daily, weekly or monthly) provides a reason for people to return to the blog, encouraging greater loyalty and potentially promoting your blog to a wider audience.
5. Share the love. Don't be afraid to include links to other sites and blogs, as well as comment on related posts from fellow bloggers. Blogging is about being part of a community. The more you embrace it, the more you will be embraced.
Written by Daney Parker