We recently published an article entitled: It’s what you DON’T do with your company blog that speaks volumes about your business.
The upshot of that post was, if you neglect your company blog you will end up doing your brand more harm than good as it sends potentially negative messages to visitors, for example:
- This company can’t follow through on a project.
- They haven’t got anything to say – no insights, no observations, no incisive opinions on what’s happening in their profession or industry.
- Or worse, they’ve run out of things to say!
In my experience, no company goes into the blogging business with a view of stuffing it up! It’s just that the blog is one of the things that tends to always go by the wayside when things get busy. Why? Because it’s hard work. It takes time and commitment, and senior executives want results quickly. This is irrational thinking, of course, but it happens all too frequently.
So my first bit of advice is this:
If you’re not going to follow through with your blog – if the commitment and willingness to ‘go the distance’ is not there – it’s best to not establish a one in the first place. Seriously. If in doubt, read (or re-read) the aforementioned article.
My second bit of advice is:
If you’re a professional services firm or business-to-business (B2B) company and you want to increase awareness of your brand (as well as raise the profile of your internal subject matter experts), then a blog is an excellent foundational PR and marketing activity.
Not only does it improve the chances of people finding you via search engines (Google loves fresh authoritative content), it also gives people who follow you on social media something to share (you are on social media, aren’t you?). In other words, a blog will drive additional traffic to your company website as well as give people a reason to come back again.
Not convinced? Here are some more reasons to establish a company blog:
A blog can help humanise a business (but only if you utilise your staff i.e. get your internal experts to write for it, or front videos etc) – remember, we do business with people, not logos. Anything you can do to bring your people to the fore is a good thing and will help differentiate your brand from others in the marketplace.
It will help also position your company as helpful, generous and an authority in the space in which you operate.
Then there is the validation aspect of having freshly updated content hub on your website. People – potential clients and customers – might hear about your firm; you want to make sure that when they log on to your website (and blog) that it does your professional brand justice and validates the good things the potential client had already heard.
Sold? Then what to do next.
HERE ARE 6 IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING YOUR COMPANY BLOG:
1. Understand what your content mission is
It’s important you understand why you’re establishing a blog. What are the goals behind it? What is the mission of the content you plan on producing – the key things you want readers to take away after engaging with your articles and videos?
While a blog does not in and of itself represent your company’s entire content marketing program, it is a visible hub where a lot of your content will be housed and so by default it needs to reflect your content strategy, and understanding your content mission is key to a good strategy.
2. Agree on the ‘tone of voice’ you’re going to use
It’s critical your blog comes across in a way that’s consistent with your overall brand. For example, if your company is quite formal and buttoned-up, you don’t want to publish blog content that’s loose and in-your-face; if the brand of your business is personable and a bit quirky, make sure the content you produce reflects those qualities.
As an aside, in terms of the former point, if your business is perceived as boring and straight-laced but you’re keen to inject some personality into your brand, a blog can be a great place to start. Whereas your website will probably have the formality of a ‘suit’, when it comes to your blog consider taking off the ‘jacket’ and ‘tie’ and make it your place online where you can loosen up a bit and have some fun. In other words, show another side of your firm!
3. Articulate who you’re creating content for
If you try and create content for all and sundry, you’ll end up with a blog that has little focus or direction.
This is where the development of buyer personas (or what I prefer to call ‘audience avatars’) comes into play. David Meerman Scott, author of the bestselling book New Rules of Marketing & PR, describes a buyer persona as a distinct group of potential customers, an archetypal person whom you want your marketing to reach.
Buyer personas can help businesses get a better grip on their ‘bullseye’ clients and understand with more depth what their needs, challenges, goals and character traits are. Identifying and fleshing out buyer personas is particularly useful because it will help you focus on providing solutions-driven online content as a marketing strategy versus ‘just chucking stuff’ up on the web.
4. Know your keywords and phrases
This will differ for different businesses depending on whether you rely on web traffic for new business leads or you’re on the receiving end of enough word of mouth referrals to keep business humming along.
As a rule though, you will want to be found in search engines (i.e. ranked high up in Google) for certain key words and phrases relevant to your business. This will require you to optimise your copy. A plugin such as Yoast (if your web platform is WordPress) will help here. Anything more sophisticated and it might be worth engaging the services if an SEO expert. A word of warning though: The SEO industry has its fair share of ‘experts’ who are anything but; be aware they might try game the system by using outdated tactics that Google frowns upon.
For what it’s worth, my view on SEO is to not let it overtake your content; in other words, don’t ‘stuff’ your blog posts with keywords and phrases and remember to write for humans, not robots.
If you’re interested in learning more about the search side of things, this interview I recorded with SEO guru Jim Stewart might be a good starting point.
5. Give your blog a name
A lot of people disagree with me on this, and it’s not a deal breaker, but I like the idea of companies giving their blog its own name and look and feel (as long as its congruent with the company’s branding identity).
There are a couple of reasons for this:
- By creating your own sub-branded content property (blog with a title and its own distinct look and feel), it will tend to take a life of its own internally and rather than just being a blog, it will feel a bit more like an online publication which your people feel more inclined to contribute to.
- If you’re wanting to take a thought leadership positioning within your industry, it’s a good idea to try an encapsulate that positioning in the name of your blog as reinforcement; over time, as it becomes more widely read, the link will become even more reinforced.
N.B. When I established this blog in 2007, I named it PR Warrior. For me, the blog has turned into the business!
6. Establish roles and responsibilities
It’s a big job to regularly maintain a professional blog that’s useful for, and interesting to, clients, influencers and stakeholders.
Unless you intend taking on the job yourself (a big ask), I recommend you co-opt several others (internally or external to the business) to help you. Think of this small group as your ‘editorial team’.
This team needs to meet regularly to:
- brainstorm ideas and develop a content calendar that will keep you on track;
- assign writing duties in the first instance to the most qualified people in your company (not necessarily the best writers but the experts and internal knowledge leaders who have the information your customers crave).
However, it’s also important to encourage and challenge junior employees to come up with ideas for stories and contribute to the blog as well.
And don’t forget to task someone with chasing people to get their content in on time!
Once you’re at this point, don’t plan any more. Just start. Get going, and review and iterate along the way otherwise you’ll remain in ‘planning hell’ and nothing will ever get published! And whatever you do, don’t stop when it gets too hard or you haven’t seen any ‘quick wins’ from your efforts – blogging is a long-term game and the worst thing you can do is leave your blog untended.
Over to you. Good luck!