The Blogative: What is it and how it can drive corporate storytellingMay 3, 2016
Is blogging dead? With so much content being created by so many, do blogs still play a role in corporate communications? We know they do, and not just a role; they often play a pivotal role in projecting corporate narratives into the marketplace. Call it the blogative, the multi-purpose ability of blogs to build brand, enhance reputation, improve SEO, and generally present your case to the public.
Recently, a client asked us to review its company blog and offer suggestions on how to improve it. Our response gives a blueprint for building a high-value blogative:
- Establish a reason for being. What is the ultimate purpose for publishing? Find it, know it, love it, and stick to it. It’s important to identify the precise topic of your authority, weight, and substance—the blogative. I publish three different blogs—one on financial services public relations, another on technology in public relations, and a third on general concepts in corporate communications and public relations. Each sticks to its lane, and reports on topics that fit within tightly defined topics. Effective blog publishers must think like magazine publishers—know their audience intimately and write specifically for them. It’s a lesson I learned early in my career working on a freelance story for Reader’s Digest. It opened with an anecdote of a divorced mother of three. The editor returned the copy. She loved the story, but I needed to find a new opening anecdote. She explained that in the apple pie, all-American world of Reader’s Digest, there was no such thing as a divorce. That’s how well she knew and played to their audience, and that’s how well high-value blogs must understand their audiences and publish directly to them.
- Personalize it. Personality projects confidence and establishes thought leadership. I just hate it when a company’s blog credits the corporation as a whole for a post or an opinion. I want to see faces. I want to read the byline. I want to know the humanity behind who is writing and communicating with me. People do business with people, and blogs are a highly effective way of putting the power of people to work for your organization.
- Use search terms, but for God’s sake, don’t overdo it. The effectiveness of a blog is often determined by its ability to generate traffic from long-trail search terms. I get it. SEO is important. But there are many ways to accomplish this very task without weakening your storytelling. Your audience is smart. They know when they’re being played. The best blogs are written by communicators, not by SEO companies. And the best stories don’t allow themselves to be littered with stilted SEO language.
- Learn to write about the same topic in fun and unexpected ways. Early in my career, I wrote a book about franchising, which opened doors with main stream magazines. Each month, I was under contract with three magazines to produce six to eight stories a month, all about franchising. I mean how much can you say about franchising other than it’s a cesspool of bottom feeders? But I learned quickly that to pay the mortgage, I had to get creative. So I did Q&A’s with franchisees. I did stories about women in franchising. I found the best and worst deals of the month in franchising. I found immigrant franchisees that had built empires and profiled them. I did an entire article on a single issue in franchising, such as how much royalties really cost over the lifetime of a 10-year franchising agreement. The truth is, many publishers tell the same story over and over, but they are masters of finding new, never-before attempted angles on the same tired topic.
- Create an editorial calendar and publish frequently. No less than once a week and on a substantial topic—something of meaning to your audience. Consistency builds readership and drives traffic.
- Socialize blog posts and use your blog as a means of measuring success. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest can be channels for expanding blog reach. And the traffic serves as a perfect means of measuring the draw and interest your blog generates with target audiences.
- Use your blog as a media relations and rapid response tool. Blogging is now our most effective media relations and rapid response tool. The ability to comment quickly on breaking news, and speak to it authoritatively impresses the media and wins coverage. If your organization isn’t using a blog to build your offline reputation, you are missing the most powerful media relations tactic currently available.
No other editorial vehicle offers the same strategic and tactical advantages of a blog. As such, a corporate blog is more than a nice tool to have; it’s a downright blogative in driving your narrative across audiences.