This story was co-written by Christine de la Huerta
We’ve previously discussed the reasons and benefits for starting a blog for your company. But let’s get down to the nitty gritty: How do you actually steer this thing?
Managing a company blog seems like a daunting task, but a little planning goes a long way. Since 2010, we have successfully run rbb’s Breakout Blog; we’ve gone through growing pains and website updates, and we’ve maintained the site every step of the way.
We want to share what we’ve learned to help make your thought leadership blog a success.
1. Determine your blog’s objective and audience
There is a lot of noise out in the digital world and it can be a struggle to make a ripple in that ocean. You get there by having a plan.
You need to think the bigger picture, too. It’s not just about what you’re writing, but also the overall goal of your time investment to write in the first place.
With that said, the questions you need to answer a couple questions.
- When it comes to content: What will my blog be about, and who is it for?
- When it comes to success metrics: What goal do I want my blog to achieve (e.g., leads, exposure, purchases, etc.)?
2. Do your research
Now that you know what you want to write about, let’s break that down even further. What core topics will you explore on your blog?
For example, at rbb, we have clients in industries as varied as healthcare, education and consumer product goods. Many of our stories are aimed at those different vertical markets.
Read through trades and online publications for your industry and find a gap that needs filling, or find out what your clients’ most burning questions are. There are loads of topics to uncover.
Research is also ongoing – always stay on top of timely trends and breaking news to produce real-time, relevant content.
3. Determine your voice and perspective
One way to stand out from the crowd is to have a point of view.
It’s not enough to write about a given topic – you have to stake your claim on the matter to provide the value your audience is looking for.
With the Breakout Blog, we view trends, vertical industry stories and breaking news through the lens of a marketing perspective. Here are a few examples:
- How the travel industry is embracing the “less is more” trend
- How to use the Star Wars Jedi Code to improve your content marketing strategy
- McDonalds’ attempt to take the myth out of the Big Mac
4. Create an editorial review process
A blog cannot be sustained without an editorial process – from planning, to writing to editing. You should know when something is due, what topic is being written about and the major roles (writers, editors, publishers).
We have our own proprietary system for managing our editorial workflow, but there are plenty of ways to do so. For example, you can create an editorial calendar in Google Docs with this free template.
Having a well-rounded team will help you get around potential bottlenecks, so you’re not held up if certain team members are not available or have limited bandwidth.
5. Write, write, write
The best way to get better at writing, or to establish routine, is to keep writing. Having an editorial calendar helps give direction, but the going can be tough if it doesn’t come naturally.
Even then, you turn that to your advantage, like the time I wrote about six tips for PR pros to overcome writer’s block. (And, hey, you can use that now!)
We also like to collaborate with our writers to come up a full list of topics based on their personal interests. (That’s how one of rbb’s working moms ended up writing, “The best Mother’s Day gift for working moms: Family-friendly policies.”)
6. Spread the word
You know the saying: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Managing your blog is indeed a feat unto itself, but you’ve got to take the extra step to promote it – via your internal channels, email marketing blasts, social media, publicity, etc.
For social sharing, specifically, create an inventory of posts to promote each story, and repurpose them over time. Here’s a little three-step process I use for crafting these messages:
- One post that expands on the headline
- One post that uses a quote or stat from the story
- One post that asks a question based on the story
7. Measure your results and optimize
At the end of the day, you need to track your efforts and measure what went right and what could be improved. You need to constantly check against your original goals to see if you’re meeting them.
The simplest route is to make sure you have Google Analytics installed. Consider taking Google’s free analytics courses to get up to speed, too.
8. Get help!
A company blog can be much more successful when there is a team supporting it. We recommend you enlist subject matter experts from within your organization, rotate editorship and even tap outside resources to help develop your overall strategy, content themes and blog marketing. Many communications partners can help with interviews, video production, art direction, writing and editing.
There’s a lot of nuance in between these steps that will be tailored to your business (e.g., how you will brainstorm topics, how many rounds of reviews you’ll employ, your social posting strategy).
Hopefully these tips will help establish a foundation for you to build your company blog and prosper. And if you need help, you can always contact Digital Park!