Blogs-short for “web logs”-are rapidly gaining in popularity, replacing online newsletters and articles as the vehicle of choice for anyone who has an opinion to share or a skill to teach.
Blogs are self-publishing in its purest form. Blogs allow anyone with an Internet connection to reach a potentially large audience with minimal cost. With such a far-reaching impact, it’s no wonder businesses large and small are jumping on the blog bandwagon.
Yet despite the surge in blogs, very few media training firms include blogging in their programs. Spokespersons need to know not only how to write their own blog (or contribute to the organization’s blog), but also how to contribute to outsider blogs that influence their customers and the public. As part of our media training services, we are fortunate to have the resources of the Blog Squad, specialists in blogging, available to our clients.
Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, is an executive who knows how to harness the power of blogging. As he said in a recent blog posting, “I’m a big believer in the transparency blogging drives for me and Sun. ” In other words, blogging-putting himself out there for the public to see and hear-ends credibility to Mr. Schwartz and to his company. After all, a man who isn’t afraid to attach his name to his own opinions, ideas and fears is a man who can be trusted, right?
Trust and credibility are at the core of organizational success, and blogging is quickly becoming one of the easiest and most accepted ways in which businesses can gain that trust within the marketplace.
Blogs are also a great way to ensure that your web site is constantly full of interesting content. If your organization sells software, a daily or even weekly blog about new developments in the software industry will soon gain a large following of like-minded software professionals who want to hear what you have to say. Do you publish text books? Why not offer a blog for teachers discussing the latest trends in education? Do you manufacture camping equipment? How about a blog that lists great places to vacation? The goal is to make your site—and by association, your company—an authority in your industry.
Hosting a Successful Blog
Interested in starting a blog for your own company? The following media training tips will guide you toward blogging success.
- Speak your readers’ language. Who is your audience? Are they professionals within a specific industry who will understand technical jargon? Or are they novices who would prefer to read a more casual approach to your subject?
- Deliver a useful message. To be truly effective, your blog must provide a service. No one will become a faithful reader of your blog unless you are consistently giving them useful information, be it a list of on-line resources, a how-to article, a product review, or a place where they can be part of a stimulating discussion.
- Keep it short. A blog entry should be relatively short; often a paragraph or two will suffice. Articles on the web are more enticing if they have short paragraphs and plenty of white space, as busy readers will rarely spend the time to read long tomes. If an entry needs to be long, post the opening two or three paragraphs then have the reader click to continue.
- Encourage comments. At the end of your post write such things as, “What do you think? or “What experiences have you had with this?" or “What suggestions do you have?" And then direct them on the next step to take: “Enter your comments below. "
- Be consistent. Update your blog on a regular basis (the Blog Squad recommends at least twice a week, but encourages clients to do even more frequently) so that your readers can develop a habit of checking in.
Lou Hampton is president of The Hampton Group, Inc. , a Washington, DC firm specializing in media training, speech coaching, and message development. For tips, tricks, and techniques on how to communicate as a leader, go to Lou's blog: http://www.SpeakToLead.com