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Thursday, 31 July 2008

Thinking of blogging? Here's How to Start.

I've had some offline questions regarding my post on why scholarly publishers should blog, so here are some thoughts on how to go about planning your corporate blog strategy:

  • Find and list all blogs, microblogs, magazines and forums in your community, identify friends and foes and prepare to interact with both. Who you link with will affect your blog’s ‘authority’. Set out a clear idea of who you’re trying to influence – what are the priority sites you must have point to you?
  • Positioning: What are you going to write about? Who will be your audience? Why should they read you?
  • Set policies: agree on how contentious subjects should be handled and make sure every poster knows and that your blogging policy is aligned with the PR strategy.
  • Decide the tone of voice. This has to fit with your natural company brand. You probably have a company-wide tone-of-voice policy for collateral and email copy but you may want to revise it for the blog to be friendlier, more open, and less wordy, as is customary with copywriting for the Web.
  • Always include the option to comment - you should look at this initiative as building a two-way relationship.
  • Brand it. I don't feel strongly that your blog should mirror your corporate identity but it should definitely tie-in and probably use the same domain.
  • Who is best placed to write about what your audience wants to read? Corporate blogs should usually be managed by senior level people, preferably including the CEO. But you could also consider product or technical managers, and it’s a great idea to involve editors and other key opinion leaders if they're willing. Blog posts should not necessarily be written by the marketing department, although you should discuss your plan with them first to ensure it matches the PR strategy.
  • Think about frequency. Get each blogger on the team to commit to one post a week. If you have eight bloggers that's a good range. People will manage how they recieve notifications anyway (either through an RSS reader or by email digest).
  • Software - test the off-the-shelf ones out there like WordPress and Blogger. Also discuss with IT whether something can be built internally. But don't worry that using off-the-shelf services might seem 'unprofessional' - you're embracing the freeware that your customers will be familiar with and why become an expert in building blog platforms as well as publishing content?
  • Burn your feeds with something like FeedBurner so that they are findable, searchable, and indexable. This service will also offer promotional tools like pushing post headlines out to other websites via banners (see the bottom of our homepage for an example).
  • Prepare ten or so articles before launching the blog and garner interest and posts internally first until you have a good range of topics and your blog team is comfortable with what to write about.
Let me know how you get on!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Why Scholarly Publishers Should Blog

Now that I've been following my own must-blog advice for a few months, and even have a number of subscribers (woohoo!), I frequently have publishers asking me why I started this one and if they should consider it. here's my answer:

Scholarly publishers should blog for the same community engagement and reputation management reasons as any corporation:

  • Open and more frequent dialogue with customers.
  • Release news and comment faster.
  • Influence perceptions.
  • Other influential blogs will link to you.
  • You become an authority in your field.
An example of a corporate Online PR success is the General Motors Fast Lane blog; despite Vice Chairman Bob Lutz making an offhand comment about global warming, the readers of GM’s blog effectively 'came to his rescue' to support his right to voice personal beliefs about climate change.

If you're worried about opening up a can of worms over an uncomfortable topic, consider this: if No.10 Downing Street microblog then so should you - your issues are not as 'political' as theirs and the benefits of an open conversation far outweigh the inevitable moaners.

And finally... think about ROI, yes. But focus on the potential ROE (return on engagement). The benefits to a publisher in terms of influence, visibility, and networking are obvious: its a potent fusion of PR and Search. But if you've decided against a corporate blog - what are you afraid of?

Why would you not want to converse with your customers?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The semicolon is not used enough; the comma is overused.

I couldn't agree more with Erin McKean, editor and lexicographer of the New Oxford American Dictionary, and "dictionary evangalist" who has designed Semicolon Appreciation Society T-Shirts in response to recent discussion in the New York Times. I may not purchase the T-Shirt but I have already ordered the stickers so I can correct signs on the street and insert a semicolon where one should be. No, seriously.
semicolon shirtsemicolon shirt
If you love dictionaries, find an hour to listen to Erin's presentation to Google on ten things she wishes people knew about dictionaries.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Googlegangers And Other Animals

Just came across this list of newly-coined terms from agency Cramer-Krasselt via MarketingProfs.

  1. Luxcession: v. - As the economy continues to hit consumers' wallets affecting their purchasing choices, many mass-class luxury items are also taking a hit.
  2. Dotcomrade: n. - A friend or acquaintance that you met online but have never met in person.
  3. Greenwashing: n. - The practice of bogus environmental marketing.
  4. Info Snacking: v. - Wasting time at work by surfing the Web.
  5. Blacking Out: v. - To turn off any device that people can reach you with (cell phone, two-way, computer, home phone, morse code, etc.) in order to avoid someone.
  6. Compunicate: v. - To chat with someone when you are in the same room, each on separate computers, and you talk via Instant Messenger instead of speaking to them out loud, in person.
  7. Defriend: v. - To remove somebody from your established list of contacts, considered the ultimate snub on social network.
  8. Generica: n. - Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where you go such as strip malls and fast food places.
  9. Mouse Potato: n. - The online generation's answer to the couch potato.
  10. Googleganger: n. - Another individual with the same name as you whose records and/or stories are mixed in with your own when you Google yourself.
I only have one Ginny Hendricks googleganger - she's an American real estate agent. I also have a dotcomrade on Facebook called Virginia Hendricks who lives in Philadelphia and whom I've never met!

Facebook In Real Life

I got a real kick out of this hilarious video from idotsofants about what would happen if we did in real life what we do on Facebook i.e. become 'friends' with random people from a past life.