Successfully Launching a Blog

This post was first published by Laurie Davis at the Interprose Voice blog.

As the unofficial “cruise director” for my family, I’ve planned everything from birthday parties to Disney World vacations – and yes, it involves a spreadsheet. How else are you going to coordinate our nearly 20-person clan? Needless to say I would classify myself as a planner. A good plan provides clarity, direction and alleviates a lot of stress and unknowns. Creating a plan is a great way to start any project – especially when you are thinking about launching a blog or refreshing an existing one.

You’ve heard about the benefits of starting a corporate blog – it can boost your organization’s search engine ranking (SEO), provide a platform to share your messages, establish your executives, partners and employees as industry leaders, support your social media initiatives, and so much more. While this all sounds great, it begs the question: Where do you begin?

Here are four building blocks to help you successfully architect and launch a blog.

Determine Your Goals

What are your goals for the blog? Before thinking about the what —the tactics and mechanics behind your blog—you really need to establish the why. These goals will help shape all your decisions moving forward—it is your foundation. Don’t rush this step; set aside some time to get them outlined upfront.

Is your goal to provide a go-to place for your customers, partners and members to learn about the latest products, services and activities in your organization? Is it to make your company a thought leader in a specific topic or industry area? Do you want it to attract new users or prospects to your community? Or perhaps you want to use it as a platform for your customers to get an inside look into your company’s culture and distinguish you from your competitors?

This important first step of goal-setting will help frame your content, style and other important success factors. And do remember to make your goals both specific and measurable.

Content, Content, Content

Consistent, compelling content is the engine that powers a successful blog. Often organizations launch a blog with a “bang,” only to find out they’ve run out of topics to talk about after only a couple of months. To prevent this from happening, start by developing a healthy editorial calendar that strategically maps out what subjects you want to address and when (for example, a series of posts tied to an event). Next, identify the spokespeople or writers for these blogs. Does your organization have the necessary resources to create ongoing content for a blog? You may need to consider bringing in additional writing support to fill the queue—new content should be added at least 2-3 times per month.

Establish editorial guidelines and set expectations for blog contributors upfront. Consider including a target word count, topics or theme suggestions, as well as a review and approval process for the draft posts. Additionally, you’ll want to consider including guidance to improve SEO. Well-crafted editorial guidelines can help accelerate the editing and review phase, enabling you to get content published quickly.

Set Up a Framework

Spend time initially with the blog taxonomy by determining the categories (top-level subject or topic groupings) and tags (specific keywords or topics that can span multiple categories) that are most important to your organization. Time invested in developing a framework first will improve your blog’s navigation, improve searchability, search rankings and ideally keep readers on the site longer by showing them related content. 

Give it Style

SoftwareFindr estimates that there are over 505 million blogs online. Cultivating a unique style is one way to stand out in this crowded space. While determining the look of your blog – layout, fonts and images – is one piece of the style puzzle, establishing your voice is equally critical. A unified, consistent voice knows its audience, topic areas and delivery. For example, you want to capture the essence of conversations that happen at briefings or trade shows? Do you want the blog’s voice to be more casual or formal? Whatever you decide, find your voice and stick to it.

Also, give your blog an identity by naming it. Sometimes a name comes easily; other times, it takes a bit of creative energy. Draw inspiration from topic areas, other industry blogs, or host a brainstorm session with a small group within your organization. For example, our blog is named Interprose Voice because we see the blog as the voice of our business.

Go Forth and Plan

With these tips you are ready to start your blog plan. Invest time in writing out and solidifying your goals and corresponding success metrics. Develop a healthy list of content you plan to share and how you might categorize different blog content by topics of interest and keywords. Establish a style and name that makes your blog stand out.

These building blocks will have you well on your way to starting or relaunching your blog. Once these are in place, it’s time to think about the actual launch and promotion, but that is a discussion for another time.

This post was first published by James Young on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.

Website Comment Sections Do website comment sections serve any other purpose than being forums where people can fight anonymously? (Image via Creative Commons/PILLOW FIIIIGHT! by Kenny Louie under CC BY 2.0)

We all know what to expect from website comment sections. Depending on who you talk to, they remain our digital society’s deepest cesspools, dankest wastelands, most snark- and shark-infested waters.

It’s no mystery why a parade of media outlets have assessed the value of their own comment sections and have come to the conclusion that they’re just no longer worth the trouble. In the last few years, citing “uncivil comments” and a slew of other reasons, many have eliminated comments entirely, including Vox, Reuters, Re/code, Grantland and Popular Science. They allow conversations around their content to take place instead on social media – take a look at how Grantland’s Bill Simmons responds to commenters on a Facebook thread. Read more

This post was first published by Sarah Love on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.

Last week, I attended a Pub Club panel event, The Evolving Relationship of Brands and Bloggers: What It Means for Your Content Strategy, which shed light on how blogging (and bloggers) can support a brand’s goals or mission.

The panelists, which included a mommy blogger, agency employees and a corporate blogger, discussed a number of topics related to blogging, from creating relationships with influential voices online to writing meaningful content for your own corporate site. Read more

This post was first published by Blaise Lucey on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.

SEO strategies for blogs can be fast and easy.Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t rocket science. In fact, now that Google has encrypted the referring keywords that companies used to track, SEO strategies have become as much about art as about science.

Strategic placement of keywords is still important, but you don’t have to grab a calculator to figure that out.

This is especially true for B2B tech companies, which often target markets that are narrow enough for the content is more important than the keyword strategy. Read more

This post was first published by Blaise Lucey on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.

Press releases are the bread-and-butter of any company hoping to make a splash. They help showcase your latest product or service or show some cutting-edge research into the industry. More importantly, of course, journalists and analysts will cover the announcement. A good release can grow your brand awareness by getting your company’s name out there.

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There are so many social media tools out there, it’s hard to know what is what, and what is for what. For me Tumblr is one of those tools. I’ve heard it in passing a lot, but never really used it myself. That’s why Brenna Ehrlich’s article in Mashable, The Pros and Cons Of Tumblr For Small Business, caught my eye. Read more

For PR professionals, pitching bloggers often requires a lot more research into whose who and what topics are applicable to whom in order to get your clients story picked up in the blogosphere. But even after sifting through all the information out there, sometimes we still get it wrong, leaving bloggers frustrated with a pitch that’s way off base.

Well, good news, PR pros and bloggers alike are in luck! BlogDash is a new blogger outreach dashboard launched by David Spinks at BlogWorld that helps you narrow down the blogosphere with appropriate filters. BlogDash gives businesses all the information they need so that they can send more targeted and educated pitches to bloggers while simultaneously benefitting bloggers by reducing the number of off-topic pitches and being presented with more valuable opportunities. Read more

The blogosphere is rapidly growing, there’s no doubting that. Way back in 2006, Technorati tracked its 50 millionth blog and found that the blogosphere is doubling about once every six and a half months with 175,000 new blogs being created each day. So, it’s now 2010… you do the math. That’s a lot of blogs!

With such a plethora of blog content out there, the natural question becomes, is anyone actually reading these blogs?!

Just last Thursday, eMarketer reported that 51 percent of U.S. Internet users (113 million people) currently read blogs on a monthly basis, which is predicted to grow to 60 percent by 2014. With 26.2 million people updating a blog at least once a month this year, it’s good to know at least some people are listening.

But how do we get the other half to listen as well?

The techniques outlined below should get the growing number of U.S. bloggers on the right track to attract more readers:

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