Should Your Organization Start a Blog?

Everyone these days wants a blog. Blogs are known to be the most frequently updated—and thus most visited—facet of Web sites, and often form the crux of an organization’s online impact. Few, however, realize just how time-consuming and difficult blogging is.

Indeed, running a blogging consists not only in penning posts, but also in corralling them from colleagues and possibly guest contributors, editing them, and promoting them—not to mention moderating and responding to comments. As such, when considering a group blog for your organization, the following questions may facilitate a decision.

1. How many people on your staff can write well? Poor prose is a big turnoff, and crafting snappy paragraphs is a lot harder than banging out 140 characters apiece on Twitter. Put another way, anyone can swing a baseball bat; very few can hit pitches.

2. Do these people know how to write for the Web? Richard Posner and Gary Becker are two highly esteemed and well-published professors at the University of Chicago. But their joint blog—bogged down with long paragraphs and utterly devoid of links, pictures and blockquotes—is a textbook example of why online writing demands more than copying and pasting its offline counterpart.

3. Will managers give these people sufficient time to blog? Securing buy-in at the leadership level is critical. Otherwise, blogging will be treated as a distraction from “real work.”

4. Can these people each commit to X posts per month? One of the biggest reasons for failure in the blogosphere is infrequent posting. To be sure, a solid weekly post can be just as good as daily content, but unless you’re Sergey Brin, you’ll never build an audience by blogging sporadically.

5. Is there a blogger (either on staff or whom you can hire) who can serve as the editor? Not only do editors edit—correcting grammar, adding hyperlinks and pictures where appropriate, suggesting broader themes—and solicit content, they’re also responsible for the blog’s direction, consistency, and visibility. A blog without an editor is like a ship without a captain.

6. Will the blog’s editor have the connections and standing throughout the organization to request and obtain content? If your editor is off site or lacks the respect of her peers, her ability to do her job will be compromised.

7. Will every post require approval by the C suite? If an executive or lawyer must vet everything, then a blog is more trouble than it’s worth.

On the other hand, a second set of eyes on anything for publication always is healthy—but within reason. The Cato Institute, which each day assigns a different staffer to approve each blog post, has found a happy medium between paranoia and prescience.

8. What niche will the blog exploit? In other words, why will people want to read it? If the niche is already occupied, how will your blog be better?

For these reasons, many blogs are stillborn. As with any project, a blog needs a strategic plan and ample resources. If you start with these boxes checked, the results can well repay the effort.

Related: Should Blogs Be Independent of or Integrated in Their Host Organization’s Web Site?

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Craig Kessler

I agree with Ari. First you need to figure out your purpose for starting a blog and if it’s the right channel for you. Once you decided it is and you can commit to it, then the checklist rules you listed need to be taken seriously.

Alice M. Fisher

These are excellent questions! I am giddy with excitement.

But, one must ask why is a blog important from a strategic communications stand point.
What is the strategic function of the blog. I have a few points of view on this one from a technical strategic and communications spoint of view.

With the advent of webpages and digital content, search engines search and index all the glorious content we all have created in cyber space. And, there is no lack of content. But, many search engine will drop off important URLS and content if that content does not ever change nor get updated or refreshed regularly.

Secondly ( as I understand it), since Google’s algorythms post search results based on link popularity then many key goverment information sites will not ever rise up in the top 10 lists from millions and millions Google searches and spit back to the public.

In essence, the sad thing might be that your key strategic messages never really get heard in the “forest of millions and millions of trees” because no body can find your deeply buried information.

But, the advent of new media can help, make it more salient, more real-time so to speak and not 12- 18 mos old. Blogging is a strategic use of what is called an integral component of step 4 or 5 in moving towards implementing a more “mature communications model” of continuous communications.

Therefore, theoretically speaking, if you create a strategic communications editorial calendar comprised of compelling content, topics and messages driving people specifically where you want them to go then you will in essence strategically rise to cream of the crop, atop of the more than 80 Million ( I pulled that figure out of my socks, btw) websites in searches people perform.

Utimately, we I think what we want to is to connect with real people, one on one and provide them the citical and important information they need without them having to work so hard to find it.

But, if blogging is done adhoc and without a sound MarCom strategy and without passion then you truely are missing a literal gold mine of an opportunity to make a huge difference.

Don’t just blog for the sake of blogging and wrangling in unwilling participants. Your audience will know. They can tell about these kinds of things. Have fun, make it real, make it something real people can connect to you with.

And, you need a channel master (or two ) for example strategic communications SME and topic based SME who knows everthing the topic of discussion, and both should know the potential target audience inside and out (do your reserach).

So, if you are continuely and strategically communicating through a blog then we the people will find you coming up in google searches more often and higher in the ranking of URLs.

Please be sure to consider the value of adding the all important “tags” in each and every blog you post…by knowing in advance what your target audience and people are searching for. These tags are an important part of the entire blog strategy and will help pull your through the forest in Google search results, and Viola before your know it your agency, topic and information will rise higher and higher in the results and depth of penetration in Cyberspace across the Internet.

Hopefully, I will see more compelling, engaging commentary on this absolutely wonderful topic!
So we can take something from all of these great comments and create a how to blog more effectively

Well, hopefully my two cents worth is of value. Have fun and enjoy the opportunity the race to get prominent placement in cyberspace.

That old addage, still rings true to some respects, metaphorically speaking, “the squeeky wheel gets the grease. Not about complaining so much but more simply about just being heard, regularly and consistently as a credible go to source people can trust and personally relate to.

“The current version of this idiom, with its allusion to a wagon wheel that needs oiling, is ascribed to American humorist Josh Billings (1818-1885) in a poem, “The Kicker”: “I hate to be a kicker [complainer], I always long for peace, But the wheel that does the squeaking Is the one that gets the grease.” However, the idea of the idiom is much older. A manuscript from about 1400 had: “Ever the worst spoke of the cart creaks.” Similar sayings were repeated over the succeeding centuries.”