The truth is somewhere in the middle. In the coming year, it will seem like every company will launch a blog - just like every company launched a Website a few years back - and then half of them will die from non-use. The blog bandwagon is ready to take off, and we will see every company jumping on it.
And, yes, I am recommending to a few clients that they do adopt a blogging strategy. But, only as it fits into their overall marketing mix. Not every business needs a blog, because not every business has the time for a blog. These things are very time intensive.
Is a blog a better strategy than other ones that a company will take to get out the news? Recently, the Phoenix Business Journal had a brief on a marketing firm launching a quarterly newsletter for a client. All I could think of was "how out of date is a quarterly newsletter?" How newsworthy can a quarterly newsletter be? The marketing firm should be pushing the client to at least do a bimonthly newsletter, if not abandoning the newsletter completely for a blog.
I can relate to the Pioneer Press article, on trying to get clients to adopt a blogging strategy. That's what I am dealing with right now. Beyond the media relations, I am also working with the company on their newsletter. They, too, only wanted to do a quarterly newsletter, but I want them to abandon a quarterly newsletter and move to a combined strategy: blog and newsletter.
Why do I think they should adopt a combined strategy? Because it makes sense. Not everyone that they are currently reaching with their newsletter is going to visit the company blog, and not everyone that finds the blog is going to want the newsletter. But, the newsletter can aggregate what has been written on the blog, and be sent out to people. So, it's new content combined with other information, including invitations for product Webinar demonstrations.
Plus, the blog gives this company an opportunity to position the CTO and CEO as thought leaders in their industry. The company is up against an 8000 pound gorilla, but also works with that 8000 pound gorilla on certain products. By having a blog - written by the CTO on industry issues, and the marketing person on corporate news - the company can develop a voice.
The company's main concerns were:
- What impact could this blog have on the industry? I told them it's an opportunity to present company executives (in this case, the CTO) as an expert to speak on various issuesin their industry.
- How do we set-up a blog? I suggested Movable Type, because the guy was nice at the NewComm Forum, and it seemed to be a good fit for a corporate blog.
- How can we keep our competition from commenting? I let them know that IP addresses are tracked, but that in a blog you want full transparency. You post your comment policy on the front page of a blog - you listening Bob Parsons? - and you give people the freedom to post what they think, including negative comments. But, you always respond to have an open dialogue.
In April, the client is going to begin blogging on their company, on issues in their industry, on what they see as the future of their industry - all in a campaign to become a thought leader in their space. It's going to be combined with a press release - I know, how quaint - that is to inform the reporters and analysts covering them that the press room and the blog are available via RSS.
To me, this is how a company should use a blog - as a complimentary communications tool. Comment on your industry. Post case study synopses. Have an open dialogue. Post company news. Address any and all issues raised by readers, and internally.
As an aside, as Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher christened me at the NewComm Forum, I can be a cynical blogger. I explained to Tom that while I see the value of blogs for an open-ended conversation for a company's clients and customers - and that you ignore the blog at your client's peril - I don't view blogs as the end-all, be-all. Blogs are a great tool, but they are part of the communications mix for a company. They don't replace email, they don't replace press releases - Andy Lark has a snarky comment about when the SEC will accept blogs as fair disclosure - and, they don't replace newsletters. Blogs are a complimentary tool.
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