Category Archives: Blogging

Necessary Components of a Blog

I have to start a blog for my company.  What components – design and content –  should my blog include?

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By Jennifer Manocchio

Developing a blog can be overwhelming, especially if you are a newbie to blogging.  The best advice I have is to keep your blog simple to start and build on it as you go.  It is easy to get caught up in the design, widgets and functionality, but at the end of the day, readers are going to come back because they like the content.  Your number one goal should be generating good content to start a following.

However, prior to even starting your blog, I recommend reading one of our previous posts – What You Need to Know Before Starting a Corporate Blog – to help answer some questions about blog name, frequency, content and style.

The recommendations below dive a little deeper into more specific design and content components necessary for a blog.

1.  Content is King: I cannot stress this enough.  High quality content will keep people coming back to the blog day after day and week after week.  If you take a look at the top 25 blogs of 2010 by Time Magazine, you’ll notice these were selected based on content, not design.

What you want to avoid is simply dumping marketing materials on your blog.  Consider what your target audience is interested in and deliver the content in a personal and conversational way to engage readers.

Also, ensure the posts are not too lengthy.  You want the copy to be easy to scan and digest.  If you have a post that is long, consider breaking it into two or even three parts.  Be sure you link to the previous post so your readers can easily follow along.

2.  Web Site Links: If one of the blog goals is to drive website traffic to your corporate site or specific product/service pages, then be sure to include a link to your corporate site (assuming the blog is independently hosted).

Also, anytime it is appropriate, link the text in the blog to pages on the corporate website.  For example, when mentioning a specific product or service in a post, link that back to the relevant product or service page on your web site.

Finally, if you are referencing a previous post, link to that post (like I did in the introduction of this blog posts).

3.  Create categories and tags for each post: When creating a blog post, add categories and tags for each post.  This is easy to do and will help your readers identify topics they are interested in.

Categories will be broader topics that you will use each time you write a blog.  For example, if your blog is about pets, you might have categories that feature different types of pets – dogs, cats, birds, horse, etc.  Tags can be more specific, including company and product names.

4. Showcase other social media sites: If you have other social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube Channel, LinkedIn, Flicker, etc. it is important to link to these on your blog.  You can also feature content if you like.  For example, you can include your latest Twitter or Facebook posts.  There are widgets available that will make this easy for you to do.

5.  Blogroll: A blogroll is where you recommend other noteworthy blogs your readers might like.  While a blogroll is not necessary, it is a good strategy for creating links back to your blog.  You can achieve this by adding a blog you like to your blogroll and inquiring with that blogger to see if he/she will repay the favor by adding your blog to his/her blogroll.

6.  Call to Action: We highly recommend including a call to action as part of your blog.  For example, allow people to subscribe to your RSS or allow people to sign up to receive blog posts by email.  Be sure the current call to action is specific.  For example, rather than “Subscribe to RSS”, customize it to read “Subscribe to the RSS to receive timely updates on [industry] advancements and [company] news”.

7.  About page: Include an “about” page on the blog to explain why people should read your blog.  What can readers expect as far as content?  Who is writing this blog?  Be as transparent as possible and include your headshot.  It is okay to include company information, but we recommend leading with what the blog is about and why people will be interested in following it.

Certainly, this is just the beginning and you can get much more involved in the design, developing surveys, adding widgets, etc.  But remember – yes I’m going to say it again – continue to keep your focus on the blog content and maybe you’ll make Time Magazine’s top 25 blog list in 2011!

Have you been tasked with starting a corporate blog and don’t know where to start?   Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688 for help!

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What You Need to Know Before Starting a Corporate Blog

I have been tasked with writing our corporate blog.  What do I need to consider prior to starting my blog?  How often should I post?  What should the content include? How much do I need to write per post?

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By Jim Sweeney

A Weblog or Blog is a frequently updated online journal, organized by date and containing virtually anything the author/producer wants to communicate. Essentially, blogs are simple websites.  In the case of a business or corporate blog, it is critical to consider and keep in mind the impact of the blog on brand reputation.

Before committing to a blog, an author should consider several basic yet important questions:

What is the intent or purpose for your blog (what are your goals)?

What are you going to write about?

What style of writing will you use?

What is the theme of your blog; what will your blog site look like?

Will you include add-ons to your site?

How often will you publish/post?

Will you keep your blog as text or include images, video, music, etc.?

Why should people read your blog?

Who do you want to read your blog?

How will you monitor and handle discussions on your blog?

Will you link your site to other blog sites?

How will you promote your blog?

Blog Author

The most effective blogs involve a steady flow of information that is almost always entertaining, insightful, interesting and/or educational.  Ideally, the author already is or soon will be a recognized expert or “authority” for the subject area they are writing about. A blog author should write about what they know best and what they are most passionate about.

Blog Name & Description

Your blog name may or may not be a dedicated domain name.  Whatever it is, keep it simple and representative of your blog’s content. Like any corporate or product name or even the title of a white paper, the name should be reflective of the content, it should be catchy and it should be memorable.

Posting Frequency

The general rule of thumb is to write less more frequently. Think of your blog as a billboard that keeps changing its content every couple of days or weeks.  Ultimately, however, what you have to say and how much time you have to say will impact on your frequency.  It is far better to provide good quality, fresh content once every two weeks than weak content every day.  Ultimately, it is most important to have good content and to market your blog effectively to ensure steadily growing traffic.

Blog Content

Artificial or dispassionate voices tend not to last on the Web. And there is no better way to create fake content than to fill your blog with content that neither you nor your followers care about.  The author needs to identify a platform that both he (she) and his (her) audience care about and will connect with.  Blogs are about engaging a community by addressing subjects they are interested in discussing.

Content may be original – editorial comments on topical issues and news stories – or they may be existing materials that are reformatted and/or edited for posting purposes (e.g., new product news releases, case studies, white papers, product updates, brochures, trade show presentations, editorial Q & A backgrounders, interviews with company or industry experts, etc.).  Because less is more in the blogging world, a single article can be divided into multiple parts (1 in a series of 6), maintaining reader interest in a single article for several weeks.

Blog Style

An informal, conversational style dominates blog writing. It’s what’s expected—and corporate blogs that conform are more likely to succeed. Short, snappy sentences are popular; long-winded speeches fall flat. Concise is expected. Most bloggers use bullet points liberally.

The goal is to make reading quick and easy—enabling readers to scan content. And provide links to stories or ideas you reference. That’s the blog etiquette. Stay relevant. Keep on topic and on track. Straying from the selected subject inevitably causes followers to depart—and not return.

Starting a corporate blog and want to learn how to create a blog that your target audiences will want to read?  Contact me at jim at sweeneypr.com or 440.333.0001.

Bloggers Gone Wild

I received a request from a blogger for product for her son’s 7-8-year-old baseball team league tournament (see below).  Is it ethical for this blogger to be asking for product in return for advertising on her site?  Is this a good marketing opportunity?

“What I am wondering about is if you think that there is anything that you or a company that you represent might be able to offer some sort of sponsorship for the kids in our tournament.  Specifically, but definitely not limited to, I would like to be able to offer some kind of token to each team and preferably each player regardless of a first place finish or a last place finish.  Actually, those that finish in the top will receive team trophy’s, however, as I’m sure you realize, at the ages of seven and eight, the kids like to have something tangible themselves.


“As with any requests that I make for help, you will have full reign to guide me in advertising for you.  I have 6 blogs with a PR 3 and 5 with a PR 2.  You can have 3 months worth of ad space on every blog, or just the ones you are interested in. I will write blog posts directing traffic to you and I can use Twitter, Facebook and Whrrl as well to promote your company.  If you can help me, I will do what you need me to do to make this work.”

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By Jennifer Manocchio

We are seeing more and more requests similar to the one you received.

Just this week we received a blogger product request for a client that manufacturers outdoor wood sealer.  We had already provided this blogger with product to reseal his deck, and now he is asking for more product to do his stairs and porch.  At $80 a gallon, this isn’t a cheap investment.

Unlike media, there is no code of ethics for bloggers when it comes to asking for product samples.  And there is certainly no separation of editorial and advertising content when it comes to blogs.

The only government mandated requirement from the FTC is that bloggers clearly let their readers know they received a product sample for free when writing a post about that specific product.  We see some bloggers doing this and others who either don’t know about the FTC ruling or don’t care.

In the case of this specific request, if you have a product that directly targets 7-8-year-old boys and/or their parents, you have reviewed her blogs and feel the content is relevant for your brand, double checked the page rank to ensure the information she is giving is accurate, checked her authority on Technorati, and visited Compete or Quantcast to determine traffic, and the results are favorable, this could be a good way to gain some exposure.

But I warn you to proceed with caution and ensure this blogger is following the FTC guidelines. See our post “The Impact FTC Guidelines Have on Blogger Relations”.

Is Blog Ghostwriting Acceptable?

Our company would like to start a blog; however, we have limited internal time/resources to develop it ourselves.  Is it ethical to hire an agency to manage and write our blog?

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By Jennifer Manocchio

Unlike other marketing and public relations strategies, social media (blogging, microblogging, social networks, communities, etc.) is all about transparency.

At Sweeney, we feel strongly that in order to be transparent with your audience, you or someone in your organization needs to be writing the blog posts.  It is however, completely acceptable to have an agency help manage your blog.  The agency can provide an editorial calendar of blog topics, design the blog, determine who will be writing it, provide you with keywords for SEO purposes, drive traffic to your blog and get your blog listed on blog rolls and blog directories.  But in order to participate transparently, someone within your organization needs to be blogging.

It can be acceptable to have someone else other than the designated blogger write a post if it makes sense – a vendor, client or partner for example.  However, be sure this is clearly identified in the “by line” or signature of the blog post.

While it may seem like a quick and easy answer to have an agency write your blog posts, it will go against the grain of social media and in the end, will not help your organization speak openly and transparently with your target audiences.

Need support developing your social media strategy?  Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910-772-1688.

Developing Blog Content & Increasing Blog Traffic

I have a blog on my company’s web site, but it hasn’t been updated in months and no one is reading it. How can I develop more interesting content and get web site visitors to read it?

Entrepreneur and Yoga Enthusiast

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By Jim Sweeney

Two primary factors contribute to building blog readership and loyalty:

1.   You must have relatively interesting things to say (funny, outrageous,          revealing, curious, insightful, etc.) about interesting topics. No one will read (or continue reading) boring stuff.

2.  You must regularly post your interesting thoughts, ideas, comments.           Once a day is good, once a week is fine, once a month is acceptable (barely), so long as your followers know your publication date and know when to check in.

Since your blog is on your web site, it can be used as a tool to both drive traffic to your web site and engage your web site visitors once they arrive at your site.  In short, as a tool in and of itself, your blog can have value.

But as you indicated, “content” is critical.  So ask yourself this:  Who is my target audience?  Once you have that answer, then ask your target audience:  What would you like me to blog about?

After you’ve conducted your audit, determine what information you can share that your target audience will be interested in.  Do you have special knowledge or unique insights?  Do you have a randy sense of humor?  Are you an expert at something?  Do you have a unique perspective?

Figure it out and get started.  And keep it brief.  Three interesting sentences are always better than four questionable paragraphs.  And don’t be afraid to experiment with photos and videos and audio files.  But again, don’t overdue it.  Substance over style usually wins out.

Finally if you are writing “interesting” stuff and you are posting it “routinely” you can then take advantage of multiple avenues to build your blog audience, including: word of mouth, links, emails, search engines, forum and email signatures, posting comments on other blogs, promoting your blog URL and joining a blog network.

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Have a marketing, public relations, social media or advertising question?  Post your question below or email exeqnation at gmail dot com.  We are committed to answering your marketing questions real time.  And if we don’t know the answer, we’ll contact one of our valued partners who will.