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Friday, 17 July 2009

Friday Guest Blog: Get going with your blog

by Nathan Smith, Managing Director, Smith & Smith PR

One of the biggest complaints about blogging is what do I write about? Having made the commitment to write a blog, a blogger can often feel pressure to write something that is not only informative but witty, original and strong enough that people are going to want to forward it on to friends and contacts. This is a big ask for anyone and taking this approach is likely to leave you exhausted and overwhelmed!

A great analogy of a blog is to think of it as your own newspaper. Can you imagine a bunch of journalists turning up every day without the slightest idea of what they may write about in terms of the general subject or area? No, of course not. That’s because newspapers have hundreds of years behind them in terms of structure, direction, focus and just having a feel for what makes news and what people find interesting.

My suggestion is that bloggers can greatly benefit from this approach. Instead of sitting there waiting to be inspired, get a structure that gives you that direction. Below are some suggested categories that you may want to consider adopting to help you enter the blogging world. There is no doubt that once you begin blogging, your style and subject matter will evolve and you will find a structure that reflects your strengths. You will also have the benefit of listening to the rest of the blogosphere for feedback on your posts, learning that certain subjects will provoke more reaction, more laughs or maybe more criticism.

1 An original article
I believe this kind of post would make up the core of your blogs; it’s your original thoughts, comments and observations. Of course, as this is the most important it’s also the post that causes the most anxiety and is usually followed by the comment: ‘But I don’t have any original thoughts!’ Of course you do, it just takes a certain amount of self awareness to recognise this. Here are 10 examples that I bet any one of you could pick and write about. Why not write your own list until you become confident and self aware of what makes a great article?

  • A good client, a bad client
  • I’ve learnt something new
  • How to recover from making a mistake
  • My client’s industry is really interesting because…
  • That company always appears to be different and stands out
  • The best meetings are always...
  • 5 ways to maximising a client’s time
  • Client expectations – how to make it work from the start
  • Things I’ll do differently tomorrow
  • Where I get my news

2 The Review
Being a critic and writing reviews is essential for any good blogger. A blog allows you to link directly to the subject you’re reviewing, which gives your review real depth and also demonstrates some of the relationships that exist in the blogosphere. Secondly, remember you have a following to keep updated, entertained and informed. If I’m following someone’s blog who writes thoughts and observations on food and drink then I’d probably also like to read their thoughts on a new restaurant that’s opened or any new books that may be coming out on that subject.

3 The Resource
Similar to the ‘review’, the resource blog is written with the reader firmly in mind. In terms of my business, I want the reader to come to our blog whenever they want to find out about something in PR. Let me give you some examples of what I mean by this: Think about your working day and what resources you use to go about your job… it may be a book on the shelf that you always turn to whenever you’re writing a case study or it may be a tip someone told you once about using the telephone and has always stuck with you. It may even be a website or a piece of software that is integral to your working day. In fact when you start to write down all your own resources you’ll be amazed at just how much stuff you know. Well all of this stuff is valuable, and valuable to your blog readers, so start to share it and begin a process of sharing best practice.

4 Market Research / Feedback
Have you ever written a piece of policy or been asked to carry out a project you’re not sure where to start with? Well start to think about your blog readers as part of your ‘fan club.’ What I mean by this is that people will help you if you ask. The blogosphere is an incredible place when it comes to sharing and helping, in fact it’s Utopian compared to the offline world!

5 Recycle
I don’t mean recycle your blog posts but there will be plenty of things that you do as part of your day to day job that could easily be recycled to make great blog posts. In fact this article is a great example; I originally wrote this to help the team at Smith & Smith really think about blogging but what a waste it would be to just use it for internal use, especially as I hope it could help other people.

Well that’s it. No more excuses, you should be armed with plenty to go forward now and blog away. Of course as I said in the introduction this is only meant as a guide to give you confidence to go forward. There is no doubt that the best blogs are the ones that have been allowed to evolve over time.

Nathan Smith MSc
Managing Director
Smith & Smith PR Limited
Tel: 0161 236 5560

Follow Nathan on Twitter @nathanjsmith

Nathan recently held a free Social Media Masterclass for Chamber members. Click here to find out more about how the Chamber can help with PR including some upcoming events...

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