Archive for blogging

Blogging to Build Thought Leadership: Considerations and Recommendations

Posted in social media, thought leadership with tags , on February 8, 2011 by wisdomlondon

Image credit: Renjith Krishnan

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a group of VCs discussing blogging as tool to build personal brand and support an overarching corporate brand at the same time.

There were many questions, ‘what if’s and principles to be agreed. It struck me that their exact pain points with blogging apply to any business which is striving to develop and market thought leaders (read: most B2Bs), so it seemed worth a post on the considerations and possible solutions we touched upon:

Objectives and objectivity

It’s clear that any kind of blogging activity must support clear and agreed objectives. But not only that, it should be assessed as the best channel to support certain objectives, rather than blogging for blogging’s sake. Objectivity is needed here – blogging is rarely a means to an end, and it does require commitment. Sometimes responding to relevant questions on Quora (to a ready made audience of influencers) is preferable. Sometimes a guest post or bylined article is more appropriate for a particular expert.

Our recommendations?

  • Agreed communications objectives, for the brand as a whole and for each individual
  • Agreed ways of measuring success, and a common view of what “good” looks like
  • A rock-solid editorial calendar, covering multiple integrated channels (blogs, website, PR alerts, events, third-party sites and networks) to ensure a balanced, on-message and consistent flow of content

Tone and supporting the brand

Whilst personal experiences and viewpoints should shine through in a blog, there’s still an overarching brand affiliation to bow to, whether you’re blogging on your own domain or the corporate one. Clarity, transparency and two-way lines of communication are vital.

Harder to grasp for business – and especially newcomers to blogging – is the issue of how much personality you bring to a blog. How chatty are you? How will you respond to comments? How much will you share of your life, interests and personal experiences on a blog? Here, relevance is key, as is a natural approach. So long as it’s on-message and consistent with the overall tone, say what you like within reason. But also think about what your audience (actual and intended) might expect from you. Are you fulfilling that?

Our recommendations?

  • Blogging guidelines, as part of a wider social media policy will provide clarity. This should include, where appropriate, sign-off policy, company disclaimers and descriptors to be used, and a clear view of how content will be syndicated more widely (company Twitter feed, company news and blogs, newsletters, external blogs)
  • Develop spokesperson personas: It’s worth each individual expert spending time to develop their online persona.  That takes into account their own personal communication style and areas of expertise, audiences, experience of social media, time they have available to commit to it, level of comfort in engagement online and so on. This helps each individual adopt a balance of the channels, which are most relevant and practical to them and allows them to use those channels in a way which is natural, informed, and not forced

The bigger picture

If blogs are to be used for marketing thought leaders and building awareness, then the bigger picture should frame this. Which other channels might be used to complement and amplify the blog content? What are your colleagues covering? And for that matter, what about your competitors and industry counterparts?

Our recommendations?

  • Never blog in silo. Always be aware of what else is being communicated via your organisation, how and when
  • Join the dots where you can. Comment on colleagues’ blogs and share widely. Consider guest posting and linking back. Blog about events and news too
  • Continually aim to improve through review, benchmarking against others and seeking feedback

Blogging is recognised as being a great way to demonstrate expertise, spark conversation and debate, and build personal brand – but in a highly regulated and traditional industry, it can be challenging to get things off the ground. That doesn’t make it impossible though. Small steps, a genuine commitment to the long-term and an eye on the bigger picture and objectives are the keys to a new business blogger’s success.

Kate Spiers is the founder of Wisdom London, an integrated communications agency, with deep expertise in B2B communications and social media adoption.

10 Ways to Beat “Blogger’s Block”

Posted in creativity, social media, wisdom with tags , , , , , , , on July 21, 2010 by wisdomlondon

Dead endBlogging doesn’t come naturally to all of us and even the most seasoned, opinionated or prolific of bloggers occasionally encounters ‘blogger’s block’.  We’ve put together some of the techniques we use here at Wisdom London, and which we regularly share with our clients.  We thought we’d share them with you, too:

1. Stop staring at a blank screen

If inspiration is not coming to you, you probably won’t find it on a blank screen.  So stop, and move away from the blank screen!  Instead, mull over your idea with colleagues, test your argument on a friend (or the cat), just find a way to articulate it for yourself first.  Then write.

2. Keep a blog ideas notebook

A cute little Moleskine notebook comes as standard issue here at WL, for the specific purpose of capturing blog ideas.  And you have to carry it with you – that’s the rule. Whether you note down words, conversations, ideas, phrases, something you heard, whatever, just use it. That blank screen is way easier to fill when you have a note of your original idea. And we now merrily roam the streets of London, safe in the knowledge that no flash of inspiration is wasted or forgotten – because its home is in the little Moleskine.

3. Not a natural writer? Try a video post

Not everyone is confident in their writing and whilst it’s always worth honing that skill, reticence should never put you off blogging.  Mac and PC cameras make it pretty easy to instantly record a brief video post.  Just rehearse what you want to say a bit, find a quiet spot and go for it.  Also a dual video post (ie, a conversation) can be great content too. Keep it short and to the point.

4. Still not sure about structuring your post?

Voice record (on your phone is often easiest) your thoughts – just as you would explain it to someone you’re chatting to about the subject in question. State your argument and then elaborate. Round up. Listen back and use the recording as the basic copy.  Tidy it up, make it grammatically correct, of course, but it doesn’t come more natural than that.

5. Have an ideas store

Everytime you have an idea for a blog post, make a note of the idea and the basic premise.  You might not have time to write the post now, but you will have a handy stash of ideas for next time you need a topic.  My own list is about 15 ideas long at any one time.  This is a good thing, because it gives me the chance to pick and choose what I feel like writing about at a given time.

6. Take  real life as an example

Real life is the greatest inspiration of all, so long as you are prepared to not be too literal.  Take an idea from real life and expand it, by relating it to the areas that concern you.  Our latest inspirations have included: a night at a jazz club, observing how people cross the road, a movie and of course, the topics of the day (like Apple and Foursquare’s growth). Go take a look around if ideas are eluding you, and see what you can take from the real world and relate to your world.

7. Don’t get hung up about knowing the answers

Don’t worry that you need to know all the answers in order to write a blog post in a given topic.  You don’t.  Your interesting take on a subject is valuable. Exploring a subject and taking the trouble to look at it from different angles is valuable. Asking interesting questions is valuable.  As is hypothesis (what if…). Try it.

8. Are you a visual thinker?

Then create a visual blog post.  Some blogs are entirely visual.  Posting images that inspire and provoke can add real colour to your blog and demand little of your audience, bar their brief attention and their open mind. The great thing about images that we all see them through a unique pair of eyes, so the scope for reinterpretation, new ideas and exchange of viewpoints is huge. Great image(s) + your take on it = a totally valid and often very enjoyable post.

9. Change the way you do it

I quite like posting from my phone (WordPress for iPhone, but a gazillion apps are available, depending on your operating system and blog platform).  Why do I like it?  The more limited options and small screen galvanise me to just get on with it.  I also do this when I’ve stared too long at a blank computer screen, and often on the move.  Just think, that blog post you’ve been putting off could be done and dusted in the space of a bus ride….

10. Promise a blog post on a certain subject

This is my own personal psychological favourite – promising a blog post in a particular subject to  client, Twitter followers, online community etc.  It’s effective!

Kate Spiers is founder of Wisdom London and rarely at a loss for words.  This post is dedicated to wonderful Aisie, who Kate wishes would just get on with it 😉

Follow Kate on Twitter here

Ladies, we salute you!

Posted in creativity, wisdom with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2010 by wisdomlondon

Happy International Women’s Day. And what better way to mark the occasion than to salute the women who inspire, innovate and genuinely contribute to the business of marketing, media and communications. Here are my heroes of the day:

Joanna Shields and Elisabeth Murdoch

Watch out. Joanna and Elisabeth have joined forces and are on a mission.  Their venture, under Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine umbrella, sets out to produce content across online and offline platforms, with a focus on social engagement.  During Joanna’s time heading Bebo (and eventually engineering the sale of it to AOL for $850 million) she showed the world that she not only had her finger firmly on the pulse of social media’s relevance to content production (think Kate Modern) but that she could bring business value from it too.  Always engaging, completely relevant and super-smart, she’s a hero. And that, combined with the drive, ambition and media credentials of Elisabeth Murdoch, will be exciting to follow.

Arianna Huffington

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, one of the most powerful online media brands – bringing news and blogging together, and now one of the most linked-to news sites.  Arianna has revolutionised news, especially the way in which US political issues are covered. The Huff Post is now 5 years old and that that’s a long time in the online world. Then, and now, it provides something pretty great: quality content, speed to report, opinion and  – most vitally – serious stuff delivered with a light touch, making it truly accessible and engaging. Arianna herself is the visionary who clearly understands what we want from online news content.  With an incredible business network, sharp intellect and obvious drive, she’s a powerhouse.

Jane Bown

Photographer extraordinaire. Jane has provided The Observer with quite incredible black and white photography since 1949 and continues to delight with her ability to tell a story with a captured moment. Her skill is quite simply extraordinary: no gimmicks, no effects – just Jane and her 40-year-old camera creating something honest and enduring. Photography is a vital part of communications, helping us tell a story, evoke and illustrate. For me, there’s none better than Jane Bown.

Kathryn Bigelow

Hot on the heels of her Best Director (first woman ever, in 82 years!) Oscar win, Kathryn deserves a mention. In directing The Hurt Locker to Oscar and box-office success, she’s a woman who reigns supreme in a male-dominated oeuvre. Point Break excepted, she’s a star.

Who’s inspiring you today?

Related Links

http://www.shine.tv/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/JaneBown/JaneBown_gallery.swf

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/oscars/article7053577.ece