Top 10 reasons it pays to blog for business

imageThis blog post sets out some of the main benefits of blogging for business, public relations, public affairs and corporate communications. It doesn’t just apply to business but could equally well apply to not-for-profit organisations, governments, politicians and non-governmental organisations. It’s a follow up to a post I wrote in December about ‘Why blogging still matters for public relations’ which focused mainly on the professional benefits for me personally.

It is timed to coincide with the publication of new ebook ‘The Business of Blogging | A collection of essays by business bloggers exploring the future of blogging for business.’ The book originally started as a blog post, but became too big and hence morphed into an ebook. It was the idea of my friend and fellow PR blogger Stephen Waddington, European digital and social media director for Ketchum and current president of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), who invited all the contributors and edited the book.

Many commentator have dismissed blogging as dead or dying, but the essays in ‘The Business of Blogging’ should put pay to that idea and show that they are even more relevant today than 10 years ago.

So these are my top 10 reasons why it pays to blog for business:

  1. Knowledge and expertise – Professional or business blogs enable you to actively demonstrate the expertise and experience of your organisation and its people. No matter what your organisation does there is always a huge range of topics and issues that you can discuss. A blog is one of the most effective ways to showcase this expertise. A blog isn’t the place to talk about how wonderful your company is and to try to sell things. A good blog helps to create a good reputation that improves the likelihood of achieving your objectives – be they sales, recruitment, lobbying or investor relations.
  2. Personality – It might be a cliché to say that people don’t buy from companies, but that people buy from people, but that’s because it’s largely true. A well written blog isn’t simply a dry showcasing  of your company, but actually lets the personality of your people shine through therefore creating a far more positive impression of your organisation. It doesn’t have to be the CEO or another c-suite executive that blogs, but it can also be real experts or frontline workers. In fact very often it is these experts, who are too often behind the scenes, who will do most to improve the reputation of your organisation. The best blogs are always written by real people in the company with a by-line to identify who they are. They should never be ghost-written by PR or marketing people, but that doesn’t mean to say the experts who write the blog can’t have professional support and advice with ideas, research and writing good copy.
  3. Transparency – Around the world people are becoming more cynical and distrustful of ‘authority’ – be it business or political leaders or big companies and organisations. They are demanding the truth and rejecting old-style spin and marketing hype. Neither spin nor marketing hype works on a blog so it is an opportunity to demonstrate more openness and transparency. More conservative companies can start with increased transparency on their corporate blogs and once they see that it works extend it into other more traditional channels.
  4. Niche – No matter how niche or specialist your industry or sector it’s possible to publish a compelling and interesting blog. The barriers to publishing a specialist blog are low enough to mean that you can write for small and niche stakeholder groups. Some companies and individuals make the mistake of chasing a bigger audience by writing about unrelated or semi-related topics, in order to attract more readers and subscribers. A small audience that is relevant to your business or organisation is far better than a large one largely made up of irrelevant people. In fact very niche or specialist blogs can be more effective as they are so targeted and interesting to the people interested in that subject.
  5. Trust – A good blog is great for engendering trust. If people feel that they really know an organisation and its people they will be far more likely to trust and respect what it says and does. Because it is two-way and people can comment (and you should respond) it also increases understanding and mutual respect.
  6. Rapid response – The trust that the blog can help to build can be invaluable when an issue or crisis breaks. The blog also provides a place where you can rapidly respond to explain the situation and answer questions and comments.
  7. Content marketing – Advertising agencies and digital agencies are desperately trying to reinvent themselves as content marketing specialists. However, it’s exactly what good PR professionals have always been doing. At its purest content marketing means eliminating the marketing bullshit and actually publishing something that people will be genuinely interested in. A corporate blog is one of the best ways of publishing stuff that people will be genuinely interested in.
  8. Shareable – There is little point in publishing fantastic content if you don’t make it easy for people to share it.You can do this by adding sharing buttons for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ as well as social bookmarking and news sharing sites such as Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Digg, Reddit and numerous others. However, don’t forget email as it’s the ‘dark social media’ that is still used most frequently for sharing. And don’t forget to share it yourself on your own social networks. Another useful idea is to ‘flip’ each new post into a your Flipboard magazine alongside other interesting content about your industry or sector as I explain in ‘How PR can use Flipboard to create magazines.’
  9. Integration – Build a blog and they will come isn’t true and it will only work if it is part of an integrated communications strategy (which includes offline as well as online). A blog is a great place for long-form, intelligent content that has the real potential to inform and influence stakeholders. Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and other more ‘sexy’ forms of social media can be the ‘sound bites’ that will help people to discover your quality content. Once you’ve attracted people’s attention on social networks your blog can actually influence them. It also provides a social media hub where you can curate your best content from other social media platforms and direct them to other networks where you are active.
  10. Search – If you’re just blogging for the SEO (search engine optimisation) benefits then you shouldn’t be blogging. But there is no doubt that a good business or professional blog can help your search engine rankings. Google is increasingly cracking down on the awful marketing blogs created primarily for search, but this can actually help your blog if it contains genuinely quality posts and articles intended to be really useful and informative to real people. In fact the more specialist your industry or subject area the more likely it is that Google will rank your posts highly on niche search terms that you are writing about naturally.

‘The Business of Blogging’ contains essays by Richard Bailey, Heather Baker, Judy Gombita, Andrew Grill, Neville Hobson, Chris Lake, Rich Leigh, Rachel Miller, Mat Morrison, Lee Odden, Dan Slee, Heather Yaxley and Philip Young. The names are hyperlinked to the respective author’s blogs.

If the ebook or this blog post has sparked (or reignited) your interest in blogs then please subscribe to mine via email, RSS feed (in any newsreader app such as Feedly), or I flip all of the posts into my PR News and Views Flipboard magazine.

The ebook is embedded below and you can read and download it on SlideShare,

 

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About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.

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