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Introduction to Blogging: A Fletcher Prince Presentation

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This is the presentation I use when I talk about blogging with college students and beginner bloggers. Presented by Mary Fletcher Jones of Fletcher Prince. For more information about us, please …

This is the presentation I use when I talk about blogging with college students and beginner bloggers. Presented by Mary Fletcher Jones of Fletcher Prince. For more information about us, please visit http://www.FletcherPrince.com

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  • Hello and welcome to our session on blogging. I’m Mary Fletcher Jones, and I’ve been blogging since 2006. My main blog is for my company, Fletcher Prince, but I also write a Christmas blog, a Halloween blog, and a few others. I also created the blogs for the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and the DC Ad Club. I enjoy sharing what I know about blogging with my clients and today I’m looking forward to learning from you. I’ll go through my blogging tips in about twenty minutes, and then I’ll open up the discussion to your contributions and questions.By the end of this session, you should have plenty of ideas for creating your own blog.
  • In study after study, blogging comes out on top for marketing effectiveness (emarketer, Sherpa, Forrester, Hubspot). It far outshines all over social media. That doesn’t mean it’s a contest. MDG Advertising, collected data from several sources (emarketer, Forrester) and 42% of chief marketing officers said they saw average or significant ROI with blogging.Compare that to 21% for LinkedIn, 21% for YouTube, 22% for Twitter and 36% for Facebook. CLICK
  • So, I can’t promise that blogging will do all this for you, but it has for me. Blogging has really opened doors for me, and even if it hadn’t, I would still find it worthwhile.
  • But blogging isn’t easy. It helps if you know how to type and you really like to write. Even for experienced bloggers, there are challenges associated with producing and distributing content this way. Although blogging is a creative process that many people find rewarding, it does take time and energy to do.Writing blog posts is just one part of managing a blog. There is also the time involved in setting up and designing the blog. You have to locate images and video for blog posts. There’s moderating and responding to comments, promoting your posts, and measuring your results.So along with those caveats, there are also risks. You are putting yourself, your ideas, and your company out there in a vulnerable way. People will say negative things. There is the risk of making a mistake, saying the wrong thing, or attracting negative attention. You’re leaving yourself and your company open to criticism. Also there are certain restrictions associated with some industries. Government blogs require a blog policy, for example, and bloggers for real estate firms and law firms have to be careful about certain types of information they communicate.That said, some very creative people choose not to put themselves out there in this public way, and that’s okay, too.You really have to balance the downsides of blogging – such as the investment of time and risks – with the likelihood of a return. If that return isn’t there, maybe launching or continuing a blog is a decision you have to make.
  • The editorial calendar helps you determine what and how often you’re going to publish. Your blog has a better chance of being indexed by Search engines index blogs if you publish posts on a regular basis. If you post on the same day of the week, or on a specific schedule, it will be easier to stay on track.Pick a schedule: 1 x week (Tues OR Wed OR Thursday)3 x week (Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday)With Word Press, you can write your posts in advance and schedule them to appear on the days you want, which is really helpful during holidays, vacations, and sick days.Set a pace you can keep, even it it’s just once a month (but try for once a week)Blog during your slow periods and stock up on a bunch of posts to publish laterGet other people to blog for you
  • Make sure readers can email you!Ask for comments Pose a question in a blog postQuestion of the week/mail bag/advice columnMost people do not commentLook at your subscriptions and download statistics for a more accurate measurement of your reachBe aware; commenters may not represent a sample of your audience – they tend to represent extreme POV – both positive and negativeBut…take commenters seriously!Government blogs should be moderatedSPAMOffensive commentsInformation revealed about a minorLet people know comments are moderated
  • Some good things happen without a plan. But if this is for work, I recommend creating a blog plan and blog policy and an editorial calendar. There are many good examples of blog policies, especially among the government blogs. Here’s what a blog policy can doJustifies the use of resourcesIdentifies purpose of blog and audienceExplains how the blog will be managed and moderated, and by whomProvides guidelines on what may and may not be acceptableDescribes approval and oversight process
  • Your blog plan is kind of a strategy document. Tell WHAT your blog is about – provide a descriptionWHO is the blog for? Envision your audience’s age, gender, geographic location, educational level, background, level of technical expertise, needs, lifestyle. Tell WHY your blog exists. Do you want to ENTERTAIN, PERSUADE, or INFORM? Describe the KEY BENEFIT: what’s in it for me?
  • So for Fletcher Prince, I have a really clear focus in mind for my blog. And I TRY to stick to it. But my blog description goes like this:Published three times a week, The Fletcher Prince Blog is an informational resource of easy-to-understand marketingarticles and videos for small business owners and nonprofit managers who want to learn affordable marketing, public relations, social media, and graphic design strategies to achieve their goals and communicate effectively with customers or constituents. The blog will reinforce Fletcher Prince’s brand image as a friendly, accessible, and trustworthy company and establish Fletcher Prince’s subject matter expertise in its core business areas.
  • So these are tenets that apply to all your communications.Practice makes (almost) perfectShort and obviousRepeat, repeat, repeat across mediaConversational tone (no jargon)Professionalism (no slang or profanity)
  • When you’re composing blog posts, you’re really writing for two entities (1) search engines and (2) people.Writing for search engines means you compose your posts in a way that they will be indexed meaningfully in search results. And that isn’t really that difficult. It means that your posts titles are very important. You want to create literal titles, containing keywords, and not containing punctuation or quotation marks. Your title should be specifically about what your post is about – don’t get cute, or use a metaphor or symbolic language that bots can’t understand. Then when you’re writing your posts, create subheads and bold keywords. Use links but judiciously. Tag and categorize your posts, and add captions and alt tags to the photos. All these techniques will help your blog post be indexed appropriately by search engines.The same things you do for search engines will also help your human readers. The important thing to understand about blogs is that people scan online content. They’re going to look at the headline, then the photo and the caption, then the subheads, and the bold text, as they scan the page and are deciding whether to read it. The headline is really important, of course. How to headlines snag the attention of readers. So do numbers, as in 3 ways to build a better birdhouse or 7 habits of effective people. It tells people what to expect.Keep your post focused on a single topic or issue. Try to keep it simple. If it’s a complex issue, just write more blog posts. It’s best to keep your blog posts between 200 and 450 words, if you can manage it. Keep your paragraphs short – no more than 3 sentences. You can do single sentence paragraphs for blogs. White space is important, and bullets also increase comprehension of your topic.
  • Just get used to taking a digital camera with you everywhere you go and learn how to manipulate images. You’re going to need lots of photos for your blog. People are far more likely to read a blog post with an image than without oneInclude at least one image and alt-tag it. Here’s a tip: long captions tend to get read first. It’s worthwhile to append a caption to your photos.Images that are free to use on your blog are easy to find. Use images in public domain (Government, Wikipedia Commons, Flickr, purchased stock photos) or take your own photographs.
  • Custom header and plenty of imagesBio and way to contact the authorEmail subscription linkText formatting: bullets, bold, subheadsWhite background, dark textWeb-safe fontsUsability considerationsLogos and imagesSidebars and widgets
  • #1 way to drive traffic to your blog is to comment on other blogs, online articles, and online newspaper articles – the higher the authority, and the larger the audience, the better. Almost all those comment forms let you add an URL – make it your blog. I comment on a number of blogs, plus Advertising Age, YouTube, Washington Post, PRSAY, and other industry blogs.Link to your blog on all your online profilesLink to your blog in your email signatureRe-purpose blog articles in email newslettersPut your blog link on the back of your business cardSend postcards promoting your blog to influentials
  • Transcript

    • 1. Introduction to BloggingMary Fletcher Jones @FletcherPrince 1
    • 2. Why is blogging important?• Blogging is #1!• Highest ROI in social media• 75% of companies plan to increase their blogging activity• SEO 2
    • 3. Personal Benefits Associated with Blogging• In-demand job skill• Builds communication skills• Builds credibility• More articulate and confident• Writing samples• Increased search engine results for job-seekers• Networking with pros• Fun, creative outlet 3
    • 4. Challenges • Not for everyone • You should enjoy writing and sharing • Risk: criticism • Being able to type helps • Time-consuming – Set-up – Writing – Moderating – Promotion 4
    • 5. Head Games• Someone will always be better than you. Get over that.• Effort counts for more than genius.• Sustained effort counts for more than good intentions.• The universe rewards action. 5
    • 6. Getting started1. Create a free WordPress.com profile: username, password, gravatar (your photo or logo), links, bio, social media account links. Purchase custom URL if desired.2. Make sure your author name is your real name, not your username.3. Create a title, tagline, and theme for your blog.4. Create a custom header, if desired. Brand your blog.5. Create categories and tags.6. Complete your About Page.7. Enable email subscriptions, RSS feed, and social media sharing widgets and buttons.8. Write four posts. Publish one now; schedule 3 later. 6
    • 7. Finding Time to Blog • Search engines and readers like predictability • “Blog fading” • Try to blog on a schedule • Try writing your posts to be published later 7
    • 8. Baby Steps • Write comments on blog articles • Write reviews: restaurants, products, books, movies, music, makeup, concerts, whatever interests you (Yelp, GoodReads, Amazon, etc.) • Guest post on a friend’s blog 8
    • 9. What should I blog about?Personal Blog PR and Communications• Movies, TV, Books • How-to, tips, advice• Music, Concerts, Arts • News, stats, trends• Fashion, Makeup • Interviews, case studies• Cooking, Restaurants • Book reviews• Politics, Advocacy, Causes • Product reviews• Hobbies, Sports, Health • Share videos• Life blog, Pets • What you’ve learned• Travel, Outdoors • Agree/Dissent• Relationships, Parenting • Report on an event or• Cars, Gear, Tech, Science workshop 9
    • 10. Comment on• Organization blogs: WWPR, PRSay, PRSA-NCC Blog, DC Ad Club, Capitol Communicator• Agency blogs: Fletcher Prince Blog, Levick• Industry publications: Mashable, Ad Age,• Newspapers: Washington Post, WSJ, etc. 10
    • 11. Anatomy of a good comment • Ask a question • Every blog has a main point. Disagree or agree, but back up your opinions with evidence • Add a supporting point: add to the conversation • Clarify or disprove one of the supporting points 11
    • 12. Planning Tips Important for the workplace: • Have a focus for the blog • Craft a blog policy • Create an editorial calendar 12
    • 13. WHY should I read this blog?• Tell WHAT your blog is about – provide a description• Tell WHY your blog exists and describe the KEY BENEFIT: what’s in it for me?• WHO is the blog for? Ages, gender, geographic location, educational level, background, level of technical expertise, needs, lifestyle 13
    • 14. Example: Blog Focus• Published three times a week, The Fletcher Prince Blog is an informational resource of easy-to-understand marketingarticles and videos for small business owners and nonprofit managers who want to learn affordable marketing, public relations, and graphic design strategies to help them communicate effectively with customers or constituents.• The blog will reinforce Fletcher Prince’s brand image as a friendly, accessible, and trustworthy company and establish Fletcher Prince’s subject matter expertise in its core business areas. 14
    • 15. For each blog post, consider…• Why are you doing this? What’s in it for you? What payoff do you expect? Is this worth your time?• Who is your audience? Who will read this?• What’s in it for them? What benefits can you offer in a blog? Why should they want to read your blog?• What is the main idea of this post? (stick to one)• What do you want readers to do? (call to action)• Is this the right time? Is this the right medium? 15
    • 16. Writing Tips • Write for people AND search engines -- people SCAN • ONE big idea; stay focused • 450 words MAX; break up long posts • Compose literal titles • Use subheads • Bold-face keywords and names • Use links judiciously • Always tag • Always: categories • Deep-caption photos 16
    • 17. Images Make Blogs Enjoyable to Read DO DON’T 17
    • 18. Designing Your Blog• Logo and profile images• White background, dark text• Web-safe fonts• Sidebars and widgets 18
    • 19. Promoting Your Blog • Enable email subscription & RSS • Add to: – Twitter, Facebook – LinkedIn – Email signature – Business card • Comment on other blogs 19
    • 20. Recommended PR Blogs1. PRSay: www.prsay.prsa.org2. Beyond PR: www.blog.prnewswire.com3. Fresh Ideas: www.burrellesluce.com/freshideas4. The Publicity Hound’s Blog: www.publicityhound.net5. Levick Insights: www.levick.com/insights/all6. Social Media Club DC Blog: www.socialmediaclubdc.org7. Fletcher Prince Blog: www.fletcher-prince.com/blog8. The PR Toolkit for Nonprofits: www.amazingprmaven.blogspot.com9. PRofessional Solutions Blog: www.prstaffing.com/blog10. Mopwater PR + Media Notes: www.millerlittlejohnmedia.com11. The Eloquent Woman: www.eloquentwoman.blogspot.com12. Mr. Media Training: www.mrmediatraining.com 20