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e-PR lecture 3: blogging


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Third of 12 lectures in the University of Notre Dame Australia e-PR unit 2011. Slide notes are "raw" and have not been edited.

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e-PR lecture 3: blogging

  1. 1. Blogs, and writing for SMThis lecture is not just about blogs, though that will form a main part of it. It’s about writing for manyforms of social (digital) media.
  2. 2. Blogs
  3. 3. What are they?Blogs are regularly updated Web sites, usually featuring comments and links.
  4. 4. Why care? Blogs are now a standard source of news and info 77 million+ Americans visit blogs 346 million blog readers worldwide Source: TechnoratiTechnorati has been monitoring blogs since 2004.
  5. 5. Why care?Blogs are a two-way streetfor PR people: Lead the discussion on your blog Join the discussion on theirs
  6. 6. Why me (us)? • CV • To learn • Develop skills • Meeting ‘place’ • Assessed! Why should students blogs, apart from the fact it is a PR tool and you should have familiarity with it.•Your blog becomes your CV (resume)•Blogging is a great way to learn from others•It helps you develop writing and technical skills•It allows you to meet people and develop a network (blogroll)•Your blog can be assessed as PR practice coursework•
  7. 7. Where did they come from? 1967 — Internet is born 1979 — First discussion boards 1992 — First Web site
  8. 8. 1994 — First online diaries1997 — Term "WebLog" is coined1998 — Open Diary becomes the first WebLog tool1999 — "Weblog" becomes"blog"
  9. 9. 1999 — LiveJournal1999 — Blogger2001 — Movable Type2003 – WordPress
  10. 10. Beautiful, wasn’t it?
  11. 11. Why blogs were a big deal • Blogs changed the way people saw the Web • You could create, react, communicate • For the first time ever, anyone could make content for a global audience And they still can. But are they still relevant and serving a purpose?
  12. 12. And now? Today’s ‘blogosphere’ • Most bloggers males • 51,000 blogs an hour • High (yet low) Facebook usage • Mobile blogging on rise Source: Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2010Technorati conducts an annual review of what happening on all things online, including blogs.Interesting to compare 2008 with the most recent report in 2010. •51,938 new blogs created in the last 24 hours •80 per cent of bloggers use Twitter ... to promote their blogs •87% use facebook ... but only 34% use it to promote their blogs. Most don’t link the two accounts. •Increase in use of mobile devices to write blogs. •Rise in niche topics (as discussd in previous lectures) = the Long Tail. Eg, Mom Bloggers who also focus on fitness.
  13. 13. Blogging code (etiquette) • One rule: do no harm • Reputation • Truth • Confidentiality • PrivacyBefore looking at what makes good and bad blogs, let’s just remember one thing. Just one rule.Just because youre free to say whatever you like doesnt mean its always a good idea. (What answershould you give if a friend asks: does my bum look big in this?) In practice, there are legal and culturalconstraints on free speech.To provide some context, lets take a look at the Hippocratic Oath, written by Greek physicianHippocrates (born 460BC-D 370BC), that has been of use to doctors since the time of the Ancient Greeks.Derived from this, our student blogging code has only one point, plus some clarifications: First, seek to do no harm Avoid damaging your own reputation, or the universitys, or anyone elses Tell the truth, and wherever possible check your facts Respect confidentiality (not everything you hear is for public information) Retain some privacy (safety first)
  14. 14. The good and bad• Easy to start• Hard to develop
  15. 15. Most read blogs 1. Huffington Post 2. Mashable 3. TechCrunch 4. Business Insider 5. SOurce: http://www.huffingtonpost.comSource:, 10 August 2011. They have top 100.What makes them readable? Go have a look.
  16. 16. How business uses blogsMay 24, 2011 1. Developing and updating your blog will require an investment of both time and thought, so before you get started, consider whether you can stick to a regular update schedule. 2. Keeping your content fresh will help show your readers that you’re serious about your business. Your posts don’t have to be long, but you’ll want to keep them interesting with up-to-date news, facts and figures, commentary, and other useful information. 3. Make a schedule for yourself, and dedicate time each week for brainstorming, researching article ideas, and writing your posts. 4. Become THE expert! When you write on a topic and the reader learns something, you have just become an expert.  Then, the next time your reader has a thought or question about your industry, he’ll come to you as the business that can give him the solution or information he’s looking for. 5. A blog is NOT a brochure. Brochures can be boring and are rarely read from beginning to end. Your blog is a place to share useful content. Instead of “We’re the best at XYZ”, show your readers how your skills actually helped someone, how your product solved a problem or how your expertise saved a client time or money. 6. Be sure that your small business blog focuses on the relevant keywords in which you are writing.  If you own an office supply store, you’ll want to focus your text on the various products you sell and the solutions they offer. 7. Don’t just talk about how you’ve won “Best Auto Repair Shop in Franklinville, MN” for 10 years running. I recommend a 90/10 ratio of interesting content to self-promotion. 8. Be sure that your business blog focuses on consistent, fresh, and relevant content. Be up on the latest trends in your industry. That shows that you are current, involved in the latest industry trends and serious about what you do. 9. How often should you blog? I’d recommend writing at least once a week, on a regular basis. If you have the staff or time, it would be best to blog 2-4 times a week. But the most important word is CONSISTENCY. If you blog 10 times in two weeks and then wait 4 months before you blog again, your SEO will not benefit and your readers may think you’re ‘fly-by-night’. 10. Make it easy for your readers to contact the blog author. Be sure that your pages have an email link included. 11. Who should write for your blog? You need someone who is invested in the business and has good, all around knowledge of what you do and why it’s beneficial. For a very small business blog, the owner or lead sales associate might be a good fit. For a larger business, the Marketing Team would most likely oversee the blog. Also, good business blogs allow the perspectives of various employees shine on that blog. Let them share their personal stories and experiences with your readers. And, don’t forget to choose people who have good writing skills! 12. Be sure to use social media to promote your blog. Post your blog links on Facebook and Twitter. Share photos on flickr or videos on youtube. Throw a flier in your shopping bags or on your counter to let people know your blog exists.
  17. 17. Doing it right Why it’s great: •Funny •Charming •Fits the brand
  18. 18. Why it’s great: •Candid •Responsive •SincereGM powered blog filled with automotive related facts, events and reviews.
  19. 19. Doing it right Why it’s great: •Unfiltered •Entertaining •InsightfulInsight into the technology SmugMug uses itself, plus general coverage of consumer offerings.
  20. 20. The wrong way• Fake blogs• Created and forgotten blogs• Commenters locked out
  21. 21. Break
  22. 22. When business should blog• You consistently have something to say• The writer has authority• Youre willing to be candid• Something in it for the readers
  23. 23. When they shouldn’t• No one can write• Youre just rehashing press releases• Theres no motivation to read it
  24. 24. And also ... • Poor skills exposed • Employment outcomes • Reputation • If you have a thin skin! Any lazy thinking and poor writing skills will be exposed to scrutiny and criticism - perhaps many years from now. (Its an instant publishing medium, but not a disposable one.) Employers may judge you on your blog: does it show insight, determination and an ability to learn? In short, have you shown that you have what it takes? Or does it show you to be a gossip who just cant keep confidences? Publicity is easy; a good reputation is much harder to gain and sustain. A student blog about your sex and drugs and rock n roll lifestyle might gain you short-term publicity. But think: will it impress a potential employer; will it please your mother? Most people are encouraging, but the anonymity of screen-and-keyboard encourages some to be rude. You may need to develop a thick skin.
  25. 25. The best blogs ... • Converse • Frequent • Say something • Network • Show • Original something • Considered! They join the conversation. Posting comments on other blogs shows youre an active participant in the community. It also gets your name out there, and will bring traffic to your blog. They have something to say. Since you cant be an expert in everything, the best bloggers pick their niche, and become useful commentators in this subject. They have something to show. New media is by definition new to everyone; many bloggers are happy to share tips and techniques. The best think visually as well as verbally. They speak up frequently. In general, the more often you post, the more traffic you will build. But if you talk over others in a conversation when youve nothing to say, people will start ignoring you. Good bloggers post frequently - but only when they have something to say. They build networks. Linking to others writing about your subject helps build your credibility; it also encourages others to link back to you, so boosting your traffic and your Google PageRank. They get there first. The web is a good place for recycled information (the long tail): but someone has to initiate ideas and information. Theres a premium placed on being first with the news.They weigh their words. Speed can count against quality, yet the best bloggers are considered evenwhen theyre being quick. No one wants to read thousands of words on screen, so your few words musthave meaning and impact. Think what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible
  26. 26. Avoiding poor outreach 1.Partnership 2.Dialogue 3.CommunityThis is a simple three point plan for executives to have a better shot at engaging on line. It also applies toTwitter.1 Establish Your Credibility (Partnership)One of the missing links in blogger outreach is a personal connection with the PR executive. The PR person doesthe blog on behalf. Avoid the impersonal by setting up a page for the exec. A bit about who YOU are, who you workfor, how long youve been doing what you do.Take it a step further to outline the goals of the outreach, tell us about your client, post some interesting links orexisting press. In short, be transparent.2 Find Common Ground (Dialogue)Make it easy for people to connect, either an easy to submit feedback form, or a phone number that you click on. Aservice called Jangl allows you to fill in an email address for your contact, after which Jangl will give you a Janglphone number to call them and leave a personal message. Jangl will then email your voicemail and provide them alocal number to call you back on.3 Create a Sense of Community (Community)once youve established the group, you need to invite your network to join it. Browbeat everyone at your firm, yourclient, their contacts and the bloggers youre reaching out to join your Facebook group. The idea is that if Facebookmembers see their friends joining a group, theyre more likely to join too. Voila! Instant community.
  27. 27. Blogger outreach One-third of bloggers have been approached to be brand advocates.Selling children on video game consoles is a relatively easy thing, but if you can sell a parent on the idea ofthe console... youre going to make some money. Microsoft had 1,000 women throw "Xbox 360" parties attheir homes with friends and family, in order to show off the family-friendly games and the media functions ofthe system. "Xbox found women including Maldonado and Chicago-area resident Danielle Jamil through a service calledHouse Party, which sets up home parties for marketers," USA Today reported. "House Party has a database of100,000 names of people who have provided a profile of personal information and who want to be brandadvocates. The advocates host a preplanned party to show off the marketers brand to their friends"The women were given microwave popcorn, 1,600 points to spend on Xbox Live, a remote control, a three-month trial of Xbox Live, and a copy of Scene It? Box Office Smash in order to push the console on theirguests. They had to provide their own systems.
  28. 28. Types of most-read blogs 1.Quick tips 5.Interviews 2.How to 6.Best of 3.Reviews 7.Personal 4.Resources 8.News Source: Blog Traffic Exchange, July 2011Type #1 – “Quick Tips” Blog PostsThese are between 100 and 250 words and share ideas that are relevant but that do not justify writing a full blog post.Quick Tips blog posts are popular blog posts because they are short, simple and to the point.Type #2 – “How To” Blog PostsThese blog posts provide more details and an expanded information format in comparison to the quick tips popularblog posts. These blog posts will tell your readers how they can do specific things that relate to your niche.Type #3 – “Review” Blog PostsThis blog post is pretty explanatory, and involves writing a product or a service review to help your readers make adecision in the buying process. Review products and include affiliate links to give you an opportunity to makecommissions on your blog posts.Type #4 – “Resource” Blog PostsThis is another one of the most popular blog posts, and all that it is, is a resource list. Blog readers tend to really lovelists of resources, so make sure that you provide them occasionally.Type #5 – “Interview” Blog PostsBlog readers also tend to enjoy interview posts, especially those that interview someone that they admire or care aboutknowing more about. This is what makes these such popular blog posts. Interview posts are also popular for drivingtraffic to your website.Type #6 – “Best Of” Blog PostsThese popular blog posts are great for end of the year wrap ups. If you do a lot of reading, list your favorite articles,guides or books that you have enjoyed over the span of the past year, or highlight your own most popular blog posts ina post wrap up.Type #7 – “Personal Story” Blog PostsEvery blog reader appreciates a personal story. The people that follow your blog will appreciate these popular blogposts because they relate to you and your niche simultaneously. Talk about new products that you bought, seminarsthat you visited, mishaps that you learned something from and so on.Type #8 – “News” Blog PostsEvery single niche has important news and related happenings that you can post about. Keep your ears and your eyesopen so that you can provide some of these popular blog posts as well.
  29. 29. Why reach out to blogs? • Bloggers are influential even beyond their blogs • A little time and money goes a long way • 8 of 10 bloggers post product reviews • Search engines love blogs Aussie SM expert Laurel Papworth target influential bloggers (and tweeters) with SM releases
  30. 30. HP’s “31 Days of the Dragon” Campaign • Gave laptops to 31 bloggers • Laptops then given away to readers • 84% increase in HDX Dragon sales • 10% increase in overall PC salesHereʼs another case study of a company seeking brand advocates, or evangelists.
  31. 31. Keys to connecting with bloggers • Honesty • Limited expectations • Knowledge of the bloggerSo, apart from finding out who they are, how do you actually reach and connect (correctly) with these people?And what actually makes these blogs influential?
  32. 32. Like any PR pitch, it has to be personal. Recently did email to 46 people, all addressed individually.
  33. 33. Writing for blogsYou’ve got the background on blogs, now you just need to start developing yours.Remember all this should be done in conjunction with Twitter. Remember that the two are inclusive.You should be using one to promote the other.But how do you write for blogs?In many ways we go back to Business Comms. Oh no, I hear you say.Just to recap, it’s a logical process, but everyone develops their own process.However, it’s a three step process: 1. Brainstorming, 2. Writing, 3 Proofing.
  34. 34. 1. Brainstorming • Free write • Blind write • Catalog your ideas • Scan the InternetInspiration is the first. But what inspires you; particularly if you’re writing a blog with a deadline, andnot merely responding to a whim.Our class blogs are set to deadline and will depend on what you believe is worthwhile reading. For thatreason, you will need to be aware of the techniques available to you.•Free write•BLind write•Catalog•Scan
  35. 35. 2. WritingAt this stage let’s just stick to a few simple guidelines (not rules) about writing for blogs, indeed websites.
  36. 36. 3. Proofing • Spelling • Layout • TypesizeYou are limited in many respects when using blogs. This is particularly the case in this unit, where thefocus is on content (the writing) and not the look of the page. However, there are three things youshould do:Spelling – Unless the blogging tool (and there are many of them) has an inbuilt spell check, write yourdocuments in Word. Make sure you have AUst or UK spelling on, not US. This is also useful to obtain aword count.Layout – Not so much a priority, but you can add various elements and design styles to your blog togive it a more personal feel. For example, you may want to add blogs you follow to your blog list (seeND blog)Typesize – A larger type face can make for better readibility and help you spot mistakes. This is alsosomething to consider when writing for older audiences. You should also use a serif type for yourbody copy.
  37. 37. Web sites:evaluating internet properties
  38. 38. • Theirs • YoursYou’ll be looking at others web sites in order to develop or enhance yours.1. Others’ web sites (you will pitch to) or try to influence.2. Your web site.For the most part, much of this will be done by an expert. But in many companies (particularlyconsultancies) the PR person will probably be responsible for driving any investigation and puttingtogether a report.You need to be at least have a basic proficiency in evaluation.
  39. 39. Research your target 1.Look 2.Content 3.Size 4.Reach 5.Audience 6.Relationships (links, comments)You shouldn’t send material to a magazine if you don’t know about that magazine. In the same way,you needs to assess or evaluate web sites you want to influence. You will also want to know aboutother web sites when planning yours.For the most part this simple checklist should suffice about what you would want to know?1.Look - layout, navigations, type, colours, graphics2.Content - contributors, enthusiasts, individual, owner/s, relevant, up to date (some offers expired).Is it push or pull?3.Size - no. Pages, amount of information, text or graphics?4.Reach - somewhat difficult, but can be gleaned from other places its mentioned, its links (to whom),search engine ranking (look up online software now and do an analysis)5.Audience - WHO WOULD BE INTERESTED, WHO IS IT TRYING TO reach?6.Relationships (links, comments)
  40. 40. Rule 1 • The reader knows nothing• Every page should be written as if the user hasn’t seen the rest of the site• Some of them may not even know where they are.
  41. 41. How people read on the web • Slower than on paper • Skim and scan • Key words and phrasesThey also only• Pay attention to only some parts of the page• Are guided by headings, links and bullet points• Are action oriented (get them to do something).
  42. 42. The F pattern,Studies have been done on how people view pages. This shows two horizontal stripes followed by a verticalstripe. (HIT ARROW TO SHOW F PATTERN)Researcher Jakob Neilsen (2006) studied people’s eye movements and this is what he cam up with.From these patters it’s clear that ...?the readers attention drops away quickly, and on the right-hand side.What does this mean for you when putting together a web site?
  43. 43. Implications of the F pattern • Won’t read • First 2 pars vital • Use active, info.-loaded words • Not a rehash• Users wont read your text thoroughly• The first two paragraphs must state the most important information• Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying wordsKeep pages short. No more than 2 pages of scrolling. Some now using scrolling across.The main implications I that you shouldnʼt just be rehashing whatʼs in your printed literature.
  44. 44. General tips • Write for your audience • Determine your purpose • Active • Personal • Friendly • Personal but not too casual • Write for your audience - who are they? • Determine your purpose – Inform, entertain, educate, motivate, solve a problem? • Active • Personal • Friendly • Personal but not too casual- inform, entertain, educate, motivate, solve problem* But you’ve still got to be gramatically correct.Very much like journalism style (inverted pyramid). HIT FOR PYRAMID
  45. 45. Finding your web site