August 2006


Better Business Blogging - Quick Bloggers Guide
Running in conjunction with the series of specifically focused Bloggers Guides which are being developed, the Better Business Blogging Quick Guides will deliver checklists for the main stages in the Business Blogging process.

These will range from setting up your blog, through marketing & promoting your blog successfully, and also deal with the wyas in which you can best achieve your marketing calls to action.

If you have areas that you would like to have covered here , then let me know and I will look to include it as soon as possible.

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There is still a reticence for people to start to use blogging in a corporate environment. Often, this comes from the feeling that they would be tackling something that they do not totally understand and that they are concerned about the long-term commitment that they are taking on.

However, there are ways to alleviate these concerns by taking steps which can ease you into the Corporate Blogging process and help you to feel more comfortable as you get started. The following tips appeared from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and attributed to Debbie Weil who has just launched her book on corporate blogging called The Corporate Blogging Book.

(The headings are from the original post, the commentary is my own)

Tip #1. Think about blogging strategically
Business blogs can positively impact many different areas of an organisation: marketing, product development, customer service, human resources to name but a few. These are all areas which have a strategic impact on the organisation at a number of levels. If you treat your Corporate Blog as the strategic tool that it is, then you will find that this focuses the mind wonderfully on what you want to say, how you express and to whom. The strategic as well as tactical benefits from a Corporate Blog are often key when organisations decide they must incorporate a blog into their business activities.

Tip #2. Consider starting an event-specific blog
Blogs are an ideal tool on which to build the marketing and organisation of a Conference, Seminar or Exhibition as I outlined in Business Blogs for great Event Publicity. They have the added advantage that the work in terms of writing and posting is finite – even if the marketing benefit lives on afterwards! Therefore if the worry about the ongoing nature of a Corporate Blog is stopping you from even starting, then use it for a Conference or Exhibition – the results will soon convince you to extend its use further!

Tip #3. Get familiar with the convention of blogging
There are two key ways of getting more familiar with the idea of blogging: watching and practising. So, firstly take the time to read what other people are writing and how they are writing about it there is a huge range available so you should find many examples of ones which you particularly like. Then plan your own and start to write it until you publicise it, a blog will remain private which will allow you to practise until you feel comfortable. Alternatively, consider the approach suggested in a recent post on Blogging For Business called Throw Away Blogs – a Trial Blog where you write a blog on a subject which you can abandon as required. Finally, and particularly useful if you are evaluating who might write a corporate blog from within your company, start an internal blog aimed at your own staff and develop it from there – you’ll get great input.

Tip #4. Don’t worry about running out of things to say
You are knowledgeable in your area of expertise and you are in an industry which is constantly developing in one way or another. Therefore there are always going to be areas that you can write about. In fact, once you start to write a Corporate Blog, you will find that the issue is not that you run out of things to say but that you have to carefully select which items you wish to focus on because you will not have the time to cover everything.

Tip #5. Just do it
Ultimately, you need to launch the blog and start to write – you have had some practice, you have seen what others are doing and you have set up your sources of information (including RSS). Now, plan out your first few “Foundation” posts and start to write. If you feel that you need to change things and react to the feedback you get, then you can do so – even the largest companies take feedback and adapt accordingly when launching a Corporate Blog, so don’t worry if you feel you want to as well.

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Spotlight on UK Blogs - all postsEach week, I will be highlighting some of the Business Blogs which exist in the UK. The aim is to show a cross section of what people and businesses are writing about and how they are approaching the task of using blogs in their business activities. As a result, you’ll find that these posts will contain a mix of Blogs displaying a range of topics and styles.

In addition to this weekly selection, I am working with others to build a comprehensive list of Business Blogs in the UK. So if there are UK blogs which you have visited and would recommend (including your own!), then please let me know by leaving a comment or sending me a message. Thanks!

The Just Giving Blog
The Just Giving Blog is designed for people who use Justgiving to build their personal fundraising pages and require support in maximising online donations.

Being Kintished
Will Kintish looks to show people in the professional, financial and service-based communities how to attract more business and clients.

PR Blogger
Stephen Davies writes on PR, marketing, media, technology and the world around him.

Human Law
Written by Justin Patten, with a focus on Law, Technology and People, and an aim to bring the use of technology to Law Firms.

Open Gardens
Ajit Jaokar’s much acclaimed blog which deals with issues around mobile web 2.0 and Wireless Mobility.

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Well, it has certainly been an interesting first month’s ride for Dell’s Blog! Divided opinion at the start from various bloggers on the format and content, lots of listening and interaction and now a change of name from One2One to Direct2Dell because of an Adult site which is also called One2One! Phew!

So, what’s coming next? I guess that we’ll have to wait and see.

It is, however, interesting to watch the changes happen and I have no doubt that there will still be more to come. Most of us launching a Business Blog go through the same sort of initial debates and modifications, albeit not under the intense scrutiny that Dell has had.

While I do believe that a lot of what has happened could and should have been foreseen and planned for, nevertheless, there are certainly some positive lessons that we should take from the way in which Dell has dealt with this:

  • Plan ahead properly prior to launch but be ready and able to adapt
  • Accept and respond to criticisms online, but also offline where appropriate
  • Continue to communicate with all your readers, don’t just focus all your attention on your critics
  • Keep your readers informed, and explain why you are doing what you are doing
  • Don’t chop and change – if you decide to make a change then have the courage of your convictions and do it properly

  • Outline your intentions going forward so that your readers know where you are heading

All about communication really and keeping your readers informed – and of course there’s no better way to do that than through your blog!

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I am a great fan of WordPress and it is the blogging platform I would recommend to anyone setting up a business based blog.

In trying to help new users understand how to use a blog, WordPress includes three posts when they install the software: a post, a comment and an ‘About’ page. These are designed to show how each of these appear in the Blog and are extremely useful as such.

However, as Darren Rowse at Problogger has outlined this in his post The problem of ‘About’ Default pages, you have to remember to take them out when you start your blog for real, and while the dummy ‘Post’ and ‘Comment’ are easy to remember, don’t forget the ‘Page’ as well!

But don’t delete it, just edit it – having a good profile page is very important as I outlined in my post, Don’t ignore your Profile Page.

There are a couple of other points which are good to remember as well. Firstly, remember to change the Blog tagline which is set at “Just Another WordPress Blog” – this you should replace with something that reallt states the objectives of your blog. It is also displayed by many WordPress themes (templates). If you are not sure how to replace it, then in the ‘backoffice’ of your WordPress installation (where you create the posts), go to the “Options” area in the menu and you will find it there under “General Options”.

The second point is just as vital if you are going to make sure that your blog doesn’t look like thousands of others, and that is changing the default template – known as Kubrick – that WordPress comes with. I still find so many blogs which appear with the standard blue box at the top which is really a shame, because no matter how good their content, they are still going to be ignored simply because they haven’t taken the time to differentiate their blog in terms of its look and feel.

If you wish to change to a different look, then you have two options: either, have a design created for you or a theme modified to fit with the format of your site (something we can do) or simply select a theme from the many available and load it into your blog. One of the best places to find a good WordPress theme is a recently created site called WordPress Theme Viewer, so check it out and make sure your look and feel works as hard for you as your text!

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