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    Public Relations – Great PR: here are all the key posts

    David Meerman Scott has just launched his latest book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, and judging by the previous things that I have read written by him, as well as when I’ve heard him speak, then it will be well worth a read.

    At the same time, it’s great to see David practising what he preaches. In launching and promoting his book, he has created a list of individuals and bloggers who appear in the book (myself included it seems) and has then linked to them from the post announcing the book’s release. This has created an initial viral effect as many (as I have done in this post) have mentioned the book on their own blogs which of course starts the ball rolling and “spreads the word” further afield.

    I will be doing a review of the book (more…)

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    This afternoon I had the pleasure to listen to a webinar hosted by Marketing Profs and given by David Meerman Scott entitled The New Rules of PR: How to Use Press Releases to Reach Buyers Directly.

    The main elements of the webinar focused on the changes in how Press Releases should be written for today’s online dominated news services. David made clear that the days when a Press Release should be composed with editors and journalists in mind in order to get it published have most certainly gone – now we should be creating and distributing Press Releases with our potential readers (and, let’s face it, buyers!) in mind.

    Cutting it down to its bare bones, we should look at our Press Releases as crafted, keyword rich articles which we distribute through specialist channels on the internet and aim at a specific audience. In this respect, I see a lot of parallels here with how Business Blogs in their most basic form should be written and publicised, and indeed with the distribution of articles which are submitted to “article sites”.

    A Press Release is distributed through its own channels such as PR Web or Business Wire and will be available on service such as Google News; an article might go to Ezine Articles or Article Alley which will be flagged up in the main Google Search; and blogs will appear in Technorati, Bloglines and Ice Rocket before also showing up in the main Search Engines.

    However, they all have the common thread of keyword focused content designed for a target audience. We then add to them: we inject humour and personality or additional details and information which make us, the target audience, want to read them. The links that they contain can then guide us back to the relevant site or blog as well as providing additional ammunition for the link development element of our Search Engine Optimisation.

    Press Releases are a means to an end and if you have a clear idea of what you want that “end” to be, then you have an additional powerful online marketing tool at your disposal.

    Clearly my potted, and subjective, summary could never attempt to do justice to all the ideas raised and I will be looking to write more fully on the subject later. However, in the meantime, take the opportunity to read the proper version! David provides a complimentary ebook on this subject on his blog Web Ink Now, which is the perfect read for anyone interested in this area.

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    Steve Rubel highlighted last week a perfect example of the speed that news can be spread by the use of blogging in his article Gmail down, Bloggers know before Press, as it became clear that word of gmail being down spread around the blogosphere before being reported by traditional online press.

    If we take this a step further and think when the offline press would have been able to report the news then once again we see at first hand the step differences in the response times of these different types of reporting media.

    So just imagine for a second that it was a story about your own company rather than gmail – isn’t it becoming ever clearer that it is critical that you use the tools at your disposal to monitor what is being said about you in the blogosphere and so be able to respond as quickly as possible?

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    Whether or not you are not actively participating in what is happening in the online environment which includes blogs, you should at the very least be aware of the conversations that are taking place and be listening to them. These conversations may be about your industry or the marketplace in which you operate, or more critically, they may directly impact your company or your brand.

    Whichever it is, you need to have a clear and up to date view of what is being said which then gives you the opportunity to participate in that conversation should you wish to. You may wish to monitor conversations from a PR point of view and so be able to actively respond to issues raised, or it might simply be for a type of “online press cuttings” to evaluate the feeling towards your company and brand in real time.

    There are a number of companies which have come to the market with offerings which allow you to monitor what is being said. Some, such as Market Sentinel offer a comprehensive range of services which are ideal for companies and/or brands getting hundreds or thousands of daily mentions. However, for those of us with more modest brands (and budgets) then there are some excellent tools on the internet which can help us in our monitoring and our research.

    • Technorati
      Technorati currently probably retains the general Bloggers vote for where to go for information on the blogosphere and with 38 million blogs monitored as of May, it can claim to have the most comprehensive list. You can sift information using Technoratis tags, your watchlists will deliver ongoing specific searches and you can keep your favourite blogs or bloggers tracked too.

    • PubSub
      PubSub is a predominantly a matching service which notifies you when new content is created that matches your requirements. It allows you to create an enquiry and then watches out for any new information that matches it it will then notify you when a match is made but updating your own personal feed. Really quick way of keeping up to date on an hour by hour basis.

    • BlogPulse
      BlogPulse is an automated system which allows you to identify and analyse trends across blogs. Effectively, it is a blog search engine which doesnt just give a snap shot at a moment in time but allows you to analyse and report on a particular topic over time. Special features include:
      Conversation Tracker: allows you to follow a discussion that starts with an individual blog post and then spreads across multiple blogs
      Blog Pulse Profiles: helps identify and analyse the activity and influence of some of the main profile blogs
      Trend Charts: to compare trends for 3 topics and see what is being written about.

    • Bloglines
      Bloglines is probably best known as the largest online RSS Reader and as such is an ideal place to start tracking what is happening in an industry. What is allows you to do is effectively create your own news page by searching out, subscribing to and sharing news feeds from blogs and other websites.

    All of these, and the others which already exists, are of course just tools to allow you to keep an eye open as to what is being said in real time. How you react to the information you gather is the next stage but by tapping into blogs you can at least be aware of what is going on.

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    Using a Blog as the central Public Relations tool for a general or internal event can add really weight to the publicity and profile that it can achieve, as well as providing the perfect focal point for other marketing and promotional activities supporting it.

    The Event might be a conference, a seminar (or a series of seminars), an exhibition, a Trade Show or a product launch, but the requirements of being able to distribute information as widely as possible remains a key factor. Only when people know about the Event and get information on it can they choose to attend!

    What are the key elements which makes a Blog such a great tool for anyone organising an event, whether internal or to the general public? Some of the main reasons are:

    • Blogs are ideal vehicles to generate Search Engine attention and hence spread information to a wider audience

    • Marketing department can enter the information themselves so making updates are easy and immediate

    • Information remains always up to date and is permanently accessible: no need to send out hundreds of follow ups because people have lost part what they have been sent

    • Communications with attendees is simplified either using RSS or email by referring people to the information contained in the blog rather than sending it to everyone.

    • Instant feedback can be obtained from attendees to give valuable information for future events

    • It provides a central point for all information which both online and offline marketing for the event can then focus in on

    There are several phases during the event where the blog will lends extra value to the event and a valuable source of information and feedback for the attendees. These start right from the moment that the Event is announced through to the post-Event distribution of information and the ongoing ability for continued publicity for your company and your follow up events.

    The main benefits are:

    1. Announcing the Event
    The starting point is an announcement of the Event, outlining its format, its content (or expected content) and providing an explanation of its goals and who it will benefit from it. By including the framework of the event, you give the initial key information, start the work on the Search Engines visibility and give yourself the basis of future enhancements to the blog.

    2. Additions and updates to agenda
    The Business Blog format gives the perfect method of keeping the agenda up to date, no matter how many changes are made to it. It is likely that the conference agenda and the speakers will not be finalised before announcing the event but, because updating a blog needs no technical input, it can be done easily and quickly by those running the event. Updates are then instantly available and attendees can be kept up to date using RSS ideally or email.

    3. Pre-Conference Promotion
    By adding additional information on the content of the event, you can continue to drive the publicity machine through your general marketing activities and through the Search Engines. Articles around the subjects the event will cover or information from the speakers, for example, will bring people back to your blog and ensure Search Engine coverage.

    4. Commentary during the Event
    Commentary can come from two sources during the event: from the organisers as they add details about the presentations and keep coverage of the event up to date; and, perhaps more importantly, attendees can contribute their own thoughts and impressions about the event. These can be incorporated immediately and so be displayed while the event is still ongoing.

    5. Event survey
    Often surveys are run during targeted events to get feedback on certain aspects of its set-up and running, including content of the presentations or initial thoughts on the product if relating to a product launch. The survey can easily be run through the blog and then of course the results can be posted there (and distributed by RSS) or emailed out.

    6. Distributing Presentations and other downloads
    Presentations and other supporting material from the Event are often made available to be downloaded after the event. The Blog is the ideal place to post this information and, because of the focus before and during the event, it will also be the natural place for them to look.

    7. Post event appraisal
    After an event, all of the feedback and comments from the attendees who have used the Blog to comment either on the presentations or the vent itself will be invaluable to assess its success and help future developments. This, together with the event survey, will form the basis of the internal evaluation of the event.

    8. Ongoing permanent archive
    Of course, after the event, all of the content that you have created remains to be continually indexed by the Search Engines, giving a continual boost to your business profile and, for regular events, free promotion for the next one. If you wish to remove it you can, but the benefits from leaving it and letting people access it will be much more powerful.

    One event at last year which shows the power this can bring and also gives additional information on the use of Business Blogs in general was its use for Global PR Blog Week. Check out how they used it it created a large amount of publicity for the Event and continues to do so.

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