Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

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    Spotlight on UK Blogs - all postsNow back again on Better Business Blogging, each 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!

    Simon Wakeman
    Like the man says on his blog, we’re looking here at marketing, public relations and digital communications. Great content with a clean and impactful feel to the blog so take a moment to check it out and sign up to that RSS!

    Informed Choice
    Always a bit of a pity to see a blog with good information and insight on a Blogger template but ‘hey’ ... good looking financial advice here (hopefully sound advice too!) which also nicely supports the main Informed Choice site.

    Book Mark Lee
    Nicely put together site with the aim of “Helping ambitious professionals achieve business goals” which seems like a suitably ambitious goal in itself! Yet one that Mark looks eminently able to achieve.

    Simon Dickson
    Repleat with “Simons” today and here’s another one who is well worth listening to! Interesting, varied and eminently readable. Picture reminds me of the “Wot no …!” cartoons I used to draw as a child – sorry, Simon! ;)

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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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    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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