Time flies when you’re developing content. It’s been more than 10 years since early-adopter companies started “blogging.” Today, thousands of companies and non-profits across the country are devoting significant resources towards their blogs. As a continuation of our Talking Points event series, last week Bellmont Partners and Arik Hanson of ACH Communications brought together more than 50 guests and three panelists who oversee some of the more prominent and longer-running corporate blogs in Minnesota for a discussion on where blogging is headed. Chris Havens of Best Buy, Krysta Larson of C.H. Robinson, and Kevin Hunt of General Mills shared insights about what they’ve learned along the way and where they’re heading with their blogs in 2018 and beyond. Among other things, our panelists offered insights on the following topics:
The New Press Release
In many ways, blogs have become a modern news release platform for brands to tell their stories and share content with the media as well as their direct audience. Our panelists agreed that they see their own blog as a means to distribute news as it gives them the freedom to craft the story the way they want it to be told. Blogs also have a longer shelf-life than press releases, Kevin Hunt reminded us. Sometimes he’ll experience a story getting picked up by media five to seven months after the blog was originally written.
From subject matter experts to executives and even sales reps – many teams are asking questions about how and when to engage the corporate team for more thought-leadership content. While signing an executive’s name can sometimes garnish further reach and engagement, it can take a lot more work to edit, coordinate and execute when authorship comes from outside of the communications team. If external team members are engaged, it’s best to limit their involvement to a specific beat or category, or for stories that really reflect back on their personality – keeping content creation and promotion to about 10 hours max for any given blog post from start to finish and keeping employees within their strengths.
Engagement and Measurement
Bloggers are caught in a unique position between readers who are looking for valuable content and corporations who need to push products and services. Effective blogging can’t be measured directly by leads or retail foot traffic, panelists reminded us. “It’s a long game,” Chris Havens concluded. While social engagement insights, website traffic and SEO can help to communicate value up the ladder, it’s important to remember that certain intangibles like brand affinity won’t be tracked the same way that marketing tactics will. The best blogs are a service to their readers.
When in doubt, remember your audience and keep them at the forefront when making decisions about content, authorship, distribution, engagement and measurement. How can your blog evolve this year to add more value to your readers, engage with media more effectively or tell the stories that will build brand loyalty or affinity?