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May 13, 2008

Corporate Blogging Isn’t About the Media

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I came across an interesting post today while perusing Sphinn. Search Engine Optimization Manager says the number one reason traditional corporations shouldn’t blog is because they don’t understand media. Hold me, my head hurts.

There are three things very wrong with that statement:

  1. If your company doesn’t know how to use the media to spread your message, then you’re dead in the water anyway. Either learn or close up shop.
  2. Blogging isn’t about engaging the media. It’s about engaging and empowering your customers.
  3. It’s 2008. What the heck is a traditional company?

The logic behind the post is all very confusing, especially when the author suggests that blogs are only suited for “Web-based” companies and that if you’re one of those traditional types you should stick to the “more appropriate” press release model. Right. Because a blog and a press release are the same and accomplish the same goal. Only not. Come closer so that I may I hit you.

The sooner you realize that your corporate blog isn’t about you or your company or the media and that it’s about your audience, the greater your blogger experience is going to be. Sure, blogs allow you to do lots of great things — to put a face on your company, to do reputation management, to deal with negative feedback, and to strengthen the focus of your site with new ideas and content — but you’re not doing any of that for yourself. Not really, anyway. You’re doing it for your customers. To make them trust your brand and improve their experience with you, so that they’re more likely to associate themselves with you in the future. All of this will help you in the long run, but your short-term objective is to appeal to them.

If you’re looking at your blog as a tool that you’re going to use to promote yourself or your business, just stop. You’re missing the point. You’re not going to engage or excite anyone by talking about how great you are or what you’re up to. A blog is not a press release and if you try to turn it into one so that you can be “more appropriate” you’re going to enrage the audience you meant to empower.

I also really question who these “traditional” companies are the author mentions anyway. I assume they’re talking about companies who provide some sort of offline service and who have been around for years and years. Someplace that just reeks of stodgy old money. You know, like airlines! Only JetBlue and Southwest are two companies pioneering the whole corporate blogging thing. They must not have gotten the “write a press release” memo. Don’t they look silly?

If you’re a “traditional” company that doesn’t understand how to leverage the media, then I suggest you learn. I don’t think this Web thing is going to go away. Nor will social media. You don’t want to be the great content that fails because you don’t know how to submit or promote yourself. Instead of hiding in your corner because you’re unfamiliar, try embracing it. You don’t have to jump into blogging, but I think you do have to enter the social sphere in some form.

The author is right on one point, though. You should definitely know what your end goal is before you start. You want to know how this will help you connect with your customers, whether you’ll be adding to the conversation, and if customers even care what you have to say. That’s all solid advice. However, I’d shy away from discouraging people from jumping into the conversation simply because they have no media experience or because they don’t fit the presubscribed mold. It’s like bashing Shel Israel for attempting to stray away from the short video model. Be a little daring. Go blog something. Step out of your comfort level. Stop being so “traditional”.

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3 responses to “Corporate Blogging Isn’t About the Media”

  1. Dave Davies writes:

    Lisa,

    You have just become my favorite blog writer. :)

    Keep up the great work. This was an awesome post.

  2. Catfish writes:

    This is my first year blogging and already the opportunities and feedback has been amazing. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “It’s about engaging and empowering your customers. ”

  3. Mark White writes:

    I certainly agree that companies shouldn’t be discouraged from using blogs because they don’t “get” the medium – after all, in many cases a blog post will just be like an email to a whole bunch of readers rather than just one, all gaining something (we hope!) from what we’re writing.

    But they can be used for more than just that, so I wouldn’t stop companies looking to use a blog to help promote case studies or press releases – in that case they’re using the “distribution / syndication” power of a blog rather than the conversation element. It’s a specific use for it just as using it as a customer service or tech support aid would be. As you so rightly point out, it’s the focus on the reader which is key so if it’s that sort of information they are looking for then you can feel comfortable in using the blog to provide it.



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