There are competing schools of thought on how effective outsourcing a corporate blog will be. I’ve always been adamant that businesses should blog strictly from within the organization. It makes for more authentic content, timely interaction with readers and a shared experience across the organization.
I still stand by that philosophy whole-heartedly. However, to expect companies to learn effective blogging techniques and go from zero to sixty immediately is simply unrealistic. In fact, force-feeding a blog to an existing corporate culture almost always results in failure.
Why Many Corporate Blogs Fail
Many corporate blogs fall flat simply because of who’s chosen to be at the helm—typically a marketing manager, technical writer or creative resource from within the company. Although those folks may be fantastic at their jobs, they may not possess the qualities and authority needed to successfully kick off a successful corporate blog.
Let’s draw a comparison. If your company decided to publish its own widely-distributed printed monthly magazine, would you make your tech writer the Editor in Chief? What about if you decided to start up your own corporate TV channel? Would you choose an Art Director from the Creative Department? Chances are you’d look to an outside expert to, at the very least, kick-start those programs. Your blog should be no different.
Hire a Blog Producer
“Blog Producer” is not likely a title you’ve heard about in the social media space. Blog Producers are not common. But, boy are they awesome when it comes to launching a successful corporate blog! Hiring a Blog Producer means hiring an expert to kick-start your program, move it into high gear and position your corporate blog for success. Most importantly, a Blog Producer “teaches your team to fish” rather than depend on an outside resource, long-term.
So, what exactly does a Blog Producer do?
- Establish your blog’s goals and define a clear content strategy.
- Plan your company blog structure, organization and requirements.
- Create blog and social media policies specific to your organization.
- Identify cultural roadblocks in your organization that need to be addressed to allow for a clean blogging slate.
- Identify authors/contributors. Motivate and train them to take ownership of content.
- Create/facilitate an editorial schedule for the first 30-90 days.
- Put internal approval processes into place for comment responses and approvals.
- Manage technical and creative deadlines, plans, requirements and staff.
- Review metrics and analytics. Conduct weekly or daily meetings with your internal staff members on what’s working, what’s not and how to proceed.
- Recommend internal blog owner(s) for long-term maintenance.
- Empowers and equips your staff to manage the blog’s long-term direction, strategy, content and metrics.
Qualities to Look For in a Corporate Blog Producer
Clearly, anyone who will drive your blogging plan and efforts needs to demonstrate clear knowledge and expertise on blogging best- and worst-practices, trends and metrics. Check out their personal and professional blogs, as well as any other blogs they manage. Ask them how long they’ve been blogging. Ask them about content strategy. If they look confused, be careful. Content strategy is not just a catchphrase. Professional bloggers know the value of a solid content strategy and should be able to articulate that!
The best Corporate Blog Producers are leaders at the core. They not only know how to build your new blogging strategy—they inspire others within your organization to embrace the new medium, as well. They make blogging fun…not a chore. They educate C-Level execs and managers and gain the necessary buy-in to move the project along. Although a good Blog Producer is extremely organized, they don’t simply manage to a checklist. They include the right parties, identify opportunities, read between the lines and adjust the plan as needed.
Once you hire a Blog Producer, an executive within your organization will absolutely need to support them in whipping your internal resources into shape. Coaching, training and assigning content are only the beginning. The Producer can’t be shy about reporting back on unresponsive resources and facilitating any “push back.”
4. Organization Galore
To say that a Corporate Blog Producer needs to have Project Management skills is like saying a Secretary needs to know how to type. Make sure your Producer is organized but flexible.
5. Content Strategy Up the Wazoo
Oh wait… I already mentioned this under Expertise, above. It’s that important. Content is king…so it’s worth repeating!
6. Creative Assertiveness
Blogging needs to have a strategy, but also needs to be fluid, transparent and flexible enough to stretch and move with your day-to-day corporate culture. In short, your Blog Producer needs to be plugged in to your day-to-day culture. If David in the mail room dresses up as the CEO for Halloween, a good Blog Producer will see the opportunity to share your culture with your readers and adjust your editorial schedule as needed. As with the “authority” quality above, this will require an internal executive “sponsor” who will ensure the Producer has access to what’s needed.
7. Change Management Skills
Successful corporate blogs include cross-departmental support, participation and communication. They may often require an intense cultural shift, as well, if they are to be done well. Quality blogging delves into sides of the company not often revealed to the public. If your company culture needs some adjusting, a quality Blog Producer may not be able to change your culture outright, but should recognize what could be tweaked and what issues need to be bubbled up. For example, a large organization that is consumed with legal approval for every piece of public-facing content may need to revisit its policy. A good Blog Producer will respect internal rules but challenge them, when it means providing better content to your readers.
8. Social Savviness
Blogging can’t live without social media and vice-versa. A good Blog Producer will also be an expert on blog-friendly social networks like Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, LinkedIn and … well, as you know…the list goes on. Your producer should understand your current social media mix and objectives and know how to fold your blog into that mix.
Who managed your corporate blog’s launch? Was it successful or not?