If you maintain a company blog, chances are you use it to provide helpful information to prospective and current customers. That’s fantastic. I’m here today to explain how you can make a few gentle tweaks to that blog so that it also positions executives in your company as thought leaders and gives your PR efforts an extra boost as a result.
Ready? Good. I’ve got five tips for you.
1: Include Author Names
A lot of company blogs don’t include a byline. Or maybe they have a byline to the tune of “By Company Team.” And I know that in some CMS setups, it’s hard to change from a default setting, but I’m here to tell you that it’s worth doing.
Here’s why: when you attribute blog posts to specific people within your company, you increase their visibility online. From a PR perspective, this is helpful for two reasons:
- When our media team is in conversation with reporters to secure interviews with or contributed pieces from our clients, there’s a good chance those reporters will Google our clients if they’re interested. “Hm,” these reporters will say, “I wonder what this person has said on this topic in the past.” If a blog post with their byline shows up, the evidence is clear.
- In some cases, our media team will use an existing blog post to whet a reporter’s appetite for a further discussion of an issue. For example, maybe your CEO penned a piece in response to how the last major data breach affected online purchases at your company, an online retailer. When news of the next breach breaks, our team can send that to a reporter and ask if they’d like to talk about potential impacts.
In other words, when you include author names on your company blog, you position those authors as thought leaders. Do this strategically: your CEO should be writing about high-level business concerns, while your head of HR might address training issues. And so on.
2: Post on a Regular Schedule
There’s no “right” cadence for a company blog, as long as you follow a regular pattern. Your active subscribers will expect (and ideally look forward) to something at that time. If you don’t follow your schedule, they may stop checking in (or be confused when they get your email update).
(Or they may just be bummed out, as I was last week when my favorite content marketing newsletter was a few hours late – but then it arrived and I was so relieved! And also I highly recommend subscribing.)
From a PR perspective, regular posts are important to show a new visitor that your blog is alive and well – and that the thought leaders are active participants in the ongoing conversations they’re invested in.
It looks pretty fishy if we tell a journalist about all the great thought leadership you do and when they look at your blog, they see a post you published last week, and then nothing since December of 2014. Eek.
3: Have an Angle
One of the beautiful things about having multiple authors for a single blog is that each author can have not only subject matter expertise but also a unique viewpoint on the subject they post about.
As Josh has pointed out in the past, taking a stand is really important if you’re hoping for media coverage.
Why? Because most of the media coverage you’ll get as a startup will not be about hard news. Most of it will be about something related to hard news. So if you have a unique point of view or if you can provide important insight into an issue, you’ll be much more interesting to reporters.
For example: let’s say you’re an online retailer and you see a dip in transactions in the 24 hours after news of major data breaches. That’s a mildly interesting fact. But let’s say you notice the dip happens because you have fewer new customers and that it takes about three days for levels to return to normal – and that you’ve labeled this phenomenon “fear decay.” Maybe you even have some theories about why it happens.
Wowee. That is some THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: you’re observing data, identifying a trend, and suggesting a reason why the trend is happening. This is the kind of thing that might lead a reporter to want to hear what other ideas you have about the effects of data breaches.
4: Show Awareness of the Broader Conversation
If you’ve ever taught or taken an Intro to Creative Writing class, you know that new writers often try to write stories that have already been written.
This often comes from two things: not having read enough to realize these stories are already in the world and not having written enough to discover your own voice and what you want to say.
When posting on a company blog, make sure your thought leaders aren’t rehashing tired ideas – but that they are aware of these ideas. Their posts can demonstrate an awareness of what’s already been said by doing the following:
- Mentioning and linking to related articles or reports on the topic they’re covering.
- Positioning their ideas in relation to other ideas out there.
- Clarifying for readers how their ideas are different than existing ideas.
This is important for earning media coverage because no reporter will want to cover someone who’s just repackaging old ideas.
If your company’s thought leaders aren’t used to putting their ideas in writing, help them find their voice and angle by asking them questions about current events in your industry and letting them riff.
5: Strong Writing
Bad writing can get in the way of excellent ideas.
I like to use this window analogy: clear writing is like a clean window – it lets you see the view (or ideas) beyond it. You only notice a window when it’s dirty or broken and therefore distracting you from what’s outside. And you’re only likely to notice the writing when it’s clunky or confusing and therefore preventing you from understanding the ideas it’s meant to communicate.
If the writing’s no good, the story won’t be clear.
And if leaders at your company don’t enjoy writing (or don’t have time to write), have someone interview them about relevant topics and turn those conversations into blog posts.
When we share these well-written pieces with reporters, we have a better chance of getting a response – and we might even get you an opportunity to write contributed piece.
Idea Generation for a Thought Leadership Blog
So how can leaders to decide what to write about for a company blog? Consider digging into...
- Topics you rant or rave about in meetings.
- Topics you hash out in Twitter threads.
- A topic related to the latest article you shared via email or Slack.
… or pretty much anything that you’re passionate about.
Want more tips on thought leadership? Check out presentations from past Here’s How events on the topic: