My name is (fill in blank), and I’m a shoddy corporate blog

It’s a constant source of amazement to me, partly because it happens so often. A company that won’t buy a round of drinks without a PO number, would never take a call from a journalist without a full pre-briefing from its PR agency and requires an internal audit and report before changing its stationery supplier, suddenly decides it’s time for a corporate blog…..and unleashes the office idiot on the thing.

Okay, I’m being harsh here: I admit ‘office idiot’ is a bit extreme. But the mind does boggle at why so many companies will throw caution to the wind, put their painstakingly-crafted reputations on the line and watch their corporate dignity being brutally trampled at the mere mention of the word ‘blog’.

It seems the problem is down to a poor understanding of the ‘why’ behind embarking on a social media programme. So eager are they to jump on the blogging bandwagon, that some companies completely bypass the ‘planning’ and ‘objectives’ elements of such a strategy.

Instead, one of three things happens. Either someone falls asleep in a meeting and wakes up to find they have been put in charge of ‘getting the corporate blog off the ground’. They create a space for the blog on the website, identify some clever people in the organisation and send them an email with the remit: ‘please write a blog post’. In return they get something of an equal standard.

Or someone in the marketing department hijacks the blog as an additional promotional platform – using it to post gushing sales messages, great offers, press releases, or sycophantic profiles of the MD.

Or (and this is my favourite for cringe value alone), an over-zealous director or VP decides that what he has to share with this world is of such great consequence to the rest of us, so utterly time-sensitive and so gob-smackingly brilliant that he must, just absolutely must dispense with it as quickly as possible. He spends ten minutes bashing out his groundbreaking theory and sends the revolting drivel to the hapless web manager to post.

The result of each of these is a blog full of ‘random musings’ (not my own term). These masterpieces demonstrate a clear misunderstanding of the power dynamics of a blog – it is the blogger’s job to woo his audience, not the audience’s job to search through posts with a gold pan, and any blog that cannot attract a loyal following, quite simply has failed. Instead, it litters the corporate website with reams of embarrassing, disorganised and useless (at best) diatribes.

It’s surprising how many corporate blogs reach this point, particularly as the steps in creating a successful blog are pretty straightforward – it just requires a bit of planning and pre-thought (like everything else in business – why would social media be any different?!).  Quite simply, a good corporate blog needs:

  • A theme
  • An objective / purpose that supports that theme
  • Good thoughts / content from someone smashing who works for the company
  • A writer who can gather these thoughts into something readable and flowing (not always the same person as above – don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because someone is clever they can write or people will be willing to trawl through disjointed copy to catch their drift)
  • A quality controller (who ensures compliance with a minimum standards, continuity between different posters and regular updating)

All these roles could be filled by one person, or they could be shared among the organisation. Either way, the first step towards corporate blog rehabilitation is to admit that random musings do not make a good company blog.

  • Neil Cowan

    I like what you say – even tho’ you sound a bit angry, Grrr. I also like all your summary guidelines / points as you suggest at the end of your post. I have to say I haven’t stumbled across any quite so bad as the ones you so wittily deride.

    As a part-time-ish non-regular blogger I’d also suggest some sort of regularity – mostly because I’d like to be more ‘regular’ myself.

    The biggest reason I do this is to try and get some free PR and get our name (OK, my name) out on the street. As new business guy here, I want punters to think we’re something more than just ‘marketing’ wonks. Not sure I succeed but wld like to think I don’t score the sort of lows that the subjects of your disdain do!

    But nice article which I’m going to pass on :-)Is this the right place for a plug of my own (slightly irregular) effort: ???

  • Trevor

    I’d add to the list an Editorial Calender. We set out a for the 1st year an Editorial calender that allowed us to create content around monthly themes. This gave us anchor points where we could expand on the theme or add separate ones, and response to events but always have the spine of prepared content.