I recently began a book blog, BOOKS NOW! (www.dinaross.com.au) because even though I had blogged for clients, created PR campaigns on Facebook and produced corporate podcasts, I had very little personal experience of social media. (I’m also passionate about books, so I thought I’d jump into the conversation).
And I’ve learned a huge amount. I’ve discovered that my professional experience can influence and assist my personal one – and vice-versa. Here’s just a few things I’ve found out on my blogging journey:
1. You wouldn’t launch a PR campaign without a plan, so don’t blog without one.
My first few blog posts were reviews and musings chosen at random because I was anxious to dip my toe into blogging waters. The result? I started to panic I wouldn’t have enough content to fill forthcoming weeks. I realised very quickly that I needed to plan my schedules month by month so I could read ahead, organise interviews and contact publishers, so I would have a regular drip feed of material. My plan encompassed my rationale for blogging, the style I’d adopt, the audience I wanted to reach and how I would reach them. I gave myself a timeline for achieving my objectives, to help keep me focused.
don’t blog without a plan
2. PR campaigns need an individual voice and so do blogs
PR campaigns succeed when they have something interesting and original to say and do so compellingly. There has to be an underlying story to every campaign, it’s not just spin. Flog a dead horse, you’ll still be left with a dead horse. Blogs too, need that ‘numero uno’ quality. There are some really wonderful blogs out there and some absolutely terrible ones. The best offer a fresh take on a subject, and the blogger has an individuality that makes the reader take notice.
3. Less is more
Some of the best PR campaigns I’ve ever been involved with were really simple: a News poll survey and accompanying media release yielded hundreds of clippings for a grateful client; another client’s interview in just one highly-respected magazine snowballed into requests for media appearances all over the world. Similarly, blog posts can be snappy and still pack a punch. And today’s shorter attention spans also need to be taken into account.
4. Pictures are worth a thousand words and a clear-lay out wins friends
In PR, they always say that a photo in a newspaper or a TV clip is better value than column inches. I’m learning to incorporate more visuals into my blog. Huge slabs of text aren’t reader-friendly and I turn away from blogs that are tightly packed and written in small font that makes my eyes glaze. You want your consumers or readers to switch on, not switch off!
5. Feel what they feel – build the empathy
Now that I’m blogging myself, I can understand how anxious clients get when they look over material I’ve written: it’s their baby down on that page, in that flyer, in that campaign, something they’ve taken years to develop and nurture and grow. I’m my blog’s sole client now, so I choose my words carefully – I don’t want to be misinterpreted or misunderstood. I also want my words to reach out to my audience and to build a sense of community.
I also want my words to reach out to my audience and to build a sense of community
6. Keep researching
I always tell PR clients that our campaigns will be regularly evaluated and re-evaluated to ensure we’re on track. Campaigns need to be flexible, along the way messages may be refined or re-tested, new information may come to light necessitating a strategy rethink. With blogs too, research is your best friend. What are other similar blogs doing well, what can you learn from them so you can make yours even better?
7. Give it time
PR campaigns don’t yield results overnight. Good PR is an investment, in time as well as money. It can be months before the first indications of success come through, whether you’re measuring column inches, consumer behaviour patterns, reputation management or audience reach. Building a blog community happens by word of mouth. My readership is still small, but it’s growing week by week and more and more people are following me. My blog is a salutary exercise in patience, but it also makes me realise how stressed my clients get waiting for results. Just as I’ve learned to share every success with them immediately, so I pat myself on the back every time someone likes a new post, or subscribes to the blog. Every post is another step closer to achieving the goals I have set out for Books Now!
Top image: Credit