Corporate Blogging — Expert Series: Interview with Lou Hoffman. Part 1
While many companies have corporate blogs, few do them well. My goal is to share conversations with those doing interesting things in the world blogging and resources that will help you build a business blog that translates words in to sales, and taking it from good enough to great.
Interview with Lou Hoffman
To start things off I had a chat with Silicon Valley communications legend Lou Hoffman. He has been educating corporations to help them build effective corporate blogs.
Given that you founded and run a leading public relations agency, why did you start offering workshops in blogging at the corporate level?
This term “public relations” doesn’t describe how we’re supporting clients today. It’s too limiting. Our mission revolves around advising companies on applying communications to build brands and sell stuff.
Unfortunately, there are far more requests for proposals for PR agencies than communication consultancies so we need to straddle both camps for the time being. Still, our services increasingly take a holistic approach to communications particularly in newer relationships where the client doesn’t pigeon hole us as a “PR agency.”
I can’t take credit for the following description but it resonates. There are three types of media in today’s world: paid, earned and owned.
As you would surmise, paid umbrellas things like advertising.
Earned covers areas often associated with public relations like strong news, product reviews, etc. deserving of coverage.
But there’s a huge opportunity with owned media. Companies have the vehicles to become publishers in their own right and it’s not just the Fortune 500. As you and I have discussed, platforms like WordPress have reduced the barriers of entry to online publishing similar to what the LaserJet printer did for hardcopy publishing years ago.
That’s really the context for why we’re consulting and conducting workshops on corporate blogging. It fits with our charter of helping companies advance their businesses through communications.
You see corporate blogging as a unique discipline?
Plenty of training sessions address the individual who wants to blog with the objective of generating revenue and retiring to a villa in Turks and Caicos. Corporate blogging is a different game playing into a company’s thought leadership position and overall public profile.
Corporate bloggers don’t need a zillion visitors to be successful. Even a few hundred unique visitors could be a win if they’re the RIGHT few hundred people.
Companies understand blogging requires being able to tap domain expertise across their employee base. Yet, the people with domain expertise and opinions typically don’t have communications as a core competency. And they rarely understand the techniques to engage the readership in two-way dialog.
Our training fills this void.
Where does blogging fit in to corporate marketing and communications?
Corporate web sites serve as the company “face” to the public.
They tell people who you are, what you do, etc., but they tend to be fairly static especially in the B2B sphere.
Blogging enables a company to put action behind that “face,” engaging with target stakeholders as well a showing your heart, soul and smarts (needed a synonym for “heart” that starts with a “s” to complete the alliteration trifecta).
For many companies, blogging can anchor their self-publishing strategy based on owned media.
We keep hearing about how in today’s environment companies can’t control the message. Yet, blogging offers a vehicle for any company to control the communications. After all, only you have access to the blog platform console to publish a post.
And when I say “control the communications,” I don’t mean mandating that a corporate blogger write about Product XYZ Rev 3.432G making sure to include the ease-of-use message and the greater-productivity message. That would make for deadly copy to say the least.
Instead, it’s about framing a blog so the individual or individuals come across as smart and passionate. A company doesn’t need to undergo a branding exercise to identify these attributes as worth bolstering.
It’s also worth pointing out that cultivating a corporate blog ensures a company always has a platform to express its point of view directly to its target stakeholders. When Google made the decision in January to take a stand against censorship China, it didn’t send out a news release or hold a press conference. It communicated this news on its corporate blog.
-About Lou Hoffman Lou Hoffman is the President and CEO of The Hoffman Agency. It is a international communications agency with offices in Europe, Asia Pacific, and North America. You can follow Lou on Twitter at @louhoffman, become a client here The Hoffman Agency, and subscribe to his blog about the art of storytelling in business communications at Ishmael’s Corner. And here for more information on The Hoffman Agency’s A Workshop on Corporate Blogging.
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