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Five Corporate Blog Must-Haves

One of the most common questions I am asked is, “What does it take to have a successful corporate blog?” While there are probably thousands of articles answering that question from an editorial perspective, the amount of information that exists from an operational perspective pales in comparison. And due to that, I find that I am spending as much time with my clients helping them organize themselves operationally for blogging as I do editorially.

From an operational point of view, there are five blogging systems that every corporate blog must have in place to ensure efficiency, responsiveness and just plain ole’ smoother sailing.

Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is a must. We’ve all heard this by now. In fact, Michele recently wrote a great article on the topic, How to Put Together an Editorial Calendar, just a few weeks ago. The key point I like to stress about an editorial calendar is that the process of creating the calendar is as important, if not more so, than the end result.

Here’s why:

  • Before you start your editorial calendar, you need to know your topics and content types. You also need to categorize the topics relative to their importance to your readers. I like to use primary, secondary and tertiary.
  • You need to have your buyer personas defined and listed (your readership).
  • You need to have your list of authors and their availability prepared (your resources).
  • That’s right: the editorial calendar is really just a by-product of the editorial planning process. The calendar provides you with the dates, but its real benefit is the clarity it provides into the frequency with which you are covering specific topics (you should write most about your primary topics), the audiences you’re writing for, and who will do the writing.

Publication Schedule

For all the benefits an editorial calendar offers, it only provides one date: the publication date. It does nothing for all the activities that must take place prior to publication. Enter the publication schedule. It is used to plan the pre-publication development process and milestone dates of articles, including writing, copy editing, proofing, approvals, posting the article to the blog platform, optimizing, etc.

The publication schedule plays a very important role in identifying the deadlines that must be met to ensure that the final publication date is not missed.

Blog Article Writing Guidelines

On the surface, writing a blog article looks so simple. In fact, that is often the exact point of view of first-time contributors. It’s not until you get the first draft from them that you realize they have very little understanding of how to write effectively for a blog.

Blog article writing guidelines are the answer to this problem. While blog article guidelines will not make a poor writer a good one, they will ensure your articles meet your word length requirements, have the right tone and align with your editorial goals.

Negative Comment Handling Procedure

It is going to happen. You will receive negative and disparaging comments and complaints on your blog posts. Knowing and accepting this in advance allows you to get prepared. It is absolutely imperative that you establish a procedure for handling negative comments with professionalism and tact. Be sure the appropriate people in your company are involved in the process.

If you are not sure where to start, turn to your procedure for handling any type of customer complaint. The channel really shouldn’t matter, right? Your approach should be one that focuses on turning the negative experience into a positive one. Complaining customers aren’t new, nor should the way you handle them be (unless your new way is better).

So get the process pre-defined. It will ease the emotional impact and panic that could occur if you are not prepared and help you react logically and rationally.

Crisis Management Plan

A blog can play a very important role in crisis communications. Its ability to share facts and help you stay ahead of the news cycle is unprecedented. In the past, as a company, you were at the mercy of the media. Now with a blog, you have the opportunity to address the public and share the message that is important to you, the public, and your stakeholders as frequently as you like and with the immediacy that you may need.

That said, if and how you use your blog during a crisis is not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s one that should be made in advance so that valuable time during a crisis is not wasted on debating the merits of using the blog to communicate. Get a plan in place ahead of time and be prepared to execute on it if the need arises.

To conclude, to be successful with corporate blogging you need much more than a plan for writing and editorial. Corporate blogging success involves making changes to the way your business operates and establishing systems to better support this new form of communication (read publishing).

As I said in my recent article, 10 Corporate Blogging Pitfalls To Avoid, if you are flying by the seat of your pants, your long-term blogging success is doomed. Get these five blogging systems in place and begin experiencing the benefits right away.