Archive | March, 2008

Blogs are Scary!

28 Mar

I’ve been talking to a number of clients about blogs lately.  The idea is appealing.  For a smaller organization, a blog is an easy way to gain a platform to express a point of view, engage in community discussion and connect with a wider world of potentially interested people.

But despite the hype and the promise, the idea of undertaking the responsibility of a blog is intimidating.  Why?

  • You have to feed the beast. Anyone familiar with blogs and blogging realizes that you have to post. Often.  There’s nothing more pathetic than a blog begun with great ambition and promise that lies dormant on the corporate website for three months or more.  No one wants to start what they can’t finish.
  • You want to do it right. Leaders care about the words they use.  Bloggers do, too…but (let’s face it) less so).  Style is often breezier, quicker and more casual.  It’s not that that blogs feature bad writing.  But for some, it’s hard to accept writing fast and hitting publish without making sure each post is absolutely, positively perfect.
  • It’s “one more thing.” Most people just don’t have a lot of spare time at work. The last thing they need is one more thing to add to the pile.  And let’s face it, their job is running their organization, not writing blogs.

The change that needs to take place is one of both mindset and organizational.  Organizations need to see “communications” — whether with their employees, customers, industries or sales prospects — as a daily responsibility.  Each day, week, month and quarter, leaders need to ask and answer some key questions: What are we going to talk about with our key stakeholders?  What do we want to know from them? What do we need them to do so that we can all be successful?

In my mind, this means that the corporate communciations function — and in particular public relations — will either have to add staff, or shift toward greater focus on content creation and social engagement online and reduce attention on “pitching” exclusive or semi-exclusive stories to news outlets.

Which takes us back to blogs.  They are fast, easy and online. They are interactive, and encourage feedback.  When your primary, daily focus is on content creation and social engagement, the blog becomes far more central to communications strategy, rather than “one more thing.”

Speaking of which, here’s a conversation I’d welcome:  If your organization could only start a blog if it first gave up another communications or marketing activity, what would you give up?

On Writing and Writers

27 Mar

I’m a communications consultant. I’m a brand positioning strategist. I’m a media relations expert.  I’m a public relations pro, with 15+ years at top agencies.  But first and foremost, I’m a writer.

As a writer and consultant, I counsel clients from the perspective of someone who filters every public and business communication I encounter — from product solution sheets, technical whitepapers, websites, op-ed articles, blogs or social media pages — from the point of view of, “how does this play?” I’m noting who is writing it, and who is going to read it.  How will they react? How could they have done it better?

Now, everyone writes.  My clients write clear memos. Their brochures demonstrate how their products meet a customer need. Their PowerPoint presentations successfully get their sales people and executives from point to point.

When I was with a big internatinal PR agency, my wife would sometimes ask me why clients paid all this money for something that, frankly, everyone can do themselves.  The simple answer is that business people are focused on other things.

Writers are different. We are focused, in the words of the construction trade magazine publisher where I had my first internship, on “making it sing.”  And like a good song, good writing does more than communicate — it sparks ideas, instigates converation and spurs action.  Good writing moves people — and that’s good business.

First, know your blogs, then…

22 Mar

When you’re pitching a story to anyone — reporter, editor or blogger — there are two simple rules:  1) know who you’re pitching; and 2) have a good story for them. 

Once you’ve got that down, check out blogger extraordinaire Cory Doctorow’s tips for making your website more blogger friendly. 

Welcome

12 Mar

Welcome to Ken’s Kadet Communications Blog, dedicated to the business of communications and, I hope, vigorous discussion about how we share what we learn and learn what we share in this crazy, mixed up world.

Oh, and (this is the commercial, by the way) if you need help getting your story to move people through brand positioning, communications strategy and media relations, email me at ken@kadetcommunications.com.  You’ll be glad you did!

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