October 22, 2014

How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years

Posted by: of Stephan on 05/14/13

I left my blog dormant for a few years, but I’m finally back in the saddle! I drafted up a post entitled “How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years” because it seemed fitting. Here are my main points to get you started:

1. Jump in and write something. No apologies. Or a lengthy explanation or justification for being off the grid.

2. Get some tools or processes in place that will make it as painless as possible to post. Like Dragon – which incidentally is available as an iPhone/iPad app.

3. Hire a virtual assistant if that will help you. (More on using VA’s in a future post).

4. Roll out a site redesign at the same time to let everybody know you’re reengaged and committed.

5. Don’t try to get all your readers all caught up on your life all in one post. You’ve got plenty of fodder for many blog posts – so save it for later.

6. Finally, silence the perfectionist in you. I have this bad habit of pouring over my blog posts – my articles even more so – trying to make them perfect. I put a dozen hours or more into articles on search engine land. That’s crazy. That’s not good use of your time. Much better to freeze all those great ideas and insights stuck in your head – share them with the world. It’s okay if the sentence structure isn’t always on the mark. It’s a blog post for Pete’s sake.

Why Businesses Don’t Blog in the UK

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 11/6/06

An excellent article in E-consultancy about online PR and why businesses are not blogging.

His comments about PR agencies applies as much to the US and it does to the UK

“Ask them to explain how Google works. Ask them about RSS. Ask them about anchor text. Ask them to give you some tips on online copywriting. Ask them why blogging would be a bad move, with all the above in mind  The fact is that most PR agencies are not even vaguely qualified to advise you on blogging, or even about online PR.”

If you are in PR or marketing and you can’t answer these questions,  you should have been at the Advanced PR tech worlshop in New York on Friday. Debbie Weil did a stellar job in the session on blogging. They also got podcasting, video, online news, search and social media. 

There is another one on Friday 10th in San Francisco.  No Debbie this time though – I will be speaking on blogs and social media.

 

Will the Edelman — Wal-Mart saga ever end? Two more flogs outed

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 10/20/06

This is not a good couple weeks to be working at Edelman.  Okay, first we have the whole Walmarting across America thing and subsequent apology now, Edelman is coming clean that two more of the Wal-Mart blogs are actually flogs written by Edelman employees.  Yikes.  It turns out (shocker … not) that Working Families for Wal-Mart and PaidCritics.org are Edelman PR fronts (yeah there’s irony for you).

Well Shel applauds them for at least admitting it now (instead of being outed), B.L. wants their head, or at least their butt out of WOMMA, Mathew ponders if PR folks can really be transparent and do their job (good question).

I think this whole fiasco, debacle (anybody have some more words for this?) calls into question, as Mathew and Shel suggest, can PR and blogs actually co-exist?  I don’t think so.  At least not like this.  You just can’t have “corporate fronts” as blogs.  You want to reach out to critics?  You want to get feedback?  Then just have a regular old blog.  No, a “Wal-Mart employee blog” isn’t going to fly and we all know why.  I think a Wal-Mart exec blog might work, if they could take the heat, and I don’t think they could.

I have a good number of friends in the PR biz.  This can’t be a fun time for them.  Everyone is now questioning PR and blogs.  Every company blog or blog that seems to be arms-length is suspect.  Is disclosure enough?  Is authenticity and transparency enough?

Steve … man I’d love to do a podcast with you on this.  Just get your thoughts.  Are you game?

The MediaPost broke the story, follow more on Techmeme.

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Does Blogging Help Your Business?

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 08/17/06

PRSA’s Issues and Trends has a good article about PR bloggers today.

The article looks at blogging from several angles and makes some salient points:

  • You should figure who would be interested in your content – will you reach the right audience? PR professionals tend to read PR blogs and this may not be the best audience for building a PR practice.
  • Blogging will not necessarily boom your business, but it will raise your profile and build your reputation as a thought leader. Steve Rubel’s rise to Senior VP at Edelman is cited as an example.

How can you tell if your blogging is successful?  As with any business stategy, set a goal before you start and measure your results.  It does not have to end up in the top 10 blogs in your category to be a success – it just has to reach the right people and resonate with them.

ClickZ: MWW Debuts Blog Marketing Practice

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 01/5/05

Blog consulting has apparently gone big-time. ClickZ reports:

Interpublic-owned PR firm MWW Group today launched a Web log marketing practice. Blog 360 will advise clients on strategies to create, participate in, monitor, and advertise in blogs.

"We’ve formed a specialty practice area around blogs, but we really believe they are an important part of any communications plan," said Alissa Blate, MWW Group’s EVP and director of consumer marketing.

Blog 360 will be a component of MWW’s Marketing-360 approach, which supports brands through multiple audience contact points. Depending on a client’s needs, MWW’s plan might include creating a CEO blog for reputation and branding benefits, or a tech blog for information, Blate said. Blog monitoring will likely be a part of any plan, she added.

Ironically, I can’t find anything about it on MWW’s own site, which like so many agency sites is all in Flash and hence very hard to navigate. I can’t even find anything about their "Marketing-360 approach" referred to in the story. Dare I suggest, their site could use a <cough> blog </cough>?

ClickZ: MWW Debuts Blog Marketing Practice

NYT: Madison Avenue Ponders the Potential of Web Logs

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 10/27/04

Piece about ad agencies using weblogs (not as ad vehicles but as customer communication tools). Generally skeptical in tone. Includes examples of blogs by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners’ Influx Consulting, A Fine Kettle of Fish by Bob Cargill of Yellowfin Direct (which is a weak example of a business blog in my book, as the blog doesn’t link to the business site or vice-versa, as far as I can see), Urban Intelligence by Urban Advertising and Richard Edelman’s blog. The story also quotes our own Steve Rubel.

Aside from its stand-offish tone about blogs, I have a few nits, such as "weblog" is one word, damnit, the company’s name is Gawker Media, not Denton Media and why the hell put a story about blogs on your web site without hyperlinks to them? But, whatever.

I’m amused to see Steve Rubel had a link to the story yesterday, though it appeared in the print edition only today. That tells you something about blogs, no?

UPDATE:
Oh yeah, buddy Steve Hall is quoted, too. In fact, he has a little rant about the article on his site.

NYT: Madison Avenue Ponders the Potential of Web Logs

Richard Edelman

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 10/4/04
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Richard Edelman

Reader David of ContentCentricBlog points out this new blog by CEO and founder of Edelman PR. The blog is titled 6AM. Edelman explains in his first post:

Why 6 AM?–because I wake up early and hope to get you some useful insights as you come in to work. I plan to post weekly, and by calling it 6am, rather than say, Every Monday, so I’ll have a little wiggle room in terms of when I post!

He’s got the jump on Aaron Bailey by one minute.

Link

Reinvention Consulting

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 07/19/04
kirsten-osolind
Kirsten Osolind

Kirsten Osolind writes:

Hi Rick: I don’t make your blogroll. Darn. If I told you it was my birthday, would you add me for a gift? Perhaps not ‚Äì you don’t know me.

Oh, heck, I’m a sucker for a pretty face. Happy Birthday, Kirsten! (Unless, of course, you’re just yanking my chain and it’s not really your birthday, in which case I refer you to the gist of this post.) Kirsten’s blog statement of purpose (I love those):

RE:THIS BLOG…a fun, flippant BLOG with points of interest about women & small business, from re:invention’s founder, Kirsten Osolind. Dedicated to all good women & men (and those sorely deserving a good thunk on the head).

Link

Jarvis Offering Blog Presentation for Ad Agencies

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 07/16/04

Jeff Jarvis of the wonderful blog Buzz Machine &mdash and, oh yeah, his day job is president of Advance Internet, parent to CondeNet and other major media online properties — is offering a tutorial for ad agencies and the like on what he calls “citizens’ media,” which means blogs and other stuff that may as well be blogs.

Of course, I’d be happier if big media companies called me for such a presentation, but Jeff’s already put one together and presented it to the likes of Daimler Chrysler, BBDO, and Organic, so I figured I should give him props.

Raging Cow: The Interview

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 06/30/04
raging-cow

I suppose a site dedicated to business blogs simply has to mention the whole Raging Cow fiasco, since it continues to be touchstone in the minds of many on the whole subject of business blogs. For those of you lucky enough to never have heard of this whole tempest in a milk bottle, the basic background is this:

Dr. Pepper / 7 Up came out with a new flavored milk product called Raging Cow, which it sought to give hip legitimacy to by reaching out to blogs. It did so, via its online marketing agency Richards Interactive, by creating its own blog and by inviting a group of young bloggers to be briefed on the product, whom it encouraged to blog about the product. As best as I can tell, where it fell afoul of the blogosphere was that it then asked those young bloggers not to mention that they had been briefed about the product, as if their sudden new enthusiasm for flavored milk was purely their own idea.

To the company’s credit, Raging Cow’s blog and blog-PR initiative was one of the first efforts by a mainstream company to use blogs for marketing purposes (only a little over a year ago, March 2003; why does it seem like a lifetime ago?). But its PR mistep was badly received by the blogosphere, to say the least. Hardcore bloggers, who apparently wear their underpants a bit too tight, went ballistic at this attempt to corrupt their integrity of blogs, and for weeks, even months, it seemed all you heard on certain blogs was vitriol against Dr. Pepper (notably this silly call for a boycott on the product, as if anyone has actually seen Raging Cow in a store).

What irritates me about this whole episode is that it has become the embodiment in the minds of many of the idea that blogs and marketing don’t mix. The problem, if it even was a problem (Richards Interactive never saw it that way; see below), however, was never Raging Cow’s blog itself, which actually wasn’t bad, as adverblogs go (I would link to it, but I notice just now that the site seems to be defunct, which I strongly suspect has much less to do with a boycott among obsessive bloggers than the fact that sugary milk can’t compete with sugary fizzy water among teen tastes). [UPDATE: I guess it was just down when I checked it when I first wrote this post. I now see it's back, though it's not apparent that the blog is still being updated.] The problem was bad PR: imagine asking a reporter for the NY Times or even a lowly trade magazine to write nice things about your product but not to mention that you had briefed them.

Anyway, in an effort to get the complete story on the episode, I asked journalist Kate Kaye last year to interview the folks at Richards Interactive for their side of the story, as part of our report Business Blogs: How Successful Companies Get Real Results With Weblogs. (Kate, incidentally, maintains a site called Lowbrow Lowdown, which although quite blog-like she proudly proclaims has been “blog-free since 2000,” which I gather means only that she codes the whole thing by hand and archives it via FTP for God knows what reason.)

So here for posterity, excerpted from our 2003 report, is the email interview she conducted with Todd Copilevitz, Director of Richards Interactive about the Raging Cow Blog Campaign:

When did the Raging Cow campaign launch?

The buzz campaign, which included the blogger elements started March 1 [2003]. The branded campaign launched with five markets March 15.

What was the objective of the RC campaign, specifically the blog component?

We were working with a product that had a short window for launch, and limited distribution initially. So we had to develop a strategy that increased awareness in key markets and seeded awareness in markets where we did not have distribution. To our advantage we had a strong defined character in the raging cow. As we started working on telling the cow’s story it became very obvious there was something compelling about the humor.

At the same time we did not want to try to force our way in front of teens with a typical advertising message. We know they are far more likely to respond to a message that offers some recognition of their habits and is willing to entertain. So our blog component was simply intended to make people aware of the cow — not even to mention the product. If teens recognized the cow when they saw the product or branded advertising that was all we could hope for.

The branded campaign, and the branded web site, had the broader responsibility of raising awareness of the product and increasing attendance at sampling events. At the same time the wild postings of posters on the streets were tasked with increasing sampling attendance and driving people to the web. In short, all the pieces were intertwined.

Is there a blogging software platform used to run the RC blog? If so, which one?

We licensed Moveable Type. A great product from people who know their stuff, and an amazing community of developers creating add-ins. And, yes, we paid the license fee.

Did the campaign involve any other components (ads or marketing strategies)?

Spot radio, sampling teams, street posters and extensive online advertising using page-crossing units and other large-format ads.

What did the advertiser and agency hope to or expect to achieve through the blog?

Beyond what I said earlier, we believed the blog network offered a unique and organic opportunity let teens tell other teens about the product. Of course we realized that was fraught with risk, since we had no control over the message. But to its credit, DPSU was willing to accept that.

Describe how the campaign was received, particularly by the blogging community. What about it was praised, what was panned?

Among the target audience we had incredible response. We had numerous links to the site with extensive tracking. A brand tracking study tells us that we moved the needle in every critical factor, all positively.

There was another community of bloggers who blew their lid at our presence. They flooded us with complaints, all of which accused DPSU of being deceitful with the blog effort. Ironically there was a DPSU copyright on site. The article in Newsweek was the result of a call from DPSU. So I don’t know how we could be accused of trying to hide our hand. Of even more interest, was the forum for many of the complaints, our site. DPSU said early on that it wanted a broad and deep dialogue on the Raging Cow site, so long as it stayed on target and wasn’t obscene. I found it particularly interesting that a great many of the bloggers venting on our site don’t even offer comment capability on their site.

How has the RC blog changed since its controversial beginnings?

I’d suggest the only controversy was among those who were never our target to begin with. But along the way we eliminated links to external blog sites. In part we did so because we did not have the time to monitor all of them for inappropriate content and didn’t want our link to suggest an endorsement. That became an issue once the number of sites requesting links got unmanageable.

What’s planned for the future of the RC blog? How long will it run?

The blog tells the story of the cow’s shift from placid dairy life to a crusader against boring milk. As such it will live on through the site. While we won’t be updating it as regularly as we did in the spring, it remains a viable channel for communication.

Does Richards Interactive or Dr Pepper plan to use blogs in the future for marketing purposes? If so, would the approach be different? In what way?

I won’t attempt to answer for DPSU, except to note that they have expressed an ongoing interest in the value of grassroots communication tools. Richards Interactive was working with blogs before this and has done so repeatedly since then. We have an active database of hundreds of bloggers of all ages across the country who want to be part of marketing efforts. (You can checkout the signup information at www.projectblog.com.) As for approach, it is always different. You cannot cookie-cutter this type of communication.

In terms of using blogs for business, specifically marketing purposes, what are the challenges or drawbacks from your perspective?

Blogs offer one of the most-effective ways for small companies and companies with a defined point of view to communicate that directly with audiences. Blogs rejuvenate some of the early promises of the Internet, namely a global platform for anyone with something to say and the means to articulate it.

Steve Rubel

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 05/5/04
steve-rubel
Steve Rubel

Steve Rubel is a PR pro, VP of client services at Cooper Katz. He called his blog to my attention after I noted the ANA’s blog earlier this week, one of his clients. I see he’s been blogging for only a month (as of this entry), and normally I’d be reluctant to include a blog in this directory that is so new, as so many blogs run out of steam after great ambitions at the beginning. But browsing his archive, I see he’s been on quite a tear since he launched himself into it, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll still be at it, with gusto, when we check back in on him in a few months and later.

Link

Brand.Blogs

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 05/5/04
jennifer-rice
Jennifer Rice

Jennifer Rice, who runs Mantra Branding, has been blogging here about branding since December 2003. She writes me by email:

I recently got a project from a Fortune 50 company from my blog… it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my consulting business!

Hell-yeah! If ever there was a reason to blog, for consultants, anyway, there it is.

One gripe — a nit I have with lots of business blogs — while she links to her business site from her blog, I don’t see a link from the business to to the blog. How are your customers going to know you blog if you don’t point it out? Hopefully just a temporary oversight and not an indication that bloggers don’t think that blogging is “professional” enough to link to.

Link

Wonder Branding

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 05/3/04
michele-miller
Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller, who works at the marketing agency Wizard of Ads, started this blog a few months ago focusing on the always hot (no pun intended) topic of marketing to women.

Link

Cheskin Fresh Perspectives

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 04/22/04
cheskin.gif

Cheskin, a marketing and market research consulting firm, does a great job with their blog. Their essays are thoughtful and frequent. Most impressive, however, is how effectively the blog reflects a true team spirit. I’ve seen other companies try to rally a group of managers to participate, and it’s hard to do. Normally, one person dominates the blog and others drag along occasionally at best. The Cheskin team, however, seems to have challenged one another to all stay involved, and a quick browse of the archive shows a healthy rotation of names and personal posting styles.

Link

BzzAgent

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 04/18/04
bzzagent.gif

BzzAgent is a really interesting marketing agency that has put together a network of more than 25,000 BzzAgents, orginary people who sign up at the site because they like to be in on the “next big thing” in the world of consumer products. The agency’s clients include Penguin Books, Kellogg’s cereal, Monster.com, Estee Lauder, Lee Jeans and others. When the agency has a campaign, it sends out products to hundreds of its BzzAgents, who are then encouraged to recommend the products to their friends, provided they like the products. The agency provides the agents how to be effective brand evangelists? What’s in it for the agents? Mainly just free product samples and bragging rights to be the first to know of hot new products. But that is apparently motivation enough for thousands of participants.

Anyway, the agency also has a fairly active blog since November, 2003, charting the company’s growth, letting it communicate with its agents and share agent’s ideas with the rest.

Thanks to Todd S. for the link.

Link

Infosential

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 04/18/04
cutting-through.gif

A new blog (as of this posting) by British consultants Wayne Robinson and Tim Duckett. The About Us reads:

We run a marketing and technology consulting business that helps smaller companies in the UK. A lot of our work is now centring on using technology to reduce information problems. So this blog is designed to share our knowledge and first hand experience.

A criticism I have of this blog, other than its somewhat clunky layout (e.g., the page is too wide for my laptop screen and I hate blue link borders around images, but whatever [UPDATE: they've since fixed that, but the CSS is still acting a bit funky for me]), is that the above About Us statement claims “we run a marketing and technology consulting business,” but there’s no information about that company anywhere on the site that I can see. The consultants link to short profiles of themselves, and I gather that is the “business,” but it’s not even clear what the business is called (the URL is Infosential.com, but the blog seems to be titled “Cutting Through”), but I’m nitpicking. The content seems worthwhile (particularly since they already linked to my blog).

Link

Bold Career Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/19/04
ian-christie.jpg
Ian Christie

Career coach Ian Christie recently started a blog to promote his consulting service and online career assessment tool.

Link

 

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