Public Relations Writing: Is Your Online Content Factory Broken?
For days, weeks on end, the great machine chugs along, gears grinding, steam rising, black smoke belching into the surrounding air. Unimaginable effort , pressure, and structural complexity are harnessed in the drive to produce…an occasional blog post. Your content factory is officially busted.
What is it that’s so hard about blogging? We all know we’re “supposed” to do it; a stream of expert commentary has become a cornerstone of business promotion and outreach. But again and again even the largest — i.e., well-staffed — companies find it nearly impossible to write so much as 500 words a week. And, sadly, the slower the rate of production, the less excitement surrounds the whole effort; one blog post doesn’t beget another, and would-be readers have time to forget you exist between updates. When a post finally does land on the website, the deafening silence reinforces a sense of futility.
Blogging is pointless, you think. What a friggin’ waste of time.
And unless you can upgrade both expectations and efficiency, you would be right.
Blogging, like any creative PR effort, has an exponential rate of return; one little toe in, even if it’s dipped religiously, once a month, is simply not going to cut it. If you want to use a “content factory” to drive interest in your business, respect for your innovation, and loyalty from your customer base, you’re going to need to take a few elementary steps in attitude adjustment:
- Kill crisis by committee. It’s a blog post, not a legal treatise. If the approval process takes longer than the writing process, you need to streamline it, and either learn to trust your employees or hire some employees you can trust.
- Design a campaign. It doesn’t have to be in minute detail, but your blog is a part of your identity branding, and it pays to know what features you want to highlight. Lay out topics that are important to what you do, and outline a plan to hit them repeatedly and with fresh content.
- Implement accountability. Bloggers need to blog, whether that’s the CEO or a team of PR flacks. Set expectations, lay out simple guidelines, and crack the whip — on yourself, if necessary — if the ball gets dropped.
- Let writers write. Not every blog post is going to be a brilliant specimen. But it’s blogging — a writing medium in which quality matters but quantity counts. As long as they’re in line with company objectives, let writers run with their concepts; they’ll feel impassioned about the topics, and their enthusiasm itself can be a reader magnet.
In short, oil the gears and get the thing humming. Like any process, public relations obeys the law of conservation of energy: you get out what you put in.
Kate Schackai is the Vice President of Crawford PR and co-host of #askthePRpro. She blogs for Crawford on general PR issues, social media value, and professionalism in the age of Twitter.