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Write a Better Blog: 5 Tricks From a Veteran

No, a blog alone won't bring you new business. But it will give you a way to take part in the discussions that matter most to you--and your industry.
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I wish I had a dollar for every article I've read about the pros and cons of blogging. Some say blogging is good because it lets you reach a wide audience. Others say it's bad because you can't control it. Still others will tell you blogging is essential because it demonstrates that you and your firm are "edgy." But, naysayers will tell you no one reads the damn things in the first place.

They’re right--and they’re wrong.

Blogging isn’t for everyone. But, it can be a powerful business and thought leadership tool for those who feed and nurture it the way I’ve learned to over a seven-year period of trial and error (mostly error, by the way). Today, my Rep Man blog is one of the most widely read in the PR industry. It's routinely re-published on the front page of leading trade media each and every day, and has won two "best of" awards.

What do I do that makes my blog succeed?

1. I take the road less traveled.

Unlike the vast majority of PR and communications bloggers, I don’t opine about the breaking crisis story of the day. Nor do I rehash tried and true methods for pitching the media, winning interviews, or pleasing clients. Instead, I look for offbeat, back-page features that I can leverage to discuss wise (and not so wise) uses of image and reputation. My subjects have varied from The Heart Attack Grill and the Catholic Church to the sale of AK-47s in the U.S. and the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

2. I begin and end with the same message.

I craft a blog the same way I write a speech. I tell my audience what I’m about to say, say it, and then tell readers what I just said. Coming full circle is a subtle but smart way to ensure readers get the gist of your blog and perhaps inspire them to either post a comment and/or spread it to their circle of friends.

3. Stick with a consistent theme.

While all of my blogs touch on image and reputation, I consistently stick to one central theme: advocating for the small and midsized PR firm. My industry is absolutely dominated by the top 10 agencies that receive the lion’s share of trade coverage and awards. I continually argue on behalf of the tiny, overlooked agencies and point out that, were the playing field leveled, smaller firms would routinely outperform their better-heeled competitors. It’s ruffled some feathers, but has also won me lots of followers (and free drinks at industry trade gatherings).

4. Connect the dots that others might miss.

When former heavyweight champion Smokin’ Joe Frazier passed away, the sports pages took note, but the PR world didn’t. Having grown up watching Joe be out-boxed and outtalked by his arch nemesis, Muhammad Ali, I dashed off a post with five lessons every communicator could learn from Smokin’ Joe. That post was named best of the day and best of the week by a top trade journal.

5. Develop a unique voice.

Too many bloggers are too nice. That means that, while they may write passable copy, it’s too often bland and boring. Many are also afraid to tackle the more difficult issues in their profession. I’ve taken a different tack. I’ve blogged about such controversial PR topics as the near domination of our industry by young, white females and the dangers of engaging with serial clients (notorious CMOs who change PR firms as often as they change socks). That said, while I opt for edginess, I always try and soften it with humor.

I’m not suggesting my approach will work for you. Nor will I suggest that blogging alone will attract business. But, if you treat it the way I do, blogging will provide you with a clear and distinct voice and an unparalleled way in which to engage friends and strangers alike in discussions that matter to you.

 

Last updated: Sep 4, 2012

STEVE CODY | Columnist

I'm a climber, comedian, and dog lover. But not necessarily in that order. I also happen to be co-founder and CEO of Peppercomm, a strategic communications firm headquartered in NYC, with offices in San Francisco and London. I publish RepMan, a daily blog, and have had the opportunity to appear on CNBC, MSNBC, NPR, and a host of other top-tier media over the years. scody@peppercomm.com

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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