Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Don't Try to Blog for Any Old Company

If you're a freelance corporate blogger, you're a marketer. If you're a marketer, that means you're going to be selling what the company that hired you produces.

You're probably used to writing about things that you're already knowledgeable and passionate about. That means that you not only have lots to write, but enthusiasm to say it.

Moving to a corporate blogging position isn't simply picking up your own blog and moving it to their company. When the ACME toaster company asks you to blog for them, it means blogging about toasters or the toaster field.

That means you have to become an expert in the toaster field. It means you have to become an expert in ACME's toasters. And it means you have to write about toasters and toaster things for a long time. Indefinitely, even.

Can you do that? Passionately? They hired you to blog because you're a passionate writer who can show results. You can't do it if you're just churning out posts about something you don't really care about, or if you're going to run out of something to say in a year. Or six months. Or two weeks.

So here's some advice: don't just agree to work for any old company that offers you a position as a corporate blogger. I know it's tempting, because not many companies are offering them at all. Only take a position in a company whose product or service you really care about. In other words, one which you would blog about even if you weren't being paid.

Update: Gavin rightly points out in the comments that blogs for a company can have more or less to do with the company itself. Check out the comments.



Gavin Schmitt said...

I wonder if there is any room for Corp-Blogging to swing another way? I mean it could be very interesting if what you blogged had little to do directly with the company... like if an art blogger was hired to do the Acme toaster blog, and he just documented using 'retro appliances' in modern sculpture (occasionally including a toaster). Certainly Acme would have to approve of it, but does getting attention via interesting content (regardless of it's direct association with the company) have value on its own? Or is that essentially no different than placing a banner advertisement on a popular blog, and not employing the blogger directly?

Yehuda said...

Gavin: You're right, and I stand corrected.

It's definitely possible to merge talents. A great blog on a company's site is not only, primarily, or necessarily about the company at all. The Absolute Vodka series could have been a series of great blog posts.

So it depends on what the company needs or wants. I'll need to addend the post.


Dee Barizo said...

Gavin, interesting thoughts. I think most corporations are too "non-creative" to think about using the blog for things not directly relating to their company. I could be wrong, though.

Yehuda, great post. Makes a lot of sense.

Gavin Schmitt said...

I would agree that most companies aren't creative enough (or willing enough to take 'the risk' to have content not directly associated with them), but I am curious what people think about the concept in general :)

I imagine it's kind of like celebrity endorsement… though it's funny to think of "Michael Jordan wears these shows, so I should" the same way as "Yahuda hangs out on Pepsi cola's blog network, so I should too (and I guess drink pepsi).

I just don't know if the impact is the same… A blogger has the advantage of being able to speak to a very specific audience (the company's demographic or otherwise), but probably lacks the universal appeal.

As for the companies that would (or would not consider doing this), it's mostly because it hasn't been established as 'the thing to do' yet. Perhaps not even due to the business world, but the education world could be the culprit of this. I mean how many MBA's in marketing actually think outside the box (that they were trained to sit in)?

None at Hasbro. none at Palisades.

Just some food for thought.