Zen and the art of corporate blogging

7 September 2015

There was a time – just a few of years ago – when a corporate blog was like the latest Blackberry: all the cool kids had one. But many have since been abandoned, having fallen victim to a lack of time and interest.

Or perhaps, more accurately, the time invested hasn’t delivered the expected business results.

This isn’t to say that a blog is a bad idea. But, like any tactic, a blog needs to be a part of a strategy.  And it needs to be based on sound fundamentals.

So, what are those fundamentals? Put another way, what could a Zen master teach you about the art of corporate blogging?

1. If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody hears, does it make a sound? 

If you write a great blog but have no distribution strategy, will your words echo out to nowhere?

There’s no point in writing a blog until you’ve put the hard yards into building: a LinkedIn network; a Twitter following; a Facebook fan base; a YouTube channel, an Instagram presence; or a decent email list.

And, even then, it’s likely that you will need to invest some more money in paid promotion, to ensure it gets seen. You’ll also need to consider a judicious use of hashtags to be found in searches.

2. Who am I and why am I here? 

Many a blog has failed due to an identity crisis. Without a clear audience in mind, and a clear editorial strategy, failure is likely. Who are you writing for? What value are you delivering to them?

Remember, corporate blogs should not degenerate into propaganda about projects that have gone well. People come to blogs for insight, instruction or entertainment – not a hard sell. That is, unless the blog itself is actually about the art of hard selling.

The ideal readers are those who will do business with you because they trust you.

3. Is a masterpiece the work of a single master? 

Peter Paul Rubens, an Antwerp-based communications expert working for the Spanish government and the Catholic Church in the early 17th century, often sub-contracted the painting of elements of his masterpieces to other painters who were specialists in still life or animals etc. In a similar way, a corporate blog should not be the endeavour of one lonely writer. An organisation is a group of individuals, each with their own insights, ideas and writing style. These writers should be given a license to be creative and, within defined limits, opinionated.

Blogging needs to be a team activity that isn’t hemmed in by a dull, corporate style of prose.

4. Is an enlightened man subject to the law of karma?

The number of readers of a blog is important: so is the number of responses.

Being part of a community of thinkers means that you are indeed subject to the laws of karma: if you don’t read, comment on and share others’ work, it’s much less likely they will engage with yours.

This is linked to the first point about building a following. Without a ‘warm’ audience, it’s hard to build traction, especially in the early days of a blog.

5. How does thought arise?

One of the common complaints about blogging is ‘I just don’t know what to write about’. Firstly, it’s about practice. The more you write, the more you understand the process. But, to some extent, the topics find the blogger, rather than the other way round. Be on the lookout for enlightening ideas. Meet interesting and varied people. Read interesting and varied things. Write brilliant and varied blogs based on these insights.

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