Recently, at my company, I was tasked with starting up a company blog.
This is where it gets fun… we have helped our clients build successful blogs and come up with a blogging strategy, content calendars, etc. Now we just had to follow our own advice. Most of this falls under my purview as I am the social media director. We decided that we’d need content from the employees. After all, I can’t just write about my specialty all the time or else we’d risk being seen as a social media agency, for example.
I had to convince my coworkers from all departments (we’re a full service agency, we have an accounts team, a creative department, a digital department, the administration team) to write a blog.
Enter obstacle course.
“Hold the phone. Write a blog? Who cares about what I do? I don’t know how to write a blog. I don’t want to look stupid. Who is going to read this?”
That’s right – the most typical resistance you read about was spilling out of the mouths of my supremely talented and intelligent coworkers. After a bit of tinkering, and talking, and moving around the agency to get to know my coworkers better – I figured out 6 key elements that I needed to help get these folks writing.
Simple. Who do you want reading your blog? Why do you want them to read your blog? What do you want them to do with this information? How do you keep them coming back? Figure out what you want out of this thing. Ask those questions. Figure out the strategy: we’ll use the blog to gain leads by getting people to the website and wowing them with our work and blog content. Goals should be strategy and tactics. Strategy. And. Tactics. Also make sure you know how to measure these things… get your analytics person up-to-date with the goals and let them suggest key performance indicators.
2) Tell Everyone “Why”
Hold a company meeting, a lunch and learn. Let everyone know why having a blog is important. Discuss SEO benefits. Talk about great content. Let people know this is the opportunity to brag about themselves. You know your office best, obviously, so pick out something you know they want to hear – and make sure it’s true. You could even use something as reductive as ‘This will help us get more business, and that keeps us employed!”. They have to know why you’re about to ask them to do more work. Think of this as an internal sales pitch.
3) Turn Blogging into an Accountable, and Easy-to-Follow Process
I’ve learned that if there are definite steps to take that people tend to feel more comfortable, especially if some task is new to them. Develop a business process that gives them something they can check their progress against. First part of the process, meet with me – let’s discuss topics – I’ll deliver an outline, next we’ll define a deadline and have our traffic manager check in with you, next we’ll have an editing process, we’ll deliver the final product for you to sign off on… etc. Whatever your process is – it becomes a tangible ‘thing’ and it keeps the blogger accountable because they are answering to someone with their deliverables outlined..
4) Plan a Meeting, Get Them Talking
Once you have figured out what you want your process to look like, start going through it – I like to start my process out with a meeting with the soon-to-be-newly-published-blogger. My meetings work like this: I ask my coworker to talk about their job – what does it take to be a _______, what skills do you have? What advice would you give a new ______? Very open-ended questions. I take notes and I listen for ways I can allow this person to tell their story that also aligns with our blog goals. Then – I ask if that’s something they’d enjoy writing about, I thank them and I follow up with an email with notes from our meeting. More often than not, they’ll discover that they’ve pretty much written the bulk of their blog post in our conversation. Bonus points if you’re able to create an outline for them!
5) Remind Your Co-Workers that they are Intelligent and Talented
They have jobs for a reason! And by reminding them that they are not only capable of discussing their job, but are highly qualified (if they aren’t, well… there are some other problems, right?). This point is really just a reminder to support, support, support your co-workers who may be stepping out of their comfort zones. Remind them that you and/or others (depending on your process) will be looking over their writing and will be giving them a helping hand and a discerning eye. It’s difficult to self-adjudicate, after all. This bit has been, by far, the most helpful point when getting my co-workers to write. Reassurance. It’s nice. Cool water on a hot day nice.
6) Report Back, Highlight Benefits
So, their blog is up. I let them know simple stats – your blog has been read X times, X number of people have commented on it – they want to talk to you, go answer their questions, this has been shared X times – doesn’t that make you feel good? Oh, someone saw the post on a Google Search Results Page and we ended up nabbing a lead because of your story, thanks for helping put food on my table. Showing people the fruits of their labor is a must; here’s what you got out of this effort. Being able to convey data in a positive light (even if nobody really saw the post, or it wasn’t shared often) is a most precious skill. Chances are, you’ll need them to write more than one post.
What I find is that I wear the coordinator hat, the co-author hat, the planning hat, the cheerleader… hat?, and finally the editor’s hat. This might not be the setup you use, but these points have worked for me and my workplace. I feel like it all boils down to… making sure they know that they aren’t wasting their time and that I’ll help them produce something they and the agency can hold up with a productive pride.