Communications professionals often commiserate over the myths surrounding our profession. Our publics have a great deal of misinformation about the scope of our work and the demarcation of duties. Yet, when there is an opportunity to educate and inform, there can be a deafening silence from our corner of the world.
Too often headlines about company or individual misdeeds are attributed to a public relations failure by people who don’t have a clear understanding of our profession, but are happy to share their opinion. Sadly, this means that the public (which includes many in our target client base) are left to rely on what they think they know about public relations and the vitriolic opinions of high-profile people who have a disdain for our profession.
When potential clients go searching for information, do we really want them to only have Mark Cuban and Putin’s op-ed as a reference point? We are in the communications business yet we devote very little time putting into practice what we preach to clients.
Making a Difference by Blogging
One way we can shape the conversations about our industry is through blogging. A recent discussion about blogging among communications professionals elicited the usual responses, “not enough time,” “takes a backseat to paying client work,” “not a primary business driver” and on and on.
We know the business benefits of blogging. In fact, we have likely discussed those benefits with clients as part of our strategic counsel. Yet, we may be missing an important point as we assess our own need to blog.
Blogging is not simply a method to inform the public at large, but to inform your public. Potential clients are forming an opinion about you before they ever meet you. You may even be losing business based on that opinion. Research from CEB's Marketing Leadership Council shows that business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete. If you are not providing content that educates your potential customers and helps guide their decisions, they may move on to someone who does.
A potential buyer may have reviewed your LinkedIn profile, or stumbled across your Twitter feed, but a blog can demonstrate your expertise in a different way. You have an opportunity to show and tell. You can educate your audience on best practices, illuminate how you help clients, and comment on industry trends. This not only benefits potential clients with the right kind of information, but results in you getting higher quality leads.
Don’t let the “rules” of blogging prohibit you from joining the conversation. Make your own rules on how and when you will post. Remember that your posts can be text, audio, video or even images; feel free to experiment to see what resonates best with your audience. Develop a posting schedule that fits you, whether that is twice per week or once a month. Your goal is not to become an award winning blogger (unless that’s your goal), but to communicate with your publics.
Conversations are happening and decisions are being made, with or without you. The big question we should all be asking is, what role do we want to play in that process?