How to help executives with their first blog posts

One of the quick wins when launching a social communications platform as part of a collaboration initiative is to run a managed executive blogging programme which provides content to attract usage for you and serves a useful purpose of allowing leaders to launch and run their own two way communications channel – as a valid replacement channel to a traditional update e-mail sent via a distribution list (and all too often by a subordinate, their PA or a communications professional – all of which lowers the value of the message being delivered).

Experience shows that finding willing participants is usually relatively easy (as who wouldn’t want to boost their internal or external profile) however, usually the first question out of the gate is a request for guidance on what to write and then how to write it.

To help with this, I’ve summarised some key points below which can be used and given to the new ‘blogger’, however my best advice is to get personal and once they have drafted their first post ask them to send it to you to review and then make suggestions, don’t be afraid to get critical and apply the same advice below.

  1. Grab reader’s attention – Spend time thinking about the title of your blog posting, and write an introductory sentence that tells the reader why they should spend their time reading what you’ve written. Think of it a bit like a newspaper – how does a specific article capture your attention, catchy or controversial headings can work well.
  2. Make it easy to read – Make your sentences clear and concise, and use white space (blank lines), heading styles, bold text, bulleted and numbered lists to make it easy for your readers to quickly see the important stuff.
  3. Present a personal opinion – This is a corporate place, but it’s not the front page of your corporate website, write in a style that is you and using natural language. If it’s not important to you, if you’re not passionate about the topic you’re writing about then your readers will not feel passionately about investing time into reading it. If you don’t care about it, why should your reader? This is particularly important within leadership pieces, if you don’t present an opinion then why should your employees feel comfortable doing so?
  4. Provide Permission and Request for comment – Invite others to comment on your blog, ask for their thoughts, what do they agree with, or have ideas about, some readers will be looking to you to “provide” them with your permission to comment, others will just jump in – you need to cater for both.
  5. Consider your response – Consider how you will respond to comments and why you encourage comments in the first place. It’s important to demonstrate you’re listening. If you ask for comments, be prepared to spend some time looking at your comments and responding, even if it’s just a simple thanks for leaving that comment reply. As a leader, whether you like it or not, your employees may be unaccustomed feel uncomfortable speaking with you, you could also suggest that people Like your posting even if they don’t want to leave a comment.
  6. Use links – Using links serves several purposes.  They connect what you’re writing to the rest of the world and connect people to information you consider useful and relevant, either on the platform or on the web.
  7. Edit what you write – It’s often useful to write a first draft, sleep on it and then go back to it. You don’t want to distract a reader’s attention because of a mindless typo. Since this is all about collaboration, it often helps to ask a colleague or family member to review what you have written, this is particularly useful for your first few blog posts as you find your own style.
  8. Look at other blogs – Many leaders and public figures blog publically, while these are often “censured” for public consumption looking at what others have is a good way to get inspiration.
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