One of the things that you’ll want in place to start is an editorial policy for your team of writers. Even if you’re a so-called solopreneur you’ll want one of these so that you’re ready to grow when it happens (and it will happen, right? Let’s stay positive!).
You may be the “editorial team” or you may actually have one in place but there hasn’t been any governance or policies created yet. The point isn’t to “lock down” the creative juices that are already flowing but to help provide some guidance for your team which can also help level-set some expectations for the corporate blog.
What I plan on setting out before you are some policies to consider and represent a simple “starting point” for you as you continue to work through the development and strategy of your business blog.
The Editorial Team
The first part of your policy may start around who should actually be allowed to publish anything on the blog to begin with! A large part of this depends on the type of corporate blog you may have but here are some general thoughts:
- Is this person an expert in their field? Should they be an expert?
- Are they a decent online communicator? Offline communication is different so don’t base it on their ability to stand in front of a large audience in a board room.
- Are they adept at social media? What does social media have to do with your blog? What’s your strategy?
- Do they have a history of writing and/or blogging? Is this required?
- Are they genuine and believable with what they say and do?
- Are they inflammatory or become easily sidetracked or provoked? There is a lot to engage with online and they have to manage the trolls and firestarters well.
- Can they project manage and hold to a schedule well?
These are just some beginning questions for you to answer and then you can formulate a policy around it if you’d like.
The PR and Marketing Department’s Involvement
This section can be a bit touchy for some as the PR and Marketing departments may get a big miffed with the use of a new blog without their fingerprints all over it (or at least oversight). The question is not about whether they should be involved (they should) but how much and to what extent.
The more explicit the role of the PR departments and the Marketing departments the better since no one can assume anything (don’t try it).
You may already have some of the PR and Marketing policies created so the blog can take those to a degree and adjust them but typically you want the following:
- The blog needs to follow the general communication guidelines that already exist, especially the tone and cultural standards.
- The blog needs to be available for global crisis management, if necessary.
- The blog needs to have definitive and explicit ties to the PR and Marketing organizations so that valuable content can be generated and management of feedback can be done well and be done timely.
Massaging this particular area of the policies that you’re creating will be helpful today and for the future so no one’s feelings get hurt when something happens that wasn’t expected (and there will be plenty of that).
Engagement and Tone
Some organizations spend a lot of time in this area while others do not. The point is to clearly state what the blog should “feel” like as well as the tone in which the author(s) take when writing.
Questions to consider:
- What is the target audience and demographic? What age groups are really our customers? Should we have our authors be of the same “type”?
- Is this a highly personal and engaging blog or is it going to be more “corporate” in nature and feel?
- Are we going to allow social sharing via Twitter and Facebook? Are we turning on blog comments for feedback? Do we engage with the comments directly?
- If it is going to be conversational (which I highly recommend) then how specific should we be with the words used? Should we use “I,” “we,” “us,” for more of an inclusive feel?
- What is our use of images and alternative media like videos? Do we always include them?
Ultimately you want to give the green light to be creative but at the same time provide some guidance for those bloggers who may need some or who have never really encountered a corporate blog before (which isn’t a bad thing).
Finally, the last section has to do with the actually development of content. It’s important that you have a schedule, a calendar, and some editorial policy that can help your blog stay away from being too stale or un-used.
Perhaps you can walk through my Blog Content series to get a good picture of what you might want to do but here are some additional thoughts for you to begin thinking about:
- How often do we post? What’s the schedule? Who’s running the schedule?
- How many categories do we have? What type of blog are we really?
- Do we talk about our products and services only? Do we talk about our competitors? Do we talk about industry change?
- Do we talk about live events, press releases, or use any other interactive media?
- What don’t we talk about?
Of all the things that you could build strategy around one of the most important parts is the first on – finding the schedule and understanding who’s owning it. This is about accountability and getting the publishing done!