A Guest Post By Maris Callahan, Director of Public Relations for Donuts Inc.
Fast forward almost ten years and blogging is so ubiquitous that not only are blogs supplanting traditional media channels as sources for breaking news, practically every single company I can think of has one.
A good public relations professional will counsel their client to have a blog or content hub as a way to showcase thought leadership, earned media placements, company news, and announcements, and engage with fans and followers.
Yet, we are often the shoemakers with no shoes.
If you’re a PR pro, and you’re thinking of starting a new blog or rejuvenating a dormant one, here are a few tips to boost your digital presence.
Commit to a Schedule
When you’re writing content for a client, you probably don’t pick up your pen on the day of deadline. So don’t do that for your blog, either! It’s okay if your post schedule is once or twice a month at first. But do it consistently so people will come to expect and rely on your content.
If you have the ability to commit to daily blogging, that is amazing. But if you don’t, decide on a pace you can stick with, and plan your editorial calendar a few months in advance.
There are some great editorial calendar and social media calendar templates on HubSpot. Many social media content management systems you probably already use for your clients have their own templates or proprietary editorial calendars.
It’s fine to pick a cadence that feels reasonable—say, a post every other week—and increase that when you can.
Your blog is your community. And it’s better to build an engaged community over time than it is to serve up a lot of content in the beginning and then drop off the face of the planet.
Pick a Fresh, Relevant Domain Name
If you already have the perfect website name, this one may not apply to you. In 2015, I did the unthinkable and let the domain www.mariscallahan.com expire.
Then I learned all about hundreds of new domain name choices which had recently become available and moved my PR blog to the more appropriate: www.mariscallahan.media.
Along with .media, there are a lot of great domain name extension choices which better fit a blog than a .com, .net, or .org.
Where there used to be scarcity in online naming, now you can tell the world exactly who you are and what business you’re in.
Or in this case, what your blog is all about.
A few I like (beyond the most obvious: .blog) are .digital, .world, .life, and .today. If your business contains the word “marketing” or “agency” then domains ending in .marketing or .agency could be the best fit for you. I’ve also seen PR professionals cleverly use .pr – the internet country code domain for Puerto Rico that anyone can use free from geographic restriction.
Be Realistic with Your Time for Social Media
Social networks are a great way to promote your blog if you use them wisely. When you’re considering your social media presence, there are many questions you should ask yourself, such as “Realistically, do I have time for this?” Move this question to the top of your list.
I advise you to learn from my mistakes. I have two blogs—a food blog and a marketing/PR blog. I tend to update my food blog weeklyish. But I’m usually neglecting my marketing blog to write for other websites. And my client needs have always come before my blog posts.
Yet, at some point, I decided both blogs needed separate social media channels. So I have two sets of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Yes, it is way too much to manage.
Before you start opening accounts and spreading your followers thinner and thinner, ask yourself why? It may be smarter to create one concise brand. Unless there is a strategic reason to have multiple brands, don’t do it!.
Similarly, you shouldn’t feel like you have to be on every single social network out there just because it exists. I’m stubbornly protesting Snapchat (I only post snaps of my dog). And I do very little video on my blogs and social media channels because I am not convinced that people want to see my face that much. I do post regularly to Instagram and Facebook where I’ve built engaged and consistently growing communities, and where I can be present on a consistent basis.
Turn Your Case Studies Into Content
When you’re a publicist, you probably think about your client more than you think about yourself. So make your blog a two-for-one: a place where you can connect with and inspire others in your industry, and give your clients a little extra “love”.
My clients always liked being featured on my blogs, especially if I was writing about a successful campaign or an event I had helped them with. I’ve “covered” book releases, product launches, and restaurant openings. You can even link back to your media hits, extending some extra shelf life to those hard won placements, and showing the media your appreciation.
This is a huge time saver too because you probably wrote their media talking points or press materials. Paraphrasing those things in your own conversational tone for your blog will be quick and easy. Then, when you need a great case study for a new client, you can point them to your blog posts. And voilà!
Use Guest Bloggers
If you’re struggling to find time to write or generate post ideas, talk to other respected professionals in your industry about swapping guest posts.
You might have a special area of expertise, say, using Instagram, while someone else you know is excellent at crisis communications. Interview each other or trade posts.
Then, you can syndicate them back on your own blogs with canonical links. You get an SEO boost, exposure to a brand new audience, and two pieces of content for the price of one.
Despite my love for blogging, I work full-time in PR and maintain two of my own blogs. I understand there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all these things. Pick one or two activities and aim to tackle them as part of your “social media spring cleaning.” Your blog will be running smoothly in no time!
Maris Callahan is the director of public relations for Donuts Inc. and name.kitchen, where she does media relations, content marketing, and social media. She lives in Chicago with Brad, her significant other, and their chihuahua Henry. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.