Notes and Thoughts on Blogging

Last month we attended the Ad Club of Western Mass "Blogging 101" seminar, which was presented by local freelance journalist and blogger Tish Grier. Tish is well known for her effective use of her weblogs, or "blogs" for short, to share information, communicate with others, and build her reputation across the Internet. We've taken our notes from the presentation and further elaborated on the subject matter.

What is a Weblog?
A weblog is a website that focuses on content provided on a regular or semi-regular basis. Weblogs are also designed to allow comments directly to individual entries or posts. Weblogs initially started out as public diaries kept by website owners who wanted to share with visitiors information about their ongoing projects, current news events, and sometimes their lives. Some weblogs have steadily gained attention over the last few years for pursuing underreported news items and encouraging reader commentary , and have thus set in motion a major shift in how people communicate and gather news.

Advantages of Blogging
  • Facilitates one on one relationships through posts and comments.
  • Allows businesses and CEO to create good will by establishing candid communication with the public.
  • Facilitates a “transparency” effect - readers see the people behind the companies, not just the companies. This helps “humanize” companies.
  • Creates interest in your products and services.
High Profile Bloggers
  • Company officers such as Steve Rubel (VP of the Edelman PR “Me2 Revolution” practice) and GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz are active bloggers.
Important Points
  • Before beginning a company blog, put together a blogging strategy: think about what you want to say, where you will gather inspiration and content, and who will be the "blogger." The "voice" of the blog should be genuine, not canned.
  • Have a policy regarding commenting in your weblog. Be prepared to hold visitors to a code of conduct regarding comments if necessary.
  • Be careful about giving out endorsements to particular individuals or companies. If you give an endorsement, let others know if you have a relatonship with that individual or company.
  • Don’t post press releases without indicating the source of the information. Not disclosing the source, puts you at risk of “passing off” content as your own when it is not.
  • Be transparent! With a name and biography, you let readers know that you want to be a credible source of information.
Blogging and Word of Mouth Marketing
There are many types of Word of Mouth Marketing . All forms of marketing can work for you or against you. It is important to note that negative word of mouth has been shown to exceed positive word of mouth by 200%. This means that if someone has a bad experience with a company’s product or service, he will tell twice as many people as he would if he were extremely happy with it. Some popular forms of Word of Mouth Marketing:
  • Buzz Marketing – "Buzz" is created when lots of people, or high profile sources write about you or your products and services. A high profile blogger can create a lot of buzz with just a single post.
  • Viral Marketing – Marketers create entertaining and informative messages that are designed to be passed along electronically or by e-mail. Messages spread exponentially as they are e-mailed, blogged, and/or posted to other types of social media sites (YouTube, MySpace.)
  • Brand Blogging - Companies create blogs in order to participate in the blogosphere. Information of value about or related to the product or service is posted in a way that it can be shared with the blogging community.
  • Can We Limit Our Focus to Geographical Regions?
The nature of the Internet is that it provides a way to communicate worldwide, but if you would like to focus your content on local folks, that can be done. Letting people know where you are located is as easy as posting your location alongside your name, as well as mentioning something about your geographic location in posts. This can help search engines find your blog in geographic searches. Tags--coded labels at the bottom of posts--can help blog-specific search engines find your site. Most blog searches, though, are for content about a product or service first, with geographic location second.

Ethics of Blogging
  • Be transparent.
  • Be polite - acknowledge comments and respond to e-mail.
  • Strive for integrity and credibility--the blogosphere is self-policing and readers will point out falsehoods and errors in information. It's perfectly okay to correct a post.
  • Be responsive to negative publicity – bad experiences (negative word of mouth) can spread quickly. Never think it will just go away!
  • Be prepared to back up any claims about products or services or statements made about others.
Demographics of Blog Readers
  • A recent study on the audence for political blogs indicate that the bulk of political blog readers are white males in the 40+ age group. Other studies by the Pew Internet & American Life Project indicate that blog readership is growing fast among women.
  • For more demographic information, visit the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Forrester Research or Technorati (see links in the resource section)
Is Blogging Worthwhile for Businesses?
While it is hard to determine a ROI for a weblog, it should be noted that blogging can be very worthwhile for businesses. If you can commit a few hours per week to produce just one or two quality posts, and you utilize tools such as RSS feeds and readers to make your content easily aggregated, you may find it an effective tool. Blog posts are quickly picked up by the major search engines. Seeing an increasing number of traditional large businesses produce blogs (including many Fortune 500 companies) should be a good indicator that they have a place in your web presence.

Furthermore, it is important to consider the intangible values of blogging – garnering credibility, building strong business to consumer relationships, and utilizing transparency as a way to “humanize” your company. You may never have a concrete ROI figure for your weblog, but if done properly, it can be a very effective sales and publicity tool.

It should be noted that without adequate statistics tracking for your weblog, you will not be able to assess the effectiveness or reach of your weblog. Statistics packages are readily available from many different companies. They are an important and very affordable investment for your company to consider using for your entire web presence, not just for a weblog.

Other Tips
If your goal is to increase traffic to your site utilizing a weblog, you should also be aiming to create a strong voice and welcoming community environment. You will find no more effective way to garner credibility and loyalty than to invite people in and interact with them in a positive manner.

Presenter’s Contact Information
Tish Grier Online

Tish Grier
The Constant Observer -
Huffington Post -
The Media Hub at -

Steve Rubel
Micro Persuasion -

Bob Lutz
GM FastLane Blog -

Rebecca Blood (Author of The Weblog Handbook)
Rebecca's Pocket -

Toby Bloomberg
Marketing Consultant
  • Diva Marketing Blog -
  • Useful Links
  • The Weblog Handbook by Rebecca Blood

    Word of Mouth Marketing Association

    Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics

    Monitoring online trends -

    Monitoring online trends -


    A brief introduction to RSS (Really Simple Syndication a.k.a. Rich Site Summary) at Feedburner

    The infamous Kryptonite lock “hacked by a bic pen” story at Engadget

    And the video demonstrating this story

    Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet : "The Audience
    for Political Blogs. New Research on Blog Readership"

    Pew Internet & American Life Project


    Forrester Research

  • Go back