Businesses engage a public relations firm if they want to lift their profile by generating publicity about themselves, their products and services. Before starting my own business back in early 2008, I worked in public relations for a number of years.
From public relations I gravitated to online communications and managing a client’s website, before taking the leap into the wild ride of entrepreneurship.
A lot has changed in the business world in a short amount of time, largely due to the influence of the internet. For businesses looking to get media publicity and, possibly, springboard this into a publishing deal, blogging is the best method possible.
Expounding you through your business blog
A blog gives you the opportunity to explain, educate, inspire and provoke. It is a body of work which expresses what you do far more effectively, and with far greater reach, than you could possibly manage face-to-face.
Unless you’re frequently speaking to large audiences, there is no other method to effectively overcome misunderstanding, soothe apprehension, illustrate effect, and show how you differ from other, similar businesses. Your blog is your long-form explanation of what you do, why you do it, and why people should care.
Making connections through blogging
As small business owners, we know the importance of interpersonal resonance and word-of-mouth referrals. Blogging for business allows you to increase the number of people you connect with.
So how do you make connections? Most of us don’t have the time or, frankly, the inclination to spend all week meeting strangers for coffees and lunches, attending dull networking events, and chasing people all over town. Our blog takes much of the legwork out of networking.
Your blog validates you in the eyes of strangers – it provides a forum (and an invitation) for people to comment on your work and, hand-in-hand with social media, it shares a little piece of you with others in similar or complementary industries.
Publicity opportunities with your blog
Blogging alone won’t bring you publicity. Having a blog, getting into the swing of promoting it through your social media channels, and cultivating online relationships will help you develop your skills in pitching and self-promotion.
Don’t go back to bed on me now, to console yourself with a chamomile tea and a good cry. If you want publicity, you either need deep pockets to pay a PR agency (which is unlikely to take you on unless they can easily understand your point of difference and recognise you as newsworthy) or get over yourself and learn how to pitch yourself.
Blogging is, by nature, very public. It’s fantastic for introverts and extroverts alike, so long as you have passion, opinions, and a willingness to learn. It’s been my experience that we don’t change behavior overnight.
Real change happens incrementally – the same goes with blogging. Your first blog post may feel stilted, and excruciatingly public. Slowly, you learn to better understand what people are interested in, what your opinions are on key topics (there’s nothing like transferring thoughts to paper to get clear on what you think) and to better identify the missing pieces of the puzzle that lead people to action (ie: to become your new client!).
Learning to pitch
You pitch yourself when you invite people to participate, respond, and care about what you do. You pitch yourself when you invite people to comment on your blog. You pitch yourself to other bloggers when you invite them back to your blog and ask to be a guest blogger on their blog. You pitch yourself to journalists when you respond to request for quotes or further information on your topic.
Pitching gets easier with practice and when you recognise that it’s not about you – it’s about the other person and the serendipity of good timing.
Use your blog to get a publishing deal
Publishers take a gamble with new writers or content producers – they gamble that the person has something original to say and is in tune with the modern mindset. A publisher needs to be well-versed on trends because they need to sell to these if they’re going to be viable.
Publishers must trust that the talent they’re investing in is going to come up with the goods – not only an original perspective and unique twist on trends – but with discipline to follow through.
A blog demonstrates commitment – it showcases your discipline to create and to keep creating. A regular blog is a sum total of your professional perspective, compassion and empathy, rapport and self-motivation. A blog, regularly updated, demonstrates that you have the goods.
What blogging for business is not
Blogging for business is not an opportunity to blather away on each and every issue that provokes you. A generalist isn’t an effective business blogger if they can’t tie all subjects to their theme. To develop a reputation, credibility, a following, and gain publicity, you need to stick to your topic.
When you’re deeply and thoroughly immersed in your topic of expertise, you can, with sufficient creativity, make almost anything relevant.
An effective blog is the interplay between you and your readers.
Celebrity culture exonerates the narcissist who does little more than create drama and look good. You are not a celebrity (yet). The surer way to fame and fortune is to create work so good that it speaks for you. Then use blogging for business to showcase it.
Join me at my face-to-face course, Blogging for Business, which runs regularly around the country.