There’s a real shortage of blogs that deal with a specific policy area, written by experts in that same area operating in Brussels. Given this dearth, given that policy-makers use the web to inform themselves on policy issues, that a blog is a highly flexible medium that allows for anything from a short two-liner to a full-on analysis, that a blog can allow for an ongoing narrative that no other medium could allow for, lots of organisations trying to communicate their views on a variety of issues are losing out by relying only on tried and tested position papers, meetings and the like (I’ve previously written about the reasons for the shortage of policy blogs in Brussels over on Public Affairs 2.0 – if you click through, I recommend that you read the comments too.)
Still, some blogs do get launched, and in this post, rather than argue for more policy blogs, I’d like to make another point, possibly born out of the frustration at seeing a number of valiant efforts fail. Despite the undoubted value of blogging – if done well – don’t even bother if:
- You aren’t allowed to talk about anything interesting (or don’t want to, or can’t legally do so.) You work on topical and/or contentious issues and have views, so EXPRESS THEM: that’s what people care about. Blogging about your CEO’s pet CSR initiative and about how useful your product or service is a waste of time. It’s not going to “educate policy-makers and their influencers” – it’s going to make them never ever visit your blog again.
- No one can really be bothered to write. Blogging sounds like a good idea, you sort of see the value, but you sure as hell aren’t going to write; nor are any of your colleagues. A blog needs to be fed regularly and requires an author (or authors) who are real people and who represent the organisation. Yes it’s an effort; yes it’s a commitment. If you see it as an add-on which your agency can run for you, don’t bother.
- You’re going to write in a vacuum. A blog offers an opportunity to connect to other people and sources. Whether you just link through to lots of good 3rd party content, or even better, connect to others writing about the same issues in Brussels or (more likely) at national level by linking to their content, you’ll add credibility to your blog, drive traffic and hopefully even build relationships. Just writing about your own stuff is a wasted opportunity.
- You aren’t going to market it properly. Don’t think people will magically show up. Sure, good content is the clincher, but you need to constantly promote your blog. That can mean anything from advertising to SEO to everyone within the organisation simply just referring to it whenever they can.
How many organisations actually have the will and flexibility to avoid all of the above? Sadly, not that many (unless they’re facing a crisis.)