Eric Canada, Blane Canada Ltd., invited me to co-present a webinar on Blogging for Economic Development. I also made some notes from the other presenter I want to share with you.
Eric said that blogging, by his research, is one of the key social media strategies for economic development. I have to agree.
Blogging Lessons from an Economic Developer
David McFadden, Yakima County, WA, also agrees. He was my co-presenter.
“If your website is your front door, then blogging is how you make it interactive,” David said.
The Yakima County Development Authority publishes 125 posts or more per year, with staff of four total people. Their blog provides key support for their talent attraction website and their business assistance program. They also publish an organization blog targeted to their stakeholders. They are so keen on blogging, they have eliminated all printed materials except their annual report. They did get some pushback on that.
David’s Blogging Tips:
- Focus on what makes you unique.
- If you want to get message points about your community, ask your businesses.
- Have a blogging schedule.
- Adapt your blogging schedule to reflect your busy times.
David’s Benefits from Blogging:
- Definitely helped their SEO. Search engines account for 60% of their traffic.
- Allows them to stay ahead of news, be proactive and strategic.
- Educates the community on the importance of economic development.
- Has really enhanced staff skills.
My blogging lessons
I added some blogging suggestions that anyone can use, economic development or not.
1. Use a small town style.
Blogging is not a press release. Press releases go to PRWeb or Pitch Engine, not your blog.
Most EcoDev blogs are overly professional in tone, with no life. Your community is full of life! Even site selectors are people. A little personality will help you stand out.
You have a variety of different audiences, and your readers have a variety of learning styles and personalities. Use different styles to reach different people. Write long posts and short posts; use photos and videos; use a variety.
2. Make a Plan
Blogging successfully requires that you know who your audience is, to know what they want to know. One way to do this is to write down all questions that come in by phone, email, or carrier pigeon. Answer those you can on your blog. Talk less about you, more about them: more about the people doing good things in your community.
Use a calendar. Daily is not necessary. Quality matters most.
It can be fun and useful to do theme days: business Monday, Tourism Tuesday. Plan ahead for your local events, festivals, recruiting events. Having a good calendar means never having to say, “What should I write about?”
Check out these blog post planners and calendars.
Promote where your audience will see it. Want to know where they are online? Ask them. The most reliable way to reach most people is through email, but you have to be interesting or they will unsubscribe or just ignore you.
Set goals: Measure only what matters
Pick only a few key measurements. Track progress weekly or monthly or quarterly, but not daily.
Make sure governance buys in to your measurements.
It’s OK to start measuring when it’s zero. And it’s OK to measure your own efforts: number of posts, consistency of posts.
3. Don’t Go It Alone
Find strong contributors, either insiders or guest posts, or both. Insiders can be staff or board. Ask respected outsiders for guest posts on specific topics of their expertise. Look for people who already know how to write.
Don’t edit them to death. Let them use their own voice. It’s OK that they are different from you. For those who will be regular participants (not guests): If they help you build the calendar, they will be more likely to stick with it.
Mistakes are learning opportunities
Eric asked us to specifically address mistakes in local economic development blogs.
One mistake I see is unoriginal content: recycling press releases, or copying content from others without giving credit, or reposting stories from elsewhere even while giving credit. Share your point of view! You have years of experience to share.
Another mistake is giving up: Just stopping blogging, or apologizing for gaps in posting. If you’ve missed posting for a time, just start back in. Don’t apologize.
The biggest mistake is not asking for help: not delegating some of the tasks to others on the team, or not telling them enough to get them started.
My best advice is always: Follow smart people.
- Intelegia.com – online marketing for economic development
- Copyblogger.com – writing skills for blogs
- ProBlogger.net – blogging as a business
- ChrisG.com – new media and marketing
What you have learned about blogging that you’d like to share?
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