Today’s guest post is by Jessica Valenzuela.
It’s fairly indisputable that thought leadership is good for one’s brand.
In today’s digital world that thought leadership can come in many forms: Regular, thoughtful tweets, LinkedIn group involvement and engagement, and Facebook posts and sharing of news; bylines on popular sites, corporate blog posts that go beyond naval-gazing, executive Q&As, and much more.
For organizations with varying levels of resources these represent major investments of human capital as it can take a good chunk of time to put together valuable content.
Two of these tactics that are oft compared and debated are: Writing articles for your own corporate blog versus writing them for other editorial sites.
Below is a pro and con list for each, as we see it, that will help inform other organization’s decisions.
You own it: This content and the time on site it drives are yours. As a brand, you can monetize that content and those eyeballs, if you wish. Your branding surrounds the content and no one can tell you what or what not to say.
You’re in control: Whether it’s tone of voice, frequency, associated imagery, or whathaveyou – it’s all up to you. That can be seen as a pro or a con – we choose pro as it means it can be supremely representative of your brand and you can tweak it over time with ease. Can’t come up with enough content? There are easy tools to source full-text articles for your site these days to help augment your content in your own voice.
Once it’s posted, it’s not fresh: Like a new car you drive off the lot, once an article is posted anywhere including your own blog it loses that “exclusive” quality that so many editorial sites demand. Even if it’s an amazing piece some publications just won’t run “used” content.
It can’t be left unattended: Whether you have one contributor or 20, an overall theme or one topic you focus on – if you’re running a corporate blog you need to maintain it. From regular posts to good tags and SEO to responding to comments, keeping it fresh can be a full-time job.
It counts as earned media: For PR pros out there, you can count this. To place contributed content can be as much if not more work than placing some editorial articles.
It’s on message: Even if it gets edited, the starting words are of your own creation and so (hopefully) very on message.
You’re getting in front of editors: Contributed content is a soft inroad to get editors to know more about your brand, your areas of expertise, and your voice. As those same editors assign stories and work on their own copy, their contributors may be top-of-mind.
Your draft could get a hard edit: Sometimes you send an awesome piece of contributed content on a trending topic and it comes out in the publication as a 600 word “how-to” piece with little resemblance to what you sent.
Timing is out of your control: Many editorial staffs today are slammed. There aren’t enough bodies to cover the reporting let alone read each piece of contributed content, put it into an editorial calendar and get it out the door.
Each publication has a unique approach – some use a content management system to allow contributors to submit their own content for review, others have editors specifically for contributed content who have easy to follow guidelines. In some cases it can take weeks, sometimes even months to place a piece that’s evergreen in nature, which can be very frustrating.
So ultimately, what do you decide?
As I said, we chose to invest time in a blend of both – the success of those efforts, however, comes down to commitment and that goes for startups like us, all the way to large publicly traded companies. Developing relationships with publications so that you are a “regular contributor” means that when you have something to say the forum is there for you.
Regularly contributing also helps keep you top of mind with editors as they look for sources on related topics. The key word here is regular – if you let editors down with infrequent, off-topic contributions the whole purpose can backfire.
The same holds true for your corporate blogging endeavours – if you and your team can’t regularly post thoughtful, interesting or helpful posts it might not be worth even setting up a blog as the impact on your brand can be negative.
If you point someone to your blog on your homepage you better be sure it has something fresh for them to learn from.
Jessica Valenzuela is vice president of growth for Taptera, a mobile business app development company based in San Francisco. She focuses on marketing automation, brand strategy, business development partnerships, and manages a growing number of marquee accounts. When not instigating innovative ideas or delivering digital and mobile products, Jessica enjoys travel, snowboarding, kiteboarding, and both nature and cosmopolitan discovery.