Why corporates should blog – reason one (of many)

I recently got into a conversation about corporate blogging. The sort of conversation that starts with ‘what is a blog?’ and ends with ‘it’ll never work here’. And, as always, the killer argument for corporate blogging popped into my head 5 minutes too late.

A tractor in a field yesterday

Many years ago, I used to work for Case, the company that builds big red tractors. It was great work, especially as people understood what you did – none of this ‘I work in computers’ malarchy. Only problem was that we were working in Navan Ireland, with most of our colleagues based in Racine, just north of Chicago.

Not too much of a problem for the first 15 or so people – people who worked out of Chicago for the first 4 or 5 months. We were able to build up personal relationships with a colleagues. We could ask later ‘how are the kids?’ or ‘are you still playing football?’. Small things, but make the real work discussions a lot easier.

The problem came with employees 15-100 – the ones that didn’t spend any amount of time in the US. Technically great people, but didn’t ‘click’ in the same way with Chicago. As a result, small misunderstandings became big misunderstandings, and projects got delayed.

And that’s where corporate blogging comes in. It allows people in far flung offices to connect. Doesn’t matter what you blog about – personal life, or some small project that’s happening in your local office. Chances are somebody else in the company will pick up on it and vital connections will be made.

And if you’re in the market for a big red tractor, click on the photo above. 125 BHP, Diesel Engine, a bargain at 16,500 Euro.

Business Bloggers – Pre Awards Meetup – Open to all

At what other awards could you mingle with the Oscar nominees before the event? See them preparing the acceptance speeches, display their pre-show nerves and ask them for tips on the secret of their success? At the Irish Blog Awards – Business Blogger Meetup next Saturday March 1st , of course.

Details : The blog awards kick off at 7.30pm. So lets do it one hour earlier at 6.30pm. Same venue , Alexander Hotel, has a nice big foyer area. There’s no food at the awards themselves , but the hotel does a waiter service in the lobby if you’re just up ‘from the country’. Just look out for me (I’ve been told I look like my photo on the top right. Which is not a good thing) , or any of the nominees (although I suspect Rowan and Michele aren’t as cartoonish in real life).

You don’t have to be a nominee to come along. Just come along and talk about what has worked for you as a Business Blogger.

Irish Blog Awards Sponsor

Update: I would put good money on Kieran from Ice Cream Ireland turning up in full ice-cream-man gear. Click here to encourage him. It does solve the problem of ‘you-dont-really-look-like-your-photo’.

Which of these people is going to win the 'Best Irish Business Blogger' Award?

Did we mention that FirstPartners is sponsoring the Best Business Blog award? As a taster, here are the profiles of the 13 people short listed for the award. Who will we be giving the prize to? Come along on the 1st of March , Alexander Hotel, Dublin to find out.

MaryRose Lyons Brightspark Consulting
Brightspark is a Dublin web design and internet marketing agency, run by Maryrose Lyons who has been blogging since 2003. So she probably knows what she is talking about. Maryrose doesn’t pull her punches (read her blog to find out who she called ‘a shambles’) and is recommended to people dipping their toes in the world of business blogging.
Bubble Brothers
The tagline to this blog pretty much sums it up : ‘Wine, Champagne , more’. These Cork Wine Merchants ooze sophistication, even when they branch out from wine to talk about pancakes, pizza and the Bridgestone pick of 2008. All on the one page. They’ll even sell you some of their stuff if you ask nicely.
Pat Phelan
Cork Based Giant Killer Pat Phelan is out to slay the telecoms monsters. Watch a blow by blow account on the roam4free blog. You’ll never look at your mobile phone bill in the same way again.
Keith Bohanna
Keith’s main job is as part of the Irish Internet Association and creative camp Kilkenny. Or maybe it’s as part of a startup , DB Twang, a site for Guitar enthusiasts Kilkenny Creative Camp. Or maybe it’s teaching other business people to blog. Whichever subject is, Keith covers them well on his site.
Ice Cream Ireland
Ice Cream. In a blog. From Kerry cows. What more do you need to know?
BH Consulting Blog
Brian Honan , one of Ireland’s top Security Consultants , will have you paranoid after reading his blog. And while everybody else except you gets hit by virus, phishing attempts and emails that knock over your PC, you’ll be glad that you listened to him.
The Blacknight Blog
Michele Neylon has been a supporter of the blogging community, since well , before they were called blogs. Michele runs Blacknight hosting based in Carlow. The Blacknight example shows how a company in a ‘commodity’ industry (web hosting) can stand out by showing a human face on their blog(s). At the very least , it shows faith in their quality of service.
O’Conall Street
Conall manages to make business and politics mix. A man who has journeyed from Dublin to Belfast via Spain, the SDLP and the Good Friday Agreement , he is currently head of PR Company Weber Shandwick in Northern Ireland. He’s also a Man United fan, but everybody has to have at least one flaw.
McGarr Solicitors
McGarr solicitors are the first point of call for bloggers in legal distress. The site is very much legal people who blog, rather than just bloggers with a passing interest in the law. The blog provides a lot of useful advice in areas such as Personal Injury, (accidents at work particularly) , Environmental , Planning and Employment Law. And they do the bread and butter buying and selling your house as well. .
Interactions
Annette Clancy is an organisational consultant, coach and psychotherapist. An unusal combination perhaps, but she helps people overcome their ‘stuckness’ and solve business problems. The blog isn’t afraid to venture into uncharted areas such as the role of emotion in the work place.
Worldwide Cycles
One of europes few specialist bike stores run by people who are still competing regularly. Barry, based in Tipperary, explains what those infestations of cyclists are actually doing on our roads. And what cyclists get up to with cans of Lynx. It will make 4×4 drivers think twice before overtaking with only inches to spare.
Fortify Your Oasis
Thinking of changing your job? Read this blog first. Rowan explains how to give your life direction, how to pick , then land the job that fits in with this. And shows you how to preform a graceful exit from the role your are currently in and hate. And he’s written a book about it, showing that bloggers can do ‘real’ writing as well.
Frank Fullard
Mayo based Frank talks about entrepreneurs and the businesses they start. And he’s not afraid to think small, taking a different view from many of the ‘we’re a startup, we’re going to take over the world’ blogs that are out there.

Inside Information – Best Irish Business Blog shortlist

Inside sources (who declined to be named) are suggesting that the longlist for the ‘Best Irish Business Blog’ will look something like this …

Irish Blog Awards

Update:
The fact that this information was given to me (in ready to paste HTML) has nothing, absolutely nothing , to do with the fact that FirstPartners.net are sponsoring the Best Business blog award.

Logo

Who will we be handing the 'best Irish business blogger' award to?

Did we mention that we’re sponsoring the Best Irish Business Blogger award at the Irish Blog awards on March 1st? We’ve written a guide to business blogging in Ireland, and I’m really looking forward to see who the winner is on the night.

Irish blog award sponsor logo

In case you’re looking at the blog award nomination form and wondering who to fill in the business section, may I be as bold as to suggest a couple of possibilities? If I’ve missed your blog , leave a comment.

Or you could follow our suggestions for Best Political Blogger.

Irish Blog Awards – Suggestion for Best Political Blogger

Unlike last year, I’m not going to give a complete list of alternative nominations for the Irish Blog Awards. Instead we’re going to plug a few specific categories for your consideration (including the Best Business Blog that FirstPartners.net are sponsoring).

Blog Award Logo Sponsor

Given that the shortlist could (partially) be done on the number of nominations, I’d urge you to check out the blog below, and see if it’s worthy of your consideration.

James Lawless (view from the tracks) has been started online as a rail activist, now writing as a member of Fianna Fail. Does that make him the only member of Ireland’s largest party to be brave enough to stand up online?

I often disagree with what he says, but it’s a useful counterpoint to the tide of anti-government opinion that seems to prevail in the blogosphere. Whether the tide is justified or not is a question that will last past March 1st when the awards are given out.

Of course, if you want a plug for your blog / nomination, please leave a comment and we’ll see what we can do. Next up: Business Bloggers that’d we like to hand the award to on the night.

What does FirstPartners.net actually do?

Damien asked for blurbs from the sponsors of the Irish Blog Awards as to what they actually do. After years of trying explain in our 3 minute elevator pitch, I think we’ve finally got the answer.

FirstPartners slogan

FirstPartners.net build the ugly bits of websites. Not the lovely front ends but the bits that do the heavy lifting – the bits that ensure your bank balance is correct, that your ticket is there when you arrive at the airport, or bits that capture your teams’ knowledge . We deliver using a combination of Enterprise Java Technology, our custom Red-Piranha framework and Agile project techniques.

More at www.FirstPartners.net

Denise Fay (Achieve Marketing) – the latest Irish Business Blogger

Denise Fay of Achieve Marketing is finally blogging over at achievemarketing.ie. The guide to Business Blogging in Ireland is a direct result of Denise’s Marketing Session at the Ballymascanlon Hotel, Dundalk, but even so , it’s taken 6 months of intimidation sorry encouragement since the Barcamp Belfast meetup to get Denise to this point (she insists on using her time to look after customers).

A couple of things that I’ve learnt if you want to get people in your business network blogging:

    1. Everybody wants the site traffic, but not everybody can / wants to make the effort. Not everybody is suited to writing stuff (but then again, they’re probably a natural at professional networking). Denise writes press releases already , so not only does she have interesting stories to tell, but she has those stories already written down.
    2. Blogging probably seems natural to you now, but you forget how much you’ve learned. Set aside some time to go through the basics with your victim. 1 hr should be enough if you’ve done the ground work (i.e. have wordpress already setup). Get a blogpost out within the first 10 minutes (to show how easy it is). Then work your way through the other tabs in wordpress. Concepts (like categories, linking , trackbacks, url structure) will naturally flow in the conversation.
    3. I was lucky that Denise had already setup Google Analytics for some of her clients. Even so the latest version of wordpress makes setting up analytics easy , and those charts are so damn addictive!
    4. I found that a combination of having the new blog (Achieve Marketing) and my one (People and Technology) open at the same , and flicking between the the old and new blogs worked well. Some stuff like themes, archived blogposts, spam prevention is easier to understand on a blog that’s been in use for a while.

To set the background, Denise is very knowledgable about her area (Marketing), has people to get the techie stuff done and definitely knows more about the web than she admits, but would in no way be classed as a ‘techie’!

Business Blogging in Ireland – Who What When Where and Why

At yesterday’s Plato marketing training event, the topic of business blogging came up. Seems like our 100,000+ unique visitors is nothing in the blogging world, but most Small to Medium Irish Business (SME’s) would kill for that kind of traffic. So since I’m an ‘expert’ (and when exactly did that happen ?!) here’s the 10 minute guide to get your business on it’s way.

Plato rules presume that member companies remain confidential (until they choose to break cover!). So, if you want to leave a comment below (feel free to link back to your website) I’ll be happy to apply the advice below to your business. I don’t sell blogging advice (although there is a business idea!) – more Irish Business Bloggers there are the better (all, hopefully, linking from their websites back to here!)

What is blogging?

  • A Blog is a new way of doing that same old things. You already network, talk (and listen!) to your customers and are passionate about publicising the thing you love (your business idea). A Blog just helps you do the same things online.
  • A Blog is the easiest way to update a website. If you can email (remember how scary that used to be?) you can blog. And yes, I can give examples to back that one up. And that’s you updating it, not paying some web design company to do it.
  • A Blog is the quickest way to get a good website. If you haven’t a website, a blog is the quickest way to get one. It does most of the Vodoo Search Engine stuff out of the box. Likewise, a blog can easily added to your existing website.
  • A Blog is an online Diary. Think one of those reality TV shows. But about your business. And without Jade Goody in it. There is a reason that ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Blogs’ score highest in the ratings – they’re all about people. Remember ; People don’t buy your business, they buy you.
  • A Blog lets you have conversations with your customers. It allows customers to say what they think about you on your website.Scary? Yes. But not as scary as not hearing what they are saying about you.Yes you can delete offensive comments, but I’ve only had to remove 2 out of 700 comments in the last 3 years.

The Who, What, When , Where and Why of Irish Business Blogging

Who should blog

  • You, as the owner of your business. If you have people who are equally passionate, then (a) you’re very lucky and (b) you should let them write as well. But chances are, it’s going to be you.
  • Blogging works very well for people in the professional services area. There are hundreds of people in IT, but blogging lets me stand out and gives me credibility.
  • I’m confident (and can give examples) of ways of how Hotels and Tourism, Shops and Engineering Companies can blog successfully), but it’s a little be fuzzier (i.e. not direcly linked to my personal experience)

What should they talk about

  • Talk about what you love – your business. But remember who you’re talking to; your customers, and people who will either link to you online, or recommend you to new customers.
  • I find a personal style works best. We’ve all seen the bland corporate website and we don’t believe them. Speak personally of your experience.
  • Set your own red lines, and respect them. I don’t blog about my personal life (or lack of it!). I don’t reveal customer details. But outside of that, if it’s interesting, I’ll talk about anything it.

When (or how much time is involved)

  • Like all marketing , you’re in this for the long haul. It’s important that you measure using Google Analytics (free). You’ll be surprised at what works and what doesn’t.
  • Blogging is cheap in money but expensive in your time. I reckon about 1hr per week for a post like this one, sometimes more, sometimes less.
  • Don’t forget the extra time involved in publicising your blog; leaving useful comments / links on other sites back to yours. But you’d be doing this anyway as you surf the web.

Where do people find out about your business /blog

  • Those comments on other (relevent) sites and more popular blogs link back to yours. If somebody likes your comment, then they will often come back to your blog.Remember, useful comments not spam! – your comment /link should always add to the site you are leaving them on.
  • Google loves blogs, because of all those incoming links.
  • The links on the top left of the page allow you to subscribe to this blog as if it were an email newsletter. Some people like this. Most people prefer RSS; Like an email newsletter RSS notifies you of new content but, RSS gives you a summary of all the blogs you are interested in. And it doesn’t clog up your inbox. I use Google Reader, but there is plenty of choice out there.

Why

  • Because you’d like more business. You do want more business, right? The only question: ‘is blogging the best use of my time?’

How
Two main choices, the second one being better as it gives you more choice.

  • Sign up for a free blogging account at Blogger.com (backed by Google)
  • Ask your (existing / new) web host for the following. It should cost a lot less then Eur500 , including the first year’s hosting.

I’d like WordPress (free) setup on my website at www.mywebsitename/blog. Use one of the standard templates. Please add Google Analytics (free) to the this template. Please explain where I can get the number (from Google) that you will need for the analytics. When finished let me know the address, username and password to log into my blog.

Remember, blogging is cheap to try out (in money , if not in your time) . It’s still new enough to forgive people who make mistakes. Dive in , give it a go, and when (not if) you learn something new, tell me about it.

And after all that, you couldn’t be bothered blogging?
Try LinkedIn.com. As a business networking tool , it’s excellent, with more Irish business contacts than anywhere else.

Business Blogging in Ireland – Who, What , When, Where and Why

At yesterday’s Plato marketing training event, the topic of business blogging came up. Seems like our 100,000+ unique visitors is nothing in the blogging world, but most Small to Medium Irish Business (SME’s) would kill for that kind of traffic. So since I’m an ‘expert’ (and when exactly did that happen ?!) here’s the 10 minute guide to get your business on it’s way.

Plato rules presume that member companies remain confidential (until they choose to break cover!). So, if you want to leave a comment below (feel free to link back to your website) I’ll be happy to apply the advice below to your business. I don’t sell blogging advice (although there is a business idea!) – more Irish Business Bloggers there are the better (all, hopefully, linking from their websites back to here!)

What is blogging?

  • A Blog is a new way of doing that same old things. You already network, talk (and listen!) to your customers and are passionate about publicising the thing you love (your business idea). A Blog just helps you do the same things online.
  • A Blog is the easiest way to update a website. If you can email (remember how scary that used to be?) you can blog. And yes, I can give examples to back that one up. And that’s you updating it, not paying some web design company to do it.
  • A Blog is the quickest way to get a good website. If you haven’t a website, a blog is the quickest way to get one. It does most of the Vodoo Search Engine stuff out of the box. Likewise, a blog can easily added to your existing website.
  • A Blog is an online Diary. Think one of those reality TV shows. But about your business. And without Jade Goody in it. There is a reason that ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Blogs’ score highest in the ratings – they’re all about people. Remember ; People don’t buy your business, they buy you.
  • A Blog lets you have conversations with your customers. It allows customers to say what they think about you on your website.Scary? Yes. But not as scary as not hearing what they are saying about you.Yes you can delete offensive comments, but I’ve only had to remove 2 out of 700 comments in the last 3 years.

The Who, What, When , Where and Why of Irish Business Blogging

Who should blog

  • You, as the owner of your business. If you have people who are equally passionate, then (a) you’re very lucky and (b) you should let them write as well. But chances are, it’s going to be you.
  • Blogging works very well for people in the professional services area. There are hundreds of people in IT, but blogging lets me stand out and gives me credibility.
  • I’m confident (and can give examples) of ways of how Hotels and Tourism, Shops and Engineering Companies can blog successfully), but it’s a little be fuzzier (i.e. not direcly linked to my personal experience)
What should they talk about

  • Talk about what you love – your business. But remember who you’re talking to; your customers, and people who will either link to you online, or recommend you to new customers.
  • I find a personal style works best. We’ve all seen the bland corporate website and we don’t believe them. Speak personally of your experience.
  • Set your own red lines, and respect them. I don’t blog about my personal life (or lack of it!). I don’t reveal customer details. But outside of that, if it’s interesting, I’ll talk about anything it.
When (or how much time is involved)

  • Like all marketing , you’re in this for the long haul. It’s important that you measure using Google Analytics (free). You’ll be surprised at what works and what doesn’t.
  • Blogging is cheap in money but expensive in your time. I reckon about 1hr per week for a post like this one, sometimes more, sometimes less.
  • Don’t forget the extra time involved in publicising your blog; leaving useful comments / links on other sites back to yours. But you’d be doing this anyway as you surf the web.
Where do people find out about your business /blog

  • Those comments on other (relevent) sites and more popular blogs link back to yours. If somebody likes your comment, then they will often come back to your blog.Remember, useful comments not spam! – your comment /link should always add to the site you are leaving them on.
  • Google loves blogs, because of all those incoming links.
  • The links on the top left of the page allow you to subscribe to this blog as if it were an email newsletter. Some people like this. Most people prefer RSS; Like an email newsletter RSS notifies you of new content but, RSS gives you a summary of all the blogs you are interested in. And it doesn’t clog up your inbox. I use Google Reader, but there is plenty of choice out there.
Why

  • Because you’d like more business. You do want more business, right? The only question: ‘is blogging the best use of my time?’
How
Two main choices, the second one being better as it gives you more choice.

  • Sign up for a free blogging account at Blogger.com (backed by Google)
  • Ask your (existing / new) web host for the following. It should cost a lot less then Eur500 , including the first year’s hosting.

‘I’d like WordPress (free) setup on my website at www.mywebsitename/blog. Use one of the standard templates. Please add Google Analytics (free) to the this template. Please explain where I can get the number (from Google) that you will need for the analytics. When finished let me know the address, username and password to log into my blog.

Remember, blogging is cheap to try out (in money , if not in your time) . It’s still new enough to forgive people who make mistakes. Dive in , give it a go, and when (not if) you learn something new, tell me about it.

And after all that, you couldn’t be bothered blogging?
Try LinkedIn.com. As a business networking tool , it’s excellent, with more Irish business contacts than anywhere else.