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Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's time for a resolution

For 2014, I resolve to do a better job with this blog.

There. I said it. Now I just have to follow through.

Truly, I think I will because I've made it easier on myself. I'm embarrassed to say, but I jumped into  writing this blog two years ago without any proper planning. That's exactly what we at First Class Communication advise our clients NOT to do. It  causes us to shudder when they do -- strong, convulsing shudders, in fact.

So, if your New Year's resolutions include communicating better with your constituents, here are a few tips on creating, starting and -- hardest of all -- maintaining a blog.

After all, blogs -- when used correctly and consistently -- are great information and marketing tools. Superintendents, principals, teachers, business owners, company executives -- heck, anyone really -- can use them to accomplish any number of important goals:
  • Distributing information
  • Promoting organizational values
  • Inspiring action 
  • Selling products or ideas
  • Creating an online community
If you're thinking about a blog for your school district, your school or your class, think specifically about what you hope to accomplish with it. (For First Class Communication, it's being recognized as a trusted communication/public relations firm with expertise in education issues, specifically as they relate to Arkansas, i.e., we want you to know us as the firm "where education and communication conspire".)

After your overarching goals are defined, it's easy to drill down to appropriate themes, specific topics and then story ideas to fill each post. Once those are listed, you'll want to create an editorial calendar -- this will help you organize entries in such a way that you don't keep writing on the same topic ad nauseam. Nobody wants that, trust us.

You'll want to mix in announcements and news with some information about yourself and what you provide (but keep the all-about-me-news to about 10 percent of your content, please!) Businesses specifically don't want to come across as if they are trying to sell something every time they put up a new blog entry. And if you can keep entries somewhere between 300 - 700 words, you'll keep readers engaged and get noticed by search engines, too. Woo hoo!

Blogs should be thought of as sometimes helpful, sometimes entertaining and always worth reading.

Some people post daily, but we advise our clients to try for at least one post a week, three max, and to utilize other social media channels for more frequent engagement.

I've got my calendar filled out for the first of 2014, so look for the next Extra Credit post to appear on Jan. 15. You'll have to come back to find out what it's about, though.

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