Stuart Bruce, a prominent PR consultant and commentator, says that “has significantly helped” his career, but says that “some of the other early pioneers of blogging have recently written about whether blogs are still relevant”.
For those with a message to promote, I’d say that blogging is more important than ever. Twitter and Facebook are fine for directing people to content, but they aren’t as useful as blogs for developing an argument, presenting detailed evidence and convincing people. Unlike press releases (which some people still advocate, wrongly, for SEO purposes), blogs tend to sound like they’re written by a real person – not a corporate machine. They are therefore much more effective at communicating a message than a committee-approved press releases, in which people talk about themselves in the their person.
Of course, blogging takes time. Over the years, many marketers, desperate to get lots of traffic from search engines, tried stupid shortcuts, such as spamming “article directories” with worthless material, or paying to issue hundreds of painfully bad press releases through press release newswires. Most have now come to the realisation that Google just wants websites to produce content that its search customers will value.
So they now they talk about “content marketing”. This is a significant improvement, although some mistakenly think means they can bash out all manner of lightweight copy and expect good results. Content marketing’s upmarket brother, brand journalism, strikes me as a more effective name. That’s because a journalist’s role is to write for the benefit of the reader. In a journalist’s mindset, marketers and PR practitioners tend to write pieces that don’t sound like a sales pitch, but which instead engage the reader’s mind and make a convincing case.
Whatever you call it, brand journalism needs technology and a format. And blogging is one of the best formats for it. In WordPress, we have blogging technology that’s delightful for use and easy to customise. Most people understand how to navigate a blog and they understand that the page is going to be updated regularly.
Newer social networks mean that people don’t just start blogs without thought like they did a decade ago. They can easily write about their cute cats on Facebook. Now it seems like a big decision to start a blog (will I be able to stick at it?). It takes time to build a readership. But blogging’s effectiveness, to my mind, is without question.