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They may not call themselves social media experts, but the panelists at this week’s PRSA Puget Sound event are about as close as you can get.

The wine and cheese social “Blogging in the Public Interest” featured event panelists Matt Rosenberg, executive director of Public Eye Northwest, Katie McCarthy, senior media relations consultant for Group Health Cooperative, and Weber Shandwick Seattle’s very own digital strategist Wade Rockett. The three shared their extensive experiences writing, managing and editing blogs and provided insight on when and how to use a blog.

If you’re looking to blog, they say to keep these tips in mind:

  • Know your audience. Blog content should cater to your audience, but it’s also good to meet new audience needs as they arise. At Group Health, McCarthy saw a need for better communication with the media, so she created a news blog that provides resources like b-roll and researcher interviews for journalists.
  • Keep posts digestible. On the blog Public Data Ferret, Rosenberg provides a 100 word summary at the top of every post so readers can quickly scan a few sentences and get the gist of the story. The background section includes more in-depth information and the key link directs readers to the full text of the original report. “Part of the problem is there’s too much information,” Rosenberg said. “Part of what we’re trying to do is boil it down and make it simple for you.”
  • Publicize across channels. “It’s important to set outposts that will drive people to content that’s going to be informative and engaging,” Rockett said. Blogs make great content for Facebook and Twitter feeds, Rosenberg said, and posting a headline or key point with a link to the blog will drive traffic and encourage additional sharing and engagement across the web. These channels can also be a tool for drafting and developing full posts. “Tweeting can be the things that happen in between the blogs,” McCarthy said.

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