It’s your turn to write the company blog, and you’re panicking.
We’ve all been there, either you weren’t paying that much attention when the question was asked at the all-hands meeting. Or you were confident that your place on the waiting list was so far down that you could get away with a Christmas themed shopping list.
But no, here you are the night before it’s supposed to be with management, scrolling through Medium for a topic that you can re-write and have your peers believe is all original. Maybe you have Reddit open in another tab hoping for an interesting discussion to save you — a good thought, however you won’t find it on /r/Aww — while haphazardly googling that podcast you kind of remember being interesting. Luckily you’ve ended up here with the Hedgehogs, the spiky saviours of your professional reputation, where you will learn how to write that perfect blog to secure your place in the office intellectual elite. While hopefully being good enough to avoid having to write another one for a long, long, time.
Relevancy is key
Finally the scrolling has paid off and you’ve hit a gold mine of thoughts that you can repurpose, just sprinkle in a few personal anecdotes and you’re in the clear. Before you find yourself 800 words into creating tenuous links from your cultural think piece to the ASX500 company you actually work for, take a second and ask, is this relevant? It shouldn’t come as a surprise that desperation tends to trump clear thought, and you don’t want to write this thing twice. Or five times.
That’s not to discourage you from finding interesting sources, rather to think about the context. Your writing should be relevant to the people reading it and the company that’s hosting it. Look at the mission statement of your workplace, the goals your team is working toward, how learnings from your work can benefit your industry or other people in similar careers. Just save that unique and seemingly unrelated train of thought for your delivery. Speaking of…
Adjust your tone.
You’re a cool kind of person, you’ve been described as trendy by people who should know that sort of thing, so you definitely don’t want to write a stodgy corporate blog. Cut loose, maybe throw in a little innuendo, even some casual swearing? Definitely a meme, in fact your buddy shared a great one on Facebook last night that would be the perfect thing to knock this post up a notch…
This isn’t about you, or your personality. You’re representing an organisation that you hopefully will continue to work for, so there are definite lines to colour in. Don’t be fooled by the inter-personal banter that you and the team share, or the “spicy meme” slack group that you and the managers are in. What you write will be seen by customers, partners, potential employees, etc, so the tone needs to reflect that. Think about it like a job interview, you want to be bright and entertaining, but anchor it to expertise and professionalism. Of course every company is different so that balance is tricky to give hard and fast rules for. Take a look at old blogs that did really well, and press releases and outward facing communications can also help you define what the tone should be.
Research your point
Brilliant! Your topic is relevant to the company and you’ve struck the ideal balance between witty and professional, what’s next?
Now to back up your point with a little research and no, I don’t mean scrolling through Reddit again. If you’re making a claim or assertion, then you should be following it up with data and if the other blog you’re basing yours off doesn’t contain sources then you should be finding your own. Beyond being responsible, it will help keep that professional tone you’ve created when your footnotes lead somewhere.
What if your piece leans toward anecdotal? Include some of the internal stories that lead to you writing it, if you haven’t left it too late try and insert some quotes from your team or other members of the staff who are involved. These types of posts are stronger when grounded in relatable and applicable scenarios, so in addition to demonstrating your experience try to turn that into actions or ideas that others can use or that will create discussion.
The best part about research is when you do it correctly, it tends to write your post for you. Unpacking other people’s insights and information can create a lot of content with very little input on your part, which is probably how you got through all those essays you had to write at uni. Right? Right.
Finish with a thing.
Great, now to wrap this puppy up.
Endings are tricky, you’ve built up a decent pace but now you need to reign it in and get things ready for the summary and that can completely break the flow you’ve so carefully created. Unlike a narrative however you don’t need to wrap up several plots into one neat bow, there’s just one thread to tie off and that alone makes things so much simpler. A strong device that I frequently use is to leave the reader with a thought and an action.
Start with the thought, which can be as simple as re-stating one from your introduction. It should be concise, simple, and ideally one that people will have stuck in their head, it should be open enough to for them to ponder but focused enough to not distract from your main point. Then tie it to an action, something that the reader can go and apply to their own workplace or goals. A challenge is a great way to do both, have them reflect on how they’re currently performing an action and get them to reconsider based on your work.
This type of ending accomplishes two things, besides letting you finish writing. Firstly by adding value to what you’re saying through including the reader, and secondly in showing relevancy — which as we discussed previously, is key.
Okay so by now you’re sitting pretty. Great topic, balanced tone with every single point supported by some sweet, sweet, research and ending with a deep thought to keep the reader motivated. Now to copy and paste that bad boy into an email, CC all the relevant people and get ready to bask in the glory that is sure to follow. Right? Ah… not yet, before any of that happens you need to get a second pair of eyes to run over your blog. Go wake up your partner, or housemate, or parent, or head over to the nearest 24-hour fast food joint and ask the cashier to read your work. Whatever it takes, get someone else to check it out because the few hours you’ve spent writing are enough to blind you to all of your mistakes.
Best case scenario, you’ll get some good notes about improving the flow or those typos you missed. Worst case, you’ll find out that your 1500 word masterpiece is actually the caffeine fuelled ravings of a lunatic — in which case maybe handing it in a day late wouldn’t be the most terrible thing to happen. Proofreading is what separates a good post from a great one, and even a light reading by fresh eyes can prevent you from making basic blunders that will take the shine away from all that solid work.
There you go, the pathway to the ideal corporate blog that is sure to make you the toast of the office amongst the twelve people that read it. But hey, you’ve also learned some tips about writing that will help you the next time you need to pen something on behalf of the company, make a presentation or start your own professional blog. All the while knowing that your effort has landed you in the managerial good books. So as you continue to scroll through the web searching for that spark waiting to be formed into the perfect blog by these tips, I wish you good luck.
And if all else fails, just write a blog about writing a blog.