Corporate blogs have become a constant in public relations (PR). No wonder, because they bring concrete advantages with them: Their own blog offers companies a solid owned channel that is relevant to search engines, sustainably positions internal experts, can be cross-promoted everywhere, and can even be a proven and quick way to present the situation from the company’s point of view in the event of a crisis. But not only in PR, but also in the field of public affairs (PA), a corporate blog can be a useful addition to the toolbox.
We talked to Dr. Thies Clausen, Head of Public & Corporate Affairs, and Stefanie Soehnchen, Digital Strategy & Agency Marketing Expert at FleishmanHillard, about what exactly this can look like and what requirements must be met.
How should I imagine a public affairs blog like this? Who is it aimed at?
Clausen: Basically, you can think of a company’s public affairs blog as a classic corporate blog. I publish articles or media posts on relevant topics and events or on the company’s activities.
The key difference is the strategic goal that I associate with it, but also the focus of the content and, of course, the target group. The main aim is to reach political decision-makers – directly or via multipliers in the political environment.
This includes, for example, employees of members of parliament and ministries, but also of associations and think tanks.
What is the return on investment with such a PA blog?
Clausen: In particular, such a blog offers the opportunity to position one’s own organization as a thought leader and to present it as an open, constructive player in the public debate. In addition, the organization can establish itself as an important contact for other stakeholders.
A blog should therefore definitely be considered as part of the development of a public affairs channel strategy.
How do you market a public affairs blog?
Soehnchen: Those who see their own blog as the centerpiece of the digital communications ecosystem can exploit its full potential:
Blog content should be published organically on all corporate channels. There, they provide highly relevant content that has a positive impact on reputation and invites exchange with target groups.
At the same time, this cross-promotion ensures organic access to the blog itself. In this way, the content is optimally distributed and blog visitors are – hopefully – encouraged to read other articles as well.
We have observed a click-through rate of about 2.5 in the B2B environment. This means that readers actually look at more than one text on average.
In addition, paid support can and should be considered. For as little as €100 or €150, social media posts can be relevantly targeted at specific groups, which further supports the reach and click-through rate.
Of course, a press release to the trade media can also be considered for the launch – depending on how the concept turns out and who is writing the blog.
How do you regularly produce high-quality and exciting content?
Clausen: In order to be able to produce and publish high-quality content at regular intervals, you need three things: motivated colleagues who are given enough time to do so, a good process, and an investment in a reliable, attractive online presence and its maintenance.
However, exciting content can also be created through co-authorship or guest contributions. These are also an investment in the network.
The development of a blog and its enrichment with good content also has a positive effect internally. Working out a contribution together can sustainably promote cross-departmental cooperation and internal exchange.
A corporate blog also offers the opportunity to show attitude – towards one’s own employees and talents.
Who is responsible for such a project internally?
Clausen: A PA blog should be managed by the policy department, because the main aim is to communicate the organization’s policy positions and to draw attention to issues relevant to the organization.
However, close cooperation with the specialist departments is essential in order to develop good content.
And cooperation and coordination with the PR department is also important in order to exploit synergies and play relevant thematic contributions via all suitable communication channels.
For which companies and organizations is a public affairs blog suitable – and why?
Clausen: A good public affairs blog is interesting for those companies and political organizations such as associations, NGOs and think tanks that want to promote their exchange in the network and invest in their reputation. But it can be especially relevant for companies in a highly regulated environment that have to deal with many particularly complex issues.
What are the lessons learned from public affairs blogs that have already been managed? What are the success factors?
Clausen: In the past election year, we were able to gain experience above all with our successful Election Observer project.
As far as the content is concerned, our experience in the context of the Bundestag elections was that analyses of the interfaces between European and German politics met with great interest.
If the text is then also published in English, there is also the chance of attracting foreign readers with an interest in German issues.
Soehnchen: It is also important that blog posts have a structured layout with subheadings, multiple images and visual “stumbling blocks”. This makes it easier for readers to quickly get an overview.
Further requirements for the posts result from search engine optimization, so that they can also be found by interested parties.
What is your advice on how I can find out if a blog is something for my communications ecosystem?
Clausen: We offer all interested companies and organizations the opportunity to talk to us about this. Together, we can assess the organization’s environment and goals to see if a PA blog could be an effective tool for communications.
Soehnchen: If you have the feeling that you don’t lack stories, or think that this or that is particularly worth explaining, but no one has done so yet, you probably have a good setup for a blog.
For those who can fill a content niche and have internal resources for appropriate and high-quality content, they also can create an owned channel with a blog, which is unparalleled among channel choices.
So if the goal is to retain a relevant, expert readership while doing something for your reputation and brand search engine rankings, a blog should be seriously considered.
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