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A little while ago now I ran a blogging workshop in Rome for writers on their “On brains & beer” blog. But while we tailored the work there to the people in Rome, a lot of the things we discussed are more universal. So in the spirit of openness, this is some of what we covered. If you are at EMBL and would like a similar workshop, please let me know.
I start most of my presentations with this brilliant cartoon by Tom Gauld. It’s also stuck up in my office. It’s my reminder that the researchers at EMBL (and beyond) are perhaps a bit busy. Their first, second, third or even fourth thought is probably not about what might work well on a specific social media platform. But that’s what I’m paid for. So that’s my first lesson for researchers thinking about reaching new audiences through a blog:
Don’t panic: Your primary job is not comms but as with all things, you only get better if you practice
Every successful blog is built on a solid foundation of content, but it’s consistency that’s the real key. But how, when your job isn’t blogging?
So what types of posts work well on blogs?
But what if you want to get a bit more focussed. What if writing into a void is not your aim. What you need is a strategy.
Building a comms strategy at its basic level is working out what to say, when to say it, and how best to do that. Simple…
Step one is to think about who you want to talk to. Your audience. And both what you want to tell them and what they want to hear from you. In the Rome workshop we used our trusty sticky notes to list the people we wanted to talk to and then tried to assemble them into groups. Were there cross overs etc?
Step two is to think about the messages. What you want these people to know. Do they have key questions? Tasks?
By doing this you should be able to answer the questions: Who are you talking to? What are you saying? Why are you saying it?
If you’ve been writing for a while, you might also have some numbers to show what your most popular blog posts were. Slowly you can build up an idea of the sort of stuff that works. If you publish more often you might even get an idea of the best day/time to post.
If we put it all together what we get is a set of steps.
What really matters is making stuff that’s useful/interesting. And keeping the material coming.
If you’re interested in more detail about building strategies, content calendars and/or analytics let me know. These are all article ideas I have in my backlog.