Blogging: A New Role for Technical Communicators

Attention Technical Writers: Through Summit at a Click, The Society for Technical Communication is making the content—both the audio and visuals—of more than 90 sessions, available from the 2009 Summit in Atlanta. (Only progressions, keynote, and workshop sessions were excluded.)

Note: According to the STC site, “If you paid the conference registration fee, SUMMIT@aClick was included. STC Members who did not attend the Summit may purchase SUMMIT@aClick at an introductory price of $595. Nonmembers may purchase it for $895.”

Of special relevance here is Tom Johnson’s session, Blogging: A New Role for Technical Communicators, which the STC has made available for free to demonstrate SUMMIT@aClick.

In his session, Johnson, the well-known blogger at I’d Rather Be Writing: A Blog about the Latest Trends in Technical Communication, makes the following case for technical communicators, as natural corporate bloggers:

  • Technical communicators often possess literary and creative writing skills, in addition to traditional technical communication skills. Most technical communicators are writing specialists.
  • Typically, technical communicators focus on information, not hype. Information is what many searchers are looking for on the social web.
  • Technical communicators have direct access to projects, including project managers, product managers, and technical subject matter experts.
  • Technical communicators are well-accustomed to working reporter-style, already gathering and synthesizing information, as part of their day-to-day jobs.
  • Through indexing documentation deliverables and their attention to consistent terminology, technical communicators are used to paying attention to keywords, and are able to come up to speed quickly on SEO basics.
  • Again, natural writers at heart, many technical communicators would be easily incentivized to blog and to diversify their writing deliverables.

Reporting on the results of an informal survey on Twitter, Johnson noted that the #1 perceived value of blogging is increased visibility for your brand, whether that brand is corporate or personal. From there, he provides a nice overview of basic search engine optimization techniques, including using the keywords people are searching for in the first few words of your title and first paragraph. Johnson further explains the importance of backlinks, and how Google trusts other people’s opinions of your site, more than your site’s own content.

For me, Johnson’s tips on using your own personal voice and transparency to tell the story of your brand were particularly helpful…”It’s the story that makes blogging appealing,” Johnson explains, citing as an example, a technical writing blog, where the author shares professional wisdom, via a series of stories drawn from his own career.

Like Johnson, I agree that technical communicators are ideally positioned on cross functional teams to be highly effective bloggers, especially given their strong writing abilities, access to information, and reporter-like ability to synthesize content from a variety of sources. Where I believe technical communicators can learn a great deal from their more customer-facing and management colleagues, is from the relationship-building, and yes, business strategy, that we sometimes lose sight of, in the pure pursuit of information.

In my opinion, the blogger who can bring all those ingredients together—information, relationship-building, and strategy—within the framework of a story that represents what your brand is all about, in an engaging way—that’s who should be blogging for your company, no matter what the discipline. In all likelihood, “that person” is probably a combination of a few people in your company, who could work together collaboratively in a group blog format, which to me seems the most sustainable format, in a corporate setting.

Related Links: Technical Writing Blogs

About This Blog: Copyright Information

Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog

Links of Note: Search Engine Marketing

This post includes my inaugural contributions to MarketingProfs Get to the Po!nt newsletters, which ran this past June through August, under search marketing.

Get to the Po!nt newsletters provide bite-size nuggets of information, with entertaining summaries of articles from leading marketing resources, including actionable steps and a concluding point to incorporate into marketing strategy.

Since I started contributing to these newsletters, I’ve benefited greatly working with MarketingProfs editorial staff, whose lively voice and copyedits help ensure that the broader series of Get to the Po!nt newsletters are consistently engaging, informative, and actionable.

If you are interested in receiving Get to the PoInt newsletters, you can sign up for free here, on a wide range of topics, including High-Tech MKG & Sales, Search Engine Marketing, Marketing Analytics, Interactive Marketing, B2B Marketing, Email Marketing, Customer Insight, Small Business, and Marketing Inspiration.

Here are my MarketingProfs newsletter contributions, from this past summer:

  • Meet the SEO Royal Family: Advises placing a greater focus on the SEO Royal Family, including content, usability, and relevance, to optimize website conversion rates.
  • Serving Up the Perfect SEO Sandwich:  Provides tips on how to keep your in-house SEO effort moving forward, by guiding the conversation among the three ‘sandwich’ levels of stakeholders (executives, management, and everyone else) in your organization.
  • Where SEO Yin Meets SM Yang: To extend your reach and facilitate engagement, advises factoring in the value of search and social media into your content strategy.
  • Feeling Left Out? Link Up at Home?: Provides tips on optimizing your internal navigation to boost your page rankings from the inside out.
  • Peeling This Doesn’t Make You Cry: Describes how digging deeper into that SEO onion “offers a great competitive advantage—unlike paid search, where anyone can beat you out with a better keyword bid.” Provides tips for optimizing the two main layers of SEO: on-page factors and off-page factors.
  • Form the Perfect SEO Storm: Advises thinking beyond SEO best practices and keeping in mind how non-SEO factors also drive organic traffic.

I summarized articles for these newsletters from the following search and online marketing blogs: Search Engine Land, TopRank Online Marketing Blog, Search Engine Guide, MarketingProfs, and Search Engine Watch.

Do you have suggestions on any additional resources for SEO or search engine marketing? What SEO topics interest you the most?

Photo credit, a2gemma

About This Blog: Copyright Information

Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog