Any of you who’ve tried to create blogs, newsletters or custom publications know how hard it can seem to come up with good content. But sometimes, it can be as easy as encouraging employees to write down some of the good stuff they’re telling each other around the water cooler.

A good example is eWeek (for whom I worked way back when it was PC Week.) A while back, eWeek inaugurated an “Upfront” section where reporters and editors write interesting, sometimes offbeat musings based on their recent travels and reporting. These can be as meaty and in-depth as an Oracle strategy analysis. Others are just fun and interesting, such as a reporter describing the putrid effects of Microsoft holding its TechEd IT Forum in

Barcelona

right next to a sewage treatment plant and garbage combustion plant.

These columns are generally written in a very personal tone, offer a unique and usually interesting perspective on technology or an industry event and are fun to read. They’re a big part of why I save and flip through the print version of eWeek rather than tossing it – no small feat for a publication these days.

You face a similar challenge in getting customers to open your email (or print) newsletters. Self-congratulatory press-releases and case studies aren’t enough to keep your mailings out of your customers physical, or virtual, Recycle Bins. They want the insights your salespeople, product managers and developers get by talking to customers, suppliers, competitors and industry analysts.

How do you get these in-house experts to write down what they know rather than just share it around the water cooler? A token weekly prize – or just a public acknowledgement by someone at the C-level of the organization — can be enough to get people to pitch contributions. Publicizing the number of hits or comments an entry got can also be a good way to encourage the author to write more. The simplest way, of course, is to encourage selected staff members to blog and include link to the best entries in your emails.

If the raw material from your in-house experts, needs wordsmithing, there’s plenty of people both inside or outside the organization who can help. But it’s the insights those experts get by rubbing shoulders with the real world that will keep your customers reading – and involved.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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