5 Steps to a Great Blog

I’m not an expert in blogging, but I am a blogger. Two years ago I started this blog knowing very little about blogging. Over time, I’ve learned a few things – either through research or through feedback.

Thanks to everyone who has shared with me what they like and don’t like. It helps me shape future blogs. So here are my 5 steps –

1) Write a great headline: This one is tricky for me because when I was in the newspaper business I relied on copywriters for this. Also, if I write a clever headline that draws you in, it might not have any value for SEO, or search. I do want people to be able to find my blog from an Internet search. I probably spend half as much time on the headline as I do on the blog.

2) Write short: I’ve heard often that what my readers particularly like is that they can read it quickly and come away with a nugget of information. That’s my goal. It often means that I’m reading a 15-page report and culling out those nuggets. It’s worth it. In general, keeping a post under 1,000 words is a good rule of thumb. Keeping it between 500-800 words is ideal. I try to keep mine under 500 words.

3) Make a list: Blogs that include lists – like this one – are popular because they give a clear reason to read to the end. The key points also are easy to identify.

4) Include multimedia: I’ve only just started adding video to my blogs. I’m really looking forward to the NFPW conference in September so I can conduct several video interviews for future posts. I try to always include a photo because when I do, readership shoots up. Of course, that requires planning. It also means I can be creative with my images and play with my digital camera. Videos, photos and graphics all make the blog visually attractive.

5) Include links: I am not an expert on the subjects that I discuss. I am someone who does a lot of research so whenever possible I include links to others who cover the same topic.

Thanks for reading and sharing your views about my blog.

The Big Game: When Athletics Shine the Spotlight on a University

When Virginia Commonwealth University’s basketball team kept advancing in the NCAA basketball  tournament this past spring, the communications team managed it as a crisis.

It was a good crisis, but it was still a crisis,” said Pam Lepley, executive director, Division of University Relations at VCU. “Treating it like a crisis enabled us to streamline our decision making process.”

Promoting the team’s athletic success happened naturally. But this was also a time for VCU to shine and to highlight its academics and gain additional donor support. That meant that many departments were involved in communications efforts, including Student Affairs, Business Services, IT,  Alumni Relations, Development and Police.

“It was one wild world,” said Anne Buckley, director of communications and public relations for VCU. “It was exhilarating, exhausting, extreme…. It was every ‘X’ word.”

“This was an opportunity to highlight messages that are often ignored,” Anne said. One story that was placed during this time was about VCU’s diversity.

In the first quarter of this year, the school had about 14,000 media placements. During the 27-day period surrounding the tournament, VCU received 11,200 media placements, which they estimated had a total ad value of $15.5 million.

The excitement around the Rams journey to the Final Four also met a much larger presence on social media platforms. Three people were assigned to social media around the clock. The school’s Twitter presence increased 7, 551 percent!

VCU placed 20 home page features on its website during the period. “We reached ‘volcanic’ status in Google trends,” Pam noted.

The communications team also was diligent in capturing all of the moments and created a digital archive.

“Certainly the VCU team was a champion,” Pam said. “University wide, the communications teams were champions, too.”