6 Places to Look for Blog Fodder

I did great this summer with my blog in terms of topics. I had tons of ideas. But now it’s fall, and I’ve got nothing. I’m not panicked, though, because a topic always appears.

As a former newspaper reporter, I had to turn in a story every day. That meant having a few evergreen stories in reserve for the days when there was no breaking news. As a reporter, I always became adept at finding the unique hook or angle to a subject and turning it into a story.

When I’m really stumped for blog fodder, here’s what I do:

Review posts from prior years. Anniversaries, events and other activities have dates associated with them. Often I’ll write a post on an annual event, but from a different perspective.

Surf the web, read a magazine. I find ideas from stories I am reading on the web or in magazines. Sometimes, one sentence can trigger an entire blog post.

Talk to people. I sometimes ask my colleagues for ideas.

Peruse my idea folder. I frequently tear out articles that could be an idea and put them in an old-fashioned file folder. Sometimes, I put a sticky note with a random idea. When I’m stuck, I open the folder and am frequently surprised at the fodder within.

Attend a meeting or lecture. Most newspapers publish a list of business events. Sometimes I’ll see one that interests me, and I’ll attend. I particularly like breakfast meetings because I can go before heading to the office. Invariably, I end up with a blog post.

Examine my content calendar. I keep a calendar with all the days I’m going to post for the year along with ideas. Sometimes I have written posts in anticipation of traveling. However, if I’m really stuck for an idea, I’ll publish the blog sooner and hope that inspiration strikes again.

And it always does.


Leaping into Social Media

PR is undergoing dramatic changes in large part because of the social media landscape. So what does the future look like? Vocus, which offers on-demand software for public relations management, recently released its “PR Planning 2010 Survey Results.”

When asked what is the single most important thing you, as a PR professional, will do differently in 2010 than you did in 2009, Vocus reported that social media was referenced nearly 600 times of the 1,571 responses.

So what can you do if you are one of the few who hasn’t leapt into social media?

Start by experiencing the applications.

LinkedIn allows you to connect professionally. You develop your network. You post your resume. You comment on professional questions. You write recommendations for others. All of these activities place your skills and experience where it can be viewed by others.

Facebook can be social or professional. For many it’s simply a way to stay in touch with far-flung friends. But even when you’re doing that, you are learning how to monitor the conversation.

Start a blog. It’s free and easy and no experience is necessary. I did some research before I started mine. I thought about who my audience would be. For me it was primarily the NFPW membership, but also potential members. Once I knew that, I knew I wanted to focus on communications and the changing field. And really, my focus is more on integrating traditional and new media. I set a schedule. Then I started. I’m learning as I go.

Twitter is a microblog. In 140 characters you can share a message. It’s not easy to keep up with everything. It can be quite distracting. The younger generation seems fine with it. One thing I’ve learned from microblogging is how to write tight and how to convey my message succinctly – something we could all benefit from.

So as you start 2010 and think about your professional goals, think about where you might leap into social media.

The Power of 3

Did you know that in 30 minutes you can address all of your social media commitments?

That was the message during one of the workshops at the 2009 NFPW Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The idea is that in those 30 minutes, you can write and post a blog, tweet, and update your LinkedIn profile.

It works. I’ve been doing it since the NFPW conference. Tonight was one of those nights that I fell behind so I was worried about getting a post up by my self-imposed deadline. In my 30 minutes, though, I did everything I needed to do.

Another session from the same workshop by Nettie Hartsock and Jennifer Hill Robenalt was to review your blog and blog roll every month. A blog roll should contain no more than 10-15 blogs, they said. So after three months check that the roll hasn’t grown out of control.

As for how often to post, yep, their recommendation was three times per week. I decided since I had a full-time job that almost always exceeds an eight-hour day that I would commit to twice a week, not three times. When I start posting three times a week, you’ll know I have the job well managed.

Suggestions for developing blog content included asking seven questions (or just three) of someone and posting the answers as an interview. Lists are always good especially when you include three tips or five hints.

So in just 30 minutes I’ve completed my blog, updated my LinkedIn profile and answered some emails. I still don’t tweet. And I’ll probably go over 30 minutes because I’ll go to Facebook, but I promise I’ll only play Bejeweled for 30 minutes!