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Sep 18, 2012General0 comments

How to Stop Internal Bureaucracy From Preventing Blogging Productivity
Posted by Corey Eridon
Mon, Sep 10, 2012 @ 08:00 AM

Most aspiring inbound marketers have a few business blogging hurdles to get over. The first hurdle? Truly believing — like, in the darkest recesses of your soul — that blogging is an indispensable part of being a successful inbound marketer.

Once you believe that you have to blog, the next hurdle is actually blogging. We’ve written a whole post (several, actually) with tips and tricks to make business blogging less of a time suck. Although if you’re already an avid blogger, you know that even with all the shortcuts in the world, you really just have to sit down and write. As Nike says, just shut up and do it (creative liberties taken for dramatic effect).

Cool — now you’re pumping out blog content left and right. What’s the last hurdle? For many companies, it’s publishing that content.

Wait … really? It’s just the push of a button! What’s the big deal? Bureaucracy, that’s what. Just because you know your post is ready to ship doesn’t mean everyone else in your organization is convinced. And with too many cooks in the kitchen, it gets to be nearly impossible to maintain a consistent publishing volume on your business blog. This post will help you get over that last hurdle, addressing some of the most common internal organizational blockers marketers face when trying to get their blog content published.

Blocker #1: Blogging is taking your time away from other duties.

Yes, it probably is. Blogging takes time. But a boss who is airing this grievance in the face of your attempts to blog is a sign you haven’t sufficiently sold the importance of business blogging. It’s time for you to do a little internal education to alleviate this notion that blogging shouldn’t be a high priority for your marketing team.

Lucky for you, we’ve written a full blog post about how to sell your boss on business blogging. Read it, learn it, live it. You’ll likely need to recite these responses more than once as you ramp up your business blog — although after a while, the results will speak for themselves ;-). And to get you started convincing the ol’ bossman, here are a few data points from our 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report you should memorize on the ROI of business blogging:

Blogging frequency directly correlates with customer acquisition. 92% of companies who blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer from their blog. (Holy cow, you guys!) But even if you only have time for it once a week, don’t worry — 66% of those marketers have acquired a customer, too!
Everyone else is doing it … 70% of marketers are blogging at least once a week. Probably because they’re all getting customers from it.
Not only do marketers rank inbound marketing channels as those that deliver the lowest cost per lead (CPL); 52% of marketers who blog say it delivers the lowest CPL of all other inbound marketing channels.

Once you’ve convinced your boss, you have two options. Either keep doing it yourself because your boss is convinced it’s worth your time, or outsource it. If you’re asked to go the outsourcing route, read this post about how to outsource a killer content creation team.
Blocker #2: Your boss wants to review everything before it’s published.

Bosses are busy. At least that’s what they want you to think. (Don’t let them see this part of the post.)

But if your boss is so worried about losing control that they need to read everything before it goes out, you’re going to suffer a huge bottleneck in the content publishing process — because almost no boss on the history of earth has both remembered to, and also completed, a task you’ve requested of them in the timeframe you set forth. And if that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s probably not by much. The fact of the matter is, you’ll spend more time chasing them down, asking them if they could please read that post you gave them two weeks ago already.

So what do you do? First, tell your boss that you agree it’s important to have another person review blog content before it gets published … because it is. We do that here at HubSpot, actually. Nothing gets published on this blog without a second set of eyes. But tell your boss that you’d like to have a colleague trained on the approval process so your boss isn’t responsible for the task any longer. Depending on what type of personality your boss has, you might even want to position it as his/her time being worth more than that type of minutiae, or offer to let him or her train that designated colleague.

Why does this method — working with a colleague instead of a boss on content approval — work? Because when a colleague reviews content, it’s more of a team effort, as opposed to an annoying task that keeps clogging up your boss’ calendar. You and your colleague will enjoy a shared success when your blog takes off. And when you’re relying on one another to complete a project together, that bottleneck disappears, because your success is tied to one another’s productivity.
Blocker #3: Oh, and you need to get your SEO people to look at it, too.

Ha! You thought the approval bottleneck was taken care of, didn’t you?

This is another bureaucratic nightmare that often stems from a lack of SEO understanding. Well, that’s not totally true. It stems from a lack of understanding of 2012 SEO — your boss probably gets SEO from 2001 just fine.

If you’re being forced to have an SEO specialist look at every blog post before it gets published, your boss probably thinks SEO is about keyword density and other smoke and mirrors tricks. It’s not. On-page SEO is something any blogger can master, because it’s really just about creating quality content with a bit of a consideration for keywords for which you’d like to rank. Google’s major Panda and Penguin algorithm updates have all had one thing in common — they’re trying to reward content creators for how helpful they are to readers. Not for how good they are at stuffing keywords into their blog posts. If your boss doesn’t understand this new way of “doing” SEO, refer him or her to these posts that detail why the only thing you need to be concerned about to have excellent on-page SEO is quality content:

“Everything Marketers Need to Know About Google’s Panda Updates”
“How to Destroy Your SEO in a Post-Panda World”
“What to Do if Your Search Rankings Were Hurt by Google’s Penguin Update”

Blocker #4: Legal counsel needs to review everything!

This is a hurdle we hear all the time from customers who work in industries like financial services, medical services, or, somewhat ironically, legal services. Getting over this bureaucratic hurdle comes down to advance preparation. Here’s what you can do.

First, ask your legal team to do a little upfront work. Just like you have an employee manual that serves as guidelines for your in-office performance, your legal team should write down some guidelines that dictate what can — and more important, what cannot — be published in your blog content. Ask them to provide examples of each so you truly understand the nuances of their requirements. This will help prevent time wasted on blog content you could never, ever publish.

Speaking of wasting time on blog content you could never, ever publish, the next thing you should do is create an editorial calendar full of blog topics. Send this to your legal team, and ask them to approve and reject topics, adding notes next to each topic of anything they think the writer should beware of to sidestep legal landmines. Try to send as many topics in one spreadsheet as possible; it’s more likely you’ll get speedy responses if they have one document to review once a month, instead of one document to review every week.

Once in a while, you’ll want to write about things that really do require massive amount of legal revisions. That’s okay. But to do that, you’ll need a backlog of content that doesn’t require a ton of legal finesse to get published. That way, you’re not left hanging when a legal team takes several days or weeks longer to approve your blog post than they said they would.
Blocker #5: You forgot to mention X! And Y! And Z!

Do me a favor. Scroll back up to blocker #3, the one that talks about requiring SEO approval of blog content, and make quick note of the three bullets I placed there. Why did I do that?

Because sufficiently explaining the Penguin and Panda algorithm updates requires several separate blog posts of their own. They’re huge topics. If I went into detail about them in this blog post, I’d be going off on a major tangent, and I’d lose readers. I mean, where would it end? As I explain Panda and Penguin I would encounter countless other tangents I could go off on, and before I knew it, I would have just written a 500,000-word blog post about all of internet marketing.

That’s why internal linking was invented. It’s why I didn’t republish the entire 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report in this blog post. It’s why I’m placing this really meta internal link right here that leads you to a blog post about internal linking. Introduce your company’s blogging roadblocks to the concept. And remind them that when you break up blog posts into shorter, more specific topics, you not only get to do things like optimize for long-tail keywords and get more targeted traffic coming to your blog — you also struggle way less to come up with more blog topics to write about later down the road!
Blocker #6: Your blog posts don’t sound on brand.

Inconsistency in the style, tone, and even grammar of your content is a fair gripe, especially in larger organizations. And if you have more than one person in charge of content creation, it’s made even more difficult. You can solve that, however, by getting everyone on the same page with a content style guide. A style guide for your written content will ensure everyone creating content is playing by the same rules, and give everyone one place to consult for their questions … whether about the decision to hyphenate a word, or whether their audience would truly appreciate that joke you want to make in the last paragraph of your post.

We’ve written a blog post to help you create your own thorough content style guide, and have even created The Internet Marketing Written Style Guide to get you started with general style guidelines, tips on common grammar mistakes, advice on proper source attribution, and all-around help creating your first written content style guide so all of your content maintains a consistent brand voice.

What other bureaucratic hurdles within your company prevent you from blogging as much as you’d like to?

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