Originally appeared on Joyce Bosc Linkedin on May 19, 2021
As much as we at FedBizBeat enjoy a range of GovCon podcasts, we still read a lot of blogs every week. Some, such as USAGov and GAOs’s WatchBlog, give their inside perspective on government trends and facts – and are especially appreciated if they come with a well-designed infographic. For cutting-edge technology developments, we are drawn to government contractor blogs that provide a glimpse of what’s coming next to federal IT. Like so many of you, we love to learn. We collect knowledge and information all the time.
But lately, we’ve noticed that many much-anticipated blogs are thinly veiled sales pitches. After only a few words, the “blog” is telling us about how its product or service is better than a competitor’s.
Here’s our belief: If a company hosts a webinar, they know it has to be full of original, educational content. If it’s a sales pitch, people will leave the webinar and not return. Why isn’t the same litmus test used for a company blog?
The government world is all about critical missions and trust. We should all be very careful with the tone of voice AND the content of our blogs.
There has to be a balance of education and marketing content on your website. A blog (as with a webinar) can be key components of your Thought Leadership program – but to do that it must leave the marketing to the tag at the end in the bios.
Lately, we’ve seen too many GovCon blogs that should never have been published. Here are five questions your team should answer before writing and publishing the next blog.
1. Why would anyone want to read this blog? What will they learn?
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Read the blog with a critical mind. Be sure it addresses a timely topic in the market. Look for new information about challenges, trends and/or tips related to the topic. Ideally, the blog will share practical information that helps readers to better understand a challenge, ask better questions and make more informed decisions.
If it doesn’t share new and valuable information about the topic, don’t publish your blog.
2. Is the blog really just a sales pitch?
Writing a blog as a marketing or sales tool is like promising a webinar and delivering a sales pitch. If it reads like one of your marketing slicks or the talk track for a sales presentation, it’s not a blog. As the Forbes Council urges, use your blogs to “establish expertise, not self-promotion.” Blogs that don’t smell or feel like true, credible advice will lose their audience.
A sales pitch disguised as a blog is not a blog.
3. Does the blog talk about your competitors? (Even in a ghosting way?)
It’s true that GovCons need to articulate how their products, services and solutions serve federal customers and partners better those of competitors. But a blog is not the place for that. Even “ghosting” competitors, where you describe an unnamed company or borrow core messaging from a company in a way that makes the identity clear, doesn’t belong in a blog.
Don’t use blogs for direct competitor positioning.
4. Has this blog content, or any of your team-written blogs, been rejected by a publication?
If so, that’s a bad sign that the editors aren’t seeing the value of your content and/or feel you are talking about competitors. Editors are looking for the same thing your blog readers are seeking. Well-written, well-organized content. A fresh perspective and insights. Data points, examples and stories that bring a topic to life. The experience of learning something new by reading the content. If an editor rejects your article, it’s missing one or more of these essential elements. Resist the temptation to simply “repurpose” the content as a blog on your site.
If a blog isn’t good enough for a publication, it doesn’t belong on your website, either.
5. Are you planning to submit the blog to a media outlet as a thought leadership article?
Publications that accept contributed articles are always looking for good, original content. For your blogs that pass the scrutiny of the first four questions, consider offering the content first to publications. A media-published blog will provide you with a lot more readers! If you publish it on your website, it’s too late.
A published blog is no longer original content. Offer your best blogs to publications, first.
Especially for traditional business-to-business companies, the idea that business-to-government blogs are not sales tools may require a shift in thinking. But it’s vital.
Above all, ours is an industry of public service. We’re here to educate, to serve – and our blogs need to do just that.
Do you have other essential blog criteria? What GovCon blogs do you most enjoy? We’d love to know!