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10 tips for Public Sector Executives wishing to start a blog

I was recently kindly provided with a great research report on Government Blogging authored by David C. Wyld, from the Department of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University.

After reading pretty much the entire 99 page document, I thought one of the most valuable take-aways it offered (in addition to the plethora of great diagrams and statistics) was the section providing the Top 10 tips for public sector executives wishing to start a Blog.

As a result I decided it would be a good idea to post this Top 10 list on my blog , since it is relevant to all of you that work in the Public Sector. While the majority of the report dealt with best practices in the U.S government blogosphere, naturally the same tips apply here in Canada. Again, I want to reiterate that these tips were taken from David C. Wyld’s report (I do not want to take credit for them):

Tip 1: Define yourself and your purpose. In 1992, Ross Perot’s running mate was vice Admiral James Stockdale, a vietnam War hero and former prisoner of war,. At the vice presidential debate, he infamously began with the rhetorical questions: “Who am I? Why am I here?” (Holmes, 2005). While these questions didn’t lead to victory for Stockdale, they can for you. You should, at least mentally but perhaps in your first post, state the reasons you are starting your blog, what you hope to do with it, who you hope will read it, and so on.

Tip 2: Do it yourself! Do not have someone else write your blog. While you may enlist assistance for any technical aspects that you feel uncomfortable with (and with the blogging tools available today, this really should not be an issue), you must be the author to make it authentic and interesting to your audience.

Tip 3: Make a time commitment. Before you begin your blog, know that you must make a personal commitment to have the time available to not only regularly post to your blog, but to read and respond to comments made on it. And if the comment section is managed, you or perhaps a subordinate must make decisions on which comments will be posted on the blog and which will not. You should work blog writing and reading time into your regular schedule, and if you know you will be unavailable for a period of time, invite a guest blogger(s) to fill your virtual shoes. remember, in the blogosphere, 10 days without posts could mean the death of your blog, as readers will be drawn elsewhere in virtual space.

Tip 4: Be regular. While related to the first two tips, the need to regularly post to your blog merits particular attention. In short, if you do not regularly post updated material to your blog—interesting material— whatever readership you have will quickly fade away.

Tip 5: Be generous. If your blog is nothing but an exercise in self-centeredness and self-congratulation (or links to organizations congratulating you), then your readership will tire of it. Use your blog as a platform for your jurisdiction, your staff, your family (to an extent), and so on. Take the opportunity to highlight special people in your district or community, and let your blog be a channel for spotlighting your area, not just yourself. Provide praise, applaud unsung heroes, and point out people in need of special help. In short, do good works with your words.

Tip 6: Have a “hard hide.” You cannot have a thin kin and engage in blogging. You will receive comments that range from the thoughtful and insightful o the unwarranted and the unprintable. You will also surely be praised by some tech-savvy constituents or using a new communications medium, while others will call your office or write a “snail mail” letter to ask what’s wrong with the more established forms of communication.

Tip 7: Spell-check. this almost goes without saying, but it is surprising how many blog posts have spelling and/or grammatical errors. When spotted, such mistakes can generate satirical comments, spawn bad publicity in traditional and non-traditional media, and detract from your message. As the saying goes, “that’s why God made a spell-checker!”

Tip 8: Don’t give too much information. While it is great to be honest and open in your blog, you can do it to the extreme. Let the blog be a window into your thoughts, your work, and your travels, but remember the blunt admonition of the anonymous (2003) author of The Blogger Manifesto, “nobody gives a [expletive] about what you had for breakfast” (n.p.).

Tip 9: Consider multimedia. While you must concentrate on providing timely updates to your blog, making them interesting and well written, having good content is not enough. It is crucial that you have an easy-to-navigate, visually appealing layout to your blog. In today’s environment, there is a ratcheting up of blog standards, and in a short time
it will be almost expected that video and audio elements be included on blogs. While you must learn to walk before your run, you should seek out links to audio/video sources to go multimedia at no cost, then you can begin to consider recording and producing our own audio/video content to offer as posts or podcasts on your blog.

Tip 10: Be a student of blogging. You should make it a regular habit to spend time each day being exposed to blogs other than your own. Find favorite blogs (political and non-political) and subscribe to them using a news reader or aggregator program (using RSS or Atom feeds). With these tools, you can view updates from your favorites in one place, without having to surf to multiple sites. Finally, check out the top-ranked blogs (according to Technorati or ComScore), and use this as an opportunity to benchmark the best of the best.

Feel free to comment and add your own tips!

In my next blog entry I will be rounding up examples of effective Public Sector Marketing Blogs in action. Send links my way if you know any good ones.

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One Comment

  1. I’ve been so impressed with Mike Leavitt, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, who recently started writing his own blog. He gives a glimpse into how he operates, what issues interest him, and is not afraid to show who he is as a person, not just a figurehead.

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