Content Marketing Watch – why the public sector should blog

Content Marketing Watch is our weekly piece on the latest industry news; covering the areas of content marketing such as analytics, online marketing, content optimisation, search engine marketing and digital communications.

To blog or not to blog is a contentious issue for the public sector. Supporters see it as a way for Government to engage in dialogue with people and bring a human face to what is often perceived a souless bureaucracy. The more skeptical see it as communications minefield.

At w00tonomy we believe that blogging is right for the public sector.

Having worked for years with people in the public sector we are always been struck by the disparity between the portrayal of the public sector as impersonal and the passion that many people in the sector feel for their work.

Online we believe one of the main reasons for this is that public sector bodies seek to manage all communications through corporate sites. These sites clearly serve a purpose by providing us with a single source of facts and information but by their very nature they speak with only one voice. The price you pay by limiting your use of the Internet in this way is that you loose engagement and personality.

Blogging provides a way for the public sector to bring that expertise and passion to the surface. It doesn’t have to be from a single person – it can be from a team or a department; you can also invite contributions from experts and interested groups in the field.

To illustrate, here are some “in the field” examples of how blogs are being used in major policy areas from across the pond.

  • Environmental. The Energy Savers blog is a vehicle for discussion and education around environmental issues for the home, workplace and travel.
  • Transport. A blog like this would be of great interest to those in Edinburgh who are trying to deal with the roadworks around the city; the Fast Lane Blog provides a forum for transport officials to discuss and explain public transport policy. The content is provided not only by the team but also by guest bloggers
  • Foreign Policy. Its not just the social issues that can be dealt with through blogs. Dipnote is website where participants are given the opportunity to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior Department officials.
  • Health. Secretary Mike Leavitt has set up a personal blog for his department in which he talks about the health challenges facing the States at home and abroad.

Mike Kujawski has pointed out there are key questions the public sector body needs to answer before setting up a blog

  • Which person or team can write/represent the agency?
  • Can you generate enough content of interest?
  • What is the level of commitment to the blog?
  • What content are you going to produce?
  • What are your review processes?
  • How will you mange comments?

If at the end of considering these questions you decide not to set up a blog, there are potentially thousands of blogs out there that may still be talking about you so you need to be listening and commenting