Why Doesn’t Our IT Blog Work?

Katherine GraysonLearn about editorial delivery and you'll have a killer blog.

There were so many great discussions bouncing around Campus Technology 2007 (July 30-Aug. 2) in Washington, DC, that I was hardpressed to decide which issue I should cover for my editorial this month. That is, until I headed into the Monday afternoon workshop, "What's Web 2.0 and Why Should I Care?" The session, led by Santa Clara University (CA) IT Manager Robert Boyd and Vice Provost and CIO Ron Danielson, was highly interactive; there was no end of Web 2.0 challenges posed during those three-and-a-half hours.

One challenge stood out as ideal for this column, and it was session leader Ron Danielson himself who presented it to attendees when he introduced them to his office's blog of the construction progress on SCU's new Learning Commons and Library. Because there had been so much interest in the Commons, Danielson felt the blog would keep the community updated and answer questions faculty and students might have. He stressed the importance of two-way communication between IT departments and their communities, if Web 2.0 is to succeed on campus, and advocated the use of IT department blogs.

Why then, was his own blog not working as he had hoped, he wondered aloud? Why had he received so little response to it?

Maybe I can help.

Here, alas, is a prime example of the often wobbly intersection of technology and the arts of communication and marketing: each does not necessarily guarantee the success of the other. And maybe that's why it has been especially interesting for media folk to watch the evolution of blogging. The technological capability is wonderful, and so is the potential. But I look at blogs every day and wonder who on earth has the time to read even one, let alone a handful. Often, they are long, rambling rivers of text with no navigational help for the reader, and they too frequently assume that the reader has plenty of time to glean the information he needs. This assumption may be especially problematic in the instance of a blog intended to update readers on the progress of a project—say, an IT-related effort. In such a case, blog visitors particularly need to see at a glance where they can quickly find the specific information they need.

So, for all you IT department heads and managers out there in the throes of designing your first or latest blog, take a tip from those who make their living delivering information to busy people: Bone up on the editorial delivery of information and the use of headlines, subheadlines (so important!), captions, boxes, bullets, and quotations, to help the reader quickly find vital information. Keep your delivery short and sweet. And consider the use of internal marketing to alert those cohorts to the very existence of your blog: e-mail blasts and RSS will get the word out. Take the time, too, to search for "best blog" and "best tech blog" models on the web.

Hey, if you give your blog readers what they really need, they may even have time to give you some of that much-desired feedback.

--Katherine Grayson, Editor-In-Chief
What have you seen and heard? Send to: kgrayson@1105media.com.

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