Why Doesn’t Our IT Blog Work?
- By Katherine Grayson
Learn 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
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
--Katherine Grayson, Editor-In-Chief
What have you seen and heard? Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine Grayson is is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering technology,
education, and business issues.