Blogging for Business

In this week’s guest post, Pat Wootton from Prompt Proofing, a copywriting, editing and proofreading service, discusses blogging for business:

Why should your business start and maintain a blog? It seems almost obligatory to write a blog if you have a business nowadays, but what is the purpose? How will it help your business and what should you include or not include? We will endeavour to answer these questions in this week’s blog post.

Why?
A blog can increase public awareness and enhance your search engine optimization. Your main goal, presumably, will be to increase sales and/or your client base. Increasing your visibility is one of the main stepping stones towards that main goal, and a major way to increase your visibility is to have a presence in social media. A blog provides an excellent public relations opportunity and can also serve as a forum, if you choose, to invite feedback from your clients.
Social media is hugely important; if people see something they like then they may well share it. A well-written blog will give you the opportunity to increase your keyword exposure and may help drive traffic to your site.
When?
Having new content on a regular basis contributes to an effective SEO strategy. A weekly blog might be a good rule of thumb for many businesses but you should blog as often as you can so long as your posts are of a high quality. There are many services out there that produce articles loaded with keywords but they are of a low quality. Having readers take interest in what you have to say will prove more valuable than simply being associated with a barrage of keywords.
What?
A blog serves as a teaser, leaving your readers wanting to know more. It does not need to be too detailed and should avoid being blatantly advertorial. You may want to inform your clients about new products or services, or to share your goals or achievements. Write what you are passionate about and what you are knowledgeable about, and that will come across to your readers.
Remember that you are writing for the screen and that concentration spans, when reading online, are notoriously short. Divide your writing into short paragraphs, separated by plenty of white space. Unbroken blocks of text are off-putting and rarely read.
Your reader may not be your customer, but converting every reader of your blog into a customer should not be your ultimate goal; it’s not realistic and it will affect what you write – and not in a good way. You need to bear in mind that providing information is far more valuable and that although many readers may not ever be customers, they may well help you gain other customers, through word of mouth or sharing on social media.
Still not sure? Hiring someone to write blogs for you may relieve the pressure for many business owners. A lackadaisical blog, written out of a sense of obligation, will probably not serve your business well. Consider using a blogging service if you are not sure you want to take this task on yourself.

Crafting a Kinder World

Michaels celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Day with $100,000 in giveaways.

IRVING, TX, February 16, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ — Random Acts of Kindness Day is Friday, Feb. 17, and to celebrate the spirit of the day and encourage others to participate, Michaels will give away more than $100,000 in gift cards at its 1,060+ stores and on its Facebook page.

Throughout the day, Michaels will randomly hand out thousands of gift cards in its stores and through Facebook to inspire people to in turn do something kind for others, such as donating their gift cards to a school, church or hospital, or using the cards to buy supplies to make a special homemade gift for someone.

“This is a fun way for us to say thanks to our loyal customers and an opportunity for them to pay it forward with a DIY gift,” said Michaels Chief Marketing Officer Paula Puleo. “We hope that our participation in Random Acts of Kindness Day will inspire our customers throughout the year.”

The unofficial holiday falls during Random Acts of Kindness Week, Feb. 13-19, founded by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, an internationally recognized nonprofit organization based upon the powerful belief in kindness, and dedicated to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness.

Customers who want to participate in the holiday with a hand-made gift can find suggested projects to share at Michaels.com/sharethelove.

About Michaels Irving, Texas-based Michaels Stores, Inc. is North America’s largest specialty retailer of arts, crafts, framing, floral, wall decor, and seasonal merchandise for the hobbyist and do-it-yourself home decorator. The company currently owns and operates more than 1,060 Michaels stores in 49 states and Canada, and 136 Aaron Brothers stores, and produces 10 exclusive private brands including Recollections, Studio Decor, Bead Landing, Creatology, Ashland, Celebrate It, Art Minds, Artist’s Loft, Craft Smart and Loops & Threads. For more information visit www.Michaels.com.

Is it Newsworthy or Not?

Do you really have a newsworthy story to tell, or are you writing your press release just to throw your name out into the masses, in hopes that someone will read your pointless information? If so, then stop. Do not send a release out for the sake of just sending one. If you submit a press release with information that is not of interest to the public―and worse yet, continue to do this―you will eventually alienate your media contacts. When your company’s name or your name is seen, it will be ignored. Make sure your press releases contain valuable information. Make every word count!

Do you have a compelling, important story to tell? Write about a new service you are offering that is unique from your competition. Or use a personal human interest angle and show how your product is helping others. Write about a new Fortune 500 company manager that is now on board with you. Or write about the benefits of your service.

Write a press release that is newsworthy. Can you time your press release with a current event, time of year or holiday? If so, then your story will have a hook for journalists. Use it.

Ask yourself these questions:

•  Who benefits from my product or service?

•  What new or unique bit of information can I hook readers with?

•  Where will my release make the best impact? which country, state, city?

•  When is the best time to release this information?

•  Why should a reader care about my product, service or information?

•  How can I hook them?

What may seem like news to you may not be of any interest to the general public, or the media. Ensure that when you write your press release that you have something to write about. Look for a way to make your release unique. A release is a story, so tell it wisely and grab the attention of the general public.