The corporate blogger's golden rule: be useful


In April, I wrote 12 ways to write a conference blog post. It's one of those posts that I continue to share and often see others reference as well. One thing that might be implied in that post but isn't overtly stated is something of a golden rule for for me when it comes to corporate blogging: be useful.

Pundits can argue about the importance of content, voice, engagement or style, but it all boils down to that one point. If you - as the blogger - don’t know what’s in it for the reader, the reader won’t know either. And if the reader doesn't know within two seconds what's in it for her, she won’t stick around to keep reading.

But how do you know if you're being useful? By keeping the reader in mind. Is that logic too circular? Let's get back to conference coverage. Writing a blow-by-blow of the event focused on what sessions you attended and how much fun you're having isn't useful for the reader. Instead, try reporting on information you learned that readers can learn from as well. Here, I'll give you an example of each:

Not so useful event coverage
A great day at the fifth annual organic baking conference
Today I attended a talk by Sally Buttersmith about how to make butter. I learned a lot about the process and about the ingredients involved and even brought back some tips about mixing and shaking and molding that will improve all of my future baking projects. I can’t wait to use what I learned when making cookies next month for the bake sale.

Useful event coverage
5 delicious tips from Sally Buttersmith on how to make butter for baking

  1. An actual tip about ingredients.
  2. An actual tip about where to buy ingredients.
  3. An actual tip about mixing.
  4. An actual tip about molding.
  5. An actual tip about what baked goods Sally makes with her butter. (Bonus: include a link to the recipes.)

This might remind you of another golden rule you learned from a college or high school writing instructor somewhere along the way: Show Don't Tell. That's still a favorite of mine too. Can you tell?


About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.


  1. Tips to live by. Seeing the two mock reports really emphasizes that the second is head-and-shoulders above the first.

  2. Hey Alison-
    This is a very useful post, and directly applicable to my current soap-box about marketing: relevance.
    A marketer needs to be relevant in order to be successful and it's the target market that determines what's relevant (and the onus on a good marketer is to know the customer well enough to understand what they think is relevant).

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