Theoretically, coworker-sourced content should work.
You have subject matter experts (SMEs) who are willing to write blog posts. Some may even be aggressive in suggesting pieces they’d like to write. That’s great for your brand – company technical experts are the most credible source of information for buyers – and it can be a boost for employees’ careers.
|SME Posts Build Brand Credibility|
Company technical experts and academic experts are the two most credible sources of information for buyers, according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer.
Depending on how big your company is, if enough of your SMEs chip in, you might be able to get a couple of posts a month — and who couldn’t use more editorial contributions?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that easily. Most content or marketing managers know that a content calendar based on consistent, high-quality blog posts from colleagues, is hard to sustain.
So is it feasible to rely on coworkers to blog for you? Are your expectations too high? And are there ways to improve your success rate?
The answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above. Posts contributed from SMEs within your organization can be a vital contribution to your blog. However, it is unrealistic to assume the process and output will be predictable and dependable. The truth is, many conditions are out of your control because people have other priorities and SMEs are busy people.
Nevertheless, there are things you can do to define expectations, guide the process and facilitate when roadblocks occur. Here are a few.
Make it real. Whether you call it pestering or project management, you have to do it. When a colleague suggests a topic for a post or commits to write a post, confirm it by email and set a deadline. Ask what they need from you and set them up for success. Follow up to see how it’s going as the deadline approaches. Your contributor needs to know you’re taking their post as seriously as they are. Their thoughts and words are valuable, so treat their post accordingly.
Make it easy. The better the direction you provide, the more predictable the result. So give your contributing writer the topic and the angle. Provide an outline and template (i.e. format, word count and examples of past posts.) If they are having writer’s block, provide prompts to start their thoughts or questions that will guide their ideation. What you’re asking for may seem crystal clear to you, but for someone who’s not used to writing, a lack of direction can be stifling.
Know when to make a move. If your SME is having a hard time, there are ways to intervene and keep the project on track.
- The first is to try an interview or Q&A approach. This works when your SME has plenty to say but may just be lacking the vision for how to turn their words into a post. If you can’t get your subject on a Zoom call, send a questionnaire.
- The second is the ghost-brid approach. (A hybrid of ghostwriting and editing.) This works if your subject is trying but failing on account of self-editing. The trick here is to extract their rough draft at an early stage so that you can fill in the gaps. If they literally have nothing, ask them to write a stream-of-consciousness screed and tell them you’ll fix it. You’ll need to do a lot of editing, but at least you’ll have the benefit of starting with text that’s written in their tone and ideas that come straight from their head. It’s something, and a writer or editor can work with this.
- The third is to ghostwrite the post for them. When your deadline is looming and your SME is ghosting you, it’s time to ghostwrite for them. Schedule an interview, assure them they’ll have a chance to review the text before publication and get down to business. A good ghostwritten article does more than present the ideas of the subject; it captures their personality by using the subject’s speech patterns and mannerisms. So during the interview, probe for unique insights and anecdotes. Doing this makes the post authentic.
Your SMEs are busy, but their posts are invaluable. People make brands and their perspectives make brands unique.
Get them posting — and if you need help with ghostwriting, don’t be afraid to reach out. A good ghost writer can be the bad cop you need to get your company’s leaders writing, posting and keeping their deadlines.