Raising Awareness

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Planning Processes for Your Blog


This briefing document provides advice on planning processes for setting up your blog.

Getting Started

Before you commit to a blog, you need to be sure that a blog is the right tool for the job. Use the checklist below to see if a blog will work for you.

Blogs are an informal and 'chatty' medium
Blogs can be useful for providing a more personal and friendly face to the world but are not necessarily a good way of presenting formal information. You will probably need content that lends itself to a more personal interpretation. A blog is the place to write about how you survived the fire drill, rather than a place to publish the standard issue health and safety rules on fire drills in public places.
Blogs are a dynamic medium
Blogs are designed for readers to comment on the contents of each post, so make sure your material is suitable for this dynamic approach as it is great for getting feedback and ideas, but not so good if comments are really not required. On a library blog, for example, outlining a project for introducing e-books and asking for comments would be fine, but don't post on something you don't want public opinions on. A blog will lose credibility if you remove comments or don't accept reasonable input.
Decide on whether the blog is to be open access or closed access
This can change your view of suitable material. Blogging about plans for implementing a new technology, for example, might not be appropriate for a public blog open to end users. But a closed blog available just to staff within your organisation could be a useful tool for keeping everyone up-to-date with progress.
Is the blog to be about something that requires regular updates?
If you start a blog but find the subject matter isn't really changing on a regular basis, and you are struggling to find something to post about, then you haven't got a blog! Before you commit to blogging, sit down and do a list of ten topics for posts on the themes your blog will tackle. If you can't easily generate this amount of ideas, you haven't got a bloggable subject.
If the blog is open access, decide on an editorial policy for dealing with comments
There are grades for monitoring comments - from no moderation at all where submitted comments are published without checking to complete authorisation of each comment. Be aware of possible spam postings as well as un-welcome (e.g. rude or abusive) comments and make sure you are in control. If you are promoting an organisation via a blog, be aware that comments are as much a part of the blog as the blogger's posts. Although you don't want to stop an exchange of views and thoughts, you do want to make sure you don't aid in the publication of inappropriate material. A few simple precautions can keep everything running smoothly.

Ongoing Processes

In order to ensure that your blog service is sustainable:

Ensure that you have regular posts on the blog
Plan ahead and consider asking someone to be a guest blogger if you are away or too busy to post regularly for any short period of time.
Consider group blogging with colleagues
This could work for both an internal, project-based blog and also for a public-facing organisation-based blog. Different bloggers can bring a new perspective to a topic and give the readers a different take on your themes. See a library from the point of view of a cataloguer, a web master, inter-library loans. Get an insight into a museum from the perspective of the curators of different collections or view an archive from the inside. Follow progress on different strands of a project via the technical lead, the project manager and the customer liaison contact.
Keep your blog fresh
Don't forget that the idea of Web 2.0 is to interact and share with your readers, so use the comments section to generate new ideas. Acknowledge the source of your ideas and reference the reader and their comment and you will help your blog community to grow.
Keep an eye on comment spam
Remember that as well as the automated spam that can be clearly identified as spam, there may be comments )e.g. "This is a great post") which have been generated automatically, in order to provide links back to a commercial blog. This is known as 'blog comment spamming'.

Share Your Planning Processes

You will not be the only cultural heritage organisation which is considering best practices for providing and maintaining a blog service. A good way of validating your planning processes is to share these with your peers and solicit constructive criticism and feedback.

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