Ever wonder why some websites have both a news section and a blog section? Aren’t they the same thing? No, they are definitely two different animals, though the lines between them have blurred over the years and many people, including marketers, are understandably confused.
What is News?
Inbound marketing certified professional Michael Reynolds says it well: “Think of your news section as an area for press releases.” You wouldn’t think of a press release as a blog, right? Of course you wouldn’t. You know that a press release is primarily about news relating to your company. You’ve opened a new facility, released a new product or service, hired a new executive, received an award, have an upcoming event, and so on.
The news section of your site is also where any published articles relating to your company should appear, linking to the article on the publishing site (an online newspaper or magazine, for example). This boosts credibility and increases SEO. Despite perceptions of homogeneity between news and blogs, news is still defined as being more official – even scholarly – in tone and written from a third-person perspective.
Furthermore, “real news”—it’s hard to resist the temptation to distinguish it from the “fake news” we hear so much about these days!—should be objective and not an endorsement of any particular angle or brand. At the same time, news on your company’s site should always support your brand and be presented objectively with a discerning eye for accuracy, honesty and transparency. The principles of ethical public relations must always be upheld, regardless of your end goals of healthy ROI.
What are Blogs?
It used to be that blogs were short, breezy, casual, light on research, tone and even grammatical precision. But now that marketers have embraced the fact that “content is king,” the Internet is teeming with blogs, and the bar has raised. Blogs are now lengthier, buttressed by more research (including interviews), and no longer do they escape the sharp eye of an editor.
But there are still significant differences between blogs and news. Blogs are for discussing topics relevant to your prospective market(s) and location, not necessarily your company. They are also more conversational in tone and often employ the second person (“you”), creating a sense of connection and personal relationship to readers.
Blogs can even be written in the first person, though that perspective can cast an “opinion” light on your piece, which is not ideal for marketing purposes. You still want to maintain an “expert” position, though you can certainly use more familiar language. Humor, pop culture, and a spot of personality can also be infused, wherever appropriate.
More than news, blogs epitomize the essence of successful content marketing, which is to engage, not “sell,” your audiences. Blogs should inform, answer questions, solve problems, entertain, delight, intrigue, compel, motivate, inspire, be different…whatever the benefit, they should be personally meaningful to your audiences in ways that have nothing to do with making a purchase. Adding questions at the end to encourage engagement and conversation also enhances your blog’s effectiveness and virality.
Most importantly, blogs are incomparably effective in gaining the trust of your audiences and return visits for more information, and nothing is more valuable than that.
Which to Use?
Ideally, both, though Michael Reynolds describes blogs as a necessity and news as a luxury. By that distinction, blogs should take priority over news. Yet, as we said, having both is ideal. Blogs earn trust and return visits better than news, and news demonstrates credibility and that reputable sources see value in your company better than blogs.
Despite the fuzzy distinction between news and blogs, there are still significant differences between the two, and knowing what those distinctions are goes a long way toward a more clearly defined strategy for both content marketers and the clients they serve.
Let our marketing and PR experts help you meaningfully engage your audiences by leveraging both news and blogs to the best of their distinct and individual abilities.
Does your website have a blog section but not a news section? A news section but not a blog section? Both? Neither? Please let us know in the area below and tell us how you made your news/blog decisions.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
First, the facts: 1) Blogs generate 67% more leads than other content marketing; 2) 81% of online consumers trust information from a blog; 3) 61% of those consumers have made a purchase based on a blog; and 4) 60% feel more positive about a company after reading its blog.
Why are blogs so powerful? There are several reasons, which we’ll get to, but let’s start with a scenario.
A Blog Awakening
Mr. and Mrs. Brown have just become grandparents for the first time. It seems to them, in all their years of parenting wisdom, that their grandchild sleeps too much…like, 22 hours a day. They’re worried, but they don’t want to be those grandparents – the ones who stick their noses where they don’t belong. Besides, the baby’s parents aren’t exactly complaining about getting a full night’s sleep.
To gain reliable information about their new grandchild’s sleeping habits, the Browns search online with such questions as “How much is too much sleep for a newborn?” or “Can a baby sleep too much?” or (if they’re really thinking ahead) “Will a baby who sleeps too much become a lazy adult?”.
Bang! Answers, answers, answers. Some are scary (we all know those “Dr. Google” searches!), but most assure the Browns that excessive sleeping in a newborn is, in fact, quite normal and even healthy. Whew. And bless that baby supplies website whose blog offered them the most complete, authoritative information on babies and sleep.
Say, after a few months, when their grandchild proves that she is indeed capable of opening her eyes for more than two hours a day, the Browns are looking for the crib they offered to buy when baby was old enough to move from her bassinet. Where do they go? You got it – the baby supplies website that eased their insomnia over their grandchild’s hypersomnia.
Benefits of the Blog
• Website Traffic. Having a blog is a very inexpensive way to drive traffic to your website. In our scenario above, the grandparents were drawn to – not pushed into – the baby supplies website because of a need for information. The company’s blog provided it, without a hint of a sales pitch.
• Search Engine Recognition. The dynamic nature of blogging will keep your website active and ranking healthily among search engines. Most website pages are relatively static, not changing much, but each blog post creates another indexed page on your site that is recognized by search engines.
• Social Media Sharing. If it’s good, your blog content – which should be either informational, educational, inspirational, entertaining, or a combination thereof, and never sales-oriented – can be shared on your social media (repurposing your blog content) and is likely to be shared on consumers’ social media, driving even more traffic to your site. If you enable comments on your blog, you’ll gain even greater consumer engagement and insight into your audience.
• Trust and Authority. People search the Web for three basic reasons: “Answer Me” (46%); “Educate Me” (26%) and “Inspire Me” (28%). Keeping our scenario in mind, if you can answer your customers’ questions and satisfactorily address their concerns, you are an authority in their eyes, especially because the blog is owned content that comes from you, not a third party.
• Lead Generation. Think again of the grandparents in our scenario, who bought a crib from the baby supplies company whose blog provided such valuable information…not about cribs, but about babies and sleep. It should be clear why that company was the one they chose to purchase from. That’s the real power of the blog.
• Compounding Results. Without delving too deeply into the forest of evergreen and decaying blog posts (click here for more about compounding blogs), suffice it to say that the more blogs you write that are relevant anytime, the more impact they’ll have over longer periods, picking up steam, rather than dying off. Blogs you wrote weeks or months ago are still ranking in search engines and still earning you consumers’ trust and prospective business.
Relationships: A Real-Life Blog Story
Let’s leave our scenario behind to offer a real-life example of the power of blog, whereby a man named John Thorsen came to learn about one of his ancestors. Thorsen is a Danish American whose random Google search for his great-great grandmother, Emma Thorsen, resulted in his discovery of a popular weekly blog associated with the senior living community Emma founded 125 years ago. He had no idea of the influence of his relative or what she accomplished, and his life and family are newly enriched by what he’s learned. Talk about the power of a blog! While Thorsen’s case is unique, a regular blog can capture and hold a faithful audience following for years to come.
Blogging is influential and affordable. How many content marketing strategies can you say that about? However, (there’s always a “however,” right?), it can be time-consuming and difficult to discern which topics to discuss. Blogging also requires skilled writing and proficiency with SEO (search engine optimization). The right marketing team can help plug you into the Power of the Blog.
Ivy Marketing Group. Come Grow With Us.