A blog is a regularly updated website from a company or small group of people, intended to provide a casual opinion, in-depth commentary, or anything in between.
I’ve been blogging about medical quality, policy/operational issues around medical oncology, fiscal policy, and mountaineering all on the same blog since 2010.
It is a strange combination, but it seems to work – I routinely get 25-30 thousand visitors to my blog per month, with an even split between the outdoors and policy blogs.
The term “blog” is a shortened form of “weblog” and was put into popular parlance in 1997 by Jorn Barger. It is now customary for organizations to maintain some form of blog presence – both internal and external, accessed through their website.
Reaping the benefits from the versatility of a blog
External blogs offer a flexible tool for in-depth communication and positioning. Most companies have streamlined their websites to function more as portals for information gathering and rely on blogs to provide up-to-date messages for stakeholders including employees, customers, and analysts.
My own blog, which is built using WordPress, a professional upgrade from the free Google blog architecture Blogger, and is targeted for search engine optimization (SEO). I use social media to launch my blogs – typically with a posting on LinkedIn for the medical and policy posts, and Facebook for the personal and climbing stuff. Search engines love blogs, because they are full of the words and terms that people are searching for – when done correctly people find what you are writing about.
Young healthcare companies benefit enormously from professionally written blogs, targeted at how they define and address key elements for stakeholder (typically patient) success. It gives young companies a chance to define their role in helping the delivery of patient care, finances, policy issues, and recent developments in their space.
The 5 Broad Types of Blog
1. Periodic Internal Blog
Periodic internal blogs with brief but clear messages, normally posted on a daily/weekly basis. These are great to receive from a CEO or senior team lead – a daily touchpoint. I worked for a great guy who introduced me to this technique a few years ago, and I loved getting his daily messages – always positive, brief, and inspirational. These are great internal tools, but are limited by the time and capabilities of the CEO – unless you have dedicated outside help to make sure that the blog happens every day on time.
2. Series Blog
Brief blogs are those with a 500-800 word count written in a series format to explain major strategic initiatives and related projects. I have used these on both internal and external blogs – as they are relevant to patients and employees alike. These blogs fall largely into 3 phases:
- what you are doing and why you are doing it
- explaining the steps along the way – typically as they move along, and
- when you are finished, what you accomplished and how it will benefit in the future. These are all about the news, and what it means.
Blogging for Expertise and Thought Leadership
The final 3 types of blogs are all expertise related and need to reflect the collective mindfulness of the entire organization.
3. The first is the explanation of and updates to best practices supported by your organization.
In oncology, for example, these might include explanations of and updates to best practices for screening, diet, genetic testing, or cancer prevention. These are constantly changing areas of science, and are critically important to how you interact with your patients. Periodic updates keep readers coming back to see what is new – and keeps your practice top-of-mind with the patient.
4. In-depth Blogs
These are targeted at patients and customers about major subject areas are an important way to establish your collective expertise in critical areas of patient care.
- what is the role of palliative care for your patients
- how important is physical therapy in regaining function
- is psychotherapy an important part of patient care,
- what are immune therapies and why are they different from chemo-therapy.
These are critically important subjects for patients, and having clear messaging from your organization can really help.
Finally, whitepapers are non-peer-reviewed publications that are used to establish your company’s expertise in a clinical or business area.
These are big, heavily researched publications with extensive bibliographies. When done correctly, they can become standards for years to come. Done wrong, they call into question the understanding and capabilities of your organization.
Recently, I have done a series of sequential blogs looking at key aspects of new drug approvals in oncology. The fun part of these whitepapers is that they have developed a large and dedicated readership – in some cases that have continued for years, demonstrating their value in their popularity and durability.
Despite being a dedicated writer myself, I have frequently used other writers to help with blog generation. I have found that they provide a new point of view, and have the time to do the job right and on time. Typically, the cost has ranged from $500-$5,000, depending on the size of the job and the frequency that I have employed the writer – and they are always freelance and/or affiliated by our outside marketing firm.
Today, blogs need to be integrated with a social media strategy and podcasts to create an integrated communication platform. Social media and podcasts really increase the frequency of initial blog visits, moving them up in the search engines. Subject matter for blogs is critical for the success – people read based on the subject, form an opinion based on the writing quality, and re-visit based on applicability to their lives.
Professionally written blogs about subjects relevant to customers, patients, investors, employees, and the public form a timely, in-depth communication media. Target your blogs to an audience and purpose, keep it friendly and succinct, and keep them coming.