“Content is professionally written but not particularly engaging or challenging.” “Very varied in terms of quality and typically not engaging.” “Some of the pieces end with a blatant sales pitch.”
These are just some of the comments from our recent review of consulting firm blogs targeting the financial services sector. And, sadly, the comments we haven’t included aren’t any more positive. Nor do we think this is an issue confined to just one sector. Consulting firms, almost without exception, are failing to create engaging blogs.
Much of the advice on writing good blogs can be distilled down to four things: focus, personality, passion and credibility.
Focus matters – most of us only follow blogs that relate directly to a specific topic of interest. The good news is that this is one area where firms are often getting it right, offering blogs on specific issues or sectors.
However, how those blogs are written is a real issue. Through the style of writing and the personal details, a good blog provides a strong sense of the person behind it and their passion for the subject. Unfortunately, most consulting firm blogs conform to a corporate style and any hint of personality or passion has typically been air-brushed out of sight. We also want to trust the person who is writing and what they are saying. This credibility can be built up in many ways – through detailed stories that demonstrate depth of experience, by commenting intelligently on outside sources, and by linking to deeper thought leadership. Too many consulting firm blogs are superficial and provide little sense of why the writer should be trusted.
So what’s getting in the way, preventing firms from generating engaging blogs? Talking to firms, we hear of a fear of being too controversial, of stepping out line. There’s also the fear of building up an individual who might then leave the company. But a lack of role models and examples of good practice also play a part: without understanding what good looks like, it’s difficult to improve. However, the harsh truth is that many of the blogs we see are doing little to build a positive image of the firm, and some could actually be off-putting. Are you doing enough to overcome the fears that are limiting the impact of blogs? And if these fears can’t be overcome, should you stop attempting to publish blogs at all?