Category Archives: Blogging

My Cheese has moved…

There has been lots of change in my life lately.  For those that are not already in the know, I have taken a new position at The Associated Press.  This is a very exciting opportunity.  I am working for another company with a long and prestigious history, with a team of extremely smart developers and a sharp management team, and some very exciting technology.  You can read all about The Associated Press on the AP Web Site, or you can take a look at some of the new web sites I will be managing – AP Images, AP Exchange, AP Archive, the Winter Olympics Microsite (and more like this to come).  I will be working in the mobile space as well.  I am still getting a handle on the mobile landscape at the AP, but I already have the AP Mobile and AP Today in History applications on my Motorola Droid.  As you would expect, the AP has a large social media footprint.  You can follow AP, AssociatedPress, or AP_Images on Twitter.  There is an AssociatedPress channel on YoTube.  You can also join the Associated Press page on FaceBook.

I have also changed my blog’s home.  After much of the hemming and hawing, I have moved my blog onto my own domain, PixelatedViews.com.  There is not a lot of content on the main site, but more is on the way.  The new URL for my blog is http://www.pixelatedviews.com/blog.   I have changed the old FeedBurner feeds to point to the new ones, so you might have gotten 140 new posts from me in your feed reader.  Sorry about that.  I have also created two new FeedBurner feeds – Pixelated Views Blog and Pixelated Blog Comments.  I recommend following them.

So… that’s enough change for me for now.  If only it were always my choice…

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Blogging Trends in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Blogging is now one of the easiest ways to get a message out to your audience. Readers can read and bookmark a blog and get content when they want it, or subscribe to your posts via an RSS feed and have content pushed to them when it is available. There are lots of free open-source solutions that give you the freedom to create, publish, and maintain your content any way you want. Blogs about the pharmaceutical industry abound; but pharmaceutical companies, with all their legal, regulatory, and FDA compliance concerns, have been apprehensive about embracing this fast paced content.

There are lots of blogs about the Pharmaceutical industry. Pharmalot is a blog by The Star-Ledger’s Ed Silverman that keeps up with pharmaceutical industry news. RXBlog also tries to stay on top of pharma industry news. The Pharma Marketing Blog is an op ed for John Mack, the editor in chief of the Pharma Marketing News e-newsletter. CafePharma is another popular website targeting pharmaceutical sales professionals, and has a blog called Pharmagather, that attempts to centralize pharma blog articles from all over the web. These are all great, but are not blogs from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies need to have their own presence in the blogosphere.

Nutra Pharma, a small biotech company, announced that it was re-launching its corporate blog at the ned of February, 2008. Nutra Pharma’s blog has been around since 2006, but has not gotten much attention. Posts are infrequent, very brief, cover a very narrow scope, is buried within its corporate site, and quite frankly are coming from a small biotech company.

Centocor, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson, is going through lots of transformations, both in its pipeline and in its organizational structure within its parent company. It has launched a blog, CNTO411, in an effort to stay closer to its patients, its partners, and the blogosphere. It was launched just this March, has gotten a lot of press, and is leading the way in pharma blogging.

GlaxoSmithKline has released alliconnect, a blog about its new OTC weight loss drug, alli. They are touting the blog as, “place for you to have a conversation with us about weight loss issues.” It is geared towards the drug, but also at the disease state, and invites its patients to freely comment on the posts.

Johnson & Johnson has also tried to harness the power of blogging. Earlier this month, J&J organized and held an event for blogging mothers called Camp Baby 2008. The event was designed to reach out to bloggers who had complained about J&J and their products in the blogosphere and have a two way dialog. The mothers were flown in free, were fed at the 5-star restaurant “The Frog and the Peach” and were the recipients of lots of swag. Throughout the process, there were lots of bumps and bruises along the way on both sides, as The Star Ledger article describes, but dialog channels were open and J&J claims this as a positive event for all.

The blogosphere offers great benefits to pharma, biopharma, and biotech companies. The only barrier to entry is the aversion to risk. These four companies have taken the risk, and are seeing benefits on all different points of the continuum. But as the adage goes – No Risk, No Reward.

Happy Thanksgiving 2007!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I can’t believe I am blogging today. I guess I do fit into the addictive category of bloggers. I have read an article on Web Analytics World inquiring How Addicted Are you To Blogging. You can take the blog addiction quiz on the justsayhi.com web site. The author of the article is 77% addicted, and I was 70% addicted. At the end they give you a badge to display proudly. Here is mine:

70%

Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

50 Easy Tips to Keep your Blog Search Engine Optimized

Blogging is one of the easiest ways to get content published to the Internet.  Everyone, from the average Joe to the Corporate Communications Specialist wants to see their blog and their most recent posts on the Google results page.  But, just like SEO for any other web site, it takes time, effort, and patience.  Here is a collection of tips gathered from around the blogosphere on how to optimize your blog for search engines.

Content

  • Content is always king.  Make sure your content is new, fresh, engaging, and relevant.
  • Update your blog frequently.  The more it is updated, the more your content will be indexed.
  • Stick with your blog – don’t get discouraged!
  • Use an interesting title for your blog and each of your blog posts. 
  • Limit each of your posts to one topic, keeping your pages focused.
  • Keep your posts not too short, and not too long.  This keeps your readers interested and returning.
  • Provide a list of your top 10 blog posts on your site.
  • Make sure your tags, categories, labels, etc. also make good keywords.
  • Use your keywords as often as possible, but only in a natural context.
  • Use a blog service like WordPress, Blogger, etc.  These sites already have high content churn, and attract frequent indexing.
  • Make sure that anonymous users can leave comments.  You will get more feedback that way.

Linking

  • Increase your inbound links from other sites.
  • Link to your own posts that have a similar topic.
  • Outbound links to high quality sites help your page rank.

Markup

  • Make sure your blog’s HTML is W3C Compliant so that search engines can spider your blog easily.
  • Make sure your post titles are live links.
  • If your blog supports it, don’t forget to use meta tags in your blog template.
  • Use your primary keyword in strategic locations:
    • Your blog domain
    • In the title of your posts
    • In the anchor text of links
    • In the alt tags of your images
    • In Header tags – H1, H2, H3, etc.
    • In bold tags

Your RSS Feed

  • Be sure that RSS auto-discovery tags are placed in the header of every page, one for each RSS feed.
  • Your RSS feeds should provide full text for each post.
  • Maximize the number of blog posts provided in your blog feed.  Typical default is 10, 20 or more is better.
  • Provide a feed for every category your blog offers.

Post-Publishing

 

Do you have other tips or resources for bloggers in optimizing their sites for search engines?  Leave me some feedback and let me know.

 

Resources:

5 Benefits of Internal Corporate Blogs

Blogs are not new anymore.  They have been around for a few years, and have proliferated fairly deep into the technology culture.  If people are not writing one of their own, they are reading one, or a handful of them, or have an RSS aggregator where they are reading dozens or hundreds of blogs. 

Blogs have lots of uses.  They are great for viral advertising, news publication, syndication, and collection of public opinion about a topic.  You can have a personal blog to share photos of your vacations, a corporate blog for press releases, a news blog for niche news, and a host of other reasons to have a blog.  Blogs are an easy way for anyone to produce and consume any information about anything from anywhere. 

But blogs have taken off within corporations as well.  That is my interest here.  We have deployed a blogging pilot in the workplace, and I have become a big proponent.  At first it was part of my yearly objectives to help pilot and proliferate the use of blogs.  I have blocked time on my calendar twice a week for a half hour to post to my blog.  Now I am one of the most frequent bloggers in our pilot, and I blog both inside and outside the company.  I do this because I see such a value in the process.  Blogging is such an important tool in my manager arsenal, and I thought I would list the benefits of blogging from my experiences for the team and for the company.

Knowledge Sharing

Blogging inherently is a way to share information with its readers.    The writer composes the message, and it is consumed by many readers in the blogosphere.  These messages are (obviously) either bottom-up or top-down.  Bottom-up messages are written from the perspective of the line workers and low to mid level managers to express ideas or experiences they have had.  Top-down blogs are a way to deliver executive messages, such as strategic direction, corporate status, and announcements.  Blogs act as a written memory of events, lessons learned, experiences, successes, or announcements.  Blogs can also be a way to share expertise on a specific topic, such as data management, service oriented architecture, design patterns, or search engine optimization. 

Idea Solidification

The writer has to take the time to think about the message they want to deliver, collect their thoughts, organize them, and express them clearly.  That way the readers can read a focused message that delivers a clear and understandable message.  Blogs can also be a way to develop, solidify, and evolve an idea by posing a question, idea, or concept, and collect and narrow an idea through constructive comments. 

Project Management

Using a blog to document a project and its progress is a bit unorthodox.  Typically a wiki or another more collaborative environment is more appropriate.  But blogs are so easy to use, they make for a good medium to capture progress and communicate them easily.  Again, they act as a written memory of the project’s progress, successes, and lessons learned.

Cross Team Communication

Blogs are a great way to provide a medium for dynamic networks of conversations across teams.  These teams could be local or distributed, days, nights or weekends, and it will not matter.  A shared blog space will allow for ideas to be spread, information to be distributed, questions to be asked and answers to be shared.  Blogs crisscross people, departments, silos, grade levels, and experiences.

TeamBuilding

The simplest thing that blogs do is to bridge the boundaries of distance and culture by being always on, able to be shared and viewed at any time.  When launching a blog or posting a comment, a person takes themselves in written form and puts a bit of themselves out for everyone to look at, examine, scrutinize, comment on, and critique.  Successful corporate blogging creates an atmosphere of trust, so that people are not threatened, intimidated, or frightened to expose themselves.  Successfully sharing and collaborating this way fosters a spirit of participation that encourages people to continue to contribute their thoughts and ideas.  This leads to team learning and growth across the team, from within the team, and makes them stronger together. 

 

So what is your perspective on blogging within corporations, or blogging in general?  Is there value?  Is it a waste of time? Leave me feedback and let me know your thoughts.

 

Resources

7 Easy Steps to Improve your Blog Content

Getting people to your blog is only half the battle.  What do you do then?  You need to hold their attention.  As the old adage goes, Content is King.  Here are 7 steps to keep your content focused.

1. Pick a specific topic

Your blog should already have a general topic.  Now you must narrow your topic and deliver a persuasive blog post.  Ways you can employ to be sure your post is by following these steps:

  • Ensure your post adds value
  • Make your post stand out in the crowd with a great hook and headline
  • Ensure you go beyond the what and give the reader the how
  • Use lists to deliver materials as they are easy to digest
  • Tell you persuasive story as a problem with a solution and positive results

2. Pull them in with a great headline

Great headlines take time to write.  You should write your title first.  It is the lynchpin for your post.  Or, instead of writing your own, you can use swipe files (a common practice in journalism circles).  There are lots of great examples out there:

3. Write an opening that grabs them

The headline may be what draws in a reader, but it is the opening paragraphs that keep the user reading.  Great ways to open your blog are:

  • With an intriguing question
  • An anecdote or quote
  • A mental image the reader can associate with
  • An analogy, metaphor, or simile,
  • An interesting statistic. 

4. Structure your post logically

Structural elements that will break up your posts into logical pieces will make them easier to read.  Clear subheadings are great ways to section off your posts into smaller ideas.  Bulleted lists or numbered lists are great ways to convey information that is easily understood.  People will scan your posts, so you must convey your idea quickly and keep their attention.

5. Transition smoothly

Keep your ideas in your blog posts running smoothly from beginning to end.  Use transitional words and phrases to connect one sentence to the next, and one paragraph to the next. 

6. Convey your message

You can convey your message many different ways.  Clear and concise copywriting is critical to get your message to your readers.  But you can use other techniques too.  Metaphors are like images; show just as much as they tell.  You, too, can leverage their strength.  And stories are a powerful way to show your point. 

7. Close with a purpose

When you close, you must tie up all your ideas together.  This is where you wanted to take the readers when you started your post, so make it worth their while.  Leave with a call to action.  Another good way is with a cliffhanger, which will keep your readers reading into the future. 

 

Follow these 7 easy steps and your blog post content will be more focused, more concise, read more frequently, and bookmarked more often. 

Thanks to copyblogger for a great set of articles, and for the 7 steps of blog posts.

Technorati , Bloglines, & del.icio.us

Scott Hanselman has a great post about how to keep you blog from sucking… http://www.hanselman.com/blog/BlogInteresting32WaysToKeepYourBlogFromSucking.aspx

So… I have followed a number of his suggestions. I have signed up with Technorati.com . Technorati is a great place to list your blog. It is not a search engine, but it is a way to claim your blog and add it to its search listings. Here is my Technorati Profile. And, if you want to view my blog from within Technorati instead, you can do that too.

And what timing, too! When I signed up for Technorati, I found a blog post about my blog in just wonky, Rob Fuller’s blog. Thanks, Rob for the kinds word and the inbound link should help a bunch!

Bloglines is similar to Google Reader and Technorati. It allows you to sign up for blogs and RSS feeds, and aggregates them for you to read. It also allows you to claim your blog, and includes it in its index for searching and advertising. I now have a Bloglines account as well, and have claimed my blog.

I have also started to use del.icio.us to store all of my bookmarks. This makes them available in IE, Netscape, and from any PC anywhere. You can see my bookmarks at http://del.icio.us/brian.whaley . There is a great del.icio.us bookmarks plugin for Firefox that you can use that will make you bookmarks directly available from the menu bar. Very handy.