For companies marketing to a large number of customers and potential customers, newsletters and blogs offer a way to keep them in touch and inform them of new products and generic descriptions of how these products solved other customers' problems. Using good digital photographs your firm can inform customers and potential customers about newly hired staff members and their capabilities; new lab, plant and office construction or remodeling; and other news that could have an impact on meeting customers' requirements. One could also announce papers being presented at conferences and scheduled for publication in research journals and trade magazines.

Writing newsletters and blogs can increase your own interactions and that of your staff members with your firm's sales, marketing and manufacturing personnel. This can improve productivity, communications and teamwork while enhancing lab staff members' – and your own - career development.

Communications Strategy

Having lab or corporate newsletters and blogs need not be an either – or decision. One could publish an electronic newsletter with links to one or more company blogs. Newsletters commonly are issued monthly or quarterly while blogs usually come out more frequently, often weekly. The key is to publicize both and be sure they are published on schedule. Ideally, customers will enjoy the blogs and find them valuable. As a result, they will develop the habit of checking them on a fairly regular schedule.

Use social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook to promote your blog

Readers don't like disappointments or uncertainty. Blogs have to issue on a regular schedule to retain customers as regular readers. It is discouraging to check a blog expecting to see a new post but not find one. While different employees can write the blog, the quality and organization of the blog should be consistent. Blog posters must seek new perspectives on subjects to avoid having blog posts become repetitious.

Blog subjects should be chosen in advance to coordinate subjects to industry events, conferences, and trade shows. They should also be coordinated with new product introductions and product discounting programs.

Take advantage of the capabilities of the World Wide Web and consider posting videos and other types of dynamic presentations. Link to pertinent information when appropriate, particularly to your firm's technical bulletins and other information on the Internet.

In short, having made the decision to have a lab blog, the lab manager must assure that, like its products, it is of high quality. This means being willing to have lab staff members spend the time to write new blog posts.

Monitor your blog

Give blog readers the option to post comments. Respond promptly to readers' comments. Give readers the option of commenting by e-mail should they wish to discuss information their employer may regard as confidential.

Monitor readership to learn what subjects seem to most interest your customers.

Learning to Blog

You can have your staff members learn how to blog by bringing in an experienced blogger to teach a workshop. Hire someone with experience in writing blogs for companies or magazines rather than someone who writes their own blog for the fun of it.

Suggested Reading

Robert W. Bly, "Blog Schmog: The Truth About What Blogs Can (and Can't) Do for Your business"

Tris Hussey, "Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Projects to Start Blogging Like a Pro"

Susannah and Shane Birley, "Blogging for Dummies"

Final advice

Don't be swept away by all the current hype about blogging. Before beginning, consider carefully how you will use blogging to promote your business.

While encouraging staff members to write blog posts, lab managers should be sure they don't spend an excessive amount of time in doing so. logging can be addictive.