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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

An impressive engineering blog

In response to my request for observations about the utility of blogging for the AEC sector at the Construction Writers Association conference, Jane Howell, director of communications for the American Society of Civil Engineers, sent me the following truly insightful note.

ASCE's president, Bill Marcuson, began publishing a blog this past fall. As someone who had never before even visited a blog, I can't say he was initially enthusiastic about the idea. Now, everywhere he travels, he is approached by people who tell him how much they enjoy reading his blog. (The 'word-of-mouth' far surpasses the number of comments posted on the blog, which averages about four per post.)

This blog wasn't intended as a marketing blog, per se. Since our president attends industry events around the world during their one-year term, this blog was viewed as one way to share some of those experiences with a broader segment of our members. We do, however, regularly talk with Bill to discuss topics for the blog and to identify possible connections to other programs and activities. For example, recent blogs have mentioned our OPAL Awards gala and conferences. Other posts, such as one reacting to the shootings at Virginia Tech or recommending books about leadership, purely express Bill's thoughts.

We think this blog has been successful enough that we'll ask our new president, David Mongan, to write one when he takes office in November.

Blogs are about people first and products second, so I would think it might be harder to justify hosting a blog as a primary marketing strategy. Instead, identifying the most-read blogs by your customer base and posting as many comments as possible that relate to the blog post but also point out the benefits of your product might be the most effective strategy.

I will add Bill Marcuson's blog to the permalink list. Jane is right that "blogs are about people first and products second". This human element is of course the thing that makes blogs somewhat risky, on a superficial level, but creates a healthy marketing environment where personal relationships merge with the the business or organization's services or products. In the ASCE's case, clearly the blog is working for the association's benefit.

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