Blogs have come a long way in the last two decades. Most experts agree that the first blog was Links.net, created in 1994 by student Justin Hall as a place to publish his writing. The site consisted entirely of brief posts, each one sharing a link and some of his thoughts on the content within.
Then we had the era of personal blogging through the mid 00’s, perceived as “online diary entries” – one way traffic for someone to broadcast their thoughts and share them on social media sites such as Tumblr and MySpace. Now personal blogging (it’s now a verb and a noun) has been overtaken by special interest WordPress sites and more immediate forms of social media to share views, such as Twitter and Reddit.
Crunching the numbers behind B2B blogging
But business blogs have also been on an evolutionary journey of their own. Taking off in the early 2010’s, business blogs became a “must have”. Current stats show 91% of B2B marketers report their company blogs or uses other forms of similar content marketing.
However, even though a vast majority of B2B organizations are blogging, many encounter issues driving high-output, high-quality blogging campaigns. The biggest challenges that bloggers face are finding time to create and promote content (52%), driving traffic (47%), consistently creating quality content (38%), and finally publishing a sufficient number of posts (32%).
B2B bloggers are also 2.25x more likely than their B2C counterparts to report that getting support from within their organization is a challenge.
Written by bots for bots?
It’s perhaps these pain points that have given rise to poor quality blogs, often lightly researched and stuffed with keywords to try and boost SEO. This has contributed to blogs becoming a bit of “checklist” exercise in B2B marketing, rather than truly providing value for the readers.
One of the proposed answers to help fill blogging campaigns is Artificial Intelligence-driven copywriting. In fact, the IBA team took a deep dive into the rise of AI in PR and marketing a couple of months ago. Our assessment in that blog was that, although AI will certainly increase in prevalence across the PR sector, it has a long way to go before it can replace the imagination-driven work of human PR executives.
It will be hard for a bot to replace the power of subediting
Every piece of copy that passes through the IBA editorial team has to pass through sub-editing. Our copy isn’t being drafted by a bot, for a bot – if it doesn’t get past the sub then it’s not going to be accepted by an end reader. So, it’s pleasing to see the role of the sub editor being thrown into focus in current debate around the UK Online Safety Bill and how online content is interpreted by bots vs. human reviewers. Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator explains: “As an editor, I’ve come to find out that first-class sub-editors are the most valuable and rarest people in the industry. Can their craft really be judged by a bot?” That’s why we at IBA still have one!
An AI-driven case study
In fact, this compelled the team to look around at what is currently on the market to facilitate AI-driven copy writing. A number of organizations are particularly prevalent across Google and social media ads at the moment. Their ads profess that, for example, AI Content Platforms helps hard pressed marketing teams “break through creative blocks” to create original blog content 10x faster. So far so good, we know time constraints are one of the biggest issues for B2B marketing managers, and with this tool a few key words around the topic in question are all that’s required to set the AI to work.
But not so good when looking as some of the copy examples. Here’s some feedback from one of the commenters who used the free sample of the tool.
“Sick, more blogs written in English (or whatever language), that has the syntax and grammar of a drunken toddler that thinks it’s a language major.”
He then shared his example copy:
“Indubitably, we am figuring out the most expedited ways to bring you the biggest amount of profit, in the entire history of the collective humans race.”
Our sub’s assessment for this language major? D – must do better.
A human-driven case study
Now consider a recent IBA client example – which demonstrates the true value of well researched, authoritative blogs, and the key role they can play in PR content stack to pivot fresh and valuable types of content. Our client worked on a blog with its end customer, one of the world’s biggest breweries. The blog explained the key role our client’s event streaming and management software architecture played in the brewery’s ambitious digital transformation program to become the world’s best-connected brewer. We then took things a step further.
From the starting point of a truly valuable blog, the IBA editorial team re-purposed that copy into a thought leadership article – bylined by the client subject matter expert, including quotes from the customer. This new asset was taken by the IBA Pitch&Place team across client PR campaign geographies in North America and Europe – including local-languages. The result? A total of 13 placed items of coverage across those geographies in target technology and food & beverage media outlets.
Rebuilding the reputation of the blog
When drafted correctly and used to complement a wider content stack, blogs are not “so 2008” (as one commentator on the AI-driven copywriting organization’s Twitter insinuated) and neither are they just part of a corporate content checklist. Perhaps with a few less of those “drunken toddlers” mentioned before and more discerning sub-editors the reputation of the blog can be truly salvaged!
Why not check out how the IBA Pitch&Place team can leverage your existing blog copy to drive PR placements or how the IBA editorial department can help you draft quality and quantity blog copy that accurately conveys your key sales and marketing messaging.
Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International