Sunday, February 7, 2010

Jan 10 - It ain't easy

When I began writing this column over two years ago, there was very little if any coverage of blogs in the advertising or marketing press.

Whether it’s the growth in importance of social media, the explosion of interest in Facebook or the latest celebrity to hop onto the Twitter bandwagon, I learnt about it all by reading blogs.

Which is one of the reasons why I pitched the idea of an agency blog to our management team at Wunderman.

Given the success and wide readership base of my personal blog, the agency was very keen to pursue the idea. Which we did.

We learnt a great deal developing our agency blog. I thought I’d share some of our experiences with you.

The first thing I did before pitching the idea, was to put together a list of my favourite agency blogs, with the always enjoyable Wieden & Kennedy London at the top of that list.

Their blog has a charming DIY feel, with short posts about the day to day goings on at the agency. It captures, I think, what it’s like to work at W&K London.

Sadly our attempt at a blog turned out to be anything but.

So where did we go wrong? Well first up we gave our designers too much leeway with the build and design.

Blogs don’t need flashy design. Blogs don’t need stuff that’s going to impress other web designers. Blogs need nothing more than good content and storytelling.

Ours was beautifully designed. It looked, if I say so myself, pretty damn slick. It had lots of little design touches.

Problem was, behind the beauty lay a backend that was far from intuitive, even for a seasoned blogger like myself. Which meant that posts to the blog became less and less frequent.

Not because we had less and less to say, but because it was so bloody tricky to actually post something. As a result, our blog started to gather dust. And after just six months I made an executive decision to shut it down.

As the guy who dreamed up the idea of an agency blog, this was not an easy decision to make. And yet it was, because the blog we had built, was not the blog we wanted to build.

So, unbeknownst to anyone at the agency, I set about creating the blog I had always envisioned. My starting point was, as it had been all along, the Wieden & Kennedy London blog.

They used a free blogging software rather than a custom created website. So I followed their lead, and set up a new version of our blog using Google’s free blogging software package.

This took no more than about 15 minutes! I then chose a clean, simple design template from one of the many available from Google. This took about 5 minutes. Next step was to create a masthead. This was as simple as cutting and pasting the masthead from the original blog.

And so our blog, which we had named Wunderings, was born again.

Over the next few months I posted several snippets and photos capturing day to day life in our agency. Other than my creative partner, no-one at the agency knew I was doing this.

When the blog was three months old, I began to drop hints about its existence. Obviously curiosity got the better of many of our staff, who searched for Wunderings on Google, and fell in love with it.

I’m proud to say our blog is now thriving. It is, as I always intended, a window into the day to day life of Wunderman in Australia.

Candidates at interviews have remarked on it. All staff contribute to it. And best of all, it helps position our agency as a great place to work at (and with).



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