While I keep my blog posts fairly simple, it still takes quite a lot of time to get a post up. It might look like a press release has been copied verbatim, but even so there are additional steps to the process.
A blog post may start with an idea, a take-off from something else I've read, come from press releases emailed to me, or be based on my experiences at an event I attended. I may also offer to write about a startup's products but this is quite rare. I have to decide which blogs are relevant for the post - or if the post just appears on Facebook instead - and may need to edit or reposition the content to address an individual blog's audience.
There are a maximum number of posts per blog per day and I try not to have too many posts from the same company in a given day, nor the same type of posts. For instance, posts about two different companies receiving analyst recognition, or two surveys from different companies are unlikely to be published on the same day. This means decisions have to be made as to when a post may appear, after which the post is scheduled accordingly.
Other tasks may include:
- Checking if a company has an Asia Pacific or Middle East link that makes it more relevant to readers (if there is no link, it shouldn't be in the blog).
- Checking if a customer which is quoted has an Asia Pacific or Middle East presence. US-only or Europe-only customers typically do not get quoted.
- Checking provided photos, illustrations or infographics to see if they look like ads. If they are product-biased or invite the reader to use the product they are typically not used.
- Where content seems confusing or parts appear to be missing I may have to Google for more information, consult background materials, or email to ask for clarifications.
- Googling is involved to validate official statements from various companies, either from their press rooms, corporate blogs or via Facebook;
- Looking for research findings to include, or other information. In some cases I may prefer not to quote other publications as a source for statistics and may look for alternative statistics, or the original source of the statistics for example.
- Text or acronyms which readers might not understand have to be researched and explained.
Content is next edited. Available content may be totally rewritten as required. Tasks may include:
- Converting the text into UK spelling and aligning it blog style. Certain abbreviations are always used for consistency, for instance. Punctuation is often not the way I want it, especially with quotation marks.
- Ensuring the text is not too technical, with various acronyms spelt out in full and technical terms explained.
- Any text which is ambiguous, confusing or conflicting needs to be clarified.
- Names of musical bands and publications are italicised.
- Footnotes may be missing, so the missing text has to be requested. Sometimes it is the other way around. There is a footnote, but no corresponding number listed in the main text.
- Footnotes with different numbers but the same text are merged.
- Paragraphs and phrases may be moved around to highlight different facts or to improve logical flow. The first line is very often changed to highlight exactly what the story is going to be about.
- For readability I may create blank lines, bullets, headings in bold, etc
- Tenses may have to be changed if it refers to the future, and the date has already passed at the time I blog about the announcement.
- Currencies may have to be clarified - do dollar figures refer to US dollars, Australian dollars or Singapore dollars?
- Text which is sales-oriented, too technical, or which rambles too much is likely to be removed. I may be providing publicity for a product, brand, or company, but I am not writing an advertisement for it.
- Similarly, quotes may be edited, with parts deleted if they are too long, repetitive, marketing-oriented, or say nothing of use ("I am thrilled..."). I will correct typos and grammatical errors here if I catch any.
- Fixing of line breaks and spaces, such as typically happens with content that is copied from a PDF.
- I may also add names in the original language as available (Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Chinese), and that can take time.
These may be little things but it all adds up.
Images, if available, may have to be screen-captured, cropped, uploaded from my phone, downloaded from the company's website, corporate Flickr account, or via email. Where they are not available, but likely to be online - a product picture for example, I may check on official websites/Facebook pages.
Image placement is challenging as they don't always display where the Blogger editor says they will. Similarly, WYSINWYG; lines appear and disappear in the final version, font sizes are not consistent, or the fonts may display as some other font altogether. I sometimes go into the HTML code to adjust placements. Images also need sources, captions, and alt text descriptions.
Other processes on the text can include:
- Online character recognition on text that can't be copied.
- Links need to be added, including links to related blog posts in the same blog or sister blogs. It can be unbelievably difficult to determine if a link is correct sometimes.
- A Google Analytics tracking script is appended to the HTML code for each post.
- If there is a related Instagram account, the code for an Instagram post may be added.
- Appropriate calls to action, if any, are included. Calls to action may include viewing a video or an infographic, registering for an event, downloading a white paper, or preordering a product.
- Hashtags, if any, are listed.
- Tags are added for easy searching.
- The link is shared on social media as appropriate.
- Going back to add new information or images.
So all this takes time.. but priority is given to paid work, so sometimes there aren't as many posts as I would like. Feel free to WhatsApp me about your clients, or if you see a factual error or formatting problem on the blogs.
Email me at tangjoy at gmail dot com to get the WhatsApp number.
Read my note on pet peeves about press releases