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June 19, 2008

Blog Potomac - Interview with Debbie Weil, Author of the Corporate Blogging Book

By Li Evans

This last Friday I attended Blog Potomac.  It was a great social media event put on by Geoff Livingston and Debbie Weil for people in the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia areas who wanted to get a taste of social media marketing and blogging in particularly.

I've been a fan of Debbie for quite a while, so when she agreed to do an interview with me on video, you can only imagine this fan's delight.  You can also check out Debbie's sites:  Blog Write for CEO's, The Corporate Blogging Book and DebbieWeil.com

Full interview transcript after the jump....

Debbie Weil, Author of The Corporate Blogging Book Video Interview at Blog Potomac Transcript


Li Evans:

Hi I'm Li Evans from Search Marketing Gurus and KeyRelvance. I'm here at Blog Potomac in Falls Church, Virginia.  I'm here with Debbie Weil, she is the co-chair of this great event. She is co-chair with Geoff Livingston who we interviewed before.

I want to ask you what inspired you to put this together?

Debbie Weil:

Well I have to be transparent as always.  It was Geoff's idea originally, he asked me to join him and be the co-chair.  We both very much had the same motivation   and that was to create a social media community in the greater D.C. area.  D.C. as you know is a very spread out place, I mean there's capital hill, there's downtown, there's Virginia and there's Maryland.  So he had the brilliant idea to call it Blog Potomac, because the river runs through the District, Virginia and Maryland.

Li Evans: 

How do you think the reception, how does everyone feel about the event so far?

Debbie Weil: 

I think the reception is pretty good.  We've got a big crowd here that's already lining up to speak as we speak and talking to each other so lots of buzz.  Everyone's interviewing each other and videoing each other so that's a good sign. And I think the afternoon speakers should be equally as interesting.  The audience has taken a bit to warm up to the idea that this in an unconference, and they can talk a little more, in addition to asking questions.

This is Washington, were a bit stiff here in Washington, we're not totally cool and hip here in Washington.  We're getting into it it may take us until after lunch.

Li Evans:

Along with being the co-chair, you are the author of this book (holding up The Corporate Blogging Book) which is one of my favorite books.  It's one of the first books that I actually read on blogging.  I have recommended this book inside and out to my different clients.  Tell me a little me about The Corporate Blogging Book.

Debbie Weil:

Believe it or not I started writing the book about 3 years ago.  Which is like ancient history.  An editor came to me, she sent me an email and asked me "have you ever thought about writing about corporate blogging".  I'd been blogging about it and writing about it and I use to write a column for something called ClickZ so I have a lot of writing online.  But in the book is a combination of a bit of provocative, you know "what is this" phenomenon and do you need to pay attention to it and a handbook for companies that really want to do it. 

There's a chapter on "Should Your Company CEO Blog", there's a chapter on writing tips which is actually one of my favorite chapters.  There's a chapter on how to convince your boss.  What's interesting again is that I wrote this 3 years ago, it came out 2 years ago in 2006, and I kind of wish it was coming out right now.  Companies are just getting to the point where not just people like you who are reading it, but who are going to read it and do it.  so, you know what can I say, there are lots of books out on blogging now.  At the time I thought it was going to be to late, but it wasn't, I think it was really too early.

Li Evans:

I really like it, I recommend it even today.  Anyone asks me, my clients ask me, I tell them "go out and read this book, its so good".  Can you give me 3 tips or maybe a few tips on what can help a company decide whether they should blog or not.

Debbie Weil:

Well you know that's always a great questions.  And I think today with the bigger term social media being the bigger idea, a blog is only one piece of that.  Although I tell clients that a blog is the main platform where other social media live, like YouTube.  But should a company blog, there's probably 10 things they can check off to decide.  One, do they have a story, can they talk about issues, their industry, their product in a way that's not corporate speak, can they talk about it in away that will make it interesting that'll engage their readers. 

2,  are they willing to do it? It's really not money. Are they willing to assigning a couple of people or maybe a team to write the blog, multiple authors.  There's some work involved, its a very creative endeavor but it's work, because it's content, you're creating content.

Then 3 are they willing to listen?  Will they listen to readers who leave comments, hopefully, I say hopefully because this is the whole point, that some of them may be negative and will they allow that.  If a company culture is such that they just can't listen to anything negative and they're really buttoned up and they can only speak in a messaging corporate speak one way style, I would say no don't do a blog yet.  Maybe just go into listening mode and listen to what the other bloggers are saying.

Li Evans:

Thank you very much Debbie, I am Li Evans for Search Marketing Gurus and KeyRelevance and we'll have more interviews later.


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