Somebody said something sometime.
That’s the approach some companies are taking with their blog posts and content.
First, they removed the dateline, then offed the byline and next, the quality of sources and citations declined. Companies have all sorts of reasons why they do this that often says more about the company culture than it does the content.
Just the other day I was reading an article that was built on a premise supported by a study it cited. The study looked interesting, so I clicked the link for a closer look: the ‘source’ document was another blog post, which in turn cited several other studies. That premise was now in doubt and so the entire post was questionable.
This happens a lot and it seems to be happening more. Sometimes the ‘source’ is five or six clicks removed. And when you finally read the actual study cited, it turns out to be several years old and it doesn’t actually say what the initial post said it did.
How could this happen on a company blog? In larger organizations, some of these posts get touched by a half dozen people before finally making it to publication.
It’s straightforward: when you remove the dateline and the byline, you also remove context and accountability. When everyone is accountable, no one is accountable.
Most people care more about content that bears their name. Absent a name — no matter how profound, provocative or insightful — you are left with a piece that amounts to ‘somebody said something sometime.’
Trustworthy blogs include datelines, bylines and cite credible sources:
- Datelines identify the context in which a post was published and is a signal of trustworthiness.
- Bylines provide “an accountability measure,” as the Poynter Institute, a research organization dedicated to improving journalism, says. Company blogs are not journalism, but the best performing ones take a journalistic approach to content. Bylines provide transparency, accountability, and humanizes the brand, which are all signals of trust.
- A blog that provides true utility cannot merely repeat what another blog has said. That is by definition “sameness.” It’s worth your while to investigate sources, draw your own conclusions, cite only the sources that you have found to be credible, and then share what you found through the lenses in which your company views the market.
Long-form content is just part of the equation. The other half is quality and trust. Datelines, bylines and credible citations to a long way to that end.
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