Blogs and press rooms…

Steve Rubel‘s post regarding Google’s use of Blogger to run their press center reminded me that I meant to put together a short post on our experiences using blog software on the corporate website.

Late last year we decided to re-engineer the Cape Clear News & Events section using a blogging platform.

The main reason for moving to a blog was that we didn’t already use a content management system and as a result any press releases, events, awards etc. had to be posted manually.

In addition, blog software gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of publishing content and autogenerating that content elsewhere in the site.  Finally it automatically generates RSS feeds which can be offered to visitors to the site.

The new section was launched in January and over the past four months it has been working without any major problems. Of course it doesn’t look like a blog to the unitiated but as you navigate around the different sections there are some hints.

The major lessons we have learned are:

1) You need to find specific expertise in the design and implementation stage.  We used Moveable Type as our web content team had the expertise which made the process releatively straightforward. But there’s a lot of testing required, particularly in terms of how posts will look, formatting issues etc.

2) One of the biggest problems is migrating the content.  It can be quite labor intensive moving a lot of content into the new system.  An alternative is to archive previous content on the web server, but we were committed to migrating everything to Moveable Type – that took time.

3) Obviously if you are not already offering visitors to your site RSS feeds then blog software gives you an immediate solution.  We’ve been offering feeds for a long time (we produce them manually) and we aren’t using the blog to auto-generate them at this point as we’re investigating alternative ways to deliver RSS feeds that could also provide us with better measurement such as Nooked.

4) Training for the unitiated is essential.  The Moveable Type system is fairly straightforward but it’s useful to provide users a little training to help people understand basic HTML and how the various publishing options work.

5) The collaborative nature of the blog platform means that you may have a host of different people posting content.  To minimize any potential problems I’d recommend you put in place clear, agreed procedures for publishing content.

The project has already been a major success.  It’s provided us with additional flexibility and reduced the time involved in getting content online.

We’re currently looking at how Moveable Type can be used in other areas of the site. If you want any more information, let me know.