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Inside Out: Use Internal Communications to Train Company Experts

Experts fuel content credibility. Grow your own.

I blog, therefore I am: Company blogs are a perfect platform for showcasing staff expertise.
But blogging isn’t a full-time job for technical experts who are, after all, running projects, overseeing departments and conducting research. The voracious demand for fresh content means drives the need to constantly cultivate rising talent as marquee bloggers of the future.
How do businesses get employees to this level of content creation?
First, build the business case. Instead of pleading with the subject matter experts for time and attention to accomplish blogging goals, position blog contributions as an essential aspect of their professional development.
The University of South Florida makes a clean case for winning internal experts for its health information system technology blog. Experts advance their careers by growing their reputations beyond the parameters of their employers and beyond the scope any one project. Most subject matter experts want to build reputations as independent thinkers on their own terms.
To do so, they need to bring their work to the outside world. The company blog is a fast, easy platform for doing that, says USF, by making the expert human through her writing voice; expanding the public’s understanding of the expertise within the organization; and growing the authority of both the expert and the organization.
Well-written blog posts that accomplish all this are the result of practice, coaching and training. Internal communication is spring training for potential marquee bloggers.
Consider internal communication channels that offer bite-sized opportunities for the young expert to explain technical or process information in plain English, to a general audience. These might include:

  • The department blog on the company intranet
  • The company internal knowledge-sharing site or wiki
  • Training videos, workshops and modules that enable the expert to collaborate with seasoned trainers
  • Explanatory video scripts or infographics
  • Collateral for the customer service department

In all of this, the emerging expert will need a mentor who can help her put each new writing or content development exercise in the context of the ultimate goal: helping her become a confident blogger whose engaging posts build her expertise and the organization’s, with the outside world.
Blog mentors and the experts should be equipped with:

  • Training in the mission and goals for the communication project
  • An understanding of the success factors and how you measure communication success
  • An understanding of the content development and editorial process
  • A style guide

But the most important thing for the emerging expert to do is to let go of her belief that her credentials convey authority on their own.
Minjeong Kang, an assistant professor of journalism with Ball State University in Indiana, explored this in research she conducted for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public communications at Syracuse University. In “Measuring Social Media Credibility: A Study on a Measure of Blog Credibility ,” Kang explains that accuracy and focus are key dynamics for building blog authority. “The level of authenticity in the communicated messages now decides the blogger’s credibility, rather than the communicator himself,” Kang writes, explaining how experts must build their credibility through the writing itself, and cannot rely on a string of degrees and credentials to show the audience that they know their stuff.
Most experts become experts because they love the area of expertise, whether that’s physics, tax policy or brain surgery. They love everything about it, especially the process.
A general audience cares more about the results than about the process. When the expert can win an internal audience with blogs about what a technical accomplishment means to them, you’ve got a marquee blogger in the making.

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