Many companies have several employees who regularly contribute posts to the company blog. But how do you make sure that all of your bloggers are “on the same page” when it comes to frequently used terms, corporate lingo, and tone?
I copy edit blog posts for several clients, and I recommend the use of a “style guide” that can either be distributed to all of the bloggers, or simply used by the copy editor (whose job it is to ensure consistency throughout all of the company’s marketing text – both digital and print).
What goes on the style guide? Here are some of the things I regularly include for my clients, and which I highly recommend if you want to set up a style guide for your own company.
Company Name, Acronym, Nickname
The first mention of the company’s name in any blog post should be as the full name. This is for the benefit of anyone who finds your company for the first time via this blog post. For instance, if you are a trade association, the first mention of your association should be the complete name (e.g., U.S. Blog Posters Association), followed by the acronym or nickname in parenthesis, so that the reader understands how it will be referred to for the rest of the text.
Also make sure that bloggers know exactly how to capitalize and format (italicize or bold) the company name. If your business name consists of two words, are both words capitalized? Is one of them italicized?
Frequently Used Terms and Punctuation Rules
Every industry has its own jargon, its own internalized compendium of frequently used terms. When I worked for an energy-related trade association, I meticulously copy edited text to ensure that certain terms were always written the same way (e.g., 5-kW systems vs. 5 kW systems, based on use as an adjective or verb).
Does the company use the serial (Oxford) comma in punctuating a list containing three or more items? Do they use British spellings, or American English spellings for words such as color/colour and organize/organise? Will they refer to Jones’s features or Jones’ features?
A style guide can even help bloggers understand how to be consistent with the company’s tone in communicating with current and potential customers. One of my clients briefed me ahead of time on the company’s desired tone, so that I would understand how to edit blog posts without removing the casual, friendly tone they wanted.
I appreciated the note because much of my previous experience had been for businesses that took a more formal tone in their communications. I didn’t want to edit all the personality out of my new client’s blog posts.
Once you’ve set up a style guide, give a copy to everyone who will be blogging for your company. Make sure they understand these things as part of the blogging process so that you don’t have to keep fixing the same mistake over and over as you review each new post. A style guide will save time for your bloggers and for your reviewer.
Want to set up your own Brand Style Guide but need help? Check out my No Time Guide to a Brand Style Guide. The online tutorial leads you step by step through the process of setting up a Brand Style Guide for your business.
Bernadette Geyer provides writing, copy editing, and translation services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and writers. Geyer likes being a small fish in a big pond, and enjoys helping others move to bigger ponds themselves. To get her monthly NEWS FROM THE BIG POND, with tips for business and personal growth delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.