What Studio 60 Can Teach Us About Blogging

By Tom Schmitz.

Have you watched Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip? If you desire to be inspired with ideas about creating a great blog, watch this show. The lessons from Studio 60 are not about content, they are about management and production. Without great management and production you cannot create and maintain a great blog.

The Lessons:

1. Pick a Voice and Stick to It.
Part of the premise for Studio 60 is that the fictional comedic television show had lost its edgy voice. A new producer and writer, two people who would refuse to compromise quality, are brought on board to reclaim the show’s past glory.
Claim you blog’s voice and stick to it. Don’t treat everyone like your best friend one day and act like you are presenting to the Board of Regents the next. Choose a casual voice or a formal voice. Don’t try to split the middle. Too many corporate blogs read like they were overrun by Standards and Practices. Read each posts aloud, record it and listen to it. If it does not roll off your tongue or sound right it needs rewriting.
2. You Need Lots of Writers….Who Write Often
The above photo shows one side of a long table filled with writers. Cast members are standing, lining the wall. Everyone in this crowded room desperately wants the producers to select and broadcast their work. This reflects TV reality more than you may realize. (Have you ever seen how many writers Jeopardy has?)
Create a blog team, a core group of people who are officially responsible for creating content. You need a prolific blog, not an exhausted writer. Having more people create content offers you more content more often without sending any one individual over the bleeding edge. Having multiple writers also gives each contributor breathing space to focus on quality.
Like having good actors become celebrities, another benefit of having a team is that your best writers will become credible industry personalities that people can latch on to. That creates frequent readers. Why do you think newspapers have regular columns?
On Studio 60 the writing is not limited to the writers. Every member of the cast practically crawls over each other to contribute. Open your blog to all of your employees and even to your business partners. While your blog team carries the formal responsibility, great ideas and writing can come from anywhere in your company. Not only will it benefit your blog, it will boost employee morale.
Invite your business partners to contribute. Like Studio 60’s guest hosts, outside voices can add credibility to your blog.
3. Plan Ahead
Take notice of two things in this photo. First is the countdown clock. Three days, seven hours, twenty-two minutes and forty seconds to show time. Second is the cork board. It displays everything that what will be on the next episode of the fictional Studio 60 TV comedy show. When the board if filled with 3×5 cards the show is complete.
Your blog should feature two types of posts: planned posts and posts of opportunity. Planned posts are those subjects that you know you want to write about. These can be product announcements, white paper notices, and subjects or ideas that your blog team wants to share. Hold regular brainstorming sessions to generate topics and assign them to writers.
Posts of opportunity are in response to anything that happens to come-up that you want to blog about. This could be unexpected company news, a breaking industry news story or recognition of something written on another blog. You never know where a good story will come from.
4. Keep the Content Rolling and Always Have a Backup
At Studio 60 the writers are always trying to create new sketches. It’s okay to have too much content but disastrous to have too little.
Stuff happens. Product launches get delayed. Mergers fall through. Employees move on. Any story you plan for your blog can get delayed or fall through. Readers do not care about that. They look for frequent content at regular intervals. One of the nice things about blogs is that, unlike a TV show, you are not limited by time and space. If you have an excess of quality content you can still publish it. Select your minimum content interval then always exceed it.
[An exception: A rare few can create a niche by publishing infrequently if most every post is dedicated to exceptional quality.]
5. Not Everything Gets Published
Remember those 3×5 cards at Studio 60? Studio 60 always has more cards than will fit on their board. If something does not meet your blog’s standard for quality or interest do not publish it. You might send something back for rewriting or additional work. You may decide that an article does not belong. You might even decide that an article has a bigger future somewhere else on your website, in your printed newsletter or in an industry publication.
On Studio 60 one person decides what will be on the show and what will not. The same should be true of your company blog. After all, you are running a business, not a democracy. This person is the gatekeeper and is ultimately responsible for the content and quality of you blog. Not everything gets aired at Studio 60, only the best sketches. This creates a sense of competition among the writers and cast to produce the best comedy possible. Create a sense of competition among your blog writers.
By approaching your company blog with the same planning, dedication and fervor that the staff of Studio 60 devotes to their (fictional) 90 minutes of television each week you will almost assuredly create a publication that grabs notice and respect. If you do not your blog will remain lost among the thousands of other lackluster blogs on the Internet and you might as well tell your website administrator to open-up the FTP client and hit the delete key.

Good luck!

[The above article is a submission for Marketing Pilgrim’s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship Contest. Each Monday in October, entries will be published and the most popular article of the week will qualify for the $5,000 grand prize. If you’d like to submit an entry, please view the contest entry-requirements and guidelines.]