Search results

Author-it Launches a Blog -- An Interview About the Who, Why, and How

by Tom Johnson on Nov 9, 2008
categories: blogging technical-writing

Author-it launched a blog today. You can view it at

Author-it's new blog. Check it out.
Author-it's new blog. Check it out.

I had a sneak peek of the blog about a week ago and contacted Kathy Howes for an interview about it. The questions I asked her are below.

Why did you decide to start a corporate blog?

We see blogging as an essential part of an organization's content strategy, and a great opportunity to directly interact with our clients at many different levels.

What hopes do you have for the blog?

We hope to use it in a number of ways, but our key goals are to communicate our very unique company culture, to build on thought leadership, to assist in educating and informing on key content management issues, and to get honest feedback on current and new products.

We also see this as a very real opportunity to connect on a much more personal level with our client base. We hope to see some real dialogue and feedback going on that will assist us in ensuring our solutions continue to reflect the needs of our clients.

What reservations did you have about blogging that caused you to wait so long to start one?

We were concerned as to how we allocate resource and ensure the topics covered would continue to be interesting and thought provoking for visitors to the blog. We had also heard numerous stories of corporate blogs that failed, and wanted to ensure we got it as right as possible! This meant researching successful, and not so successful, corporate blogs, and reaching out to industry bloggers and champions for advice and feedback. Their assistance here was invaluable.

We also engaged with staff, particularly those who blog regularly on a personal level, to ensure we had ongoing resource and commitment. We have been amazed at how positive the feedback has been and we have staff already preparing material for the coming months.

How will you handle potentially negative comments below posts?

I hope we will see it as an opportunity to learn how to do things better, or perhaps even as a vehicle for potential future changes or enhancements. It will be a learning curve for us, but this is the great thing about two way dialogue, you get the real story. :) To be honest, we are more concerned about the spam and thinly veiled competitor postings than genuine but negative comments.

Who will be writing your posts?

A wide range of employees will be writing posts, from the CEO and President of the company right through to front line client services staff. We will also be inviting guests or industry specialists to blog for us on different subjects.

How will you ensure your content is actually interesting and not a rehash of marketing material?

Yes, this is always a challenge, especially for a marketer. :) I guess at the end of the day it is about remembering that we are all very busy, with far too much to read and do during our typical work day, and time is precious. However, our clients or prospects come to our blog for a number of reasons, and we need to try to ensure we cover this off without simply becoming a micro website plugging our products.

For us the challenge will be informing  without turning it into a sales or marketing pitch, and ensuring we stimulate feedback and engage dialogue.  We will in many cases be focusing on personal experience and ideas which should take us away from the traditional sales/marketing path.

What kind of transparency will you have with your blog content?  Will you be open about what you're working on, the challenges you're facing, how your company works, and so on? For example, Adobe won't tell you what they're working on until they actually release it. Other companies, such as Madcap, won't tell you how many employees they have. Every company has a degree of transparency they allow. To what extent will your blog give readers a glimpse behind the scenes at Author-it?

That is an interesting question. I guess part of our intention is to ensure clients, or potential clients, know when we have exciting or innovative products coming out and we will be talking about these as soon as they are ready to go into beta. We don't generally talk about them earlier purely in case development schedules change.

As far as challenges go, we will include those that are relevant, such as current market conditions, or changes in government for example. :) One of the purposes of the blog is to open up our company culture and values, so we will be reasonably open about how our company operates and who we are. However, like Madcap, we do not typically reveal details such as our company size, or specific employee details.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the tech comm, be sure to subscribe to email updates below. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.