I wrote a short article to help blog virgin companies learn why and how they should integrate blogs in their communication plan.
See the article here
The "how to" can be summarised as:
1. Know your audience
Include blogs in your communication mix, if only to listen to what consumers say about you and your competitors.
2. Breach the trust gap
Bloggers will be naturally suspicious of any sales pitch. If you want to work with established blogs, make sure you are open and honest about who you are, why you are contacting them, what relationship you are looking for and why you value their opinion. Do not take bloggers for granted. Heavy handed or sneaky tactics will backfire and you will turn an advocate into a fiery opponent.
3. Engage in genuine partnership
If your brand is fortunate enough to have bloggers praising its merits, treat them like you would journalists. After all, your devoted blogger may have a bigger following than your favourite daily paper. Be lavish on exclusive product reviews, invitations, exclusive communication programs… But make sure you have been through tip 2 first.
4. DIY with caution
Creating your own blog might be an option provided that your brand has a following, a strong personality and plenty of interesting or fun things to say on a regular basis. As in all good communication, providing user value is key if you want consumers to engage with you. A blog updated every 2 months is a dead end and will damage your brand.
A blog could help give a personal dimension to some activities your company is engaged in. Think CSR for example with a diary of your teams’ efforts in a developing country or generating buzz around product release with your engineers reporting their progress and sharing some insights with aficionados (Microsoft’ employees write more than 700 blogs on these topics).
Equally, blogs can be effective in strengthening or raising an executive’s profile (http://prplanet.typepad.com/ceobloggers/) or helping assess authority in a sector.
Finally, whatever routes you take, encourage audience participation: blogs are collaborative efforts. If you would like to stimulate positive discussion about your brand, you must be prepared to open a two way communication channel.