Thursday, August 28, 2008

Company Blog Checkup: Rupp Arena

I have to say up front that I am not a fan of company blogs with the type of layout that Rupp Arena's blog has, which I think of as a 'blogsite'. I get that Rupp Arena wants to position its blog as having the look and feel of an 'entertainment website', because many of the events it will promote are concerts and sporting/entertainment events. But I just think there's too much happening for any one particular area to get the focus it deserves. With a company blog, the focus has to be on the content, and that's pretty tough to do with a blog format such as this one. Rupp Arena appears to be using a WordPress 3-column theme(AmberCadabra says its the Revolution theme), with each column (including the column where posts appear), being the same width.

Which means that the content is pretty cramped. To make matters worse, the posts are truncated. Each post seems to have a roughly 4 inch by 4 inch block on the screen, and about 66% of that real-estate is dominated by a picture. But here's the interesting part; when you click on a post to read it, you are switched to a 2-column layout, with the post being given about 66% of the space. This looks MUCH better than the blog's 'frontpage' layout.

The content appears to be a stream of 'announcements' about the upcoming events. Again, it looks like Rupp Arena wanted a blog that has the look and feel of an entertainment website. And websites are usually focused on announcements, not interactions, which are what a good blog focuses on. I think there is a great chance for the blog to significantly improve its content by focusing less on announcements, and more on the fans that attend, and giving them a 'behind the scenes' look at these events. That's interesting, broadcasting an events calendar is not.

Given the positioning of the content, it should come as no surprise that most of the posts don't receive comments. This is why content is so vitally important for a company blog, because if the content isn't effective, the rest of the blog is in trouble. Compelling content sparks conversation, and content that doesn't resonate with blog readers, won't receive comments. And without comments, the blog's writers don't have an opportunity to respond and help create a conversation in the comments.

Now let's move to posting schedule. On the front page of the blog, there's four posts, all with the same format of about a 4 inch by 4 inch block, with most of that dominated by a 3 inch by 4 inch pic. But if you click on the Archives section, you see that several other 'posts' show up, all including very large pictures. My guess is that these posts aren't showing up on the front page because their pictures are too large? Not sure, but if you'll notice, according to the Archives, this post was left on Aug 19th, but as the screenshot above (taken on the same day) shows, it's not on the frontpage. So I'm assuming that 2 or so new posts show up on the blog's frontpage per week. Decent, not great, but decent.

Finally, let's move to the sidebars. With this blog, you basically have three columns of the same width, with the posts appearing in the left column, other information in the two columns on the right. The blog does a good job of promoting upcoming events for the arena, and gives you several ways to receive updates. But there's no blogroll, and no sign of information about who the writers are. If you click on a post, it gives you a link for the author, but clicking on that only gives you a list of their posts. As with the rest of the blog, the focus here is on promotion.

The botton line is that the Rupp Arena blog comes off as a broadcast tool, instead of being an attempt by the arena to get more interaction with its readers and customers. My guess is the readers can easily see the disconnect, and aren't responding to the content, as a result.

And now let's break down the scoring for the blog:

Content: 16 (Out of a possible 35) - Right idea, horrible positioning. The blog is right to focus on the events/performers that will be appearing at the arena, but it's totally self-promotional. The content needs to be repositioned so the fans/attendees play a MUCH greater role. Cramped area for content and truncated posts only make matters worse.

Comments: 5 (Out of a possible 35) - Lack of solid content apparently isn't giving the readers much of a reason to comment.

Posting Schedule: 9 (Out of a possible 15) - Decent but not great.

Sidebars: 5 (Out of a possible 15) - No blogroll, no writer pics/bios, no kidding. All self-promotional.

Total Score: 35 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Rupp Arena wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. If your a company would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, you can click here for more information on my blogging and social media consulting services.

Next week I'll profile another blogging company, and if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me! For a list of all the blog that have been profiled so far in the Company Blog Checkup series, click here.


Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of company blogs either i find the quite irritating. However Rupp Arena's blog actually has a descent purpose i surprisingly think its a pretty exceptional idea. its a live blog and pretty interesting.

Love your blog!

Scott Clark said...

Thanks for the post - nice analysis.

I was the one who recommended the Revolution theme to Rupp at an early meeting about Rupp and Social Media here in Lexington. I must say I very much like what they've done with it aesthetically. That theme continues to impress me.

There are pressures at venues like this from all fronts, from promoter protocols to highly traditional marketing practices. Add to that a lack of participation early-on and it felt good (I'm sure) to go magazine style.

My problem with it now is the lack of linking out to other bloggers. The NIN post had all of ONE link on it, for example.

This is not unique to Rupp - many blogs I see in my social media consulting business pump out articles like nobody's business, but never link to anyone. The writing style is not sourced-journalistic...which is ideal since it catalyzes conversation.