WHO ARE the Best Agency Bloggers in Bristol – 2010?

05/01/2011 § 33 Comments

(NOTE: If you want to know who won the top blog – then scroll down to the bottom to see the league table!)

Blogging isn’t dead… Just take a look at Bristol agency TEAM RUBBER’s website. They blogged 109 times in 2010, which is 46 more posts than their next nearest contender BUZZED UP. But Team Rubber are the exception that prove the rule. Take them out of the equation and our sample of Bristol and Bath’s Finest managed less than 22 blog posts each over the whole year.

Technorati’s 2008 survey of the state of the blogosphere, found that only 7.4m out of the 133m blogs it tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. As the New York Times put it, “that translates to 95% of blogs being essentially abandoned”

Why? Because the audience has an increasingly short attention span – most articles aren’t fully read and people just click the links. Without doubt, much of this is down to the growth of new media such as Facebook and Twitter.

So is there still a role for a blog on your company website? What’s it bringing to the party and is it worth the hassle? To find out, I took a stroll around the blogger’s A&E to check the vital signs of Bristol and Bath’s agency blogs. What I found was a handful of agency blogs in fine fettle, a larger number looking a little peaky and still more on life support. And sadly I had to send a few down to the morgue: Dead as parrots. (Download the survey by clicking here: The Bristol Blogosphere Survey 2010)

How did your agency do? From the snapshot of websites the Ministry of Insights took a look at it seems a small number of Bristol Media members publish blogs that add real value to their brand experience. A larger number offer a blog that says ‘we’ve got one because everyone else has’ but do little to inspire a positive feel. Sad to say that more than half the websites I visited included a Blog or News section that, in my view, possibly undermine the brand. The individuals or companies that manage these sites should think hard about removing these blogs from their site.

A complete list of the company and individuals’ websites sampled are included at the end of this report. (See where you come in the league below)

In my next post I’ll be reviewing the five best blogs and awarding my ‘Bristol & Bath Agency Blog of the Year’.

First an explanation.

For convenience I drew the sample from the Directory of the Bristol Media website. There are currently 617 profiles registered on this network and of these, I looked at the websites of individuals and companies in the ‘Advertising & Marketing’ ‘Design’ and ‘Digital and Interactive’ sectors.

For each site I noted whether there was a blog, Twitter feed or ‘news’ section – which sometimes served the same purpose as a blog. If the website had a blog, I counted the number of posts published during 2010. I also noted the date of the blog’s final post, up to and including the date of my survey which was 29th December 2010.  For ‘News’ I noted the number of posts over the previous year and, where necessary, made a subjective call on whether these were really blog posts dressed up as ‘news’.

The Details

Of the 152 Companies and Individuals I looked at in the Bristol Media Directory, all but 7 had a website. Of these 145 websites, 71% contained some form of updated feature, such as ‘Blog’ or ‘News’.

The 82 sites that offered a ‘Blog’ (or ‘News’ acting as a blog), posted around 23 times over the course of 2010, or almost once every 16 days. However, the frequency with which bloggers posted was far from evenly distributed.

I also looked at the date of each blog’s last post – to get a sense of how up-to-date and regular these blogs were. Many blogs had been updated recently, prompted, no doubt, by the time of year. However, for many this was clearly a sticking plaster job designed to cover a year of less frequent postings. A blog’s not just for Christmas!

37% of the blogs I looked at had not posted during December. In fact, almost a fifth hadn’t posted since September or even earlier.

Finally. by looking at the frequency of posts together with the last time a post was published I got a sense of the true character of a blog.

Four common blogging scenarios were revealed through this exercise:

  1. A small number of bloggers post frequently and regularly. Their blog is a central feature of their site and demonstrates energy and a commitment to communication and dialogue. It also strongly reflects the positive personality of the company or individual publishing the blog.
  1. A larger number of sites post reasonably frequently (more than once a fortnight) but tend to be less regular. In some months there are lots of posts, but then enthusiasm seems to wain and months go by without any posts. As such they fulfill the goal of a blog (i.e. generating a dialogue with the audience) but the irregularity of the site lacks the energy that a dynamic blog should generate. It’s therefore less effective than it should be, but relatively easy to recover from.
  1. An even greater number post infrequently (less than fortnightly) but seem to have posted recently. This smacks of tokenism and should cause the blogger to ask themselves whether they are committed to increasing the frequency of posts. If not, it might be better to drop the blog altogether.
  1. The remaining group are posting less frequently and less regularly and this, frankly, looks bad. It suggests a lack of commitment and no sense of follow-through. Prospective clients looking at these blogs might conclude that the service they’d receive from these agencies would be equally halfhearted. These bloggers should either start their blog afresh, or remove it altogether. And quick.

What’s it All Mean?

Blogging is a twin edged sword. Do it right and it adds energy and engagement to your brand and gives it a sense of authority and leadership. It can also positively project your brand personality, however you wish that defined and clients can see your energy, enthusiasm and even intelligence through your posts. So, in the right hands it’s a great asset to the marketing toolbox. Some heroic bloggers seem to genuinely enjoy the process and offer a constant stream of interesting ideas through their posts. Some even go as far as to have regular blog AND news updates. Where do they get the energy?

Equally, if you publish a slap-dash blog you’ll be showcasing your tardiness. It’ll say ‘We get on bandwagons but then fall off’ like nothing else. It also says we don’t much care about what prospective clients think about us. Boring posts add to this uninspiring lack of enthusiasm. Frankly I can’t think of a better way of kicking your brand in the nuts…

To get around these potential negatives, some sites seem to have moved away from the blog and instead bring fresh content through something called ‘News’. My guess is that by doing this they hope to avoid the incessant need for new posts. But let’s be clear, news is just that, and is a legitimate part of a website if it’s actually delivering news. A blog provides a much greater sense of personality and insight into how a business operates. Wrap that up in a section called ‘news’ and it loses this immediacy.  Conversely, put non-news in the ‘News’ section and you can look frivolous.

Finally there are a handful of sites that have converted their blogs into Twitter feeds. The aim, I guess is to retain a dynamic and topical feel to the site without doing quite so much work. For myself I question whether this a true substitute. A Twitter feed makes you look active and engaged but does a Twitter link have the weight and depth of a thought-through blog? Sure, fewer people read blogs and its worth asking if keeping a blog is a good use of your time, but does a Twitter post fill that gap?

Blogs are not a necessity. Plenty of the sites I looked at didn’t have a blog, quite possible because someone decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Others take the sneaky route and get around the problem of the need for constant updates by omitting to put dates on their posts. I’m not convinced this is a solution either. You can tell when you look at those dateless blogs that they’re somehow lifeless and dead and I fail to see how this helps the cause.

So, in conclusion remember, blogging is not just for Christmas. It’s a year-long commitment that demands your time, consideration and effort. When a blog becomes a chore it shows and becomes less about blogging and more about flogging. And that’s not a good look…

For more information take a look below at the full list of websites I visited to compile this report.

Graham Hall

Ambitious Brands / The Ministry of Insights

Email: Graham@Ambitiousbrands.Com

Tel: 0759 0579031

© Copyright Jan 2011

Rank Website Blog Posts in 2010 Date of last blog post News News Items in 2010
1 Team Rubber y y 109 21 Dec x x
2 BuzzedUp y y 63 24 Dec x x
4 Stratton Craig y y 59 21 Dec x x
5 3Sixty y y 57 14 Dec y 10
6 Matthew Fairweather Design y y 56 17 Dec See Blog
7 Clear Thought y y 53 22 Dec See Blog
8 McFaul Studio y y 53 15 Dec x x
9 Yucca y y 53 24 Dec x x
10 Positive y y 44 16 Dec x x
11 True y y 44 22 Dec x x
12 Focus y y 43 9 Dec x x
13 The Agency y y 40 3 Dec x x
14 The House y y 39 8 Jul y 8
15 Blue Marlin y y 39 6 Dec y
16 Dirty Design y y 38 24 Dec See Blog
17 Synergy Creative y y 37 22 Dec y 19
18 Pervasive Media y y 37 17 Dec See Blog
19 Brightpearl y y 35 19 Dec x x
20 Expartners y y 35 12 Dec x x
21 Mason Zimbler y y 33 14 Dec x x
22 Piers Alder y y 31 10 Dec x x
23 carys-ink y y 31 15 Nov x x
24 The House of Omni y y 31 20 Dec x x
25 Gibe Digital y y 30 17 Dec x x
26 McCann Erickson y y 29 10 Dec x x
27 Netsight Internet Solutions y y 27 17 Dec x x
28 Whype y y 26 15 Oct y 5
29 Evans & Finch y y 26 10 Sep x x
30 DoubleDigg y y 25 17 Dec x x
31 Double Art y y 24 15 Dec x x
32 Mentor Digital y y 23 21 Dec x x
33 Proctor and Stevenson y y 22 16 Sep y 8
34 Mobile Pie y y 22 1 Dec x x
35 Tickbox Marketing y y 21 22 Dec x x
36 Epoch Design y y 20 14 Dec See Blog
37 Indicia y y 20 23 Dec x x
38 Pixillion Digital y y 19 1 Nov x x
39 Jump Media y y 18 5 Oct x x
40 Bray Leino y y 17 25 Nov See Blog
41 Taylor & Taylor Advertising y y 16 31 Oct See Blog
42 Nameless Media Group y y 16 9 Dec x x
43 Qualifa y y 15 2 Dec x x
44 Justin Norton y y 15 28 Dec x x
45 Laura James y y 15 29 Dec x x
46 CompanyX y y 14 20 Dec See Blog
47 Fanatic. y y 14 10 Dec x x
48 Kinneir Dufort y y 13 16 Dec See Blog
49 ERB Coaching Solutions y y 12 27 Dec x x
50 SunHouse Creative y y 12 30 Nov x x
51 Calvium y y 12 17 Dec x x
52 Brightlines Translation y 10 30 Nov See Blog
53 Sift y y 10 6 Dec y 15
54 The Real Adventure y y 9 29 Oct x x
55 Creative Learning Agency y y 9 6 Dec See Blog
56 e3 y y 8 8 Feb y
57 Mayfly Media y y 8 16 Dec x x
58 DNA y y 7 29 Oct x x
59 Zeffa y y 7 17 Dec See Blog
60 Tom Redfern y y 7 30 Sep x x
61 Pixel Thread y y 7 27 Sep x x
62 Trainstation y y 6 27 Jul See Blog
63 Daniel Alford y y 6 5 Feb x x
64 Applause Digital Media y y 6 17 Dec See Blog
65 Robeam, y y 6 24 Nov x x
66 Unscribble Copywriting y y 5 19 Apr x x
67 Dropp y y 4 19 Oct x x
68 Tribe-One y y 3 29 Jun See Blog
69 existem y y 3 19 Jul x x
70 Marketing Clout y y 3 23 Aug x x
71 Rob Creet y y 3 28 May x x
72 Moresoda y y 3 3 Sep x x
73 The Drawing Room y y 2 No Date x x
74 Leopard Rock Media y y 2 28 Oct x x
75 Open Communication y y 2 5 Oct x x
76 Another Vision y x 0 25 Oct 2009 x x
77 Armadillo Marketing y x x x y 0
78 Avon Forth Media y x x x y 0
79 Create Marketing y x x x y 5
80 Dare y x x x y 80
81 Digirank y x x x x x
82 Emma Ludlow y x x x x x
83 Feisty Consultancy y x x x x x
84 Goddard Gadd y x x x x x
85 James KIng Photographer y x x x x x
86 Parminter Gunn y x x x x x
87 Peter Kew Copywriting y x x x x x
88 Project Graphics y x x x y 2
89 Simon Roberts y x x x x x
90 The Collaborators y x x x x x
91 The Creative Dept y x x x x x
92 Christian Digby-Firth y x x x x x
93 Dekken y x x x x x
94 Emery McLaven Orr y x x x x x
95 Proteus Creative Comms y x x x y No Date
96 Strange and Dawson y x x x x x
97 STUFF Advertising y x x x x x
98 The Topcopy y x x x x x
99 TigerRed Partnership y x x x y 0
100 Bob Design and Marketing y x x x y 19
101 Broadley Design y x x x x x
102 Craig Stevens y x x x x x
103 DOUBLE Europe y x x x y No Date
104 Hive DC y x x x x x
105 Ignition y x x x y 6
106 Leaf Studios y x x x x x
107 Lick Studio y x x x x x
108 Mango Consulting y x x x x x
109 Oakwood Media Group y x x x x x
110 Robson Dowry y x x x x x
111 Studio Six y x x x y 11
112 Studio Diva y x x x x x
113 Taxi Studio y x x x x x
114 Unique Graphique y x x x x x
115 Codsteaks y x x x y 10
116 Distinctive Media y x x x x x
117 Play Nicely y x x x x x
118 Reach y x x x x x
119 Seed Brand y x x x y 11
120 So Design Consultants y x x x x x
121 Still Motion Design y x x x y 1
122 The Creative Consortium y x x x x x
123 Beef y x x x x x
124 Clear Design UK y x x x x x
125 Concrete Studios y x x x x x
126 Element 78 Solutions y x x x y 7
127 Flaber y x x x x x
128 Jmh Creative y x x x x x
129 K9 Design y x x x x x
130 Rockpool y x x x y 13
131 The Garden Room y x x x y 7
132 Ad Art Design y x x x x x
133 Mango Studio y x x x y 6
134 Pure Usability y x x x x x
135 Charles Walker x x x x x x
136 Chris Borton Consulting x x x x x x
137 Emily Wilkinson x x x x x x
138 Laura Richardson x x x x x x
139 LSA x x x x x x
140 Rebecca Yates x x x x x x
141 Sarah Brownrigg x x x x x x
142 Claire Jarrett y x x x x x
143 Thomas Media Consultants y x x x y No Date
144 Duttons Design y x x 1 Jun y 6
145 The Light y y x No Date x x
146 Knowle West Media Centre y x x x y No Date
147 Ldexterl Design y y 44* 28 Dec x x
148 Ambitious Brands y y 21* 28 Dec x x
149 React. Adapt. y y 17* 21 Dec x x
150 ThirtyThree y y 13* 16 Dec See Blog
151 Search Star y y 10* 21 Dec x x
152 Matter 2 Media y y 10* 1 Dec x x

* This site does not appear to have been running for the whole year

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§ 33 Responses to WHO ARE the Best Agency Bloggers in Bristol – 2010?

  • JimJ says:

    As everyone else has said, an interesting read, thanks

  • Tren says:

    I like ministryofinsights.com , bookmarked for future reference

  • Aubrey says:

    I wish more people would write blogs like this that are really fun to read. With all the fluff floating around on the net, it is rare to read a blog like this instead.

    • Graham says:

      Thanks very much Aubrey! It’s good to think there are people out there who really like what I’m writing. Spread the word for me would you – and don’t be a stranger!

  • […] Hall’s post Who are the Best Agency Bloggers in Bristol – 2010? focusses mainly on the numbers (quantity of posts) – it is a data-based piece of research […]

  • First of all, great looking site you have here and great post too. I would like to keep up with your posts but having problem subscribing to your rss.

    • Graham says:

      That sounds technical! I’m a bit dim I’m afraid. I’ll take a look on Youtube and see if there’s a video of someone showing me how to do it!

  • Shane Casey says:

    Excellent post Graham. I’d imagine we’re going to see a bit of an upswing in blog posts in January when people see they’re ranked… amazing what an incentive a little competition is!

    On a completely unrelated note, at Mason Zimbler we also have The Lab for our more tech-focused posts for the community while the main blog on mzl.com is more client facing.

    So with the 31 posts on The Lab that should bring us up to #2 with 64 posts! Where do we collect our award? ;)

    • Graham says:

      Hi Shane,
      That’s a mighty fine blog you brew there. Flying monkeys indeed. Tech focussed / client focussed – there’s a lot of blogging going on over at MZ but I won’t try to understand how it all links together. It’s good stuff and I’d subscribe if I could find the button…

      I’m hoping there’ll either be an upswing in posts on these blogs or else a quiet drawing of blinds around a few that should be put down. Nothing says you’ve taken your eye off the ball like a year old blog post.

      Keep in touch,

      Graham

      • Shane Casey says:

        Thanks Graham. The rss is at http://thelab.mzl.com/feed/ or we’re on twitter as at @MZTheLab

        I reckon we might see a few blogs sink below the waves alright but I can see why people find it difficult to remove their blog. Even when they know it’s dormant, it feels like a channel that “shouldn’t” be closed.

        Kind of like all those month-old gym memberships in February.

  • Tony McKenna says:

    I am just sitting back and imagining the conversations going on over some boardroom tables:
    “I told you you should not have started a blog if you could not keep it up”
    “Everyone promised that they would contribute but you left it all to me”
    great stuff

    • Graham says:

      Thanks Tony…

      If I’ve helped in my small way to clean up Bristol’s blogs then my work is done!

      G

  • Alexei Lee says:

    Hi Graham,

    Great piece of research and some interesting insights in there :)

    From a personal point of view, I try to blog 1-2 times a month and prefer to pick my topics wisely, rather than use the frequent but less involved approach. I’m the only person in the business as well, so my time is limited!

    I must say I think it’s a bit rough putting us bloggers who’ve been going less than a year down the bottom even if we’ve posted more than a lot of the others!

    But I’ll dutifully accept my position at 149th ;)

    • Graham says:

      Alexei!
      Thanks for the comments – and I’m sorry you are down there at the bottom. You can take solace in he fact that I myself am at 148 – as this is the blog for my ‘Ambitious Brands’ business. But we do both have a little asterisk next to our names, indicating that we haven’t been going for the whole year. Small comfort I know…
      Best of luck, Graham

  • Jim O'Connor says:

    Hi Graham,
    very interesting read. I’m just about to start blogging so will take care to maintain frequency to avoid being named and shamed!!!

    Also agree re having a point of view. I think a lot of blog material is merely recycled, or just trivia…it’s very dangerous not having an editor to ensure quality!

  • Trevor Lever says:

    Nice idea and nice work Graham. Look forward to your POV on the quality of the content. Also, perhaps, look at how many of the blogs create a conversation and engagement? After all, isn’t that really what it is all about.

    Cheers,

    Trevor.

    • Graham says:

      Thanks Trevor,

      I’m feverishly working on the next installment! Will take your comments into account.

      G

  • Al Shaw says:

    Great research, thanks.

    I think the article highlights the difference between (independent) bloggers who combine an internal drive to write original content and an opinion to express, with companies that fall into the trap of thinking that they “ought” to have a blog.

    The latter must be very difficult to maintain. The former are challenging enough!

    By the way, claims that blogging is in decline, as one interpretation of the Technorati article, have been robustly challenged by Kimberly Turner here http://regator.com/blog/?p=1403 .

    She argues that the reality is rather more nuanced.

    • Graham says:

      Al, Many thanks for this response. I agree with your analysis. Thanks too for the link. It would seem that the ‘last blogs standing’ are the one’s who’ve found a voice of their own – and indeed are perhaps even more valued than the mainstream media, which is increasingly mistrusted. To cut and paste a comment I made on the Bristol & Bath Marketing Network on Linkedin:

      I’m not sure why so many blogs trail off. My guess is they either don’t seem to generate the interest that was hoped – or they generate too much! I recall a chat with a friend who admitted that when he gets busy he doesn’t have time to blog and I suspect that’s a problem for a lot of small businesses.

      From undertaking this exercise I’d say if you’re going to blog then do it well. If not, then drop it. It looks really bad on your website – especially if you’re in marketing. A great blog might not clinch a deal, but a dead blog can certainly turn off potential clients.

      I’m currently writing a review of the best blogs from in and around the Bristol marketing scene and, IMHO, a lot of even the most prolific bloggers are still missing a trick: A blog is a tool for differentiating your brand. Yet, while a newspaper or magazine will tend to stand for something – a POV or particular attitude – I’ve noted that few blogs ever do. Perhaps I’m asking for too much, but, as a business, once you know your modus operandi, it becomes surprising easy to evolve a distinct tone of voice rather than the more usual ‘stream of consciousness’ approach most bloggers adopt. Over time a real and distinctive POV will generate a loyal audience of like-minded clients interested in your ‘angle’.

  • […] blogging is not really something I have encountered before, until I saw a report compiled by the Ministry of Insights entitled ‘Who are the Best Agency Bloggers in Bristol – […]

  • […] blogging is not really something I have encountered before, until I saw a report compiled by the Ministry of Insights entitled ‘Who are the Best Agency Bloggers in Bristol – […]

  • Gez Smith says:

    Really interesting stuff, nice one!

    Just for the sake of our internal company rivalry, might I point out that http://www.delib.co.uk, which has Team Rubber as its parent company, published 140 blog posts in 2010, beating Team Rubber by 33!

    • Graham says:

      Gez,

      Ha Ha! Nothing like a bit of internecine rivalry to keep us interested! Sorry I didn’t include you. I guess you weren’t registered with Bristol Media and I really had to stop somewhere. Nice site by the way.

      G

      • Gez Smith says:

        No worries, we normally do our Bristol Media stuff through Team Rubber anyway, so that’s probably why we didn’t show up.

        ‘unofficial best agency bloggers in Bristol’ is far more our style anyway…

  • thebristolblogger says:

    Seems to prove that it’s easy to build a blog but it’s a lot trickier to create and maintain content.

    The ‘News Items’ column is particularly telling. Nobody’s creating any content are they?

  • Interesting insight and great blog.

    But using Bristol Media as a benchmark leaves out half of the digital / marketing agencies in the area.

    Also would you say that quantity necessarily means quality?

    Matt

    • Graham says:

      Matt, I’d love to have included more agencies in the sample but wasn’t sure where I could find the contact details. So I went for a ‘sample’ using Bristol Media and hoped they were representative. With regards the qual vs. quant issue, I agree. The two are very different and in my next post I intend to take a look at the various blogs from last year and give my subjective POV. I only took a fairly cursory look the last time as I was doing the ‘counting’. From what I saw I think there’ll be a few blogs that really hit the mark – and a huge number that’ll bore the arse off me!

      Cheers,

      Graham

  • Wow, what a fascinating read – thank you for taking the time to do such a detailed review.

    I wonder what you’d see if you normalised by the number of authors too. Mick as Buzzedup is a one person blogging hero… and Cheryl and I work hard between the two of us to maintain frequency. I imagine that the smaller companies work harder at it because we don’t have the profiles of some of the larger agencies. Our blog, and the social media activity that supports it, is our largest source of new business – I wonder how we’d all rank against that criteria.

    Look forward to the next installment!

    • Graham says:

      Thanks Bryony. There’s so much I’d like to do with this type of exercise and I know I’m just scratching the surface. But it’s fun to put a little meat on the anecdotal evidence. Hopefully I’ll delve a little deeper going forwards.

      Best,

      Graham

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