Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Gorkana meets...UK Blog Awards
Launched in 2014, the UK Blog Awards recognises best in the blogging world. With just two weeks to go before the 2016 awards deadline for entries (December 15), Gorkana catches up with Gemma Newton, MD of the UK Blog Awards, to find out what makes for a "stand-out" blog, how brands can build relationships with bloggers and what roles blogs now play in influencing consumer and public opinion.
What is special about the UK Blog awards?
What makes the UK Blog Awards special is that we recognise both individuals and companies that manage a blog across the UK. We were the first Blog Awards Company to do this, as well as being the first to recognise professional and hobbyist talent. Both varieties of blogging are hugely important to UK industry.
2016 will be your third awards ceremony. Why did you set them up and what has changed?
Believe it or not, I sat on the idea of the UK Blog Awards for over two years. As a professional with a legal, marketing and events background, I felt that I had the vision to run awards of this status, but I was unsure about managing such a large entity.
Over the last three years, it has been a challenge and I have learnt some very valuable lessons. I believe that everything digitally and face-to-face should be an ‘experience’ and each year I have reflected on this to continue to improve the business.
One big lesson I have learned is to always ensure the website can handle the footfall and stay ahead of the game. Be the one who sets trends, not one who follows. This is advice I would also give to my blogging audience when managing their own blog.
How have you been able to fund the awards and sustain them?
To manage a blog takes a huge amount of time, commitment and skill. Then there is the community to build, which takes the same amount of effort. Individuals and businesses put in so much time and resource into their blogs. Time is money and they should be recognised.
The awards are self-funded with sponsor investment from great brands which are interested in building a community online, believe it is important to personalise their brand and engage with consumers. Odeon Cinemas is a great example of wanting to invest in its community and give back to bloggers.
Personally, I have invested a huge amount of time into the awards. My drive to keep going is that the bloggers achieve so much when they win a UKBA. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.
What blogs are eligible for the awards and what do bloggers need to do to enter?
Any UK blog is eligible, from hobbyist and professional to entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. Large brands can also enter the awards. The bloggers need to have at least three posts live on their blog before they enter the awards. You can view the full terms on the UK Blog Awards 2016 website.
What are judges looking for in the winners?
That is a difficult question. Judging is very much about personal opinion and interest. This is why we aim to have different types of judges on each panel. One will be from a content background and the other from a brand background. All of our judges love reading the shortlisted blogs. They spend a lot of time and effort going through the criteria (design, style, content, usability and marketing). To win a UK Blog Award is no easy task.
What excites you about the blogging industry currently?
It’s ever changing and I am able to meet many amazing people. It is also something that we, as a society, can no longer ignore.
What do you think bloggers want to get from their interactions with the PR industry? Any tips for PRs?
I think building relationships is important to any professional. Bloggers also want to do the same. They also wish to be taken seriously and as we know, some are. The key thing for me is for professionals and brands to invest in the people. People and bloggers want to see personality and empathy behind the keyboard.
What role do you think blogs fulfil in the media landscape? Why do you think they have grown in importance and will they continue to do so?
We discussed the difference between a blogger and a journalist recently on our popular #BlogHour Twitter platform. Blogs play the role of public opinion. Elements of professionalism are desired but there are no boundaries. Bloggers are able to ‘report’ on news as quick as any news publication, but they can showcase their ‘opinion’. A Blog is a strong and bold platform.
What blogging trends do you think we will see in the future?
Currently, my answer would be more on video blogging. Further online engagement and communities will build virtually. We may also see a further merge with PR.
Finally, in your personal opintion, what makes for a good blog?
All of the things that are listed in the UK Blog Awards judging criteria, of course. It’s about the journey, the experience. I am looking to get involved in the story - the story of their life and their views. Enticing us into a blog is no easy feat when there are so many of them out there these days - it has to resonate with the audience on so many levels. Is this down to writing skills, visuals or usability. The answer? The experience will be different each time.
Entries for the 2016 UK Blog Awards are now open until 15 December 2016. Blogs can be entered into two out of 18 categories. A public vote will begin on Monday 4 January 2016 and industry judges will select the winners from the shortlists produced by the vote.
Gemma was talking to Gorkana's Ebunola Adenipekun