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English accountants make their way to the blogosphere

Note: Today’s article is the first in a two-part series on accounting blogs. To view part two, click here.

While LexBlog has clients blogging on different issues outside of the law, there is one industry – accounting – that is just starting to get it’s arms around what blogging can do for business. In this industry, the savviest firms are the early implementers.

In early 2007, Mercer & Hole, an accounting firm in the UK, became LexBlog’s first intercontinental client. LexBlog designed and hosts all three of the firm’s practice-related blogs: the SME Plus Blog, the Tax Plus Blog and the Insolvency Blog.

Michelle Golden, the president of Golden Marketing Inc. and author of the blog Golden Practices, had known the partners at Mercer & Hole for about a year before traveling to Dublin last October, where she spoke at one of their annual gatherings.

According to Howard Wilkinson, Mercer & Hole’s managing partner, her presentation that day was “the best session that we have ever had at any of our twice yearly, worldwide conferences.”

Golden, who has been consulting for nearly eight years, sees why.

“In [the] session I presented, Mercer & Hole’s partners were blown away with the concepts of social media in a professional firm environment. Their insolvency partner was so enthused that he immediately started using [the free platform] WordPress,” she says. “He showed tremendous initiative and it was immediately successful, but the firm had bigger ideas.”

Wilkinson sent a message to Golden the next day.

“Your session, which in particular opened up the ‘world of blogs’ to us unsuspecting accountants, made everyone sit back and really think about how we should change our Internet sites,” he wrote. “In fact, the talk was of little else for the rest of the day.”

The firm was eager to develop a suite of blogs and hired Golden’s firm to re-engineer their entire web presence with blogs center stage (in fact, the whole site is built in blog software for a dynamic CMS [wikipedia] and optimal SEO [wikipedia]). Wilkinson wanted results, and he wanted them fast: he requested the development of the new site and blogs by Christmas, which was at this point six weeks away. Golden contacted LexBlog founder and president Kevin O’Keefe, who passed her request along to Greg Storey of Airbag Industries.

Golden assembled her project team: her firm handled strategy and project management, Airbag Industries designed and programmed the site, and Golden strongly recommended the firm select LexBlog as the platform for their practice blogs.

“It’s important for professionals to have the nice, cushy back-end LexBlog offers, as well as their solid and patient support,” Golden explains. “When you’re going to have a whole team of contributors, the marketing department shouldn’t be ‘tech support’ for the firm’s bloggers – and LexBlog does this so well.”

The new site and all its incorporated blogs launched May 31 and have been very well received in England and abroad. The firm is pleased, and their story is indicative of a broader point: blogs can benefit accounting firms in ways that more traditional marketing techniques cannot.

“[Firms] can learn that communicating doesn’t always have to be (and shouldn’t be) formal and technical, but more conversational instead,” says Golden. “Blogs also give non-partners a way to shine. I tell firms that blogging isn’t something partners, or just partners, should be doing. It is a way to tap into the next generation and lets them put their great social media skills to work.”

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