Make it bigger but spend less time

It's review time at Microsoft. Kind of like the new years eve of our internal Microsoft world, you take this time to look back on the past year and what went well (and what didn't) and what you plan on doing over the next fiscal year. My fear of commitment comes to full fruition while I am writing my commitments every year. Maybe if they referred to them as something else.

I know I've mentioned it before....blogging is a small part of what I do. But oddly, it's the most visible piece so it gets a lot of attention (which I totally appreciate and hardly deserve). I think people assume that it's a bigger part of my job.

My scrappy little team has a lot of work to do this year. Each of us has a lot to do. Blogging is something I fit in here and there, around other activities (and frankly, I often need to be in a specific mood to blog). It's clear to me that I'm being encouraged to keep blogging, but after 2 years, how do you make it new and interesting? You think that's a challenge? How do you change it up and make it bigger without spending any additional time doing it?

MmmHmm, it's mid year, I'm making plans for the next twelve months and that is one of the problems I need to solve. On one hand, I am a little relieved by the thought of change. Even I (or should I say "especially"?) get sick of the sound of my own voice (you know I am reading this in a voice in my head, Carrie Bradshaw style, right?). One the other hand, what am I going to do?

Some of the things I have thought of require resources outside my team (meaning, I have to encourage someone that they want to support my blogging work because it serves a business objective of theirs):

1) Podcasting. I Web 1.5 (yes, I did). Because I doubt that I am a "one take" kind of gal, I need production support. The answer to whether that support is available is definitely maybe. And besides, what to podcast about?

2) Video blogging. See #1 above. At least it would get me into some normal street clothes instead of "good sweats". Another definite maybe. I've always wanted to be an on-air personality. Well, technically, it's not "on-air", it's a series of tubes.

3) With regard to both of the options above, I'd want to interview marketers at Microsoft. Given that my job is primarily externally facing, engaging internal folks for interviews is a challenge. Nobody has volunteered themselves. They are all busy and it's not their jobs to support my blogging.

4) I've offered other people in marketing staffing the opportunity to blog here. No takers. I don't really blame them at all. They have plenty on their plates already.

I'm running out of inspiration. So I'll ask you guys. What would you do?

Comments (32)

  1. Christien says:

    Create technology to infiltrate the headsets of MSFT XBOX 360 players for subliminal messaging.  I.e. "Call broker to purchase shares of MSFT.’  Rinse, dry, repeat.

    Create a year end summay then bind it or put up an edoc on changethis.

    Write a bit of freelance for the Careers section of the WSJ.

    Just a few ideas.

  2. Margo says:

    Why not a podcast?  It doesn’t necessarily have to be structured, it can take the form of a videoblog as a daily dump for your marketing mind.  Think of it this way, your thoughts that take could take you time to type out could end up being talked about, which could be less time (but more in editing, yes, plusses and minuses).

    One podcast I listen to uses Skype as a medium to join together the participants because they live so far away.  It ends up being like an interview call.  

    But you said your problem was a lack of participants.  Why not give us marketers who would download your podcast (like me for instance) something different?  I recently spoke to a buddy of mine living in Colorado and working as a Mechanical Engineer.  He constantly spoke about the animosity he and his other engineers felt for their company’s marketers.  If you can’t draw on your own team,  why not the other teams that may be able to have time?  Knowing things about the other departments and how they relate to my own is always a point of interest for me.

    Even if you sent them questions and then read the answers "on-air" might help as well!

    You could always ask people like us if we would want to contribute, I know I would if asked.

    Just my two cents 🙂

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Christien-you lost me on the first one, and I don’t understand the second one, but the third one’s a keeper ; )

    Margo-awesome recommendations. Thanks!

  4. Wine-Oh says:

    Have different theme days…

    Rant for Monday’s

    Job posting of the week Tuesday’s

    Whats happening at Microsoft Wednesday’s

    Things you need to know for Thursday’s

    Readers Choice Friday’s

    Also try and recruit guest bloggers. I know you mentioned that no one in your dept wants to. But I am sure you have colleagues or friends who would be interested in guest hosting.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wine-Oh…yikes! Blog every day? I’m having a physical reaction. Well, that would sure shorten up my blog posts.

    Trust me, I don’t have any work colleagues that is interested in guest blogging. I’ve tried to talk people into it…I’ve sent out e-mails. Nada. I’ll keep trying though.

  6. How about a monthly (or weekly if you are ambitious) question to your readers…a practice interview question if you will.  Allow people to respond with the understanding that information is not necessarily confidential and just for fun.

    Select the best and the worst each month and explain why.  The worst category would be more fun and games of course than slamming someone’s legit response.  Something more along the lines of the worst answers maybe people have recevied in the past such as … "I will take a job anywhere in your company if you will just have me."

  7. eR0CK says:

    Hi Heather!  As you know, it’s been a short time that I’ve commented your blog and it wasn’t until recently that Janelle from Technical Jobs @ Microsoft referred me to your blog since my interests have changed.  That being said, forgive me if I’ve mentioned something you’ve already done in the past [I haven’t had time to go through ALL of your posts believe it or not 🙂 ]

    1.) Gretchen has (had?) a great video on Channel9 about the technical interview process at Microsoft.  It was an excellent video and if my memory serves me well, there were three videos with each being 30+ minutes.  I can attest that the videos were ‘right-on’ because I interviewed for a tech position only months ago.  I know this wouldn’t be ‘unique’ for Microsoft as a whole, but if you created something similar, but for marketing and evangelism, I think it would be an excellent addition and probably would help cure some fears or questions about interviews on the business side of things.

    2.) I’m interested to see what a student or young professional could do to make a transition from the tech side to business.  I’ve found recently that I’m better at the business sides of tech rather than working on core tech projects.  I feel that many others are either drifting this way or are not aware they can make a move like this without getting an MBA or something similar.  A few posts and thoughts on this process would be beneficial.

    3.) You have a wealth of information on marketing, but are you the staff manager for other departments and organizations within Microsoft?  I haven’t seen too many bloggers discussing the road to evangelism, I think this would also be a great addition.

    4.) Get your readers involved.  No doubt you have several people that read your blog all the time, why not have projects, challenges, questions, etc to allow the reader to show you the skills they have.  You just may find some talent.  🙂

    5.) Video blogging.  Great idea, albeit not something I’d do everyday.  If you find something worth making a video about, go for it.  It will add a lot to your blog.

    Don’t blog everyday, blog when you have something to blog about.  The negative aspect facing bloggers today is that they feel they have to blog everyday to keep their readers or become ‘noticed’.  The facet that keeps blogs interesting is that you’re able to find interesting perspectives and thoughts that you would have otherwise missed if the person posting wasn’t passionate about the item they posted (try to say that 10x fast!).

    Hope this helps.  Although, I really only gave suggestions to add some content to your blog … not a new direction or something really unique from the others.  Maybe I’ll think of more later.


  8. NMB says:

    I don’t think there’s dead air that needs to be filled.  If you have lots to say that you can’t say as effectively through a written blog then go for it.  Otherwise dont force it for technology’s sake.  Also, videoblogs and podcasts are one-way, so be concious of how that changes the dialogue.

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Amanda-Love it!

    eRock….I’ll respond to each numbered item (you are full of ideas!):

    1) Since Channel 9 is focused on developers, they aren’t interested increating videos for marketing (that’s the assumption I am going with since they didn’t respond to my e-mail regarding that a while back).

    2) I may be able to try that but that probably more the domain of camous recruiting. We are really focused on people with 5+ years marketing experience. I know I did some postings about transitioning in the past. I’ll try to think of what you can search on to find the old post.

    3) Nope, just marketing. But I do consider evangelism part of marketing. Interestingly, that’s the one marketing function that I think is pretty well covered with blogs (like Jeff Sandquists). It crosses over into the Channel 9 Space because the developer evangelists are spekaing to the Channel 9 market. Maybe I can do an interview with an evangelist about ths job.

    4) Good one. I’ll try to think of stuff that people will repond to (see Amanda’s idea).

    5) Lacking equipment and support

    Keep the ideas coming! They are good!

    NMB-it’s not really about the technology. Whatever I decide to do next doesn’t have to utilize any additional technology. I think it’s just a situation where I’ve had a blog for 2 years, it’s gotten some attention, but we can still do better. If I do video or podcasts, I’ll make sure to keep comments open on the blog. Good point.

  10. Raghu says:


    I am not sure how much of an impact this blog has on Microsoft Global efforts in recruiting exemplary Marketing talent, but I would look at reaching your blog to a global audience. I am sure it already does, but does it attract the marketing talent whom you are looking to get interested in Microsoft?


  11. Tora says:

    I have to say that a podcast is a great idea. I would love to hear your blog and questions sent in from readers. A videoblog would be even better.

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hi Raghu- that’s a good point/question. My team is responsible for US based hring (non-campus) for marketing. The marketing that happens here is generally exectued here as well. So given that we are looking for people who have done marketing toa US audience, we find that most of those people are in the US. Our subsidiary offices would hold responsibility to recruiting into marketing roles within their geographies. My understanding is that generalists do more of the recruiting in these offices so there isn’t really a person responsible for international marketing hiring. I’d happily give them some blog space here if there was but since it doesn’t fall within my scope of responsibility, it’s probably not the thing that would grow my business. I love the idea though. Perhaps one day our US and international recruiting teams will be more integrated.


  13. Mauro says:

    I came across this blog via LinkedIn while I was looking at a Microsoft job and would like to suggest a blog topic that may be of high interest to marketing recruiters as well as marketing professionals.

    The "Marketing World" is Changing and we all need to change with it.

    Over the last few years we’ve seen the beginning stages of a transformation relative to the "the way we do marketing". While in the past the focus was often on creativity and strong execution of marketing campaigns, the new era in marketing will require a much more disciplined bottom line focus from marketers.

    Terms like ROMI, Marketing ROI etc. are becoming more  fashionable because of hightened requirements for accountability and results from marketing departments.  

    Marketing oriented companies will increasingly look for  marketing professionals to adapt to these requirements and prove how they add shareholder value by designing campaigns that yield an actual return on investment (profit minus investment).

    For marketers this is a new world, because they now not only need to be "creative and good executers", they also need to have very good analytical skills and show how they can think through an entire value chain process that converts a set amount of budget into net new profits for the company.

    Therefore, the "marketing profession" will experience tramatic change in the coming years. And with that

    a) "old school" marketers will either adapt and update their skill set or risk being "downgraded" to lower level jobs.


    b) maketing recruiters will increasingly start looking for a much more analytical and quantitative business skill set when hiring marketing professionals.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but if I were a marketing staffing professional or a marketing professional, I would be very interested in this topic and start inviting folks to share ideas, opinions and experiences on this topic via this blog.

  14. eR0CK says:

    Hey Heather … just some comments on some of your answers to my suggestions:

    1) Depending on the amount of time you have, why not start something new … a Channel9 alternative for Marketing and Business types alike.  This would be a great addition to your blog and to the Microsoft community as a whole.

    5) What type of equipment and support do you need?  I think a digital camera and Microsoft’s Movie Maker would probably suffice.  Believe it or not, with just the basics you can really do a lot!  

    Essentially, time is your (our?) enemy.  Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day that one can devote to each aspect of our career and life.  Good luck with choosing new ideas for your blog!

  15. Cornelius says:

    "Don’t blog everyday, blog when you have something to blog about. "

    I completely agree. Information overload can be a serious annoyance, and as a tendency I prefer slightly longer, less frequent posters over the one-sentence-five-links-per-entry types. Of course different people have different tastes but I’m fairly sure I’m not alone there.

    Videoblogging and postcasting sound like you could make it work. I’d suggest a weekly vid or podcast, perhaps in a lose interviewish format. Doing that in addition to the blog sounds like a smart move and once a week would probably be in the realm of doable things, provided you have the eq.

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hey eRock- you mightnot kow this but there is a whole team of people that work on Channel 9. I would love if there were something similar for marketing, but it doesn’t really fall into the category of things that take "less time" ; ) WRT equipment, I don’t know what equipment I would need but I would need some and I wouldn’t know how to use it…again, not falling under the categrory of taking less time. I appreciate the recommendations. There’s a lot I could do if time and money were not issues. Unfortunately, that’s not mycurrent situation. The other thing is that I really like my regular job and I don’t want to make blogging a full-time (or even half-time) thing.

    Cornelius-thanks for the comments. Trust me, you guys don’t have to worry about me blogging every day…as if I could be interesting every day! Looks like the pod or videocast thing won’t happen unless another team steps up and produces (and just to be clear to the folks that will tell me that it’s not hard to learn to produce…I don’t want to learn because I don’t want to spend the extra time…I need to focus on the rest of my job which I enjoy and am evaluated against….blogging is less than 20% of my job, if I had toestimate). I’m sure many people would enjoy doing that kind of thing…not me : )

    I’ll see what I can do about getting resources. I’m not sure whether to be optimistic at this point. We’ll see if anyone steps up with some help.

  17. Dave says:

    Anything video is going to take more of your time, so that’s probably out.

    Maybe you need to review why you do this: What did you expect to get out of blogging, and what are you really getting out of it now?

    There are clearly people out there who love your ‘voice’. What are they telling you that they want to hear?

    So, there are your two key audiences… remember to have fun!

  18. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yep, I am super clear on who my target audiences are. Just asking them what would interest them. It’s not a question of whether I will change things (which I have committed to), but what I will change (based on target audience interest) and how I do it without cutting into my other time (my major constraint, in addition to budget and tech/production skills).

  19. Jim S says:

    When it comes to creating a your own version of Channel9, why not get a team of people together to run it? I’m sure you could convince your superiors as to the value this would hold to the company as a whole.

  20. HeatherLeigh says:

    The thing is, I’m not responsible for the company as a whole, I’m responsible for recruiting; specifically marketing recruiting. I don’t think the value prop is significant enough (or proven enough) to justify getting a team of people to do something similar to Channel 9. Keep in mind that their audience is customers (developers and IT Pros). You know, people that pay for stuff. My target audience is marketers, specifically (or hopefully) those that do or will want to work at Microsoft now or someday. There’s no revenue there.  The tech space inside Microsoft (and outside) is significantly bigger than the marketing space. I’m not saying I can’t do some videoblogging with some help from someone. But if I was that influential in getting headcount, I’d be hiring more recruiters for my team. Trust me, pulling together a marketing channel 9-type team is pretty much out of the question. It’s not even something I could recommend doing.

    Let’s think bigger (as in bigger than what I’ve got going on on the blog right now), but smaller (meaning there’s no new headcount and no major budget allocation).

    Trust me, I’m not as influential in getting resources allocated as you might think ; )

  21. Jim S says:

    I don’t understand how there can be no revenue in marketing. Why else would it exist? Is MS and every other major corporation that clueless?

  22. Heather, why not change perspective?

    You view recruiting from the inside looking out.  Why not have someone write for you from the outside looking in?  Think of it as a special weekly commentary where someone writes about their successes and failures trying to break into the industry.

    I’ve been trying to get in for a month or two and though I’m not suggesting I do the feature, I do know that there are a lot of interesting stories that can come out of that experience.  For example, running into brick walls at every possible turn and refusing to give up.

    Many people come to your site seeking guidance regarding Microsoft’s hiring practices.  What could be better than someone writing about actually experiencing that first-hand?  Whether or not you help in the experience is up to you.  Your advice and guidance during the process, however, would be invaluable.

  23. HeatherLeigh says:

    Uh Jim…I’m in staffing, not marketing. I don’t sit in a P&L.

    Derek Bigelow- love it! Great idea. Maybe have new hires into marketing talk about how they got here including their job search experience with other companies (that we can keep nameless). Fantastic!

  24. Simone says:

    Heather, it’s very important to keep your face out there while mixing within your own sphere. It is doubly so when it comes to what you do. Show your professionalism and you’re guaranteed to be rewarded in one way or another.

  25. HeatherLeigh says:

    Simone-I am trying. It’s the creativity I’m struggling with right now  : )

  26. IvanA says:


    I think your objective is very clear "make it bigger, but spend less time". I don’t really think podcasting or videoblogging will allow you to reach that objective. You will be spending more time and not necessarily reaching more people. These are cool tools and can help enhance the look and feel of your blog– but they won’t drive your objective.

    If bigger means getting a larger audience than that is what you should be focusing on.  

    A couple of thoughts (more questions than answers– hopefully will help stimulate the debate 🙂 )

    Step 1 Awareness. You need to make sure that the good marketers are aware that this blog exists. I found your blog 2 days ago, totally by accident (linkedin). I was proactively looking for somebody at Microsoft. What about the great marketers out there that haven’t even thought about Microsoft?

    Step 2 Trial. Your content needs to be provocative enough to get people that are not yet "evangelized" to come and read your blog. I am a believer, it wasn’t that hard to get me here.

    I agree with Mauro you can bring up general marketing topics/challenges– but they should be approached from the Microsoft perspective. That’s one thing I have not found here. I have gone through a lot of the posts in this blog, but I didn’t find anything about what it’s like to work in marketing at Microsoft (maybe I didn’t go back far enough)

    Step 3 Conversion. Once they find your blog how do you make sure they keep coming back to it and eventually become "converted" and apply for a job. In the end what you want to do is get people excited about marketing at Microsoft.

    Marketing people as you say "have a lot on their plates"– in every company. The blog has to be relevant. It has to clearly answer the question "Why should I go work for Microsoft in MARKETING"  

    I think the only way you will be able to do this is to get more involvement from the Marketing guys. I know you tried, but there must be some way to get them to be interviewed, to write something. In the end you’re hiring these people for them. To make their life easier. They should be proactively coming to you and asking how they can help. It doesn’t have to be in their job description, you just need to find the right buttons to press.

    The great thing about a blog vs corporate recruitment advertising is that is going to be perceived as more human, more honest. I think that’s your USP, keep it going. I really, honestly like it.


    P.S. I have a few concrete examples on how you can apply some of the above, if you are interested let me know and we can discuss.— I thought it would be too much to add it here.

  27. HeatherLeigh says:

    Ivan, you’re hired ; ) You are exactly right….exactly! I think that the podcasting might draw some initial eyeballs (or earballs), but I’m not sure it’s going to accomplish what I am looking to do.

    When I talk to people about the programs that I work on (one of the bigger aspects of my job), I often metnion that the main success factor is getting the hiring managers and the prospects in the same place at the same time. You are telling me that pretty much the same goes for blogging and that’s totally it.

    Wow! Thanks for the reality check. And yes, I am totally interested in examples!

  28. Vicki says:

    Yes – all the talk about podcasting – quite true that it is the new techno trend. I fully support its implementation.

    Get a digital recorder and do it in your car – the commute to work! You would be the multi-task guru!

    Between sips of Starbucks and navigating thru the streets of Seattle – you could tell us about books, Target (sigh, we don’t have one where I live) and just your random thoughts.

    I, myself, have a "blant" as opposed to a blog… blant is a blogging rant…. which, I WOULD send you the link to, but not sure if you were interested in reading another person’s blog… you have enough going on here already!


  29. HeatherLeigh says:

    Vicki..If there’s ranting going on, I’d be happy to take a look at it : )

    Unfortunately, or fortunately, my cmmute is all of ten steps from my bed to my home office ; )

  30. Vicki says:

    Well, your podcast could be done while making your coffee and after brushing your teeth (I wouldn’t recommend during… but it would make for an interesting audio clip!)!

    If you are trying to make things bigger – yet worry about the time consumption — and I see that you would like to evovle your current role —  what about a webcam-type (VTC) interview of marketing managers? After all, you represent a company that is on the leading edge of all things greatly technical – there’s a wealth of all sorts of applications you could use to your advantage. SharePoint, NetMeeting, etc…

    BTW – Would sending you my blog/blant link somehow decrease my chances of landing a job at Microsoft?

    LOL! 😉

  31. IvanA says:

    Vicki, post the link we want to see your "Blant"

  32. Vicki says:

    Awww…. thanks for the encouragement. However, but it is a BETA blant. It is my first attempt and isn’t as comprehensive as Heather’s! (Nor organized!)

    It is random rants – in fact, I was looking at moving to a more user-friendly environment with better features than Yahoo. MySpace just doesn’t work well for me – and I want more of a streamlined appeal…

    Any recommendations?

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