Building Design blog – Q & A with editor and expert blogger Benedikte Ranum


1. What do you do at 

I am the editor who looks after’s building design / building services community and content. I have to make sure that we publish and share useful information in these subject areas, and that we make it easy for our audience to find what they’re looking for. This involves connecting with built environment professionals through many different channels – our website, face-to-face meetings, remote meetings, seminars and conferences, webinars, social media and blogging.

2.  Can you tell us a bit about the marketplace blog?

The Building Design blog covers a wide range of topics. Architecture is at its heart, but posts have touched on anything from geo-engineering to environmental psychology; from ancient brickmaking methods to the latest developments in concrete manufacture; and from renewable energy developments to biomimicry. Some posts are simply descriptions of recent architectural projects, while others try to get behind the headlines a little bit: explorations of the relative sustainability of different building materials, or a look at what it’s really like to live in a PassivHaus.

3. How long have you been running the marketplace blog and why did you start it?

We started the blog back in the summer of 2009. The idea was to provide a more informal space for our community to interact with and with each other. We wanted to broaden our scope from simply providing product information for specifiers, and show our readership that we share their interests and concerns. Our clients and the people who use would get a chance to influence or contribute to blog content, which would in turn strengthen those relationships. A blog allows a company to fulfill certain pragmatic requirements – like boosting SEO, gathering leads and reinforcing a brand – while also showing a more human face. In addition to all of those benefits, I find that I learn a lot through researching, writing and commissioning blog posts. It is often hard to find the time to read through all the relevant trade journals and articles, but the blog provides a focus to keep me informed of what’s happening in the market. Rather than provide in-depth, expert articles, our blogs often act as signposts to other interesting content. I am not an architect or engineer myself, but I am keen to share the useful information that I come across.

4. What does your ideal blog reader look like? Who is the target audience?

The target reader for the Building Design blog is a professional involved in the built environment – be they an architect, technologist, consulting engineer, QS, building product manufacturer, contractor, urban designer or housebuilder. Most of the visits to the blog come from within the UK, but we have also had visits and comments from readers in the US and mainland Europe. While the people who use for product information are often in the middle of specifying for a live project, the blog is more of a venue for browsing, exchanging ideas or satisfying one’s curiosity. I once wrote a post about a Gateshead development of IKEA-designed housing, and the person who was actually the lead contractor / project manager of the scheme got in touch to comment – I got a kick out of that. An ideal blog reader is one who is happy to comment, get involved in a debate, share an alternative link, offer an opinion or correct a mistake; that’s when a blog really comes into its own.

5. Is there a specific editorial programme for creating posts?

We have an editorial programme for 2012, which coincides with our monthly Focus on e-mail newsletters. This means we look at a different subject area every month for each of our marketplace blogs, and write or commission posts to suit our marketing schedule. However, we also write and accept blog posts ad hoc, whenever a good idea springs to mind, a specific event is coming up, or some interesting content presents itself in other ways.

6. Have you featured any guest posts from manufacturers on the marketplace blog?

Absolutely: the last two blog posts on Building Design blog came from Kingspan and CA Group respectively, giving some interesting insights into solar energy technologies and projects, and last month we had a brickmaking blog post from Ibstock. These have all been very well received by our readership and in our social networks. We also have posts lined up from other clients over the next few months. This is something I am keen to see more of: after all, building product manufacturers are the true experts in their field. It’s great to help them raise awareness of their recent developments, and provide a venue where they can share their knowledge.

7. How do others get involved in the blog? What are the benefits of submitting a guest post?

It’s really very simple: they can just send me an email at with a broad outline of their idea for a blog post. It can be something new, or an article they have already published on their own website. I will then check how it fits into our editorial programme and advise them on suitable word-count, illustrations etc. Some ESI clients submit a finished blog post, whilst others provide the raw materials for me to edit or rewrite – either way is fine. There are many good reasons for submitting a guest post: aside from the SEO benefits that rich content and reciprocal links bring, there are the advantages of opening their content up to a wider audience, and gaining extra exposure for their brand. Guest bloggers also get a chance to establish themselves as thought-leaders or experts in their niche. We promote our blog content through our opt-in e-newsletter programme as well as through our extensive social media networks, which helps drive traffic to our clients’ content.

 8. What highlights are coming up?

Over the next few months, we are highlighting developments in the areas of doors and hardware, staircases and balustrades, and roof finishes. We will also be taking a closer look at Eurocodes. This suite of structural codes is becoming increasingly used throughout Europe and will be affecting a lot of the people who use, as well as our clients. What with ‘everybody’ being at Ecobuild this week, I will also be doing a post-show report. I would love to hear from clients who have a stand at this year’s show – how did it work for them, which products did they showcase, and what is their method for following up on prospects and contacts after the event?

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