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The new home of PR Studies

27 Aug

My old PR Studies blog lives on as an archive, but many of the previous posts have been migrated here.

My main focus now is on the magazine I edit (Behind the Spin). I also manage various other blogs, so I’m pausing to consider whether to continue this personal blog about public relations education.

Those interested in my thoughts on this topic might like to read Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals.

Milestone reached

5 Apr


It's a minor and meaningless achievement, but one I'd been edging close to for some time. 

Despite only posting here weekly and spending more time on an online magazine, class blog and subject group  blog, my traffic to continues to rise (though only slowly).

I've just achieved average daily page views of 100 over the seven year life of this blog.

The absolute numbers are small – and unimportant to me – but the average is pleasing and the movement is still in the right direction.

There may be some lessons here for newcomers in building a presence despite infrequent posting, so here's my analysis:

  • Much of my traffic comes from searches, so having an archive of searchable content helps.
  • If I was keen to build traffic further, I would write more on popular search terms: 'meaning of PR', 'PR dissertation' etc.
  • Being around for a long time (and from back when PR blogs were a rarity) means I'm well connected in terms of inbound links. My Google PageRank has been as high as 6, but is still a respectable 5.
  • I'm spreading myself across a number of blogs, but have kept the content focused on this one. Though it's not a scholarly place, I do focus on the study of public relations, from an educator's and a student perspective.
  • The first few weeks of a blog are easy and exciting, with visitor numbers doubling again and again. But it's hard to sustain the momentum so bloggers need to plan for the different phases they will go through.

How I read blogs

23 Feb

I know. There's already something quaint about the word, and 'weblogs' looks archaic now.

Besides, it's hard to define something that runs from Twitter updates (microblogs) via Tumbr and WordPress to fully-fledged content management systems. How can you compare a student's blog with the Huffington Post (sold for $315m)?

So how do I read frequently-updated webpages created by PR students and practitioners? Here are some personal tips:

  • First of all, I have to know you're out there. If you want to encourage people to your blog, put the link on your Twitter profile page and comment on other people's blogs (this will embed a hyperlink back to your site). Start networking and start sharing.
  • On your blog or website, make sure you've updated your About entry. It's the first thing I look at when checking out new blogs, and it should be the first thing you fix.
  • I often read blog entries in Google Reader and only click through if I want to comment or check another page. So, for me, blog design is less important than blog content.
  • I might look at how many comments you receive, but it's not a show stopper. Seth Godin's impressive, but he gets no comments at all (he doesn't allow them).
  • How often do you post? There's no simple answer, but less frequently than monthly and your blog looks untended. You need to cut the grass regularly in the summer.
  • Here's my hierarchy. First, I need to find you; then I'll subscribe to your blog; finally, if I want to recommend you I may add you to my 'blogroll'. Gain attention, merit interest, earn trust.

Why Sundays are still special (in PR)

16 Jan

On the face of it, there's nothing special about a Sunday. It's just another shopping day; just another day of professional sport.

Sunday is a religious holiday for just one of the world's three great monotheistic religions – and in this part of the world only a minority attend church regularly.

Yet a Sunday is still valuable as a punctuation mark in a busy, monotonous week. It's a pause; a semi-colon (like that).

When PR people were primarily media relations advisers, the better practitioners knew the value of announcing news on a Sunday. The 'Sunday-for-Monday' story was well-established practice, since Monday's newspapers are being produced from quiet newsrooms today and there's less competition for space in a Monday paper.

Something similar is going on in the blogosphere. It's a quiet day, so a good time to get noticed (or to get ahead of the pack by preparing for the week ahead).

Here are three blog posts I've noticed today. What's more, they're all reflections on milestones in life from three different ages of man (and woman). Leading with the youngest first:

  • Jazz Chappell has life ahead of her, and I hope to help not hinder by highlighting her exceptional early promise.
  • Wayne Burdett is in a tougher place having graduated in a recession and during a period of public spending cuts. He's charting his challenges in finding worthwhile work and I hope the process of blogging will help (it should be cathartic, at least).
  • Shonali Burke wishes herself a happy birthday and provides a photo gallery of her serene-looking progress through life.

(I've not met any of these three, but feel I'm getting to know them through social media).

Post sparingly, comment frequently

17 Dec

Participation inequality Remember the 90-9-1 rule?

This suggests that in a group of people, the overwhelming majority (90%) will be 'lurkers' – happy to visit blogs etc, but unwilling to participate actively.

Only 9% will even participate to the extent of leaving a blog comment, while a select 1% are the active content creators.

Despite the low barriers to entry and in spite of the growth of social networking sites built on user-generated content, these figures still seem broadly right.

But might they be too high? Are there really 9 commenters to every blogger?

My 862 posts on this blog to date have encouraged 1414 comments – that's fewer than two comments for each blog post.

For new bloggers, the situation is even worse – and it can be discouraging. Who wants to be that person on the street shouting at the passing traffic with people hurrying by and avoiding eye contact?

So here's what I've been doing over the past few weeks. I've only posted once a week to this blog (but more frequently to other group blogs I run). But I have been trying to leave encouraging comments on new student blogs I've discovered (the list down on the right sidebar has some new additions and my RSS feed has several more I'm following).

But even then I doubt I've managed a 1:9 ratio. But it's probably a good target to aim at. Why not make some other people happy today by spreading some seasonal cheer? Who knows, you may get some return visits (and even some comments) by doing so.

Blogging: a surprising survival

1 Dec

JazzChappellPR Blogging is old. Student essays that claim it as new based on a quotation from a book published five years ago make me smile.

After the peak of expectation in 2003-2005 came the trough of disillusion as first Facebook and then Twitter became the place for short status updates and community conversations.

Yet blogging survived, and in some areas is even seeing a revival.

Here are five reasons for blogging's surprising survival:

Continue reading

State of the blogosphere 2009

19 Oct

Technorati's annual report is available here. What's happening to blogging now the chatter's all on Twitter and the buzz is on social networks?

We tend to be eduated, male, middle aged and affluent. Then there's the rise of the professional blogger, though in the past year Steve Rubel has defected from blogging to 'lifestreaming'. As he explains:

'Lifestreaming to date has meant aggregating all of one's streams at a single point. This was the value of Friendfeed. However, it's evolving to mean using a hub as a launching point for your content, syndicating it out to your "spokes" (eg the social networks where one chooses to engage) and then conversing about it in both locations.'