Of Bloggers, Journalists, and Definitions

Let's hope it never comes to fisticuffs...

Last week, a story erupted the entire “are bloggers journalists?” debate:

A judge ruled in Oregon that a blogger based in Montana was not a journalist, as she was not affiliated with any specific media outlet, and therefore, not able to claim shield law protection from revealing sources in a defamation lawsuit.

The court fined the blogger a huge, freaking fine to boot—to the tune of $2.5 million dollars.

Upon first reading this article, I felt a little enraged because I wanted to root for the blogger.

The fact that the court allowed the $2.5 million fine of a regular citizen (and not someone who actually has that much money, like Bill Gates) leads me to believe this is little more than making a case of someone for the sake of argument.

But I kept my opinion to myself as more details bubbled up over the weekend regarding the details of the case.

Since last week, I can’t say I have as much sympathy for the blogger as I did before, although I still hold that the fine is ridiculous.

Part of my opinion was swayed by David Carr’s well-researched column in yesterday’s New York Times, where he points out the blogger’s pattern of vindictiveness.

No wonder the blogger in the case had a knack for criticism.

If there is one thing that blogging has opened the door to, it’s allowing anyone to voice their negative opinions about anything—from corporate entities, to restaurants, to customer service, to whatever-you-name-it. There’s even a blog about bad drivers in L.A!

But does black-balling a company or targeting an individual online with insults to their character the mark of a journalist?

Perhaps when it comes to political reporting, when things can get kind of messy.

All these details aside, it still doesn’t help solve the question of whether or not bloggers can be considered journalists if they employ the same news-gathering tactics and publish content for an interested public.

Think about it—if I could be considered a journalist by employing the same tactics, but with no affiliation to any news entity, then why did I bother studying journalism in college?

Why do we study anything if we can just get jobs based on experience and skills?

I know, there are a lot of rhetorical questions in this post. And per usual, I’m not coming across clearly in my opinion on the matter.

The reason being is that I can clearly see both sides of the argument, with maybe a little bias toward the journalists, because I paid good money to be trained and educated not only on the skills, but also on the ethics and law involved in journalism.

Maybe journalists can take a page from PR and attempt at developing a more clear definition of the position. It’s obvious that the current definition, if you look at Merriam-Webster, is open to interpretation.

The PRSA has started an initiative to define public relations, and it’s spurred a discussion among PR professionals.

It would be interesting to see a journalism professional organization follow suit, take up the momentum of this blogger case, and work toward a more cohesive definition of the term journalist.

Until then, it may be up to case law to define it, as did the judge in Oregon.

Either way, this discussion is far from over, so it will make for an interesting next couple of years as it churns some more.

What do you think, either of the blogger vs. journalists definition or of this case in particular? How would you define a journalist?

Image courtesy of this blog post on the topic of journalism vs. blogging.

December 13, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, journalism. 3 comments.

PR in Pink Chat with Shonali Burke

Welcome back to PR in Pink Chats! It’s been a while, but there are still lots of neat and interesting folks to hear from.

In this chat edition, Shonali Burke (@Shonali) shares her experiences getting started in public relations, starting her own solo PR practice, and being all things social in the interwebs.

Ms. Burke is an accredited, award-winning communication consultant and sought-after speaker based in the Washington, D.C., metro area with a national reach and international network.

She writes the Waxing Unlyrical blog, which is a great resource for PR folks, and also started the #measurepr bi-weekly Tweetchat. And she’s just an all-around nice person, and I’m happy to have gotten to know her over social media.

Check out this chat with Ms. Burke, and I’m sure you’ll come to appreciate her insights as much as I do:

How long have you been working in public relations and what was your first PR job?

I started working in public relations about 15 years ago. My first career was as an actress and director (primarily theater), but I realized very soon that fulfilling as it was, that wasn’t necessarily going to generate a decent income stream. Because quite a few people knew me via drama (I was also a radio DJ and, for a while, the cell phone “voice” for what was then one of India’s largest mobile companies), folks started asking me if I would “help” them with PR. Of course, not knowing the first thing about it, I said yes…!

So my first real PR job was managing the function for a financial services company. I moved to the US in 2000, and started my career all over again with a boutique agency in San Francisco; so, from the US point of view, that would be my first job here.

When did you decide that you wanted to continue working in PR as an independent practitioner? What are some of the pro’s and con’s to having your own practice?

Even when I lived and worked in India, I ended up working independently after a while. Primarily that was because I still kept one foot in the performing world, and that was the only thing that let me manage my own schedule so that I could take on theater gigs when I wanted, and PR gigs when I wanted. In my latest incarnation as an independent practitioner, it’s been about three years; and this time around, it was because, as the economy started tanking, I just didn’t see the kind of job I would like to do. So I figured I should just go out on my own, and that’s what I did.

Some of the pros of working independently are: you are your own boss so you can pick and choose the work you’d like to do; if you work from home, you save a ton on dry cleaning bills (I mean, not many of us wear a suit to work when we’re commuting from the bedroom to the home office); and, obviously, you’re not bound to an office schedule so you can factor in doing things of a personal nature when you need to.

However, I think many people believe being independent is a bed of roses; it’s not. I think we actually end up working much harder than a lot of people who are full-time employees, since we have to do the work *and* manage the business. That’s not necessarily a con, but it does come with the territory.

I’d say some of the cons of working independently are that you can get to be a bit of a shut-in, because you’re not going into an office every day and meeting your colleagues; the lines between your work time and personal time get blurred (so it’s important to recognize and manage that), and it can be tough to regulate your income stream the way you’d like. You also have to be good not just at attracting but at closing business, so you have to be a really good sales person.

Why did you launch your blog, Waxing UnLyrical? What do you like about blogging, whether on WUL or on any other outlet?

Back in 2008, when I was still relatively new to Twitter, I was having a back channel conversation with a “thought leader” about the social media storm-in-a-teacup of the day. When I later looked up that person’s blog, I saw that my comments had been used almost verbatim as this person’s opinion, with no credit given. I was a little taken aback; if it had been me, I would at least have referenced the other person.

I felt that if my opinions were good enough to be represented on someone else’s blog, they were good enough for my own… because one of the things I’d been worried about in terms of starting my own blog was whether or not anyone would care. But this was the catalyst in making me start WUL.

I love the way blogging lets us connect with so many other people. Of course you can do that on micro-blogs as well, but you obviously have more characters to do it with on a blog. I think it can be a huge asset professionally in terms of building your reputation and standing in whatever industry you’re in, growing a community and, used well, blogs will eventually start resulting in business. I hear a lot of people say, “I don’t know how to blog.” To which I say: “Rubbish. You may not know the technicalities of publishing a blog, but those are easily learned. If you can write a journal, you can publish a blog.”

You also moderate a popular weekly Tweetchat, #measurepr. Why do you believe that PR practitioners need to understand measurement and ROI?

At the end of the day, everything we do in public relations has to help our organizations/clients somehow when it comes to achieving business goals. So if we’re not figuring out how to tie what we’re doing to how we’re supporting those goals, we are probably the first people that will be laid off, downsized, etc. So, from a very selfish point of view, it’s in the interest of every PR practitioner to show how s/he is contributing to the bottom line.

At a more macro level, PR practitioners are, at their core, educators. We educate our clients, we educate our audiences… whether we know it or not, we’re teaching. If we don’t have the platform from which to do this, we do a disservice to the PR industry as a whole. So to keep elevating our industry, we need to understand measurement, keep our jobs, and keep teaching!

What do you find is a common assumption PR practitioners make with regard to measurement? What are some resources that are helpful in better understanding measurement in PR campaigns?

Some of the assumptions/misconceptions I come across frequently are:

1. Measurement is tough. No, it’s not. It can be as simple, or as complicated as you make it. The more complicated you make it, the tougher it will seem.

2. People are still measuring impressions… and stopping there. It’s fine to do that, but it’s *not* fine to stop there. We have to constantly be trying to correlate what we’re doing to what we’re trying to achieve.

3. Folks try to measure the tools instead of focusing on why they are using them. Again, it comes back to what one is trying to achieve, so, in other words, starting at the end.

There are some terrific resources on PR measurement (including social media), such as the Institute of Public Relations and several good blogs. An easy way to find people who are smart about measurement and get to their blogs is to use this Twitter list I created a while back.

How is social media important to the public relations and communications profession? Do you see it (social media) as an asset or as a distraction?

I think social media has become critical to what we in PR do. The very fact that I’m doing this Q&A for you is proof positive. PR is about building relationships and education. Social media is perfect for that. Of course it can be distracting, because it’s also a lot of fun. But just like we learn to manage our time on other activities, we have to learn to manage our social media time – that’s probably the biggest complaint about it that I hear.

Do you have any advice for beginning bloggers? Is there anything that even blogging veterans like yourself still learn?

I’m a little pumped that you consider me a blogging veteran… I still consider myself a newbie! I created a category called “Blogging for Grasshoppers” a while back, which I hope will be helpful to blogging newbies, since it’s where my guest bloggers and I talk about blogging tips we’ve learned.

I think one of the biggest fears “grasshoppers” have is how to get started. So the single-most important piece of advice I could give would be to just do it. Seriously. It’s that simple. As you continue along your blogging journey, you’ll find your voice, you’ll find what kind of posting schedule works for you, and so on. But you’ll never learn any of that if you don’t start.

I typically suggest using WordPress, since it’s extremely user-friendly, and when you don’t know how to do something, do two things: 1) do an Internet search and 2) ask for help. Every single time I didn’t know how to do something, I either found the answer by looking for it, or by asking on Facebook and Twitter (sometimes email to specific people, but mostly by asking on social networks). And I always got an answer.

A couple of my personal preferences: use a self-hosted blog as opposed to a free WordPress blog (it looks more professional). Use a combination of colors that is easy on the eye. Set up Google Analytics and Feedburner as soon as you can. And then just blog!

What is your favorite color?

This is a tough one. I actually love pink, but don’t seem to wear too much of it. So I’d say the colors I gravitate towards the most are red and black (which is weird, since my blog is brown and aqua, but I love it).

As you can see, Ms. Burke has a lot of knowledge and inspiration to share–be sure to check out her blog for more great content. Hope you have a great day!

November 16, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, public relations, social media. 1 comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 11/7/11

Happy Friday, all! Where does the week go these days? And with today being a federal holiday, it may be a short week for many folks out there. Although it was nice to get into the office a little early due to less traffic, it made me realize I have that much more time added to my Friday! Oh, well, so it goes…Hopefully, you have a relaxing weekend enjoying Fall festivities. If you have a few free moments, here are this week’s links and articles of interest to share–enjoy!

Pterodactyls and Student Social Media Engagement (by @vedo):

Sometimes, the best social media campaigns can be those that are like an episode of “Seinfeld” – nothing.

Richie Escovedo shared a recent Halloween campaign from the University of North Texas where the university news office created an obvious pterodactyl attack, taking a page from the CDC’s zombie preparedness guide. The university wanted nothing more than to have a little fun and to engage with students on Facebook and Twitter, and it worked! It goes to show that in between our planned communications and necessary university messaging, sometimes simply having fun and showcasing a sense of humor can be just as successful.

Key Takeaways from BlogWorld LA (by @arikhanson):

If time and money do not permit that you travel to every great conference, it’s helpful to read blogs that summarize the main points and key takeaways. Arik Hanson is always generous at sharing his perspectives on the multiple conferences he speaks at and attends. The BlogWorld conferences are great opportunities for the blogging and social media community to band together to learn from each other. Mr. Hanson extends that sentiment with this week’s post where he shares his key takeaways from the conference with his readers.

Online Resource for Higher Education Communication (via @mStonerblog):

There are a variety of communications professionals working in higher education—from marketing, to PR, to alumni relations, to fundraising. In my research to learn from others, I’ve found helpful blogs like mStonerblog, where I can read about higher education and alumni case studies, especially as they relate to new media.

This week, the folks at mStonerblog announced the upcoming online resource for all things related to higher education—an online community for higher ed communicators called EDUniverse. While on the surface, one could brush this post off as an ad for their network, I think it’s more of a resource repository and fills a much-needed gap for those seeking to connect with others in the field and to share resources. It’s also a good model to consider for other industries; think of a site dedicated to sharing PR resources, or marketing ideas.

We Are Journalists (via @JounalistsLike):

Here is a neat Tumblr site that harkens to the We are 99 site, only it allows journalists to tell their stories. It’s very touching because very few journalists tell their own stories. I remember in J-school being taught about objectivity, and to not involve myself in the story. This site allows journalists to share their perspective as a professional in the field – what they fear, what they are proud of, what makes them happy or sad.

For anyone who has worked, or is still working in journalism, this site will probably resonate with you. And for anyone not working in journalism, this site will give you a better idea of what it’s like to be a journalist.

Hope you enjoyed some of these posts–feel free to share any you found this week as well. Have a great weekend :)

November 11, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, journalism, social media. Leave a comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 10/3/11

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been a busy week, so no original post this week unfortunately. I know, I shake my head in shame, but it was because I had a few unexpected evenings to spend with the hubby (who usually works nights). Instead of working on my blog, I selfishly decided to to do more important, lazy things. Like watch “Your Highness” and sip on some last-of-the-season rose wine. (Now you’re probably shaking your head in shame at me…) Oh well, if you happen to be catching up on your social reading this weekend, here are a few links and posts of interest to share–enjoy!

What Does Eight Years of Blogging Get You? (by @mitchjoel via @DanBischoff):

Wow, I had just reflected on my one year of blogging, and here is a post about what it means to have blogged for eight! Mr. Joel is definitely one of the blogging pioneers—so he would have a thing or two to say about the value of the exercise and existence of the medium. It’s refreshing to read his reasons why blogging still matters, as it is an optimistic viewpoint to take in an age when we can instantly publish and share information in a more direct manner than ever.

And it’s giving me more reasons to keep it up, in the hopes I can reflect on eights year of blogging one day.

Dealing with Social Media Burnout in Higher Ed (by @mherek via @CASEAdvance):

I feel better that Matthew Herek admitted what happens to all of us at one time or another—things get busy and social media strategy or implementation is ignored.  This happens often in the business setting when projects and priorities collide. But Mr. Herek points to reasons why we make excuses for shoving our social media strategy to the way side when it comes to other projects. In doing so, we end up blaming the negligence on “social media burnout,” when in fact, it is a planning and integration issue. The burnout need not occur if you have a plan in place to maintain your social media efforts, especially as they relate to the relationships you’ve built over the course of communications.

FTC Disclosure Guidance for Bloggers and PR  (by Sara Hawkins via @smexaminer):

You know how much I like the legal stuff, and this detailed and straightforward post about FTC disclosure guidance for bloggers is right up my alley. Ms. Hawkins’ post is long but well worth the read, as it provides a background for why the FTC is concerned with blogger and social media disclosure. She also provides pointers about how PR folks with blogger outreach plans and the bloggers themselves can adhere to these guidelines as best they can.

Now I know if someone sends me a pink unicorn product to test out, I will duly note that disclosure in my review of said pink unicorn product.  So, all I need is someone to send me a pink unicorn product to test…just sayin’… ;)

A Question of In-House Video Production (by @gareth_case):

This post struck a chord with me because it’s a situation unfolding at my job currently—my department has decided to produce video content in-house and I am partially responsible for planning/scripting/filming/editing said content (!) So, while the alarms have been going off in my head the last few weeks, I found solace in Mr. Case’s update and the link to the discussion in his previous post. He demonstrates that the most basic and simple of video content can be produced in-house, although a vendor-produced video would be flashier at first.

I think it comes down to resources, both financially and physically, and the risk your department or company is willing to take. In Mr. Case’s situation, he’s willing to take a chance and learn these skills himself.  And I hope to do the same as well!

And to leave you all with a little humor, here is a clip from the above-mentioned movie I watched instead of writing my blog this week. While you may not know the context of this scene, you’ll see why I couldn’t stop laughing at how they spoke in Renaissance accents and threw in modern-day curse words. (Beware–there are a few coarse words used in this clip)

October 7, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, public relations, social media. Leave a comment.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 9/19/11

Yay, it’s Friday! There has certainly been a lot of buzz about Facebook this week. Judging from my Twitterfeed yesterday, I may have been the only person not watching the Facebook announcement. But changes or no changes, I’m still on that social network, mostly because I don’t think I have the energy to move to yet another platform. So, while you’re configuring your homepage or trying to get used to the Facebook news feed, here are a few links and articles of interest to share–enjoy!

Higher Ed Social Media Challenge (via @PRNewser):

Here’s a great example of how universities are using social media to connect with alumni and also raise money for much-needed causes. I first learned about “The Bucky Challenge” (University of Wisconsin, Madison) on Twitter from @dantreuter who shared the website with the folks who post on #casesmc.

This campaign pulls together multiple social media options for UW alumni to connect with the university (such as Facebook and Twitter) while also matching their social activity to real donations for student scholarships. The site also clearly communicates how to get involved and why getting involved is important.

Overall, I think this would make a great case example once the folks at UW get their final fundraising metrics—I wish them much success on this campaign!

Misinformation and Politics (by @joshdbrett):

While I rarely get into political discussions (mostly because I’m not politically savvy nor am I as ardent in my beliefs), I still cringe at the lengths politicians go to in order to pander for a few votes.

Josh’s post this week gets at one issue that I personally found irresponsible to the public health of young women, when Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachman sensationalized the side effects from the HPV vaccination. Rather than beleaguer on the politics involved, Josh’s explains how the medical community responded to this statement, and how medical practitioners, and in my opinion public health agencies, need to understand the importance of getting out in front of misinformation as it relates to healthcare.

My New Favorite Afternoon Distraction (via @andymboyle and reported on @Poytner):

Sometimes, it’s not an article that strikes my fancy, but rather a new blog or person to follow on Twitter. This week, Andy Boyle (@andymboyle) tweeted about how “Josh Sternberg was saving journalism”— that got my attention!

Mr. Boyle’s tweet led me to Mr. Sternberg’s Tumblr page, which is a good example of journalism humor and reality: the use of irrational or irrelevant phrases that are generally accepted as commonplace. Later in the week, Poynter featured an article about Unnecessary Journalism Phrases and how the site was in effect necessary. Plus, it’s a fun afternoon distraction when I need a laugh, even if it is just journalism humor.

Patience and Posting Is a Virtue (by @jacksonwightman):

It’s always good to read blogging advice from other experienced bloggers. So when Jackson Wightman parlays some of his blogging knowledge, I tend to take notice. This week, he shares how it’s okay, and even necessary, to take a day away from your drafts in order to read them with a fresh perspective before posting. Of course, time/deadlines may not permit this option, but it’s good advice to heed if you can. Plus, who knows what else you’ll think of 24 hours later…

That’s all for this week–feel free to share your posts or links of interest to share as well :)

September 23, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , . blogging, social media. 2 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 9/12/11

Happy Friday! It looks like autumn has arrived on the East Coast–temperatures fell so much last night that I had to break out the long pants and fall jacket when I took the dog out this morning. After the scorcher of a summer we had in Philly, I’m looking forward to the cool and comfortable weather. Here’s to opening the windows and letting the fresh air in finally! If you happen to be relaxing this weekend and need some reading to catch up on, here are this week’s links and articles of interest to share–enjoy!

Why the Minnesota Blogger Community Rocks (by @arikhanson):

Not to keep tooting my home state’s horn, but I found this post by Arik Hanson to be a great way of recapping an event around positive sentiment. Bloggers are indeed an important communications community (see what happened to ConAgra who learned the hard way). It is great to see the blogger community rally together to learn collectively and to share with one another in a collaborative environment. I hope other states will (or already are) taking Mr. Hanson’s example to heart and organize their own state blogger conferences like the MN Blogger Conference.

An Introvert’s Guide to Making Connections (by @lesmckeown via @mmangen):

Here’s an example of a title that caught my attention because I could identify with it–I admit I’m an introvert, despite my public social media presence. In this post, Mr. McKeown also admits having this similar personality trait, yet he goes on to explain how introverts can make meaningful connections at the various trade conferences without too much pressure. There’s a lot to absorb at these events (we’ve all been there) and everyone is trying to make the most of it while they can. Despite that, I appreciated the author’s advice to take it easy on yourself if you are naturally introverted and to let the connections happen serendipitously.

Effective Blogging Tips (guest post by @ginidietrich via @ pgeorgieva):

I found out I share my blogging anniversary with Petya Georgieva, who writes a fantastic PR blog at Higher and Higher. And what better way to mark the occasion than inviting a pro blogger like Gini Dietrich to share her thoughts on what makes for a successful blog. Of Gini’s recommendations, the idea to have a vision or mission to your blog is key. It will set the foundation for your content and hopefully, guide you in building your blog community.

Building Brand Ambassadors with Employees (by @wordsdonewrite via @SpinSucks):

If you’re a regular Spin Sucks reader like I am, you know they feature a guest post every day around noon.

Thursday’s edition caught my eye because of the familiar face–Amber Avines whom I follow on Twitter as @wordsdonewrite. And then I read the headline and was reminded of an internal communications plan I had proposed to instill company loyalty and strong corporate culture by cultivating “brand ambassadors.” Unfortunately, the idea was not moved upon, but it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks employees are valuable resources for companies. Ms. Avines offers approachable tips on how to instill brand loyalty and corporate culture with your employees. It’s something any company of any size can manage, if they make it a priority.

Hope your weekend is relaxing and pleasant! Feel free to share your links of interest as well :)

September 16, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, social media. 8 comments.

Happy Blog Anniversary!

It almost went by unnoticed…

Last Thursday, September 8, 2010, marked my one-year blog anniversary!

That’s reason to celebrate, right?

Upon reflection of this occasion, I was curious: Just how much did I write in one year? What does the content of my blog look like?

You know what that means-time for a Wordle!

I took all the copy from each post, converted it into plain text and pumped out the following semantic word cloud:

The surprising part about the word cloud is that several words are almost equal in prominence, suggesting the dominant content in this blog. The word “media” actually seems slightly larger by a hair to “PR” and “social.” It also looks as though “Twitter” and “communications” are slightly in second place according to their size.

Although it was by no means a real scientific test, this Wordle helped me see the themes and content I have been sharing with my audience over the past 12 months.

Some other interesting blog stats I pulled from WordPress included:

  • 92 total posts (93 if you count this one)
  • 268 total blog comments
  • 9,368 total all-time views
  • Most views in one day: November 17, 2010 with 159 views (thanks in part to Jackson Wightman and PR Daily for featuring my post on their daily newsletter)
  • Most views in one month: May 2011 with 1,367 views

Not bad for a rookie year.

So what have I learned from embarking on this venture of blogging? Here are a few of my thoughts:

Blogging is fun – yes, it can be a full-time gig, a means to promote your business or just an outlet for your personal thoughts. The point is you need to have a little fun because it’s an experience to write down your ideas and publish them for all the world to see. And I admit, I’ve been having a lot of fun this past year.

Don’t worry, be happy – it happens more often than I want to admit: I get anxious about my posts-are they relevant enough? Should I be doing more to drive traffic to my site? What do I really have to contribute? But that’s just my natural inclination toward insecurity. If I think about it for a minute, I find I am rather happy with the little existence I have carved out here. I know I could and should do more to drive traffic to my site, but then again, it’s all about perspective and being happy with what you have.

To each his/her own – everyone is entitled to their opinions and blogging has enabled and empowered anyone to share their thoughts, resources and criticisms. That’s the nature of “social” media. Sometimes you have a great conversation and sometimes you are challenged to explain your reasoning. That is the aspect of social media that is really valuable to me-the ability to grow from the experience of writing and the subsequent discourse associated with publishing a blog.

Blogging ain’t easy – just as it can be fun, it can be a chore. I envy people who are able to post really well researched and quantified posts. I admire those who share their expertise on communications because they’re living and breathing it every day at their businesses. For me, this blog is a part-time gig, balanced between a full-time job, night class for grad school, and full-time duties as a wife and dog/kitty mommy. It’s a challenge I’m willing to take on because, as I stated in the beginning, it’s also fun!

And so it goes…on to another happy year of blogging for this gal :)

Anyone else have a blog anniversary recently? Do you remember what you learned from your first year of blogging?

September 14, 2011. Tags: , , , , . blogging. 7 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 8/22/11

Happy Friday, folks! If you live on the East Coast like I do, then you’ve already survived an earthquake and are bracing yourself for a hurricane. What a week, huh? With all this inclement weather, it should make for a boring weekend indoors. At least I have two Netflix on hand. So, if you’re holed up at home, surviving on bread, eggs, and milk, here are this week’s links and articles of interest to share–enjoy! And stay safe wherever you are :)

Some Good PR for Sharks (by @ginidietrich via @SpinSucks):

Ms. Dietrich and I had a cosmic connection a few weeks back when I posted the plea for good PR for sharks, especially around Shark Week. It turned out she had a draft post in her queue about some amazing (and real) statistics she heard on the radio about shark attacks, which she shared with her readers. PR stunt or not, the facts got her attention as a listener and shows the power of what “good” PR can do, even for the ocean’s most dangerous predator.

How to Survive a Website Redesign Project (by @cassdull):

Here is a post that I literally wanted to get up and bow down to when I read it (literally!)

I am in the midst of a website redesign for my school, and it’s no easy (or fast-moving) task at that. I thought I was alone in the world, until I read Ms. Dull’s post. Not only does she give me hope in my website redesign project and demonstrate empathy for those working in higher education, she also incorporates a kick-ass zombie flick tie-in! So, whether fighting off hoards of the undead or figuring out how to manage a website redesign committee, I think I’ll survive somehow.

Social Media & the Future of PR (by @TDefren):

I should add Todd Defren to my list of blogging heroes—he’s been writing consistently for seven years.

In fact, I attribute my knowledge of blogs back to about that same time when I came across a PR 2.0 Handbook that Mr. Defren’s agency Shift Communications put out. Although his post is more reflective, it is a good example of how powerful social media is when it comes to driving the conversation. It’s a good reminder to PR pro’s to consider the “guy on his iPhone” that Mr. Defren mentions, as communications become more social and less reliant on traditional means.

End of an Era: Romenesko to Partially Retire (via @Poytner):

Wow, two posts about my blogging heroes this week. Before I even knew what “aggregation” meant, I knew there was a man named Jim Romenesko who used to wake up at the crack of dawn to scan the news to share the news about the news.

Sounds weird, but I grew very fond of his blog as a means to know what was going on within the media industry. But, as Mr. Romenesko announced his partial retirement, I found I was not alone in my feelings of admiration for the work he established over the years. Steve Myers, who will share the site’s aggregation responsibility as Mr. Romenesko partially steps down, collected many of the responses to his announcement in Storify and shared them in this post.

What do you think? Please feel free to drop a comment and share your articles of interest as well.

August 26, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, journalism, public relations. 4 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 8/15/11

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your week is winding down nicely for you. I didn’t realize this until yesterday, but Monday was my seventh “dating anniversary” with my husband. I guess when you get hitched, you ditch that anniversary in favor of the wedding one. But it’s still fun to think back and remember how you were back when you first met your significant other, right? Okay, enough mushy stuff, let’s get to this week’s links and posts of interest to share–enjoy!

What an MLB Twitter Account Can Teach Schools (by mclobridge via @edsocialmedia):

I’m always looking for examples of social media to apply to the higher education setting, and I found one on Monday. This post by Michael Clobridge explains how schools can learn from the example of the Tampa Bay Rays. That particular baseball team has two Twitter accounts, one for promotional purposes (via @RaysBaseball) and one for community fostering (via @RaysRepublic).

As Mr. Clobridge points out, the @RaysRepublic account does a great job of fostering a community of fans around the baseball team, by offering an “inside look” into the team or simply having fun with no promotional tie. It’s an example of community-fostering folks in higher education should consider when developing a social media strategy for their schools.

An Editor’s POV on Reporters as PR Pros (by Steve Cody via RepMan Blog):

There’s an interesting debate brewing on the blogosphere about whether or not reporters make good public relations professionals. I’ve caught several pro and con posts. This one from Steve Cody at Peppercom (a PR agency) explains the personality differences among the newsroom staff and how that spills over into the PR world when they make the switch. Mr. Cody asked a former editor, who now works at Peppercom, to weigh in on this discussion, and his colleague had some interesting things to say. I think this is another one of those PR discussions that will continue to circulate, but it’s always refreshing to see a new take on it.

Learning How to Take on A-Lister Bloggers (by @neicolec):

The blogosphere is open to debate and differences of opinion; that’s the nature of the beast. However, Niecole Crepeau had to deal with the repercussions of her difference of opinion with “A-List” bloggers. It started with a previous post on Ms. Crepeau’s blog that was critical of the A-Listers, and so began a week of comment discussions on various blogs about who said what and who was or wasn’t right.

The end result is that Ms. Crepeau learned from her personal (or public?) experience and wrote this wonderfully honest post about it. I sincerely tip my hat to her for saying what she said and having the humility to admit there were misunderstandings and, on top of that, to share her experience with her readers.

Reading, Learning, and Sharing (by @journalistics):

Here’s a great example of how the opening of a blog can draw you in to read more.

Jeremy Porter starts with a compelling quote about personal development and proceeds to explain how the books we read and the people we meet can and do more for us if we apply a little more thinking to them. It makes perfect sense: how often do you read a good book about business development and never put any of those insights into action? Mr. Porter arrives to the conclusion that we gain knowledge from these two areas (books and people we know) yet we never quite put that knowledge to practical application. This post is a good head-scratcher and one that might make me think twice about the next book I read or person I meet.

Hope you found these interesting and maybe helpful. Do you have any links or articles to share as well? Anyone else have an anniversary this week?

August 19, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . blogging, public relations, social media. Leave a comment.

Getting Over a Blogging Slump

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s no secret that every now and then, bloggers hit a content slump.

You run out of topics to write about; your personal or professional life gets busy; you take an extended vacation; you get hit by a bus and are incapacitated for three months, thus leaving your blog to collect dust on the Internets.

Okay, that last example is a little harsh, but you get what I mean.

Sooner or later, bloggers have to face the fact that they have simply run out of ideas and have nothing to write about. Gini Dietrich has written about this problem, and I have owned up to it as well.

How do you get over the ever-looming blogging slump? How do you keep your creative juices flowing? How do you keep writing well-thought out and organized posts for your readers?

Oh, the blogging horrors!

Don’t despair or give up completely from writing about topics and issues that matter to you because of a little hiccup. It is possible to get over the occasional content hurdle.

Here are some tips from personal experience in getting over my blogging slump:

Make time for blogging. Sure, easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. Chris Brogan had a great series last week about making time to write a book, and his first tip was to make time no matter what in order to do so.

If this means I have to turn off the TV for at least a half an hour each night to work on drafts or outlines of future posts, then so be it.

When pressed for time, I even close my office door during my lunch hour to write a post if that’s the only conceivable time to squeeze it in between work and personal engagements (that’s how I accomplished writing this very post!)

Brainstorm for future/evergreen topics. It sounds elementary, but I find it helpful to take a notebook and brainstorm categories of topics I feel confident writing about. Then, I list headlines of articles that fall under each category.

Example of my crazy content brainstorm notes

This helps me identify what topics I can write about off the top of my head and what topics I need more time to research. These make for a good stock of evergreen posts to schedule throughout the weeks.

Work from a flexible content calendar. Yes, I actually have a calendar at home with my posts parsed throughout the year. That’s not to say I have to write about the scheduled topic each week. In fact, this very post was slated for some time back in July. But I got other ideas I didn’t want to shelf, so they were posted first.

Not everyone works with a content schedule or editorial calendar, but I find it helps to turn to when in need of content ideas. Just try to keep it flexible for when timely posts/rants/observations are more pertinent.

Listen to other bloggers’ content-generating tips. Many people who blog fulltime know what it’s like to get over a creative slump. And more likely, they’re going to share with the rest of us now they keep their blogging machines going. When I run across these posts, I print them out and keep track of tips from other bloggers who share their ideas.

For example, Arik Hanson has a great list of how to “feed the blog beast”. Ken Mueller recently shared his ideas for generating content ideas and if you click on Ken’s post, he also links to Marijean Jagger’s guest post on blogging inspiration.

The lesson in this all is not to despair over your next blogging slump. You have a wealth of information that you can share , but don’t force the process if it’s not working.

If you want to take some time off to get your thoughts and posts organized, be honest with your community about it. I don’t hold it against other bloggers if they admit they are human and need to take time off to recharge their content batteries.

This is just what I do personally for my blog. I’d be interested to hear from any other bloggers out there– what you do to get over blogging slumps? Any additional tips to share?

August 17, 2011. Tags: , , , . blogging. 2 comments.

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