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.

Making Public Relations Look Pretty

Image: winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A lot of people in the communications field are talking about how to define public relations.

Beth Harte did a wonderful job of framing the conversation and linking to a post by Heidi Cohen, who collected 31 definitions for public relations to demonstrate the diversity of perspective on this topic.

Frank Strong offered his perspective and pointed out how the lack of a clear definition leaves public relations vulnerable to characterization.

Recently, I was in a meeting with several colleagues where we discussed how a definition of public relations from 1964 is finally relevant to today’s applications. How crazy is that?

At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, I think it’s kind of exciting to see this discourse play itself out.

It presents a unique challenge for folks in PR to take ownership of their profession. It’s making us think critically about what we do on a day-to-day basis and about how we contribute to the bigger picture.

Rather than add my two cents worth to the growing list of definitions, I decided it would be interesting to take all the definitions collected thus far (huge hat tip to Heidi Cohen for making this possible) and putting them into a word cloud.

You know, make public relations look pretty and such.

But this exercise is about more than aesthetics.

Semantic analysis of the definitions might also bring to the surface the strongest themes and dominant traits to focus on in continuing to define the PR profession.

For clarity, I removed all mentions of “public relations” and “PR” from the list of definitions, since those words were repeated the most. If the term “public” appears, it’s outside of the context of “public relations.”

So, here it is in all its glory (Courtesy of Wordle.net. And yes, I customized the colors to the pink palette):

It’s easy to glean some key terms from the image, like media, communications, social, and even marketing.

Again, this exercise is not entirely perfect, as the discussion on how to define public relations continues. It will be interesting to see how it pans out and how it affects the PR practice of tomorrow.

How do you define public relations? For anyone not specifically in PR, what do you think is the definition of it?

March 17, 2011. Tags: , , , . public relations. 11 comments.

Fun with Semantic Networks

I admit I’m kind of a nerd.

Being a nerd has its advantages, like making a killing at pop culture Quizzo and the ability to spout random movie trivia. (For example, did you know that Steven Spielberg named the “Jaws” mechanical shark after his lawyer, Bruce?)

Another advantage to being a nerd is when it applies to my professional career.

Image: healingdream / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For instance, I get really geeked out about semantic networks, which have applications for public relations, marketing, social media, and lots more.

Put simply, a semantic network is a visualization of the relationships between words. The analysis is how researchers (or us communicators) interpret those relationships.

Semantic network analysis lends itself to public relations and social media research because it can help communicators visualize content and identify opportunities or potential issues.

There are several and paid tools out there that can help you chart semantic networks. Here are a few I have bookmarked and find helpful in my communications research:

1. Wordle - this is a quick, easy way to generate a semantic visualization. Wordle asks users to simply take a text (be sure to convert Word docs into Plain Text) and it will generate a word cloud where the most prevalent words appear larger than others to emphasize dominance in the text.

Word clouds are helpful to get a quick-hitting analysis of common threads or topics in Tweets, blog comments, or news articles.

Here’s a Wordle of all my blog posts, showing that I write predominantly about media, PR, and “social,” which could be linked to media:

Image courtesy of Wordle

2. MentionMap – hat tip to Adam Vincenzini for bringing this tool to my attention (and for sucking up an entire afternoon once I got into it!)

MentionMap pulls public information from a Twitter account (Tweets, hashtags, @replies) and creates an incredible, almost organic network visualization to demonstrate the connections between the content and the origin.

This visualization network is helpful because it can identify strong discussion streams among the Twitter account and others, and also identifies dominant hashtag discussions.

Here’s a MentionMap of my Twitter Account, showing I contribute to the #PR and #socpharm discussions frequently:

Image courtesy of MentionMap

3. Crawdad – this is a paid software I became familiar with through a graduate class on social and semantic networks.

Crawdad is more advanced and technical than the other tools mentioned. Like Wordle, it asks for text that can be converted into a semantic network chart where prominent words and conversations are connected.

The researcher can code certain words, remove unnecessary ones, and create a comprehensive network to identify dominant themes and connections. Crawdad also allows the researcher to compare texts, for instance press release messaging vs. news articles, to add another layer of information.

Here’s an example of a semantic network I created through Crawdad a few years ago, using news articles from The Philadelphia Inquirer about Purdue Pharma. It looks kind of crazy, but makes sense to see the prominent words that appeared in the news articles over a period of time:

So, while my random knowledge of classic films may not do much for my career, using semantic networks in communications research certainly does. It’s fun to learn something new and to see data visualized in a colorful, engaging way.

Semantic network analysis may not be the end all, be all of communications research. While I like to believe that data can’t lie, the analysis part that is connected to the human mind can be fallible.

So what gets you geeked out that has been helpful in your professional role? Do you have any other semantic network research tools to share?

November 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . public relations, Research, social media. 3 comments.

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