Follow Friday Five #10

8 05 2009

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know by now that every Friday I pull together a quick list of five blogs that I like and I think that you might too.   They are all clickable so you can go straight to them and have a look.

This week the list is a little more eclectic than usual but no worse for that. Here is my five penneth worth for this Friday.


1. On-line Journalism Blog  Comment and analysis on citizen journalism, blogging and on-line news from Paul Bradshaw et al. Paul is senior lecturer in Online Journalism, Magazines and New Media at Birmingham City University

2. Toby Young  You either love Toby Young or you feel a bit alienated by him. Either way he is funny and insightful in equal measure. 

3. Push-on If you want to get technical Simon Wharton and the team have it all here for you to lap up. Expect this blog to be well optimised.

4.Simon Alexander  Another Simon and another digital marketing person – albeit one of a slightly different hue.  Communications, marketing and lots of good stuff on games.

5. Jon Ronson  I have followed the journals of Jon Ronson in their many forms since I first encountered him as a cub on Manchester’s City Life.  He wrote a scathing piece on one of my clients but he was very funny.  He still is.

Follow Friday Five #9

1 05 2009

Another Friday and another five blogs that you might want to take a look at and even add to your reader, or your web favourites, if readers aren’t your thing.    They are all worth a visit and I’ll put my shirt on that.

The sketch is the same as always some big blogs, some not so big. Some PR, some politics, some other stuff.

1. Micropersuasion This week’s blogging behemoth is Steve Rubel’s micropersuasion.  In his latest post Steve tells us what’s next after twitter and facebook. Resist if you can.

2. Neville Hobson Another big beast of the social web. This time with of a British hue. It includes the twice-weekly “For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report” a business podcast for communicators.

3. Salam Pax  The original Baghdad Blogger who became a cause celebre at the start of the Iraq war with his Dear Raed blog. Sill fascinating, still blogging from Baghdad.

4. PR Voice Blog  The words of the president of the CIPR, Kevin Taylor.  With over 9,000 members the CIPR aims to be the ‘eyes, ears and voice’ of the PR industry in the UK.   

5. Artisan The blog for Rob Baker’s Artisan Marketing Communications. Resolutely Mancunian but with a global view. Great insight and a PR blogging trail blazer that has just celebrated its blogging third birthday.

Budget, Blogs and Twitter

22 04 2009

budget red boxToday Chancellor Alistair Darling delivers what must be the toughest budget in living memory. 

What makes the challenge even more acute is that his pronouncement will be followed and commented upon in public even before he retakes his seat in the Commons at the end of his speech.

Blogs will comment well in advance of the considered reactions appearing in print in  the national press.  The national media will however be playing a big part in populating the blogosphere.  Joanna Geary at the Times will be coordinating a live Budget blog with analysis as it happens. 

To that end this blog is taking live comment from the web – comments on the budget posted across the twitter network will appear as they are posted throughout the day.

Are Bloggers Journalists?

22 01 2009

If blogging is citizen journalism then bloggers are citizen journalists, which by definition is a form of journalism.  Blogger relations might then have much in common with media relations.

I argued this case or something much akin to it in a lecture I gave for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in May 2008 at Leeds Metropolitan University.  

I had pursued this argument before with little opposition but when the Q&A section came round my argument hit a wall.  Richard Bailey, an academic blogger and university lecturer at Leeds took me to task on this view and Chris Norton Account Director at Wolfstar supported his assertion that blogger relations and media relations are very different. 

The two points of view can be broadly summarised thus:

The case for the prosecution

  • Bloggers don’t like and seldom use press releases
  • Bloggers are generally of independent mind and blog because they want to express their own views and opinions and not those of others
  • Blogs are not edited in the traditional sense and therefore can not be considered to be media in the conventional sense
  • Many blogs simply don’t have an audience
  • We have to engage with bloggers in a different way involving more dialogue and discussion

The case for the defense

  • Journalists don’t much like press releases either and never did.
  • I’ve met some pretty independent minded journalists in my time.  If in doubt read Nick Davies’s excellent ‘Flat Earth News’.  He’s man of independent mind (although he describes others that are not). 
  • The difference between blogs and ‘traditional media’ on line is becoming blurred.  The process of editing creates authority but it does not mean that blogs can’t be authoritative.  

I modified my view after listening to both Richard and Chris but I do believe there is a significant amount of common ground in how we approach the most influential bloggers and how we have deal with journalists who fit the more traditional mould.  I imagine however that the debate will run and run.

Beginner’s Guide to Blogging #2

13 01 2009

You have found a Blog platform and you have registered a blog.  You have also found a design template that you are happy with.  You might want to explore which features of the template you can adapt and alter.   You can often add graphics to the headline or background and this is a good way of  making a template based blog look a bit more individual.   Have a look at the widgets and see which ones will work best.  Have a look at your favourite blogs to get some ideas about which widgets to use.  Don’t worry to much about changing the look and feel of your blog even if it is ‘live’.  At this point it won’t be getting any traffic.  Work on the design and layout until you are happy.

Make sure you get the basics right.  There will be no separate proof reader and no grammar checker.  If you aren’t good at these things get someone to check your posts before you publish.  Most blog platforms have spell checkers, use them and proof read your work.  A blog with spelling mistakes or poor grammar will be the kiss of death, even if the quality of the writing is good.

The importance of the quality still can not be underestimated and it is our job to make the material engaging.  Some people find this easier than others but it can be learnt.  There are many blogs out there created by technically brilliant people who can’t or won’t write in a coherent fashion.

If it doesn’t come naturally then practise.  Read as much as you can learn what works and take advice from others.  If that doesn’t work then partner up with someone that can write.   If the content is poor then the blog is too.

Blogger Engagement #2

18 12 2008

It is widely agreed that bloggers and podcasters dislike getting press releases; well, so do most journalists that I have met.   If we want to engage with bloggers we must establish certain things.  Are they relevant to us in terms of reach and authority?  Are we relevant to them, is what we are pitching well targeted, will they be interested and do they accept pitches at all?  Many bloggers do not.

If we have overcome all of these hurdles I firmly believe that we can talk to many bloggers or podcasters in the same way as we approach journalists – by e-mail and by telephone and on the odd occasion by actually meeting.   So is this new form of public relations just the same as the old?  Well, some bits of its are and some aspects are entirely new. 

The world is considerably more complex but the traditional skills of a good PR person are particularly useful in this new environment where much of the media has become socialised.   In addition to pitching ideas offline we can have  conversations with bloggers very simply just by adding a post or a comment to their blog.   Remember that this is a conversation in public and that mostly they will talk back.

A Short History of Blogging

15 12 2008

The word Blog is a contraction of ‘web log’.  It’s hard to be exact about when blogging started. The peripheral  ‘blogger’ Jorn Barger editor of the blog Robot Wisdom, effectively invented the term ‘weblog’ but the term “blog” was not used for another two and a half years.   It was first employed by Peter Merholz and intended as a joke. He broke the word weblog into two words we blog in his own blog.  In doing so he essentially created the verb “to blog,” meaning to create a weblog as well as initiating the contraction of the noun into its now popular form.

The first bloggers were the effectively online diarists, who would keep a running account of their lives.  These blogs began well before the term was coined and the authors referred to themselves usually as diarists or online journalists.  Perhaps the first of these and therefore the original blogger was Justin Hall, who began blogging in 1994 and posted his first regular blog ‘Justin’s links to the underground’ whilst a still a student.    Blogging took off when the publishing platform Blogger was launched in August 1999.  It quickly became the most popular and simple to use blogging tool and it allowed mainstream internet users with little or no technical knowledge to start blogs.  Blogger was bought by Google in 2003.

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