Is the age of the independent PR blogger over?

Earlier this week, popular and long-time PR/social media blogger, Danny Brown, announced he was shuttering his popular blog.

Well, he wasn’t closing it down, necessarily. But, he was announcing that he would not be blogging about PR an social media-specific topics all the time from here on out.

That’s an interesting move for a guy who just wrote a book. You would think he’d be all over his blog promoting his book. But, that’s not the way Danny operates. Never has been. Probably never will. But, that’s a story for a different day.

I think Danny’s a bit ahead of the curve here. I think the age of the PR blog might be over.



Danny Brown Post

Here’s why.

Too much noise.

When Danny, and others like him, started blogging, there were fewer voices in the online crowd—which, to an extent, were why those voices rose to the top. Sure, they were smart. But, they were also competing against fewer people. Skip forward today, and bloggers like Danny are literally competing against THOUSANDS of PR agencies, organizations and bloggers every day. Think about it—when was the last time you saw a new PR blogger rise up to the level of Danny Brown, Gini Dietrich and Todd Defren? And keep in mind, many of the legions of new PR bloggers (most agencies or other organizations looking to makey money, mind you) are writing about topics and subjects that have been beaten to death over the months/years—with little to no original thinking, as Danny notes in his post. So, it’s really tough to find the good stuff (I concur with Danny’s note about blogs to read—especially Adam Singer’s; always been a fan). With that stiff competition, it just becomes a little easier to say, “you know what, I don’t need this. I’ve had enough.” That’s really not what Danny is saying here—but I can see a number of other independent PR/marketing bloggers saying that in the months/years ahead. We’re definitely reaching a tipping point.


Early bloggers moved on (and became very successful!)

Noted early adopter PR blogger, Todd Defren, had a post on Facebook last week, yearning for the days of yore and a simpler time when PR bloggers could be counted on two hands. A number of notable PR bloggers commented on that post. And almost all seemed to agree—it’s a much different landscape today. No kidding. But, what none of them really mentioned is a large part of why the landscape is different today is because THEY moved on. Many of those early adopters also saw early success. And, that meant, they had less time for their blogs. Todd is a prime example. So is David Fleet over at Edelman. Heck, two of the first PR bloggers I followed, David Mullen and Shannon Paul, don’t even blog anymore! So, kudos to these good people—they saw success, partly as a result of their blogging efforts, no doubt. But, that shift has played a large role in where we are today.


Is it still worth the time given life situations?

In essence, this is Danny’s primary argument. Danny now has two little kids—kids he didn’t have 5-7 years ago when his blog was just hitting its stride. Not surprisingly, those two kids are now the apple of Danny’s eye (as a father to two kids myself, I can certainly relate). So, he’s choosing to spend more time with them instead of spending time blogging and on the speaker circuit. I applaud this stance. Danny could easily have taken the opposite approach—he could have continued to blog incessantly. He could have joined the speaker circuit and traveled. He could have continued down the same path many have pursued before him. But, Danny realized what many of us discover too late: Life is ultimately made up of experiences with those closest to you. Namely, your family. When you’re old and gray, you’re most likely going to look back fondly on a few things: 1) College days (i.e,. the “glory days”) with your friends, and 2) Those years with your kids when they were young. Danny is choosing to embrace that time. And again, I wholeheartedly applaud it.


Solo bloggers just can’t compete against the “content machines”

In some cases, this means competing with the likes of blogs like Gini Dietrich’s Spin Sucks, which publishes at least once a day—sometimes twice a day (keep in mind, Gini does NOT do ALL the posting and she has full-time help). In other cases, it means competing against group blogs like Social Media Examiner, which is sourced by literally hundreds of contributors and people who manage the blog as part of their full-time job. People like Danny don’t. Sure, the blog is connected to his job, but it’s not his full-time job to keep the blog up—therefore priorities win out. I can sympathize with Mr. Brown here.


Well, those are my thoughts. What do you think? Is the age of the independent PR blogger over?

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24 comments on “Is the age of the independent PR blogger over?

  1. Danny Brown says:

    Damn, Arik, this is quite the overview, mate, so thank you for choosing to highlight my personal example, sincerely.
    You’re spot on about many of the changes over the last 5-7 years. It was a very different universe back then – maybe more challenging (as in, bloggers challenged readers through content), because there was no need to chase traffic with Upworthy-type titles and vapid list posts just to hit the search results.
    I’m glad for the change in many ways – while attracting eyeballs may be more difficult today than it was 5 years ago, that has the associated bonus of more bloggers sharing thoughts which, in essence, can only help them grow in their industry. And even if a blog “only” has 10 loyal subscribers/readers, who cares? That’s 10 people and 10 businesses/agencies/clients you have the chance to impact.
    The family point was easy. I make mistakes with friends; I make mistakes in career choices; I make mistakes in personal decisions. That’s a given. But I don’t want to be the person that made the mistake with his family, and see a good marriage end and become a weekend father to two wonderful and very different kids. I’m a firm believer you only need so much money to make you happy – chasing more at the expense of family doesn’t come into any sensible equation.
    Perhaps the content machines will get more eyeballs, or more subscribers, or more book sales, or more speaking gigs. But, often, multi-author blogs don’t have the consistency and direction a single blogger does; and traffic will never equate the quality that comes with that singular vision.
    Thanks again, sir, appreciate you.

  2. JasonFalls says:

    You know what would be awesome? When bloggers stop announcing things like they’re celebrities or something. These are the same people who bitch that companies shouldn’t “announce” innocuous crap and send it out as press releases. Why are they doing the same thing on their blogs? 

    We are not celebrities. 

    (And yes, I’ve been guilty of it before. But I’m more enlightened now. No one gives a crap about me or my career anymore than they do yours or Danny’s or anyone else’s. If someone asks, fine. But announcing anything like that is 100% navel-gazing bullshit.)

  3. Danny Brown says:


  4. AlbertMaruggi says:

    yeah this is way I felt two years ago.  the irony here is all the credibility icons on the right column.   when situations take on a life of their own, you can only choose to participate in the framework being established or observe from the outside.

  5. AlbertMaruggi says:

    JasonFalls sometimes you know when people care when they DM.   All the best great one.

  6. TomMartin says:

    Don’t think the age is over Arik…. but will change. The “gotta post every day to maximize traffic” mindset will finally give way to post high quality content aimed at very niche audiences (read prospects). 
    Think more bloggers will realize that they really don’t need to have 100,000 people reading their blog… they just need 100 or so folks that can hire them to do work. Pick off 2-5 of those readers every year in terms of conversion to new clients and the blog a week strategy is not only doable but profitable.

  7. karenswim says:

    I don’t think it’s over but I do think that the mission and methodology will change. As you noted many of the early bloggers leveraged a blog to propel their business and then moved on. Independent PR bloggers today may have a tougher time of creating a blog to launch a rockstar business but there is still room to reach your target audience with relevant information. I think today it is more about quality and making blogging part of a multi-prong approach to reaching an audience.

  8. GregBrooks says:

    PR bloggers spend too much time writing about the foodie aspects of PR — oooh, here’s a new tool! Lookit this cool tactic this person is using. Most of the landscape is an echo chamber.

    PR bloggers (or bloggers of any stripe) that really communicate with their prospects rather than their peers will always find an audience.

  9. belllindsay says:

    While I agree that maintaining a successful blog the likes of Danny’s *while* holding down a FT job, writing a book, looking after a home, and raising two of the most adorable little imps in the world, is next to impossible, and I commend his choice to focus on his family and write more of what really matters to him on his own blog, I would like to correct one teeny-tiny error here. As the content director of Spin Sucks and Arment Dietrich, I assure you that Gini Dietrich doesn’t have “full time help” dealing with the blog. 

    Our staff rotate through, and write at least three times per month each, we have our amazing guest bloggers twice a week, and Gini carries the rest of the writing load. There isn’t a full time staff member dedicated solely to the blog either (oh, how I wish! LOL). Instead, a few of us power through the blog week to week, and work ahead on the editorial, before spending the rest of our time on all of our other responsibilities and assorted client work. We are a lean machine, and quite proud of that fact. 

    Great post Arik, and certainly thought provoking. I wonder if there are *any* content creators out there today who aren’t struggling to be heard through the noise.

  10. HughAnderson says:

    Thought-provoking indeed, Arik. The level of noise is increasingly deafening, but I think blogging will remain a key part of the content marketing equation for PR as it will for just about any industry. It’s a fast-changing world, so I’d like to think those that can produce quality insights on whats going on and where we are headed will win out – probably old Danny Brown again! I guess we should also re-do the “Top 60” list again shortly to see what’s changed or maybe expand it to find the independent new entrants that are on the way up – if there are any?

  11. corinamanea says:

    Great insights Arik.
    I agree with the comments below. I wouldn’t say the age of the independent PR
    blogger is over, but it´s definitely changing, evolving. One of the trends out
    there is putting behind the “5 ways to…” stuff and talking more
    about the day a day experience with case studies or bringing ideas for changing
    the PR industry.
    Gini Dietrich and her
    team are a great example, though they might have more time and back up than a PR
    solo, yet they choose to bring value. There are PR agencies out there with lots
    of resources that are simply boring. They say nothing new, add no value.
    You are also a great
    example, bringing your contribution with each post to a better understanding of
    PR, promoting the new PR generation in your city (which I haven´t seen anyone
    else doing), etc.
    Good PR blogging,
    just like a good PR pro, has the ability to adapt, change, foresee and identify
    trends and major changes in the industry.

  12. Because I don’t blog professionally or personally I can’t offer any personal insight except that even as a daily consumer of PR content, I am exhausted in just searching for fresh or interesting content. I am finding it increasingly more difficult to get beyond the abundance of redundancy and the time it takes just to search out and read the overwhelming abundance of content, nevermind quality or useful content. There are so many great independent bloggers, some of whom have commented here, yet on a daily basis I have yet to find an individual whose every post I shouldn’t miss. As someone who does not automate their sharing without first reading the post, this has become a huge task in my day so I can imagine the stress and time it takes to also produce content daily. 

    I don’t mean that in any disparaging way and have high respect for the people you mentioned but as one who uses the RSS feed (with thousands of must read blogs) as my curation source. I often wonder if I might be more apt to read and comment on content by individuals if it were less frequent, a bit of absence makes the heart grow fonder philosophy.  I respect Danny for his personal choice but I also know when he has something to say or share I bet it will be more worthwhile to me as a reader than if he was on a daily grind to churn something out.  I know I would go back to signing up for individual direct email subscriptions so not to miss the posts.

    So no, I hope the days of the independent PR blogger are not done and look forward to seeing new faces and perspectives but I also would like to see some of the hot air released before the bubble bursts. I respect those that know when change is good for them personally or professionally.  When the saturation is so dense it’s good to scrape off the lard and stir the pot.

  13. meyerm505 says:

    Arik, I definitely agree and would have to say that the age of the independent PR blogger is not over but is changing rapidly and dramatically. Blogging is used to help reach a certain audience as well as helping you build your audience but as others have stated, many bloggers back away from blogging after they’ve gained/reached their target audience. Even as stated below, many companies don’t have specific employees designated to blogging for them, as they find it hard to justify paying someone to do this.

  14. AbbieF says:

    This comment is not intended as a response to Danny announcing he is shutting down his blog but rather a blanket statement that starting a blog, stopping a blog, getting on Twitter, deleting all your followers, etc. is not really news.  

    I’m not so concerned about the number of PR bloggers, independent or not. I’m more concerned about the content the bloggers are producing and whether I have the time to read through it all.  Case in point, it is Friday, May 2 at 5:11 p.m. and I’m just getting around to reading this blog that was posted almost two weeks ago.

    If you have the time and desire to write a blog, then do it and do it well. If you don’t want to do it any more, that’s ok, too. We’ll be able to find plenty other things to read.

  15. Ari Herzog says:

    I grasp folks who cease blogging and do other things. But many of them tweet a lot, too. Which makes me wonder if they tweeted less and took that energy to a blog post. Heck, they could guest write for you, Arik!

  16. Danny Brown says:

    Ari Herzog  You probably notice I tweet a lot less than I used to, too. Facebook usage has dropped as well, and G+ is perfunctory. My time is much more geared to family and personal time, now.

  17. storytellertothemedia says:

    Blogging captures your own voice publicly. So it’s only over when you stop speaking publicly.

  18. kevinanselmo says:

    I listened to some good commentary about this topic on Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson’s For Immediate Release podcast and enjoyed reading this post.

    In my opinion, there will always be space for the independent PR bloggers so long as you they are using blogs to accomplish business goals. This probably means for many of us carving out a niche. Much of the content that respected thought leaders have blogged about over the years is common knowledge to fellow marketing / communications professionals. However, it might not be to our clients. 

    My work is focused on providing marketing / communications support for individuals within the higher education space. I blog about different aspects of communications as it relates to a higher education audience. I have a decent readership within this particular space. In no ways is it read by the masses. While I certainly wouldn’t mind more traffic, my blog targeted at my niche audience is helping me fulfill some of my business goals. So long as this continues and that I am personally learning by exploring different topics, I am going to continue blogging regardless if my blog posts are read by 5 people or 5 million. I would imagine there are probably others like me in the same boat.

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