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?

14 comments
storytellertothemedia
storytellertothemedia

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

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

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!

AbbieF
AbbieF

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.

meyerm505
meyerm505

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. 

corinamanea
corinamanea

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 for 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.  

belllindsay
belllindsay

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. 

GregBrooks
GregBrooks

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.

karenswim
karenswim

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. 

TomMartin
TomMartin

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. 

AlbertMaruggi
AlbertMaruggi

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.   

JasonFalls
JasonFalls

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.)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

@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.

AlbertMaruggi
AlbertMaruggi

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