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.
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?
When I started blogging in 2008, there were a number of PR folks who blogged that I followed religiously. They were the voices of our industry on the web (for me, at least). They blogged regularly. And they inspired me to be better–both as a blogger and as a PR counselor. Among my regular reads were:
* David Mullen
* Dave Fleet
* Peter Shankman
* Shel Holtz
* Danny Brown
* Shonali Burke
* Jason Falls
* Jay Baer
* Journalistics (Jeremy Porter)
* PR Squared (Todd Defren)
* Adam Singer
Now a number of those blogs definitely still exist–and I still read them. But, a number of those blogs don’t. And a number of others have changed significantly.
The reality seemed pretty simple: Work picked up. Life got busy. Blogging took a back seat.
And that’s fine. But, I miss the really good PR blogs that featured just one opinionated voice.
What am I talking about?
Take a look at this recent list of the top 60 PR blogs from Inkybee (one of the more recent top PR blog lists I found). Of the top 10:
* 3 are run by organizations that serve the PR industry (vendors)
* 3 are run by agencies
* 1 I hadn’t heard of before
* Leaving just three that are written by individuals in the field.
Look at the next 10:
* 3 more written by agencies
* 1 written by a professional organization (PRSA)
* 1 written by an organization that serves the PR industry (Cision)
* My blog
* 2 group blogs (PR Breakfast Club and NYC PR Girls)
* Leaving just two more blogs that are written by individuals in the field.
So, by my math, that’s just 5 of the top 20 PR blogs (25%) that are written by individuals working in PR.
Now, you might wonder what’s wrong with vendor blogs?
Nothing. But, they’re essentially corporate blogs. They’re trying to sell you something and often talk about their own products/services. You know the drill (we all work in this area).
What about the agency blogs?
Again, nothing wrong with a good agency blog. But they too, are trying to sell you something–and it usually shows. Plus, they’re typically written by multiple people–which can be good (varying perspectives) or bad (too many “weak” voices just adding content for the sake of search/content).
What about group blogs? What could you possibly have against those?
Nothing, again. I’ve written for a few in my day (including the PRBC crew–shout out!). But, group blogs can become diluted. Many authors can translate into washed out content (not always, but as a rule, this is what I see).
And so we’re left with just a small number of individual PR bloggers who are still sharing their thoughts, ideas and insights on a regular basis.
I guess I shouldn’t be so disappointed about this trend. It means many of the people I “grew up” reading became successful.
They had to stop blogging because they got a great job.
Or, they had to go the group blog model because they simply couldn’t keep up with all the other responsibilities. Whatever the case, it’s usually a good reason–and a great thing for these people!
But, I can’t help but wish some of those folks were still blogging–or, at least blogging more. The web was a better place with them sharing regular opinions. It was more diverse. More educational. And definitely more entertaining.
Do you agree? Have we really lost most of the good individual PR blogs?
The finalists are set for the 2012 PR Readers’ Choice Blog Awards! The voting will begin TODAY and run through Monday, July 16. You can vote as often as you wish (I know what this opens me up to), but only for one blog per category.
Disappointingly, there were only 13 nominations this year–down from 16 last year. But, some of that may be due to my lack of participation online the last couple years after starting my consulting business.
I want to thank everyone that has supported, commented and voted for these awards this year–and in the last three years. I know it has meant a lot to a number of bloggers that have been mentioned and nominated–and it definitely has meant a lot to me that you took the time to nominate and/or vote. So, thanks you for that.
Please vote for your favorite blog in each category below (most Educational blog only had one nomination so there will be no public vote). Think about your vote carefully–don’t take the “Readers’ Choice” piece lightly. This shouldn’t be a popularity contest–but instead, a reflection of the blogs you really value and read every day.
Votes will be taken through midnight Monday, July 16. Winners will be announced on Monday, July 23.
Good luck to this year’s finalists!
A couple weeks ago, I’m sure you noticed Cision published a list of the top 50 PR and marketing blogs. And not surprisingly, it spread across the Web.
These kinds of lists are a dime a dozen–I should know, I create a bunch of them. But, this one had a bit of process behind it as Cision used its proprietary Cision Influence Ratings to create the list. I would imagine that tool takes some kind of algorithm of unique visitors, comments and social scoring into consideration before giving a blog one of the “scores” we see in the list (note: I have never used the Cision tool).
But, what I didn’t see the last couple weeks was a lot of discussion about this list. If this list had come from an independent blogger (like me, for example), I probably wouldn’t bat an eye. When it comes from an organization like Cision, I take a closer look.
So, I took a closer look. Here’s what I found in terms of facts.
How many of the blogs are written by agencies? 10
How many of the blogs are written by solo bloggers? 24
How many blogs aren’t actually even in the US? 3. Danny Brown, Dave Fleet and PR Conversations are all written by blogger who live outside the U.S. — The initial list did say U.S., right? 😉 (OK, I had to give Cision a little grief for that one). PR Conversations is written by three bloggers who all reside outside the U.S. Just pointing out the obvious here.
Number of blogs on the list featuring the company who actually created the list: 1. I know it’s not your fault, Cision, that you popped up on the list. But when you’re the list facilitator it’s tough to put yourself on the list. It’s a shot to your credibility–even if the numbers are true. I took some heat for including myself on a list a few years back–so, speaking from experience here, Cision, just take yourself off next time.
How many blogs don’t even really cover PR or marketing? I know, I know, social media is just a small part of the larger marketing and communications mix. But, technically folks like Chris Brogan, Lee Odden (Online Marketing Blog), Jason Falls’ Social Media Explorer and Jason Keath’s Social Fresh don’t cover PR or marketing. They specifically cover “social media.” Go ahead, fire away at me now. And, all four were in the top six! Why is that relevant? Because they blog about social media. It’s kinda like Twitter. Consisistenly, tweets about Twitter rank as those most popular on the platform. Well, people that blog about social media can tend to have bigger audiences than those that blog about other disciplines. Again, I know you can lump them all together. I get it. I would just argue that those three blogs aren’t really PR or marketing blogs.
Lists like this are meant to be debated (and shared). Anyone who’s ever created a list online knows this. But, when it’s a list from an industry-leading organization like Cision (and using one of their proprietary tools), I tend to take a closer look (and I expect it to be a bit more buttoned up than this one was).
Outside of the Fleet/Brown/PR Conversations miss (start a Canada/international list, perhaps? :), I don’t have a big problem with the list. I see lots of blogs that deserve to be on a list like this. But, I also see a few that kinda surprised me. Beyond The Hype (few shares, comments), CrisisBlogger (great content, but limited sharing and engagement), Down By the Avenue (not a single comment on one post since April.) and The Intake blog (grand total of one comment since May 1), just to name a few (not slamming these blogs because they’re not solid blogs–I just question whether they should be on a Top 50 list developed with help from a proprietary tool by an industry-leading organization).
Meanwhile, I noticed a number of blogs that were conspicuously absent. First, if the list is going to include social media blogs from the likes of Brian Solis, Lee Odden and Chris Brogan, how can they NOT include Jay Baer’s Convince & Convert? That’s simply unacceptable no matter how you’re coming up with the list. Close behind, I’d list Adam Singer’s The Future Buzz and Jeff Bullas–both miles ahead of a number of other blogs on the “Top 50” list in many ways. Additionally, I probably would have included Heather Whaling’s PRTini, Frank Strong’s The Sword & the Script and Stuart Bruce’s A PR Guy’s Musings. All belong in this company. But that’s just me.
Why all the fuss about this list? Because Cision created it with their Cision Influence Ratings tool–something they sell as a tool that will help you with blogger outreach. I’m not here to say it’s a horrible tool–it’s most likely a great tool (I’m sure someone will attest). But I’ve learned that you shouldn’t use these tools as the end-all-be-all when it comes to building blogger lists. Remember, there’s a human element to blogger outreach–researching blogrolls, Twitter feeds and About Us/Me pages that these algorithms and formulas aren’t going to pick up. In this case, you would have missed Jay Baer, Heather Whaling, Frank Strong and a host of others. And, according to this list, you’d be focusing on Brogan, Falls and Keath pretty intently–three guys that again, write predominantly about the world of social media (again, I know social media is a part of PR/marketing).
So what do you think of Cision’s list? Was it relatively accurate? Or, did it miss the mark a bit? Does it matter?
Note: Photo courtesy of Terren from Virginia via FlickR Creative Commons.
Three years ago, I started the PR Reader’s Choice Blog Awards. At the time, PR blogs were really just starting out. I mean, there were a ton of them, but not quite the proliferation we see now. But the impetus was to give the readers a voice in who they think deserved the accolades–instead of letting publications and random folks do the choosing for us.
Over the last three years, a number of outstanding PR blogs have been nominated. The list is like a who’s who of PR blogs (and for good reason–it’s the Reader’s Choice Awards after all!). Blogs like Convince & Convert, Conversation Age, PR Squared and PR 2.0 (Brian Solis’ blog) have all been nominated.
Last year, our winners were:
Best Up-and-Coming blog: B2B Bliss
Most Educational blog: Journalistics
Most Thought-Provoking blog: Waxing Unlyrical
Blog of the Year: Spin Sucks
This year, I’m excited to see some new entries in the fold. What’s been interesting in the last year or so is that many of the PR blogs I came up reading have either faded away (David Mullen’s blog–one of my early faves) or have gone the content curation route and broadened to other authors (like Jason Falls’ Social Media Explorer).
On the other side of that, there’s a whole host of new blogs that have popped up that continue to impress me. I’m thinking about blogs like Adam Vincenzini’s Comms Corner (although it’s not exactly new) and Jessica Malnik’s blog.
So, the first step is to nominate your favorites. We’ll have the same categories as the first three years:
* Best Up-and-Coming
* Most Educational
* Most Thought-Provoking
* Blog of the Year
Please nominate your favorites ONCE in each category in the comments below. The deadline is midnight on Friday, June 29. After that, we’ll tally the nominations and the top 5 in each category will be put to a public vote in early July.
Excited to see your nominations!