Should PR Pros Be Reading Blogs?

As I talk to friends and colleagues, I’ve found that a number of PR and marketing communications professionals are not reading many blogs. Those they do read are often related to clients, and quite a few folks have confessed to me that they don’t use RSS to keep up (you know who you are!).

It’s my opinion that these two issues are related. We're all so busy with our businesses, who has time to visit a bunch of blog sites, or sign up for even more emails? But in truth, it can be very easy to read a large number of blogs (and other news sources) on your own timetable, and with so many blogs today offering extremely sophisticated analysis and thought leadership in PR and related areas, these free resources can help all of us become ever-better at our jobs. The secret to staying sane is RSS.

RS… What?
For the uninitiated, RSS can sound kind of weird and scary. In fact, don’t ask me to explain exactly how it works. Fortunately, just like your car or your television set, you don’t have to understand the innards to reap the benefits.

For a fun and simple explanation (in a video that takes less than 4 minutes), check out “RSS in Plain English.” Basically,  RSS allows you to “subscribe” to a blog or other Web site that offers an RSS “feed.” But all you really need to know is that after you complete the easy sign-up for a “feed reader,” the whole process happens magically whenever you click on the RSS button on a Web site or blog. After choosing to subscribe (like in the upper right-hand corner of Solo PR Pro, for example), and then selecting which feed reader you use, new posts from that blog will automatically show up whenever you go to your reader.

After much research on the different options, I selected Google Reader for myself for this purpose. A terrific feature of Google Reader is that as you scroll through new posts, it automatically marks them as read. So you can skim a large amount of material fairly quickly (it also offers a “mark all as read” option, if you get behind and you’d like to restart with a clean slate). You can also organize your feeds into folders, for example you could have a folder for PR blogs, and one for each of your clients. Update 1/8/09: Google has just posted some helpful intro materials for Google Reader at http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2009/01/google-reader-for-beginners.html.

I think you'll find it’s well worth the 10 minutes or so it will take you to setup an RSS reader and subscribe to some feeds. If you’re looking for a starting point, I’ve now added a Blogroll to Solo PR Pro (a permanent link appears up top in the blog’s header). These are all excellent blogs from  industry leaders that I believe would be of interest to the readers of Solo PR Pro. The list includes:

PR and Marketing Blogs

Freelancing Blogs

A final note: if you start feeling overwhelmed by all of the amazing resources available out there, you’re not alone! It’s my goal for Solo PR Pro to provide you with the must-know news for independent PR and MarCom professionals, distilled into manageable chunks. But of course, this approach won’t capture everything of interest. The more you’re able to read, and the more exposure you get to the many truly brilliant voices out there, the more knowledgeable you’ll be (but don't pressure yourself to read every single thing — for most of us it's simply not possible).

Are there any blogs I’ve missed that you think are a must for Solo PR Pros to read? What are your strategies for managing your blog reading?

Like this post? Consider subscribing to Solo PR Pro, either by e-mail or RSS Reader. It's free!