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!

  • Kellye – great list of incredibly smart people. i’m honored to be included among them.

    thanks and i hope 2009 has amazing things in store for you!

    David Mullen’s last blog post..Want Consumer Loyalty? Use These Magic Words.

  • I’m chuckling at the irony of a blog for PR people featuring a post about PR people not reading blogs 😉

    Great list, Kellye. Reminded me that I’m not subscribed to the blogs of a few of my favorite people on Twitter. Oops!

    Scott Hepburn’s last blog post..Hero Rising: Down the Rabbit Hole with Disney

  • Kellye Crane

    @David – thanks, and a happy 2009 to you!

    @Scott – The irony did occur to me! Like “if a tree falls in the woods”-type thing. But you can’t blame a gal for trying. 🙂 Of course, your blog at http://mediaemerging.com/ is another great one (I knew I’d accidentally leave some folks off!).

  • Kellye, a great post and, as Scott pointed out, a terrific irony! Thanks for including THoM on your list! Although, the way I rant about the PR industry… LOL!

    I think a lot of people (i.e. corps and agencies) still think of blogs as someone’s little playground versus a great learning and business tool. I find that reading blogs equates to a free tutor session and that’s invaluable to me. Here’s hoping that other solo PR pros will find them to be the same. 🙂

  • David Griner

    Thanks so much for including me in your list, Kellye. You’ve culled down a great blogroll from the many of options out there. Good work!

  • Great pointers! That list pretty much comprises my ‘a-list’ of blogs to read. Thanks for pulling it together.

    Dave Fleet’s last blog post..Are You A Buffler?

  • Kellye, This is a great and timely post! I’ve made sure to alert my friend Kim to it as it will give her many more tips and blogs to read and use. Susan

    Susan’s last blog post..Keep building

  • Kellye Crane

    @David and Beth – thanks for the encouragement!

    @Dave – I appreciate you stopping by. Of course, http://davefleet.com/ is a silly omission on my part. Highly recommended!

    @Susan – Good idea — glad to hear this list can be a resource for your friend.

  • Kellye! What a great a list of folks to check out and read. Definitely recommend Freelance Folder – great stuff there.

    Appreciate you including me on this list of smarties 🙂

    Sonny Gill’s last blog post..sunset on 2008

  • Hi Kellye!

    Happy New Year!

    That is a great list there, thanks.

    I am finding it hard to keep up with my favorite blogs now, too. One new way that I like actually is Networked Blogs from facebook. Whenever one of my friends posts a new blog post, I get in in my daily stream there…it’s just another reminder to READ their blog and not just subscribe to it.

    I need a schedule in my life!

    Take care,
    Bella

    Bella Casa’s last blog post..Networked Blogs Application at facebook

  • Hi Kellye,

    I’m so glad you wrote about the importance of reading blogs and keeping up with thought leaders in our profession. Not to mention all the smart, free information that’s available. Of course, as Scott said, the people who most need to read this post probably aren’t 🙂

    Happy New Year,
    Daria

    Daria Steigman’s last blog post..Context and the Twitter Echo Chamber

  • Kellye Crane

    @Sonny – You bet!

    @Bella – Thanks for sharing your strategy for using Facebook to keep up with posts. I see your latest post is this topic, so folks can go take a look!

    @Daria – You’re right that many potential blog readers aren’t reading this blog! I’m sure this post seems crazy to some, but interestingly I know a number of PR Pros personally who don’t use RSS, but visit this blog by following links in emails or elsewhere. So, hopefully every little bit counts!

  • Karen Strong

    Hi Kellye, great advice/reminder regarding the importance of subscribing to blogs or RSS features. I read and track several blogs but have never actually taken the time to set up a feed reader. However, after reading this post (and vowing to be more organized this year) I think I will actually go ahead and take the time to do it! In the end, it will help me to be more organized/efficient and enable me to read even more blogs/topics of interest.

    Keep the great advice coming!

    Happy New Year to you as well,

    Karen

  • Maybe it’s because I just graduated Dec 16th with a communication studies degree, but if I’m not constantly researching new information, I feel as if I’m missing out. I am an internet marketing consultant, and have learned much of what I know through other professional’s blogs. Even if you’ve been around for years, there is always new things to learn, or new ways of thinking about something. With technology changing constantly, you have will fall way behind, if you don’t stay on the lookout for new stuff.

    Jennifer Larson’s last blog post..Link Your Way to More Blog Traffic

  • Ada Barber

    Like Karen Strong, I read several blogs by visiting directly. I’d like to say it is because I like the variety of layouts and designs but it is mostly because I haven’t gotten around to setting up a reader. I do want to stay on top of things and take advantage of all the information out there, so I think I will join Karen in finally setting mine up.

  • Kellye Crane

    @Karen – Great point about how this can be part of a New Year’s “getting organized” strategy!

    @Jennifer- So true that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the business, since things are changing rapidly right now. Congrats on your graduation!

    @Ada – You’re funny. 🙂 Glad the post helped.

  • I read more blogs than I can keep track of, Kellye, but you still managed to list a few I need to check out. I use RSS/Google Reader, as well. To manage my email subscriptions for blogs, contest, etc., I use OtherInBox. That way, I can check it a few times a day without it all getting mixed up in my many other emails.

    Jen Wilbur’s last blog post..abandoned little AZ guy is now "lily"

  • Ah-ha, you see that you hit a nerve here. Many great PR minds are already sharing stuff for free, but just as many more have no idea this universe exists. It even happens in Twitter, many of us follow each other in Twitter but not in our blogs. The meat is in the blog, the appetizer in Twitter.

    Kami Huyse’s last blog post..Bosses and Clients: Knowing When to Push Your Case and When to Drop It

  • Kellye Crane

    @Jen – Terrific idea to set up a secondary email account for your subscriptions. Thanks for sharing.

    @Kami – As usual you have an excellent way of stating things. Love this: “The meat is in the blog, the appetizer in Twitter.” Thanks for weighing in!

  • I used to have a hard time reading through all my must-read blogs. There was too much work going on at work (novel concept I know) to take 30 minutes to read through industry / personal development blogs. As part of a New Year’s resolution, I am now using my lunch hour as a way to read blogs. I bring food from home (more healthy than eating out) and read through my must-read blogs and comment as well. It’s the perfect plan.

    Melanie Thompson’s last blog post..Which ads do you remember?

  • Kellye, this is quite a round-up and I’m honored to be included. I loved your last resource list so much and found new tools to add to my toolkit. What a great overview of RSS too for the newbie. During the week I don’t always get time to catch up but over the weekend I scroll through my reader and get caught up.

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..Five in the Morning

  • Kellye Crane

    @Melanie – Thanks for sharing how you manage your time to include blog reading – I’m sure it will be helpful to many as they look at how to compartmentalize their day.

    @Karen – You raise a good point. Even if you can only take a look once a week at your feed reader, you’ll still be smarter for it!

  • Unfortunately, I find most people are not interested in RSS until you make it about them. Once you show them how to set up Google Alerts and Blog searches about them and track by RSS then the light turn on! Great list above. Also, I look forward to reading your series about Modern PR.

    Lauren Vargas’s last blog post..How parenting skills (or lack of) affect customer relationship building

  • Just like you, I go forever with out reading RSS. My view is, if it’s important at all, It will hit my twitter stream.

  • Kellye Crane

    @Lauren- Interesting note about the “ego” searching aspects of RSS. I’m sure that is a big motivator for quite a few users.

    @Jason- You’re right – I’ve even heard many on Twitter wondering if that service is rendering RSS obsolete. For those who don’t fully engage in Twitter though, RSS would still be a useful tool. Regardless, the key is to check out interesting blogs (however you get there!). Thanks for your comment.

  • Love your Blog! You have helped me out – found Freshbooks on your site last spring when I went out on my own. I hope to jump in on the weekly chat when I can. Great sharing.

  • Thanks, Sue – glad to have your participation!

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