Upon hearing we would have to create a blog and create weekly posts in my ACS 213 course, Intro. to Public Relations, I was not only skeptical at how this would aid in my coursework, but also hesitant to put my own thoughts and views out for the world wide web to see. It did not take but 2 weeks for me to realize, thanks to Stacey Howard, an extraordinary PR instructor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, that by writing I was practicing a handful of the core skills needed in the PR and Marketing industry: developing a voice of my own, correct grammar and basic structure for any press release, news story or featured lead.
Scott mentions on page 84 four important uses for blogs when it comes to the PR and Marketing world.
His uses are:
“1. To easily monitor what millions of people are saying about you, the market you sell into, your organization, and its products.
2. To participate in those conversations by commenting on other people’s blogs
3. To work with bloggers who write about your industry, company, or products.
4. To begin to shape those conversations by creating and writing your own blog.”
While I am still new to monitoring and tracking data, I can strongly agree with him that the importance of blogging for any company or personal brand is extremely important.
One of the articles that I found pertaining to this subject addressed 5 major points for people (PR and Marketing professionals, as well as individuals) to blog. These points ranged from personal ownership of your blog, to creating sales leads and flexibility with content and length. This article, written by Mike McGrail for Social Media Today, emphasizes that blogging is not a frivolous waste of time with no return, but rather a platform for transparency and authenticity when reaching potential clients and people of interest. He says, “Creating great content that relates to your business is a natural way to sell.” McGrail sheds a blinding light on the aspect of personal ownership of ones blog and how it differs from Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. He believes that blogging is not only the most flexible way to share content (having the ability to easily change/adjust the content based on viewer response), but to also share personal thoughts and ideas while simultaneously taking personal ownership of those thoughts without filters.
Since navigating WordPress (my social media platform choice for this assignment) for a little under a year, I have discovered tools that I adore and ones that I do not completely understand. I enjoy how many options this site allots for timing of posts, links within the posts, data for who has viewed your posts and how to change the layout of your blog’s home page without getting confusing or overly complicated. I also like the simplicity of the RSS feed and how commenting and interacting with other bloggers is almost encouraged by this simple setup.
Some traits that I do not like, however, are the complicated widgets, how easy it is to get lost when searching for your own home page and the categories of Blogroll and Meta found on my homepage. However, I do feel with some slight dabbling I could discover what these tools are for and utilize them to my advantage.
Scott devotes all of Chapter 5 to this online expression and says that it is best when starting out to read and comment on others blogs prior to jumping in and beginning your own; true for any platform I feel. He says on page 86, “ Leaving comments on someone’s blog is one of the best ways to participate in a conversation. You have the opportunity to offer your viewpoint, adding to the ongoing discussion. However, it takes an understanding of blogs and blogging etiquette to pull it off without sounding like a corporate shill.”
When I first began writing my own blog, my classmates and I were encouraged to read through old blogs that previous students who had taken the same course had written. This helped tremendously! Not only because it was from people who had been in my shoes before, but also because I could get a sense of how a blog flowed, what content read better in the blogosphere and I could begin shaping my own thoughts and ideas at what message I wanted my blog to have and the voice I wanted it to read in.
Another great read that I found pertaining to blogging and the PR and Marketing realm was written by William Arruda for Forbes. The article focused on a new social media tool that I recently joined, LinkedIn. Arruda speaks to the blogging feature found on this site and focuses in on the personal branding aspect of LinkedIn and how PR and Marketing professionals can gain not only attention, but promote professional revenue and clientele.
His advice is to utilize 5 easy steps to maximize the most traffic and gain the greatest results. He advises LinkedIn bloggers to develop a strategy and in doing so focus on one particular topic when it comes to blogging. He says strong brands are known for something, not a plethora of things. He also says to create compelling content that readers will be enthralled to view. Not far from Scott’s advice of creating content-rich
sites. Arruda also says, “The research I have read from several different sources indicates that Thursday, Sunday and Tuesday may yield the most views.” He stresses the importance of promoting your blog by linking it to not only the LinkedIn members, but also every platform you take part in. Lastly, he encourages PR and Marketing bloggers to measure their success on this platform by looking at which topics got the most traffic (both in views and comments) and which areas could use improving or discarding.
This endeavor into the world of blogging, RSS feeds and interaction with other bloggers has allowed me to gain an understanding of the many uses of blogging and how it relates to the PR and Marketing field in the importance of online presence, transparency, how relatable a company/brand is and the voice a company wishes to share with consumers. Because I took the leap and explored this new platform, I have not only crafted my personal voice on my own blog, but seen companies succeed at doing the same on theirs and in doing so, generating conversation, business and promoting connections.