Inspired by Louise Triance’s "Interview with a Blogger" series, this week heralds the beginning of "PR Perspective". Every Wednesday, Offer and Acceptance will feature a blogger from the heady world of PR. Many thanks to Louise for allowing me to blatantly rip off some of her questions, and throw a few of my own into the mix.
To kick us off, we have Stephen Davies. Stephen is the social media manager for online news distribution and monitoring company, webitpr. Prior to this he worked for the world’s largest independent PR firm, Edelman and leading consumer agency, Frank PR. He currently lives in his native North East.
Stephen blogs at http://www.prblogger.com
How long have you been blogging?
I started blogging on April 20 2005 so I guess that makes me a middle-aged blogger by today’s standards.
Why did you start?
I wish I could say it was because I identified blogs as a new communication channel that would increasingly affect the PR profession but, alas, it was purely for self-promotion. I started my blog while I was studying a PR degree at the University of Sunderland to get myself known. Finding a job at a good agency is tough for any graduate so I saw it as a means to put myself out there and differentiate myself from others. It worked too. I got a job at Edelman which is one of the best agencies in the world.
Obviously the more I blogged and the more I read other PR bloggers I began to understand how they and other forms of social media were playing a part in PR and the overall communications mix. And like the name ‘social media’ illustrates I’ve met a lot of great people since.
Do you think blogging has helped your business?
Well I’ve never actually owned a business but the companies who I have worked for obviously see the benefits in it. The company I work for, webitpr, is an online news release distributor and work on behalf of a number of PR agencies and corporate clients in the UK and Europe. The whole point of what we do is to distribute clients’ news release to our large database of online media which includes blogs. So I would guess we’re doing the largest scale blogger outreach in the UK and Europe … Possibly the world.
So, yes, the blogosphere and the individuals participating in it do help our business.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge about writing a blog?
In a word ‘time’. Writing a blog is a slog (hey that rhymed) and often a solitary exercise so you’ve got to be prepared to put in the time.
Some people have tried it and fizzled out after a couple of months or, indeed, weeks even. Which goes to prove that blogging isn’t for everyone and often people do have lives to live in the real world.
Must admit, I’m finding it more difficult as times goes on and my work load in the regular day job increases. But as long as I keep connecting with new and like-minded people I’ll continue to do it.
What do you want your readers to know about you?
Um, er, that I want to look after endangered animals and bring about world peace?
Joking aside. On my ‘about’ page I clearly state that my blog is a perso-professional blog and by that I mean I’ll normally write in a professional capacity – but you might find the odd post that’s off topic. And if it is off topic I’ll try and put PR twist in it.
I think I’m pretty open on my blog and don’t take myself too seriously. And I reckon the people who kindly read my content (thanks mam) have a decent idea of what I’m like in the real world.
Obviously I wouldn’t put warts and all on my blog but I am pretty open.
Which other blogs do you read regularly and why?
I’m subscribed to many PR blogs and for fear of missing someone out I wouldn’t want to say. I will say, however, that my mate, Ben Ayers (http://benayers.blogspot.com) who’s a publicist at ITV is a good read. His blog is a PR blog which focuses on broadcast media (as you’d expect given his job) and I think it’s quite a refreshing change from the norm. He’s a top bloke too.
If you knew someone was thinking about starting a PR related blog what advice would you want to give them?
Don’t do it! Are you insane? 🙂
I would say go for it, you have nothing to lose. Obviously take some time to find your writing style before you announce it to the world though. And please, please, please don’t announce it when you’ve only written one blog post.
Do you think Web 2.0 is having an impact on how PR is practiced?
Yes but there’s lots of hype. Newspapers still have an audience of millions, I, along with many others, still listen to the radio and my 10 year old nephew continues to watch a lot of TV. The day when we’re all Twittering one another and we’re all living our lives exclusively online is a long way away. If at all.
What’s the biggest challenge in PR?
Trying to explain to my parents what PR is. 🙂
What would be your advice to someone who is looking to embark on a career in PR?
If you’re looking for a good salary in a relatively short space of time you should choose a different profession. PR isn’t one of the best paid professions and it usually takes quite sometime with a lot of hard work in between before you’re making the big bucks. However, if you want to work with some smart, inquisitive, creative, media-savvy individuals who like nothing more than to socialise after a hard day’s work then step forth.
Call me biased but the PR industry is full of the most funniest and friendly people I’ve ever came across. Always loads of gossip and always time for a laugh.
Is there a question you wish I had asked you?
Yes: "What have you been up to at webitpr?" And I would have replied:
We have recently launched our (and the UK’s first) version of the Social Media News Release – a new kind of news (press) release catered for the online world. So far with excellent results.
You can read what we did with New York based agency, Converseon here: http://www.prblogger.com/2007/07/webitprs-social-media-news-release-for-converseon/