This blog….where are we after 90 days?

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Time for an afterthought. This blog has now been accessible for three months. It’s time to reconsider and evaluate.Some will remember the original intentions:

The ambition of this blog is to become a truly global space to debate about public relations in the world today, by facilitating all who are interested in being updated and wish to comment on the developments of our profession, to read news and opinions from concerned professionals and scholars from all continents who, I hope, will be stimulated to proactively cooperate with me in this venture. There is no real reason why this should not happen, but of course very much depends on the quality and the substance of the early posts which you may now peruse at your wish. Obviously, and only for the moment, they are mostly mine…but hopefully this will quickly change.

Gulp!

I want to be completely honest with you (and with myself) and confess that I am afraid the experiment did not succeed. So what else is new? As the Italians say: ‘non tutte le ciambelle escono con il buco’, roughly translated as ‘not all doughnouts come out with a round hole’. Lets look at some indicators:

°in three months, single visits have amounted to something more than 11 thousand (an average of 120 visits per day… last weeks daily average however is something more than 300 and in some days it reaches 600). In the same period the so called hits have been 52 thousand. In other words some 120 individuals have visited this blog every day in the last ninety days and each visit has recorded some 5 hits. In my view, this number is significantly lower than I had hoped to achieve, and the reason is probably very simple…I have not succeeded in attracting ‘news and opinions from concerned professionals and scholars from all continents who, I hope, will be stimulated to proactively cooperate with me in this venture’. It now appears to me clear that the quality and substance of the early posts were insufficient to attract other posts and comments from colleagues from other countries;

°the geographical origin of these visits are instead in line with my hopes. Although 72% of visits come from english speaking countries (25 from the USA, 20 from the UK, 10 from Canada, 5 from New Zealand, 3 Australia, 2 South Africa ), 18% come from Italy and the other 10 Portugal (2), China (2), Russia (1), Germany (1) and others.

°the blog has received about 126 comments to the now 56 posts, averaging more than two comments per post. And this, in itself, is not negative if it wasn’t for the fact that many of these comments (say 20%) are my responses to the 100 comments and that many of these (say another 10%) are from visitors who have already commented. So, to make a long story short, if you exclude me and repeat comments, the 126 numbers boils down to maybe 90.

°the last indicator I cite is the number of blogs which have linked to mine and, according to Technorati, this number is 67. I have no idea if this is an acceptable number so I won’t comment.

Certainly results are not what I hoped they might have been and I guess the underlying reason is that I had too many expectations. I am however uncertain on whether to be fully coherent and close this blog with gratitude to visitors and the awareness of failure, or to (as we often do when faced with reality…) modify my expectations, give it another try, and begin a personal push initiative towards senior scholars and professionals from all countries in order to pressure them to become proactive. Holiday season is coming and this might argue in favour of the latter option. But although personally I don’t mind being pushed (it has helped me enter into experiences I would have never had) I detest pushing others, and this instead argues for the former option.

I promise a decision over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime keep coming, keep commenting and if you wish please advise others to come as well.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Toni, I guess you’re expecting too much in too short a time. Comparing your statistical success to my own blogging efforts (which started in Feb ’06) you’re doing quite well. (But then I’m only running a small consultancy in a local market 😉
    On average I have less than 100 visitors and about 250 page impressions per day (and a very low figure of comments and trackbacks). And it was even less impressive in the first 3-4 months.
    It simply takes some time until a website gathers momentum, and that applies to weblogs as well.
    I’m not disappointed, though, even with these low numbers of visitors and commenters. My blog still is a perfect instrument to spread my ideas, to connect myself to a (loosely knit) network of peers, to integrate my thoughts into a stream of conversations etc. etc.
    I guess we just have to see some things very realistically:
    1. Weblogs are good tools to publish your ideas, but they are not as much inspiring discussion as we’d like them to be. Sure, it’s easy to leave a comment, but weblogs may not be the best place for a scholarly debate, because of the unambiguous ownership a blog represents. With each blog there is (usually) one person who manages the issues and topics. As a blog reader you can suggest a topic but you can’t start it. It’s just not two-way SYMMETRIC.
    2. The majority of PR-pros seems to be slow adopters, both in reading and writing weblogs. E.g. of the 500 members of the Austrian PR association PRVA there are only 3 or 4 who run their own blogs and only 2 are blogging about PR topics regularly. I’m optimistic that there will be more PR-bloggers within the next 12 months but at the moment it’s a lonely “business” here in AT.
    3. It’s not a matter of numbers, it’s the importance of ideas and how apt they are to spread in a viral way. I read a lot of PR blogs and some I recommend to my collegues, but there is hardly any other blog than your’s that I’d declare a “must read” (and that’s not flattery).
    In other words: for me it would be a major loss if you closed your blog.
    Maybe a solo-blog is not the best way to reach what you are after, maybe a group blog of interested PR-pros would prove to be more versatile and productive, or a network of PR-blogs syndicated via their RSS-feed (that’s one thing I’m currently checking out). There are examples like the Media Coffee blog (german language; http://www.mediacoffee.de/).
    It may turn out in the end, that weblogs (especially the single-voiced type) are not the right tool for a wider debate amongst PR people. But what the heck, there are lots of other instruments.
    (Disclaimer: My assumptions may be totally wrong and absurd, of course ;-))

  2. Toni,

    Keep it going. I was at first skeptical and I do acknowledge that the contributors tend to be the same ones, but you are just starting and have provoked some interesting discussion. I agree with Markus that a multi-source blog would be closer to the goal you were orginally pursuing. However, notwithstanding that point you have created a space that is a unique blend of news, advocacy and genuine throught-provoking ideas. Yes there is competition and there will always be. I have had a brief tour of other blogs and this one is more cutting edge; more open to self-criticism (your latest tobacco post); and less promotion of self serving than others.
    It think it is time the GA give you some space on their web site to generate even more traffic. As a past Chair, I think you have earned the right to be there.

  3. Mr Falconi

    I think one thing we need to keep in mind is that some things cannot be quantified. I believe that for many of us this blog gives food for thought and even though we don’t comment we surely think about these issues. I would like to agree with Mr Markus Prichner and say that maybe you are expecting too much in a short period of time.

    I can see how this blog will in future become the platform for new ideas and wonderful dialogue but it will take time. It is like any relationship we observe and weigh the pros and cons and then we decide if we want to participate. It is this process where people will surely break through if they are passionate enough about a particular topic and once they participated the frequency of their participation will increase.

    Furthermore, I think this way of interacting might take some getting use to for some of us. For many this is a new way of interacting. It is so interesting to watch how this type of social network facilitates the interaction amongst people.

    I agree with Mr Jean Valin in suggesting that the GA should give you some traffic but I think one should go further than that and get some of the various associations to also link up with you. You have certainly earned this for everything you have and are still doing for our discipline.

  4. Toni, the deleted message was pretty long, but the most importnt part was this: compare yourself to the 13,500 members in 69+ countries IABC blogs, and you will see you are a success.

    Or IABC is a real failure.

    And, I also asked what kind of PR program you had for your site.

    BAK

  5. typo above. It should have been 60+ countries.

    IABC has five public blogs on http://www.IABC.com

    The old chairman’s blog, started and then abandoned by David Kistle when he was chairman, has several people able to start threads inside it, most of which get very little or no response, and of those that do, it’s often me complaining about IABC’s lack of PR for PR.

    And there’s IABC Commons on the site, with a multi-headed blog covering media, employees, branding and measurement.

    Again, hardly any posting; each of the four themses can run for weeks with nothing new. Responses, some from me, are rare.

    IABC has launced a podcast; several months later it revealed the podcast is only once a month.

    Compared to all this, you’re doing fine.

    Note, too, that the only blogs with lots of comments contain comments from loonies. Most PR people are pretty reluctant to say anything on the record — frightened ofbosses, clients, colleagues.

    BAK

    BAK

  6. Dear Toni

    Do keep this blog going. Good blogs are like good wine – they take time. The most authorative ones are built by word of mouth and personal links rather than automated mechanisms that can distort the value of the blog and its content. As a source and signpost for information and thinking your blog is invaluable and will become more so the longer it exists – and three months in the blogosphere is really no time at all.

    Your blog is also a great antidote to some of the nonsense to be found on some of the blogs that claim to be ‘about PR’ but which could just as well be about tiddlywinks.

    Readers here are, I am sure, passing on the link to your blog – I know I must do it at least once a day – but it is a slow build process, and, as at least two people have suggested in the comments, if GA and other professional associations either link or give space to it, that will improve things too.

    Global links are crucial to the betterment and professional development of our industry – and this blog is potentially a good strong link. It allows ordinary practitioners who can’t get access to mainstream GA-style or national forums and conferences to read and see what is happening, participating when they can. And that is something of immense value.

    Don’t be disheartened, have a break over the festive season and put your feet up – then come back blogging with gusto in the New Year!

    I love the saying ‘Not all doughnuts come out with a round hole’ – but would add that that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them! 🙂

  7. Toni, I completely agree with Catherine Arrow: 3 months, in the blogosphere is nothing… And more, I’d say, your blog is very high level: is not a blog where you can read something like “I was walking in Manhattan 2 days ago and I found a nice restaurant” and someone answers “Yes I was there and it was very good” and someone else “Oh thanks for the suggestions I’ll go there with my gf”… Your blog is a difficult blog to read, and because of it, is a really interesting blog for all level pr professionals. I don’t think comments are a few: for a so high level blog I think you have a lot of comments, especially if we look how many comments are posted to other blogs on the same quality level. I know, the numbers are different from the results you’d like to have. But I think all your visitors are pr professionals or young people trying to become a pr professional… Is not easy to have big numbers in a so specific professional area. But I also think is better to have 120 high level visitors a day than 500 visitors taking a tour inside your blog without understanding anything is published in. And more, I think your visitors are regularly coming back to visit your blog: you are building up a growing group of “loyal” visitors, and on the web, this is the most difficult goal.

    From my point of view, from the point of view of a young professional with so many things to learn, your blog is really interesting to read. I had some Internet connection problems in the last days, and this morning, when my connection was working again, your blog is one of the first website I visited. I didn’t it with some other blogs I usually visit, blogs about music, travels, etc…

  8. Toni, please keep this blog going. I’ve shared the URL with many a PR practitioner as an example of a “best practices,” blog, which is both very targeted (really and truly about public relations) and global in topics, perspective and reach (from both your commenters and you). From that niche perspective, I’m not even sure you have any real competitors!

    Best regards,
    Judy

  9. Judy, you are very precious (the others do not know, but you send me very interesting things to read and suggestions) and Catherine, I am so happy to be able to read you again (I really enjoyed your earlier input…why not come again?). Andrea, how could we transform this blog into what Markus suggests and Jean would also approve of…which was my original intention anyway.
    Of course, I fully realise that this would entail more work into pushing others into writing their own posts, but it might well be worth a try.
    If Andrea suggests a technical solution, I will compile a list of individuals, beginning from those who have already contributed thus far,from various parts of the world and walks of professional and scholarly lives.
    Jean, I would be satisfied if the GA put up a link to a number of selected blogs, and suggested to its member associations to do the same maybe even indicating some and letting them decide.
    Thank you all for your very welcome comments.

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