500 PR Conversations

This is post #501 – which seems a useful milestone to reflect on the previous 500 posts at PR Conversations, and invite you to contribute your views on the blog overall.

For me, PR Conversations has provided a global platform for debating and considering a wide range of classic and contemporary developments in public relations. I have had the opportunity to present some new thoughts and argue my viewpoint in relation to some traditional concepts. The wide range of posts also offers a chance to engage with others whose positions may oppose, or at least run at an angle to my own thinking. Sometimes this conversation has been enlightening and at other times, it has been frustrating. But that’s the delight of providing a platform for the expression of varying viewpoints.

I often come back to PR Conversation posts in my teaching, other writing (citing blog posts from the site in book chapters I have written) and discussion with practitioners and academics. PR Conversations has expanded my own profile and undoubtedly led to opportunities – such as online teaching with US universities – that I would not have had otherwise.

Before getting involved with PR Conversations, I wrote exclusively on my own Greenbanana blog – and similarly, this site existed before my involvement. It was started originally by Toni Muzi Falconi, with Judy Gombita, Markus Pirchner and myself, taking on responsibility for its development with the Redux version launched in June 2010.

Some of the 500 preceding posts pre-date this ‘change of ownership’ and were those we felt were worthy of an ongoing online presence. They can be found under our Seasoned Posts category.

There are a number of these Seasoned stories that continue to get a lot of attention – not least the posts discussing the King reports on governance from South Africa, and the collection of posts on What is PR? collated by Catherine Arrow in May 2008.

Our most popular post ever – which is still a big draw – is not typical of PR Conversations. Written as a team post, Using Twitter for PR Events provides thoughts and advice that continue to get hits, and other social media referrals.

This post raises an interesting aspect of PR Conversations that has developed over the past couple of years. Despite getting thousands of hits every month, this attractive Twitter post has only 12 comments, about half the average number for a post, and only a tenth of the debate on our most heated offerings. In contrast, those that generate a lot of conversation, don’t always light up social media channels.

Another strength of PR Conversations, I believe is the community of contributors and commentators – our conversationalists. Judy in particular is great at spotting and nurturing new people to participate here (as well as promoting the site through Twitter and Google+). We set out to encourage a variety of voices and I believe we succeed in that aim.

We also tackle a good range of topics – revisiting some (such as definitions and the role of women), whilst introducing new ones (including Toni’s posts relating to Muslim PR practice and my own reflections on protest PR). I like to think we’ve often been ahead of conversations elsewhere or at least, that we’ve extended conversations in ways that other blogs don’t.

So thank you to everyone who has read PR Conversations, double thanks if you’ve ever left a comment or Tweeted about us, and triple thanks if you’ve contributed a post.

Whether you are one of these people – or if you are a lurker or newcomer to the site, it would be great to hear your views about PR Conversations. In particular, please let us know if we’ve influenced your thinking or practice – or if you’ve suggestions for future posts and people who’d you’d like us to invite to join in our PR Conversations.

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6 Replies to “500 PR Conversations

  1. I find PRC engaging and worthwhile because 1) It is international in scope; and 2) People don’t waste each other’s time. There is a presumption of professional competence and goodwill.

  2. PS what I like most about this blog is that there never is a shortage of debatable issues to discuss and plenty of stimulating new ideas from all contributors and editors.

    In my opinion it is one of the best space for discussing public relations.

  3. Heather, Judy, Markus, and other guest posters- including our esteemed founder and my friend Toni Muzi Falconi,
    I recall vividly when Toni approached me and a handlful of other ‘globalists’ and announced that he was starting ‘Toni’s blog” (while seraching for a better name). He asked if I would committ to post or comment at least once a month to generate a critifcal mass of commenters and hopefully followers. I immedialtey agreed and since I was on the Global Alliance board as past chair- or whatever title I wore over the years, I accepted and even presented the idea that the GA should ‘adopt’ this blog. That generated discussion about fairness to other bloggers, equal opportuity and other politicaly correct comments. The board wasn’t ready for its own blog, yet was reluctant to offcially adopt it as its own which is a shame because Toni was a founding member and past chair. Noneltheless, I observed many board members from that period, jump in and offer comments on posts- some were at their very first blogging experience !

    Fast forward to today and Toni’s small but important blog has made the leap and been handed off to respected PR pros who re-vamped it and made it what it is today.

    Heather, I thank you for being a steady generator of ideas and topics for debate. I salute your determination to keep the conversation going.

    I am thankfull for the opportunity to guest post once in a while and comment when the topic moves me or when judy tells me to see what’s taking place this very minute on PRC !- and we all know how on top of things and quick Judy is with all her pursuits!! Even when she is offcially ‘off line’.

    Keep up the conversations.


  4. Thanks for suggesting and taking on the task of writing an “anniversary” post, Heather.

    Although not related to numbers of posts or a milestone, I did do my own take on The communication process more important than outcomes on PR Conversations (although that proved to be one of the “frustrating” conversations you mentioned, when a secondary mention and link was diverted from what I thought was the far more-valuable discussion: the ongoing creation process of this blog).

    Just as you have benefited from an increased (international) profile as a result of your participation, definitely that has been a happy outcome for me. But I think the relationships I’ve built with contributors and frequent commenters—the majority of it offline—are what I value the most. And I do take great satisfaction in providing a welcoming platform to practitioners and academics from different parts of the world, different generations and an attempt at better gender balance. Particularly those esteemed and senior practitioners that do not have their own blog or where their platforms have been sadly under-read, due to all of the noise in social media.

    It’s also great when a topic or project is deemed of enough global importance to our industry that the individual(s) seeks out one of us and requests a guest post. For example, the GA research study sponsored by Enel, in which senior corporate communicators from different countries were being sought to participate.

    Besides not being directly or indirectly related to one business/agency, I think what sets PR Conversations apart is that we advocate an integrated approach to communication/public relations, rather than an overt focus on social media. Which is what so many blogs—particularly agency blogs—have a tendency to do.

    Also, we cover a greater variety of roles and focus within the public relations bailiwick.

    So if people want post after post about effectively pitching journalists, using SEO to gain marketshare, shoving PR under a tiny corner of The Big Marketing Tent (i.e., advocating for integrated marketing communications)…then go to other blogs and industry publications. You will find an embarrassment of offerings, although to me many posts seem virtually indistinguishable from one another.

    It can be disappointing when a post we think shows originality in thinking by a guest poster hardly generates any comments or even overt promotion (i.e., retweets, which I can track via our Topsy account—for example, see who RT’d this post). On the other hand, while the comment section has gone quieter in the last year, our monthly readership numbers have almost tripled. I correlate this mainly to my now-weekly roundup of most-read posts on Google+. And perhaps to a lesser extent on LinkedIn updates and PR/communications-related Groups.

    The number of people following our PR Conversations Twitter account has also increased substantially, even though we don’t really make use of it for direct engagement. For those who follow the account with the sole purpose of being followed back, I can tell you that the follow backs relate to direct participation on PR Conversations, either as a current or past principal, a guest poster, a frequent commenter or even individuals who are very generous about sharing new or past posts found on this blog.

    Almost everyone on the follow-back list—currently fewer than 100 people—are also on our @PRConversations Champions list for our Paper.li account. This is related to Twitter, whereby the algorithm chooses on a daily basis the three Champions whose tweets and links generate the most response. The algorithm is automated, but the publishing of the day’s result is done manually.

    I find a lot of great links in each day’s issue of @PRConversations Champions—whether or not they are selected by the algorithm—which I think attests to the quality of the PR practitioners, academics and students who have an ongoing relationship with this blog.

    Finally, what is gratifying is professors who recommend to their students that our blog should be on their regular reading list and accept citations of past posts in essays as acceptable in terms of rigour of thought.

    For my own writing purposes, whether here on this blog, for my monthly #socialPR column on Windmill Networking or other guest posts (such as my recent invited participation/submission to PRSA’s #PRin2013 trends series), it’s gratifying to have a body of knowledge—whether my own or other contributors—that I can detail and link to in formulating a thesis.

    Oh. And even when serving as editor, my own knowledge of areas such as internal communication (in particular, Toni Muzi Falconi’s ongoing research—look for his newest area to be published next week in an interview format with Rachel Miller) and integrated reporting has grown exponentially. Not to mention appreciation for public relations in other countries/cultures.

    I hope and wish more people weigh in, as it is indeed valuable for Heather, Markus Pirchner and me to know why and for what you value this blog, meaning we can volunteer more of our time to fine-tune the offerings. But if all you are prepared to do is continue to be a faithful reader, that is fine, too.

  5. My lovable prconversation friends (authors, facilitators, animators, commenters and readers),

    I liked the idea of this post and I believe Heather sketched a true-to-life portrait of my favourite professional blog.

    Of course one may well imagine that, because of the initial role I inadvertently played in the start-up of this venture, I take particular pride in its ongoing success.

    Fair enough… yet I never imagined that PRC would become what it is today… and I am particularly curious to hear from early contributors (discontinued or not), recent contributors, plain readers how they would describe this blog and what use they make of its contents.

    In my case I visit it, say, once a week to see what is new (don’t like rss feed), I consult it for my research and writing maybe two or three times a week by using the search engine, and I also use selected contents for my classes and suggesting colleagues and students they should follow it.

    And you?

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