Monday, May 29, 2006

New Paths

Close to three years ago - July 2, to be exact - I started this blog. At the time, it was supposed to be about starting my own agency, POP! Public Relations, and what I was going through.

That got old. Fast. If I did not want to read about it, why would anyone else?

But, in those three years, I have done and gone through a lot with my blog and my career. The blog has gone through a few looks and revisions, and no time seemed better for the new look than the impending third birthday.

And, well, over time it evolved into my mouthpiece for what I view as wrong or needed fixing in PR, best and worst practices, and ideas and interviews. At times, I have been ahead of the pack by glomming onto issues - libel, Ketchumgate, convergence of PR and marketing, among others - and sometimes, I have been silent, such as the guilty verdict for Fleishman Hillard's Doug "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems" Dowie, where the silence came down to more time constraints than lack of an opinion. My opinion, by the way, is that it is no shock, and that I would not be surprised if there are more cases, but the case for correct billing is more than just a management issue, I think Dowie was a scapegoat, and we all have a responsibility for correct and truthful billing, beyond Sarbanes-Oxley issues.

In these three years, I have also screamed against being called an expert. There are no PR blogging experts, because you cannot build an expertise in three mere years, or less. You can build expertise, but that does not make you an expert. In my time of blogging - and what I have concentrated on in this blog - I have learned best and worst practices, including those of my own steps and mis-steps. Through this blog, I fully believe that no company should launch a blog because a so-called blogging expert says launch a blog, but should go through a long, internal process and ask "why" - like why should we blog? Do we need to blog? Do we have thick enough skin to blog? It is through practice - hypothetical and real - that I have built up some knowledge of blogging, and why I try to move beyond blogging to podcasts and other mediums, to give the best advice possible.

But, no I am not an expert. And, if anyone calls himself or herself an expert in blogging to you, run. Well, first spit at them, and then run. There are no experts, just people that are learning but began a couple years earlier (or later) than others.

But, besides the time needed for the blog, I am glad I started it. I have met many wonderful colleagues and like-minded individuals that I would never have met without starting the blog. I have had the chance to speak at various events, to push forward my views on blogs and blog outreach that might put me in the contrarian camp (as Sam Whitmore said to me during a meeting), but a contrarian view that likely will be mainstream view in the not-so-far future.

I was able to start Third Thursday with other like-minded PR bloggers - Phil Gomes, Mike Manuel, Giovanni Rodriguez - who are more interested in pushing forward the industry rather than pushing forward their own agendas. Because, let's face facts: the industry will fail as a whole, and not succeed individually.

I have been given the opportunity to work with Auburn students, and been grateful to meet their pretty damned good instructor, Robert French and his work for the industry as a whole with PR Blogs, some great students, like Erin Caldwell, whom I am so proud of (like a big brother type proud) because of her job at Edelman and her work on Forward. Heck, I even got to meet students that are not at Auburn, like Casey Westlake, and have made other good connections with students whom I am almost always happy to help out (remember, I work).

So, now about the new paths. I left Phoenix for San Francisco, and started working at a large firm to hopefully get them to embrace this new medium, and continue on working with big companies on embracing new avenues for programs. And, I relaunched the blog with a new look - a thuggish look - that hopefully will be reflected with posts on the industry. The design is by Jeremy Harrington of CrawlSpaceMedia, and the CSS and Implementation by the beloved Josh Hallett of hyku (I even have the sticker on my computer - and I love the design, so no Crunchnoting it.)

None of this would have happened without this blog.

This is not a shameless plug - I am just not into that - but I have not been as good about blogging as I should be, but I am also dead set against just throwing stuff up here that is vapid and has no value. I have posts queued up about Net Neutrality, Jessica Cutler, and other issues that should be on the mind of PR professionals and their clients - but are probably not there yet. Keep an eye out for that new thuggish tone that the stare down should present.

Until then, thank you for continuing to read. There are many of you that have become friends of mine via this blog - and the Joker to my Batman - and I look forward to continue working and meeting you all out there in the real world. It should always be about high-touch, not high-tech, so go out there and live a little.

Photo by 3rd Coast Chick, some rights reserved.
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