Musings of a PR Professional

PR writing and the Internet

The most recent chapter that I read for my current PR class was all about public relations writing for the Internet. The author, Thomas Bivins, took a look at many different things regarding public relations and the Internet in this chapter, everything from web design and formatting Intranet websites. When he specifically focused on writing, however, he had two main points that I think are very useful in their respective ways.

His first main point is, that when writing professionally on the Internet, one should avoid becoming too conversational. He advises to stick to the format and the styles of writing that are customary for the type of document you are creating and write it as though you were sending it out into the world in the conventional way. “A news release is still a news release. A feature is still a feature. Ad copy is still ad copy,” Bivins writes. I think this is great advice to give to PR professionals that deal with the Internet often and in more than one way. Since it is so simple to publish, edit, and update an infinite number of times on the Internet, I think it is very easy to view this medium of communication as much less professional. In my opinion, the simple fact that what you are writing is not on paper makes if feel as if the document is much less permanent, and therefore less important and professional. Also, I think it is much easier for PR professionals who blog as well as work professionally on the Internet to slip into “chatter” writing, as Bivins refers to it. I know that I am the kind of person that will need to make the conscious effort to keep in mind my purpose for writing and make sure that my blogging style does not bleed into mh professional style.

Bivins’ second main point, that he echos throughout the entire text book, is quite simple. He claims that good writing is good in it of itself. Flashy images or exotic layouts you encase your writing in will not improve a poorly written document. I think this is especially applicable to blogging.  Anyone can start a blog, say what they want to say and make it look pretty of professional with the right theme or site design. But, the most well-renowned and valid blogs that are out there on the Internet today are followed by so many for one reason: Their content. They write about relevant issues in an articulate way that exemplifies their unique and interesting perspectives. Through writing well then, well-renowned bloggers draw readers in and gain followers because they can shed new light on topics, they can provide readers with “Ah ha” moments that make reading their blogs worth while.

Bye-bye writer’s block

I am sitting here a week after spring break trying to go through the 100 or so blog posts I missed while I was away. Simultaneously I am actively thinking about them to see if I have anything to say in response. I am in the mood to blog, but as we all know, being in the mood to write doesn’t necessarily warrant a blog post. Since I take a lot of pride in my blog, I like to take my time and think through what I want to write about before I sit down and actually post. A goal I have: No verbal spew.

So, as I was perusing the posts, I came across (yet another) really great post from Chris Brogan indicative of my mood called 20 Blog Topics to Get You Unstuck. In the post, he gives 10 questions and then 10 fill in the blank statements that could serve to get the writing ball rolling. Most of the questions and fill in the blanks are geared more towards people in the professional world but there are definitely a few that are applicable to PR students and their blogging.
For example, I find number 1 question What have I read lately? What points were interesting? Can I add more to it?  and number 2 question What bugs me? Can I write about another way to approach it? especially intriguing. I also like number 4 fill in the blank Here are some new ways to ________. because it potentially encourages one to think about things in new ways and really expand their minds.
There are tons more pertinent (to the PR student blogger) questions and fill in the blanks that Brogan offers so you should definitely look to his post if you ever, like I do from time to time, suffer from writer’s block.

The Book: Age specific?

After reading this post from PR 2.0 on the ever-growing popularity of Facebook, about a million and a half “why?” and “how come?” questions popped into my mind. I read blog posts about Facebook all the time, and for a social network that I’m so intensely engaged in myself, I have never written a blog post about it. This strikes me as very odd for two reasons:

  1. Since I use it so much and know so much about it, shouldn’t I naturally have a lot to say about it? And
  2. Since I use it so much and since  it is constantly changing, shouldn’t it at least sometimes effect me in such a way that I would have an opinion on these changes?

Well today is the day that I change the fact that I’ve never blogged about Facebook, but the topic of this post has little to do with answering the above to questions. What I am going to do with this post though, is ask more questions.

In his post, Solis provides the statistic that about 1/3 Facebook users is 35 to 49 years old and almost 1/4 is over 50 years old. As most people know, Facebook started out as a social network for only college students but that has ultimately changed and is now connecting people of all ages. So what’s with the age shift? 

I can understand the desire for adults to stay connected to their “long-lost” and current friends and family who may not live in a very close proximity to one another (and even those that do live close), but it seems to me that it is the younger demographic that really knows Facebook intimately and is more actively engaged in what the social network has to offer. It seems that a majority of Facebook’s appeal revolves around sharing pictures and the many different applications offered on the site and these are things I don’t see most adult users getting involved with for whatever reason.

But this begs the question that maybe adult users simply use the social networking site for different reasons than their younger counterparts do? I would say that they do use the site for more practical (for lack of a better term) purposes such as chatting on one another’s walls or creating groups to promote their professional interests.

So, will the older demographic, as they begin to become more immersed in the site, start to learn and use all the features Facebook has to offer more fully? Or is there simply a generation laps that can’t be overcome? Personally, I think it’s way too soon to tell, but Facebook certainly isn’t going anywhere and I can’t wait to see. What do you think?


I commented on Dave Fleet’s blog post in which he muses on the existence of a personal and professional line on the Web.