Are you a member of my community?

Who are you?My community is the people whose blogs I read and communicate with. My community is also the people who read my thoughts on this blog. Some enter into a conversation through comments and trackbacks. Some are silent.

The people who I read and link to may be much more important to me than I am to them.

It’s a bit like the false intimacy we all feel with Katie Couric or Peter Mansbridge. They sit across the room from us every evening and project their personalities onto the world around us. We feel like we know them. But they know us only as demographics and ratings.

Celebrities have known this false intimacy for years in the people who walk up to them, address them by their first name and start to ask questions about the personal details of their lives.

The blogosphere is a bit like that. In the PR world, I regularly read Hallett, Holtz, Hobson, Israel, Eggertson, Jones, Baradell, Basturea, Defren, McKay, Cody, Rubel, Clarke, Jenkins, Papacosta, Demopoulos, Sansone, and Fallis. I frequently comment or trackback to their sites. Of course, I am only one of dozens of people who do this. So, if I asked these folks if they think of me as part of their community, I wouldn’t kid myself about their answer. Some would respond with “Who’s Joe Thornley?” Others might go so far as to say, “I know him. He comments or leaves trackbacks to my site from time to time.” Does this make me part of their community? Maybe. But very much on the periphary. Is this bad? Not at all. Community is built over time.

The traffic numbers on my site tell me that there are many people who read my blog, but who have yet to comment on it or link to it. I’d like to know who you are.

So, a request. Please help me to know my community better. Leave a comment on this post to let me know who you are, what part of the world you hail from and what you do. (e.g. PR, advertising, student, etc.) And if you have your own blog, please write a brief post with a trackback to this article. I want to add you to my blogroll.

Then, check back to see who considers me part of their community.

  • Joseph:

    I don’t get a lot of comments, which leads me to wonder if anyone’s reading my stuff. Peter Rukavina (PEI) has a neat feature on his blog, where regular visitors can leave a short bio. I like that better than the Frappr maps, which seem to only generate comments like “Hey, I read this blog!”

    Anyway, I definitely consider you and Terry F. part of my community, even though I’ve never met you.

  • As you know, I value your insights and thoughts. I share them often. Though we haven’t yet met – I look forward to that day. I’m honored to be part of your community.

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  • Hi Eric and Mike,
    Thank you both for letting me know that we’re part of one another’s communities. You’re both on my blogroll!

  • Joseph,
    Of course I read (I listen as well). I’d be proud to be in your community. As I start my new career I’ll also be looking for some advice, so gear up and get ready for the string of questions sure to be headed your way.
    Thanks for the great written and audio info.

  • Hi Luke,
    I’ve been reading the Forward blog for some time. And now I’ve subscribed to Observations of Public Relations

  • Hi Joseph-Just wanted to let you know that I’m a reader. If that makes me part of your community, in “real-life” I guess that would make me a neighbor? Howdy, neighbor.

  • Howdy Todd, Neighbour from waaaay over the fence!
    You’re on my blog list. And I’m flattered that you read me.

  • You can take the man out of Thornley Fallis…I was there on day one and I still keep coming back for more.


  • Hi Dave,
    You were there on day one. The very first entry on my blogroll.

  • I’m a new reader, but this looks like a site I’ll frequent. I hail from Milwaukee, WI, and am “none of the above.” I’m a writer looking for inspiration and looking to learn from the best. So far, I like what I see. I’d love for you to take a look at my site and see if there’s anything that interests you. I’ll do the same, and perhaps we can be part of each other’s community after a bit of a trial period?

    Make it a great day!

  • Joseph:

    Not sure if I’ve ever commented here before, but I definitely read your blog … and the blogs of others who read you. So we are definitely neighbors!

  • Hallett checking in here 🙂

    Keep up the conference coverage bonanza.

  • Josh, John and Phil – thanks for letting me know you’re part of my community. Welcome neighbours!

  • Judy Gombita

    (Warning: long comment ahead.)

    Joseph, I DID take copious notes from the two Om Malik sessions I attended at mesh. Even though I’m somewhat of a jaded conference attendee, I was extremely impressed at how well Malik articulated his thoughts on what blogging means to him. (And even though he was one of the “marquee” speakers, I’m sure you’ll agree that he came across as being incredibly accessible and modest.)

    Below I’ve extracted the notes I took related to blogs and community. (I know you blogged about the session…I cross-checked your post first and took out anything from my notes that was repetitious.)

    Om Malik on Community

    Om Malik says his main role, as either a journalist or blogger, is to help provide context. (What does this mean? What are the possible implications? How does it matter to me/my family/my friends/my community?) Bloggers can create a community (or following) if their personal brand sets them apart as an original and authentic subject expert.

    Malik is a multi-tasking journalist: an original story written for Business 2.0 magazine never ends, because of the life it sustains through conversations in his blog–his context, his readers’ comments. (He often gets ideas for follow-up or complementary stories as a result of the comments of readers in his blog.)

    When asked to define the difference in his writing styles, he indicated, “A magazine article is written like a speech, whereas a blog post is like beginning a conversation in a bar.”

    A blog helps to humanize his media persona. Readers care for him. Additionally, there becomes a peer-to-peer connection and sense of community.

    According to Om Malik, the real intelligence of a blog is demonstrated in the activeness of its Comments section. The smart blogger will embrace, welcome and nurture his or her community, as an ongoing source of information and inspiration. This includes the commenter who disagrees with something he has written. (“Debating things is both healthy and good.”)

    And if a blogger writes something that is incorrect, Malik indicates one should apologize immediately–both online and offline–to the person who pointed out the error. Each visitor who visits his blog, reads a post and then comments, is respected and valued as a member of his community.

    * * *

    Speaking of building community and the mesh conference, organizers set up a wicked little feature via the wiki page, so that attendees who were current members of LinkedIn could register that fact and form a mesh community (complete with contact information) within the LinkedIn community. I just checked, and 82 of the 400 mesh attendees are LinkedIn together. And the logo only shows up to those of us who Linked. (An online community within the online community.)


  • Tom Keefe

    Hi again, Joseph.

    I’ve commented before and have enjoyed many of your posts. I’ll keep coming back.

    I appreciated the point regarding how to address errors that Judy reported in her comment. (one should apologize immediately–both online and offline–to the person who pointed out the error)

    Doing so will benefit the blogger and the blog’s audience. We expect transparency in a blog, and that is one very important way to demonstrate it.

  • Hi Judy and Tom,
    You’re absolutely right about admitting errors – and who hasn’t made at least one of those? But even without errors, I think it is important for bloggers to respond to comments left on their sites. It signals respect for the commenter and a sincere commitment to the conversation.
    Thanks for your comments!

  • Hi Joe,
    I enjoy your blog because you’re honest and you let people into a world that some might not be familiar with. You introduce and explain new things and stay on top of current issues both relevant to the field of PR as well that others would find interesting. As a journalist/freelance writer, I often have dealings with PR companies either through email or letters, so it’s nice to know what goes on ‘behind the scenes’.
    Thanks for sharing!


  • Hi Zoey,
    I appreciate your comments. I’m am dismayed at some of the hostility directed toward PR. I hope that more transparency will go a long way to overcoming some of the stereotypes and misconceptions. I think they are driven more by a lack of information about how we really conduct our business than they are by actual experience.

    Yes. Sometimes, PR practitioners make mistakes. Yes. Like every business, we have some practitioners who take the short cut. But I think by and large, the PR industry is populated by dedicated, hard working, creative people. Social media provides us all with a chance to peek behind the curtain. And when we do, I think we’ll find there’s a lot of interesting and neat stuff going on there.

    I know that you are doing the same thing with Zoey’s World I have gained a lot of insight into the freelance life by reading it.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Hey Joe!

  • Hey Colin! I was hoping you’d link.

  • Hi Joe,

    Pretty frequent reader since I discovered your blog via mesh (I was sitting two rows in front of you in the PR and blogging panel) and appreciated your take on PR and the roll within blogging. I’m a marketer/ advertiser myself but the lines between those disciplines and PR are disappearing each day.

    I enjoy your conference recaps and I especially appreciate your interest in letting your readers/ community know about interesting posts or calls for help on other blogs as well.

    Keep you the great work and I’ll keep reading 😉


  • Hey Joe. You’ve got a stellar community of social media heavyweights tuning in, and I’m here too! You definitely put the Pro in PR…

  • Hi Tamera,
    Mesh really was great. As a direct result of it, I discovered (3i), which I’ve been reading regularly – and added to my blogroll.

  • Thanks Joe!

  • My there are a lot of familiar names, as well as a few new ones here! I pop over quite regularly to see what you’re saying and thinking Joe

  • Hi Ted,
    Yes, there is an interesting mix of names. I was quite suprised and very pleased at the response I received to this post. It underlines the true potential of social media. I have become part of an intellectually diverse and rich community that just twelve months ago would have been beyond my reach. And that includes you. Your Blogging for Business book was far and away the best practical advice I have found in the last year.

  • Hi Joseph,

    You’re most certainly a part of my community. I hope that my Twist Image Blog and my new Podcast, Six Pixels Of Separation, becomes a part of yours.

    Have a great day!

    Mitch Joel.

  • Hi Mitch,
    You’re part of my blog roll and my podcasts.
    Great initiative on CaseCamp Montreal! Communities need focal points to come together.

  • I am late to this party, it’s been a busy week, but I most certainly read your blog. Hey neighbor!

  • Hi Kami,
    You’re definitely not too late. In fact, Communication Overtones is among my must-read blogs. And you’re on my blogroll.

  • Hi Joseph, I check in, too. Usually more frequently…but last week was crazeeee for me…..! Anyway, I’m here now. : )

  • Hi Ann,
    I subscribe to both the Marketing Profs main feed on and to the Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog feed I love the content.
    I’m flattered that you check out my blog.

  • Hey Joe: thaks for including me in your list. I’ve definitely been checking your stuff out and like what you have to say. Also, I’m always looking for someone to join my weekly podcast and add his/her comments/POV. Let me know if you’d like to go back-and-forth on something of mutual interest in the future.

  • Hi Joe,

    I’m a new reader, I’ve had your blog added to my feedreader for a few weeks now but haven’t really had a chance to dive in yet (hence the late reply). So call me a future member of your community.

    In response to your request, my name is Laura, I live in Vancouver, and I provide advisory services to the hospitality industry. My background has always been in hotels and restaurants until my previous job, which was marketing for a hotel company. I found what I love to do in marketing and want to go back to it or try PR. For that reason, I continue to follow many PR, communications and marketing blogs.

    I have my own blog which used to be focused on marketing and corporate life, but is now in transition because since leaving the marketing field, I’ve lost my inspiration to write about my line of work. Right now I write about whatever DOES get me excited – yoga, summer, animals, cooking. I hope to include more marketing & PR posts in future.

  • Hi Laura,
    Thanks for joining the conversation. It’s interesting to read a blog by someone with a background that spans industry boundaries. The common elements come out in a post like your networking post, but with a twist that reflects your particular experience in hospitality.
    I’ll keep reading and look for opportunities to join in your conversation from time to time.

  • Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the comment. I’ve been a regular listener to RepChatter since attending your session at Counselors Academy. I’ll definitely listen for an issue on which I might make a contribution.