Advice to the class of '08: Blogging is an essential for new PR practitioners

Centennial College’s Gary Schlee writes that the newest crop of students in his Online PR course are now setting up their blogs.

Gary is giving his students a real advantage in starting a career in PR. Those students who view their blogs as more than a class exercise, but also as an exciting way to connect and communicate with others who share their interests and passions, they will have started down the fast lane to a bright future in the new PR.

The old PR was about communicating messages to an audience. The new PR is about being part of a community.

In effect, students are taking the first step to developing their own online voices and finding people of like mind – becoming part of a community. This is the essence of the “relations” in public relations. It’s not a one-time thing. It should be a lifelong commitment. It will then turn into a lifelong asset, one which they can take with them wherever they work.

(Don’t be discouraged if early on it’s a community of only two or three. Remember, it’s not about numbers, it’s about trust.)

I do not hire entry level people without looking at their blog, following their twitter stream and checking their Facebook presence. I want a sense of who they are over time, not just when they are in my office. I want to know what they think on the issues they care about and how they express themselves. I want to see whether and how they connect with others. And I can find out all those things from their social media presence.

And then I will try to recruit the people who I believe not only have the strongest, clearest voices but also the ability to balance this with listening, respecting and responding to others in a way that makes them part of a healthy, positive community. These are the folks that I want to work with. And these are the folks I’ll look to hire.

So, in encouraging his students, Gary is providing them with a tremendous head start. I really look forward to the time when all PR educators are as forward looking as Gary.

Ruptured appendix shuts me down; changes my ways

I’ve been away from this space. In fact, I’ve totally missed a series of meetings and commitments over the past week. But for a reason better than “the dog ate my homework.”

My appendix burst. Painful and nasty.

And in hospitals in Canada, the nursing staff sure makes short work of your BlackBerry when you tell them you’re trying to Twitter your emergency surgery. So, no WiFi. No Internet. No BlackBerry. No nothing for several days.

These things never come at a good time. It forced me to miss several important meetings without notice. As for my trip to Vancouver this week, not a chance. So, I’ll miss ThirdTuesdayVancouver and Web Directions North, two events that I was really looking forward to.

Without doubt, it will take me some time to get back up to full speed.

And as I consider the 358 new emails in my office inbox and the 207 unread emails in my gmail box, not to mention the unanswered telephone calls, I realize that I should really look on this as an opportunity to pare back on some of my commitments. So, while I’m going to try to get back up to full speed as quickly as possible, I’ll try to focus on doing fewer things that really require my attention and keeping out of the things that can be done better by others (this will make the people I work with very, very happy).

That’s enough sitting up for now. Time to rest and get stronger.

Not sure when I’ll post again, but hopefully it won’t be too long.

FlackLife and The Client Side join Our Community

Michael SeatonIf you take a look at “Our Community” in ProPR’s sidebar, you’ll see two new additions: FlackLife and The Client Side. We’ve added these blogs because their authors, Bob LeDrew and Michael Seaton, have joined us at Thornley Fallis.

That’s pretty exciting for us. Not only do we gain two new work colleagues, but they also bring two blogs to us with two very different perspectives.

Bob LeDrewBob LeDrew has been sharing his perspective on the public relations industry and issues since April 2003. Michael Seaton writes and podcasts from the perspective of a digital marketer who was until he joined us on the Client Side as Director of Digital Marketing at one of Canada’s major banks.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been able to include some very smart people in our community who write about social media, communications, marketing and design. Our community currently includes: Michael O’Connor Clarke, Terry Fallis, John Sobol, the Web designers and developers at 76design, the PRGirlz (although they’ve posted sparingly lately), and the PR team in Canada’s capital. And although they’ve left the firm, we still think of David Jones, Chris Clarke and John Wiseman as members of our extended social media family.

Our approach to blogging is that we want people with their own blogs to bring them to our community. We encourage them to write as frequently as they want. And we always acknowledge that if they leave us, they can take their blogs with them. We will retain the value of what we learned and shared while they were with us, but their blogs are theirs.

While they are with us, we ask only that they observe our blogging policy – which is simple. It has only two provisions: “Blog Smart” and “Cause no harm to any person.”

I’m a longtime reader of both Bob’s and Michael’s blogs. They’re smart and always interesting.

So, if you haven’t discovered these two writers yet, I hope that you’ll subscribe to the feeds of both FlackLife and The Client Side and see for yourself why I’m excited to have them as part of the Thornley Fallis Community.

A look behind the scenes at Canada's major public relations firms

Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms Are you interested in corporate communications and public relations ? Are you curious about the people who advise CEO’s and corporate communicators on the newest strategies and tactics?

If you answer yes to these questions, click over to the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms and subscribe to the RSS feed there.

and in Who leads Canada’s public relations firms? How did they get to where they are? What do they think makes each of their firms special? What advice would they give to young people who would like to pursue a career in public relations?

Next week, we’ll start a new series of video interviews in which I talk with the leaders of Canada’s PR firms about how they got to where they are, what makes their firms special, what advice they would give to young people starting out in public relations and other issues that they think are important to public relations today.

So, if you’re curious about the public relations industry and the people who head up the ‘s major PR firms, subscribe to the CCPRF blog and you’ll receive a stream of biweekly interviews.

Hear ChickAdvisor at Third Tuesday Toronto

“I love your bag! Where’d You Get That?”Your hair looks fantastic! What Salon do you go to?”What’s the best cleanser for oily skin?

Hold on. Don’t click away. Yes, you ARE on ProPR. What do these questions have to do with ProPR and social media, you might ask?

Ali de BoldOne of the great things about Web 2.0 and social media is that entrepreneurs can bring their ideas to market with relatively little initial capital. ChickAdvisor is a prime example of a company started this way. Founders Alex and Ali de Bold have drawn on their own resources – personal savings, family and friends, and credit cards – to bring their idea to life.

Alex and Ali describe ChickAdvisor as “a social shopping reviews website for women to share advice on everything from hair salons to health clubs. All content is user generated and focuses on the products and local services women use every day. Members can add reviews, send links to their friends, add items to their hotlists and click through to buy items locally or online. Nothing beats a good recommendation and that’s what ChickAdvisor is all about!”

Alex de BoldSince they started their service in September 2006, Alex and Ali have built a community around ChickAdvisor by appealing to a focused interest of a clearly identified group (shopping and women). They haven’t reached profitability yet. But they think they are on course to do so.

So, Alex and Ali are two people who know a lot about creating an interesting social site that serves a need for a defined audience. They also know a lot about the challenges of creating a viable Web 2.0 business.

And they’ll be sharing what they’ve learned when they appear at Third Tuesday Toronto on Wednesday January 23 (yes Third Tuesday Toronto is on a Wednesday this month!). If you’re in Toronto that night, come out and join the discussion. You’ll meet lots of other people who share an interest in social media and Web 2.0. And you’ll hear a presentation by some people who are “there and doing it” right now.

Third TuesdayThird Tuesday events are free.* But we have to guarantee a minimum to the pub where we hold the event. If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Third Tuesday Toronto meetup site so that we can get an accurate forecast of the number of attendees.

CNW Group* Yes, there’s a reason why these events are free. They are organized by volunteers and direct costs such as the sound system and room charge are paid for by our sponsor, CNW Group. Thank you CNW. You make it possible for Canada’s social media community to gather and learn.