Friday, April 06, 2007

Reflections on one year of blogging

On April 8, my blog will celebrate its first anniversary (I'll be visiting family to celebrate Easter). Boy, have I learned a lot.

My first post explained my reasons for starting a blog: to improve my teaching, and to give nonacademics an insiders view of PR education. I think it's served both of those purposes, but it's also gone beyond that. I never expected to get ideas for class projects and guest lecturers, but generous and thoughtful people--Kami, Josh--provided them. I also never expected to get feedback from my students--much less from students at other schools--but that has happened. I've connected with other PR professors, notably Richard and Bill, and I've reconnected with former students who've stumbled across me on the Web.

My goal for this next year is to work harder to bring bloggers and scholars together--something Constantin has been pushing for years. I've written a teaching paper, currently in review, that describes ways PR faculty can use blogs in the classroom. I am also in the early phases of planning a conference to be held here in Athens next October, and I hope some of the people I've just named will be in attendance.

When I first started my blog, I resisted any effort to keep stats or otherwise track my blog's "success." The whole process seemed ego-driven, and somehow it seemed more authentic to me to measure success in terms of comments and links ("conversation") than page views or unique visitors. Finally, about a month ago, I signed up for Feedburner and Technorati, because I realized I really couldn't talk to my students about blogging without having working knowledge of them myself.

What an eye-opener. First of all, I found out a lot more people look at my blog every day than I ever suspected. (I must confess I still don't know how many people subscribe to my feed because I haven't consolidated it at Feedburner, but I will... sometime before my second anniversary.) Not enough to feed my ego, but enough to encourage me to keep going! Technorati also showed me a bunch of people linking to my blog, including internationally, that I was completely unaware of; this gives me a way to find other bloggers interested in the same things I'm writing about (did someone just say "Duh!"?? Well, it was new to me.) In addition, I realized I can tailor the content to the readers, not in an icky "I want to be popular," way, but in a "furthering the mission of PR education" way. I also discovered the most popular outbound link for the last month is one I just added a few weeks ago, to my faculty Web page, which is hopelessly outdated, as is the CV to which it is linked. You can bet I'll be working on them soon.

So, blogging is a huge time suck that just leads to more and more work. Ya gotta love it.

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Eyes and ears are wide open for those scholars ready to further the PR industry. I have followed your blog for some time and directed my own students to your blog and those of your students. The second year is even better! We must keep the spirit going and band together...learn from each other.
Exactly! Thanks, Lauren.
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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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