Blog Balance – A Long Friday Post

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’d revisit some of the questions raised by attendees of our recent peer media event in Seattle, and here’s one:

How do busy PR professionals make time for reading blogs or blogging, and how much time does it take?

Scoble answered (paraphrased, you can download the podcast here) that it doesn’t take that much time, he follows 1000 blogs on his RSS feed and makes several posts a day.

While I believe that once you’ve immersed yourself in the blogosphere, it becomes less time consuming because you’ve already filtered out the blogs that aren’t relevant to your business. And if you’re blogging, you’ve figured out the mechanics of the technology etc. Everything is already set up.

But if you’re just getting started, it is time consuming. Very. And I wouldn’t underestimate just how much time it does take. For perspective, and based on my personal experience, when I first started following blogs – and it happened organically – I began to follow areas of personal interest and blogs of friends etc. And sometimes not even fully distinguishing the difference between some of them and any other media property I might look at everyday. There were five or six that I followed, but I would easily spend an hour or more a day just reading those and researching others. 

Then at the height of my learning curve, I was following easily 20-30 a day – proabably spending 2-3 hours a day on all aspects of peer media. RSS is a great thing, BUT it has limitations. For some reason I actually like looking at ads on blogs, and some blogs need to be experienced in person. Gapingvoid is one of those. You really need to be there. So even if you’re using RSS, you still need to a) visit some blogs personally and b) be on the lookout for new blogs. That takes time.

And then there are all the tools – several launching every week – and improvements to existing tools. Keeping abreast of that adds another layer of complexity to gaining a full understanding of what’s happening online.

But I’m fortunate to have a very supportive employer who understands the value of the knowledge we gain collectively when someone focuses interest and time, and the benefit that’s provided to clients when we foster an environment where people can pursue ideas.  And I spend some time on my employer’s dime every day keeping myself informed. It’s like following your key traditional media channels, understanding what someone like Walt Mossberg writes about. Same with blogs.

But communications people are trying to find balance – balance between the demands of the traditional expectations of their roles and getting up to speed on social media and everything it means for public relations. And shifting some focus. How do you economize?

Start by listening. Use Technorati, Blogpulse or IceRocket to find a few bloggers that write about your business or technology. No matter what your company does, someone else is paying attention. Read those blogs and let them lead you to others. Your understanding will grow incrementally over time, but getting started is the key.