Who should you read?

One really interesting question that was raised at last night’s excellent Talk is Cheap unconference at Centennial College was the question of “who should you read?”

On Joe Thornley’s panel discussion “How important is social media to getting a job?”, Martin Waxman said that he always asks potential hires who they read – meaning which bloggers.

He then reeled off a few of the leading Canadian PR bloggers – Joe, Dave, Dave, Chris and could’ve gone on for a while. There are a lot of Canadian-based PR/communications/marketing folks with blogs.

I have met and like many of these guys but I couldn’t help but think that this sort of thinking just serves to amplify the echo chamber that us social media people are embedded in.

If I were hiring for Martin’s agency, Palette PR, which focuses on beauty clients, I would be more concerned with who they read in the beauty and fashion space – are they part of that community, which is going to be the community they will try to reach out to, rather than this rather insular community.

It’s great to be interacting with your peers and talking about all this cool, exciting and innovative stuff but what it all comes down to is how well you can serve your clients.

PR people have enough of a stigma when we reach out to these communities anyway – as a job seeker, why not use this to your advantage and join the relevant communities before being hired.

By looking outside of the echo chamber, you can build much needed credibility for yourself and for your eventual employer.


10 Responses to Who should you read?

  1. Parker says:

    I gave a presentation to a group of PR students this morning, and told them this exact same thing.

    It doesn’t apply to just social media, either. If you want to work in beauty PR it is great to know what the beauty blogs are, but you should also know what the influential beauty print publications, TV shows and websites are.

    If you are honestly interested in something, it will be easy to become involved in that community. Employers will recognize this passion, and you’ll be more likely to work in that industry.

  2. Brett Duncan says:

    Couldn’t agree more.

    To look at it another way, if you are a marketing or PR professional, do you naturally want to read about the industries/niches your product belongs to? In other words, are you interested in it and passionate enough about it to want to keep up with it?

    The answer can tell you a lot about where you are in you’re career.

  3. davefleet says:

    I think you’re absolutely right here Ed, while being wrong at the same time.

    First – you’re right. I would strongly encourage young PR pros to read outside of the PR and marketing space – you’re going to be a more attractive hire if you’re well-read and well rounded. If your passion coincides with the agency’s client focus then the fit is even better.

    Secondly – you’re wrong. I would also recommend staying in touch with the latest goings-on in marketing, PR, social media or whichever field on which you want to focus. Why? Because if someone asks you a question on a current topic in your job interview, you’d better know what they’re talking about. I know from experience that you may well get several such questions.

  4. Suzie hearts Toronto says:

    Without a doubt, things have changed drastically. So drastically, that I think people either embrace it too fully, or they don’t at all, causing a classic split between generations, schools of thought, etc.
    However, as Canadians (so typical of us) I find most PR professionals go the middle way, both keeping with regular publications, and keeping up with social media and other new venues.
    In fact, I think we do a fairly good job in expanding our horizons, while still maintaining that which we already have.

    There’s actually a really good PD session coming up put on by CPRS Toronto – News Media Meltdown: The Changing Universe of Journalis – Essentially it’s an interactive session that looks at the evolution of the media, and the current state of traditional news media with the shifting role of social media, changing audiences and “uncertain economic times”

  5. neville says:

    Agree with you, Ed – looking outside the bubble is essential.

    Agree with you too, Dave – it’s a good idea to connect with others in your same space. What I do is subscribe to aggregated content via RSS. That exposes content to me from multiple people. The essentials to me are the PR Network on Feedburner and the Corante Marketing Hub.

    In fact, I’d encourage every PR blogger to join the PR Network – http://networks.feedburner.com/PRnetwork

    Started by a Canadian, too: Cap’n Jones 🙂

  6. Barry Waite says:

    Great discussion – I’m teaching media relations in the Centennial CC&PR program and have been thrilled to watch students become engaged with media of all kinds – from broadsheets to blogs. I must admit it was a bit of a challenge at first to get them reading hard copy to understand the importance of story placement, headlines etc. as those who read the dailies almost exclusively read them online. Over the past few months I’ve seen them become greater consumers of news as well as participants in the process – both as budding PR professionals as well as participants in the social media space. What I try to impress upon them is the importance of staying connected and engaged – which some feel is much harder given quantity of media available to consume these days – I point out that using the tools available like the PRnetwork suggested by Neville its possible to be plugged in across a wide spectrum of subjects and sources. Possible and essential for their future in the profession.

  7. […] 2008 This happens in Canada…and probably elsewhere, and probably soon more elsewhere. Via Ed Lee I find out some are always asking potential hires ‘who they read – meaning which […]

  8. Max Bottaro says:

    I think you bring up a valid point. A lot of people just slap the broad label of “social media” to any online community. You definitely have to focus on your niche if you want to be a thought leader online.

  9. Thanks Ed. You’re so right that I could have gone on and listed a lot more PR blogs.

    If I can elaborate on what I meant (versus what I said), I feel the same as Dave Fleet. Yes, there is an echo chamber. And some very minor ideas that, as Humphrey Bogart might have said, ‘don’t amount to a hill of beans’ get way more than their fair share of attention via Google (I’m thinking of the Shel Israel/Loren Feldman brouhaha).

    And I completely agree that young (and old-er) PR practitioners need to break out of the PR blogosphere bubble and learn to identify key influencers in various sectors.

    However, I do believe that an important first step is knowing and following the leaders in our own industry. We need to understand the value and function of a SMNR, as well as where it came from. We should also be up to speed on the most relevant debates. That provides practitioners with a foundation that goes beyond their textbook training – and hopefully continues and helps the industry get smarter and grow.

    I view this level of PR knowledge as a basic point of entry – a technical requirement (like being able to assemble a media list or write a news release). Yes, it must be supplemented. But it’s a starting point.

  10. […] narrowing divide between "social" media and "mainstream" media Another blog post inspired by the excellent Talk is Cheap unconference last […]

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