Monday, September 7, 2009
So begins the great blogging experiment!
Starting this week, first-year Creative Communications students at Red River College will be setting up their own network of "professional blogs" in PR class, where they can post their assignments, thoughts, hopes, dreams, and recipes (which I hope they will make and bring to class to share with the teacher).
I'll link them to my blogroll on the right of this page as soon as they're all set up - everyone should have one by this Friday.
We'll do do a similar scheme for second-year advertising students; the media-production folks are planning on streaming the weekly student newscast, and - as I've suggested before - I think there's a huge demand out there to see me eating a bagel at my desk at lunchtime.
Having a blog is becoming more of a requirement in the industry, especially in the advertising and PR fields; my ad major co-instructor Audra Lesosky has made it be known that her agency, McKim Cringan George, likes to see a blogging and social-media presence from any candidate fresh out of school, looking for a job at the agency. Of course, that's in addition to the standard hard-copy portfolio, which still has a place too.
To help kick off the assignment, I'll be holding a blogging roundtable discussion this week in the regular Thursday speaker slot.
Our esteemed panel will include the good people behind Progressive Winnipeg, Message Communications, Endless Spin Cycle, and PolicyFrog.
I'm looking forward to it. Should be a great discussion!
Every communications professional should have a blog.
“Blog” is short for “weblog;” it’s a website that functions as a live journal or public diary. You update a blog regularly with news, information, analysis, and criticism using original writing, reporting, links to other blogs, video, pictures, sound, color, design, and “gadgets.”
Unlike Facebook or social networking sites, blogs are not used to stay in touch with friends; rather, you use a blog to express yourself publicly and participate in a community conversation.
What makes the blog “professional” is that it gives potential employers a sense of how well you write on a regular basis, your “voice,” style, design skills, analytical skills, interests, sense of humor, anxieties, etc.
Blogging is also a good opportunity to learn about how to attract an online audience, how to measure it with services like StatCounter, and even how to make money from your writing by using Google AdSense.
* Blog with a purpose: have a focus and a target audience in mind, and be relevant to that audience by providing useful information, not just ads. While you do want to provide links to other web content that could interest your audience, make sure you also provide your original thoughts and insights.
* Don’t include “inappropriate content,” which is anything not appropriate for a potential employer. If you don’t know what that is, always err on the side of caution. Remember: anyone (including your mom and future employers) can read your blog, so make sure your writing puts your best foot forward. Also, Red River College’s “respectful college” guidelines pertain to both the in-person and online worlds.
* Allow people to comment on your blogs and encourage “dialogue” whenever possible. If someone posts something abusive, you can remove it.
* Read other blogs to see what works.
* Show your personality. Don’t be boring – be “you.”
* Promote your blog by e-mailing the address to your family and friends and using Twitter to let your "followers" know when you've posted something new. There’s nothing worse than writing something that nobody reads (just ask your local poet - Har, har).
What happens after you set up your blog?
1. Post assignments to your blog as directed.
2. Start posting other original entries to your blog regularly. Regularly updated blogs get more hits, and are listed higher on Google searches, leading to even more hits. Generally, your readers will expect to see a new entry every weekday. Hits tend to drop on weekends, when people aren’t trying to kill time at work.
3. Start linking your work to outside sources. Most, if not all, of your posts should contain links to articles, words, images, pictures, and discussion of outside sources. Original photographs and visuals are also great, if you have them.
4. Start commenting on your classmates’ - and other writers' - blogs.
This assignment is a mandatory part of Creative Communications, and required to continue in the program.
That's the assignment, minus some of the details, including the setup steps we'll do in our PR classes this week.
Next comes Twitter and how to link a website measurement service.
How does it look?