This past weekend I was confronted with this fact. "The blog is dead," the former blog marketer--turned communication grad student--told me over lunch at the Central States Communication Association meeting in Cincinnati. Of course, as someone who just recently jumped on the blog bandwagon (admittedly way late), I was devastated to be told this by someone "in the know." It was as if I had joined a wagon train in the Old West, living the real adventure, only to find out it was really a movie set and everything was just a facade.

Are blogs dead? Are they just a facade? If so, what are they covering? It is ironic, yet apropos, that I write this in blog format. And that is my point. The blog really is in the eye of the beholder. Yes, some bloggers simply like to "see" themselves talk. In grad school, we called those who would talk just to hear themselves, "verbal masturbaters." The same can be said about many bloggers. If someone blogs just to blog, to see their own words, then no, those blogs are rarely worth anyone's time to read and the virtual web space they use. 

But consider the blog that teaches us something. As a PR professor who really learned everything I know by teaching myself from books and from taking on a "faculty internship" with a branding agency, I am now getting much helpful advice from PR, marketing and advertising professionals who write blogs. And yet, there are still many of those "professionals" who will also blog about mundane or off-topic items.

This is why I separate my blogs. I have a food blog for when I want to discuss my love for cooking, I have a blog for my cat, and I plan to blog about my travels elsewhere. Those topics do not belong on my blog about PR. And there are many bloggers who will give a short 2 paragraph blog about a new gadget or app. I say, save it for twitter or facebook. Don't make me weed through your blogs for important opinions and ideas about PR, marketing, branding, advertising and how social media is used in those disciplines.

Finally, don't rely on the blog. My fear about social media and blogging specifically, is that some PR practitioners are forgetting to practice the fundamentals of PR. As one wise-beyond-her-years-PR student at Rowan University blogged: Good PR starts with internal communication. I can never stress this enough in my classes. You have to have careful, internal strategic organizational planning to be able to even begin to think about how you can reach out to external publics. And that goes for whether using old-fashioned techniques or social media. In addition, we have to make sure our writing is still clear, concise, and grammatically correct. Twitter and its siblings tend to rely on brevity, but few other writing skills are employed. If we teach our PR, marketing, advertising, etc. students to blog, we must also make sure they are practicing keen writing and organizational skills.

So, is the blog dead? Perhaps for social marketing, it is losing ground. There are millions of bloggers out there who may blog positively about a product or service and may help sell that commodity. However, because there are millions of bloggers doing this, marketers can no longer target their consumer through blogging as well as before. They no longer can give out free items as much for bloggers to review, because there are too many bloggers. Thus bloggers begin to slack in reviews.

But for educational purposes? I believe the blog has not even reached its peak. The next wave for textbooks may not be online texts, but blog texts. I mean, if the students at my university, which happens to be in a small town and not real close to a big city, can't get out as often as we would like and into big-city branding agencies to hear from the experts, why wouldn't I have them read those experts' blogs? I am no saying we should use it instead of the textbook with their important theories and historical practices, but we would be remiss to neglect the blogosphere altogether.
 


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