The assignment: Find an area of PR that excites you, explore it, write about it, then work to engage others in the discussion.
Is the exercise effective? We think so. I see passion in the posts, and I hear some online voices stretching beyond the shallowness of tweets and Facebook updates. Blogs require critical thinking and clear writing. Most other social-media tools do not.
Engagement on the student blogs is minimal so far, but we’re only two posts into the exercise. I’m hoping this message will drive a bit of traffic their way.
We’re clinging to the blog assignment, even though weblogs haven’t become the mainstay of PR initiatives many anticipated in ’05, when we designed the course. Blogs are a useful learning tool, since they require students to explore topics and to write intelligently about them. We require that our student bloggers focus on PR in some way, since the blogs eventually become part of a digital portfolio.
The exercise isn’t perfect. A small number of students tell us they don’t enjoy it at all. And fewer than 10% continue blogging beyond the class requirements. Maybe we should be serving more SM Kool-Aid in the computer lab.
When asked why they don’t blog on after the class ends, most students say they don’t have the time or they lack the passion. Blogging is work, even when you enjoy it.
My Top 5
At the risk of offending 2/3rds of the class, here are my “Top 5″ bloggers so far this semeseter, listed in no particular order. Students are under the direction of Professor Stefanie Moore.
Beltway PeRspective. Aaron Kaufman, a senior from the D.C. area, offers balanced and insightful analysis about PR in the political arena.
SM PRactice. Kim Rodia, a senior from Stow, Ohio, uses her blog to explore social-media applications in PR. Like the rest of us, she’s wrestling with what it all means. Great insights for PR students and young professionals.
The Wild Side of PR. Michelle Wilson, a graduate student from Hudson, Ohio, writes about PR for zoos and aquariums. The daughter of a former zoo director, her lifelong passion for animals and conservation comes through in the blog.
K.I.S.S. Mary Jo Spletzer, a senior from Newton Falls, Ohio, reminds PR students to “keep it simple.” Her first two posts highlight the importance of time management and good writing for young PR professionals.
Two more blogs of note
A Ton of Bricks. I didn’t put Ralph Divila on the “Top 5″ list, even though he’s in the same class. The guy has a great blog, but an unfair advantage. Ralph completed his undergrad at PRKent in 2002 and has worked in the business for 7 years. He returned to Kent last year to earn his master’s. Ralph’s experience is evident.
Budding Heads PR. Amanda Hayes and Chris Sledzik, who took the PR Online Tactics class last semester, are now rivals on a blog featuring point-counterpoint discussions.
We’re looking for lots of humor and attitude from these two, and some insight as well.
Disclosure: Chris and I have known each other for 24 years, having met in the delivery room at Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, NY. He’s one or the few students who continues to blog even though it’s not required — hereditary madness, I suppose. Chris’ brother Todd designed the blog’s header.