What would you say in your final blog post?

I’ve come this close to blog suicide a dozen times since September 2006 — when I launched this site. In fact, I even drafted a final post last winter. Had my finger on the “publish” trigger — I really did. But I chickened out.

I can’t be the only blogger who wonders what comes of all the time invested. I don’t use this blog to promote a business, to recruit students or to impress my bosses. And no one in my academic world will ever take it seriously as research or creative activity. Although this blog gets far more “peer review” than most academic journals, none of you hold me to any sort of standard! Thank you for that.

But I struggle with the ROI question — a lot. What’s in it for me? The answer eludes me.

As a blogger, I’ve learned a great deal about social media. That’s why I came here in the first place — to learn by doing. I like it, and I don’t like it. I find the conversations stimulating and the debates great fun. But I also find social media a bit too cozy for my tastes. Where I come from you don’t call people “friends” until you’ve gotten drunk with them around a campfire or helped them drag a deer out of the woods. Those are real friends, and I have a few.

All this got me thinking once more about the end. What would I say in my final post if I had to write it this week? I couldn’t resist that challenge. You’ll find it under the “My Final Post” tab on this site, though understand it’s only a work in progress.

Why publish it now? Because I’m a blogger and I can. In many ways, that’s the crux of social media, isn’t it? We do it because we can.

Feel free to drop in on “My Final Post.” Offer suggestions if you must. Hell, push me off the bridge if you like. I mean, it’s only a fantasy — for now. And promise you won’t take it too seriously, OK? In fact, don’t take anything you read here too seriously. It’ll take the fun out of it.

15 Responses to What would you say in your final blog post?

  1. Breeze says:

    The Blog Who Cried Wolf. 🙂

    The because-I-can aspect of blogging also means you don’t have to end it all, so to speak. It’s not as though you’re a columnist with inches to fill and a deadline to meet. When you have something to say, you say it. When you don’t, don’t. Like the jack in the trunk, it’s there when you need it–even if you rarely do (or hope to).

    Sure, it lacks in the dramatic-gesture department, but it also gains in the credibility arena. For unless you are one of the very few who can beat a retreat and mean it, you’ll be the social-media equivalent of the Rolling Stones–doing the first of several farewell tours.

  2. BillH says:

    No! Don’t do it! You’re doing a great service to PR in general, and PR education in particular. If the pointy-headed academics who read journals only to see if they’re cited in them don’t get it, then screw ’em.
    Especially don’t do it until you follow up on the “Chick Factor” inquiry raised earlier. The extreme lack of gender and generational diversity in PR is one of the most important challenges facing the business, as the response to your post suggests.
    One suggestion: Don’t bother to respond to every post. You are doing enough work already.

  3. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for the compliment, Bill. But I must respond to Breeze:

    One: I did not cry “wolf.” I cried “wolf — wink, wink.” Big difference.

    Two: To be effective in the blogosphere, you must have fresh content all the time. Otherwise folks stop visiting and eventually drop you from their feeder. I think if you read “My Last Post” carefully, you’ll find I definitely had something to say — something I’ve been holding back for a good long time.

    Three: If I remain as popular as Mick Jagger into my 60s, I will be happy to have 15 or 20 final tours. And when I’m finally gone, don’t forget to put roses on my grave. (I may be the only person on this planet who thinks “Dead Flowers” is the greatest Rolling Stones song ever.)

  4. Breeze says:

    One: I did not cry “wolf.” I cried “wolf — wink, wink.” Big difference.
    Sure, but the credibility issue still applies. You’ve floated this chucking-it-all notion before. And I bet you will again. I find it hard to imagine you’ll really take your ball and go home.

    Two: To be effective in the blogosphere, you must have fresh content all the time. Otherwise folks stop visiting and eventually drop you from their feeder. I think if you read “My Last Post” carefully, you’ll find I definitely had something to say — something I’ve been holding back for a good long time.
    Depends on how you measure effectiveness. And whether you care about being on someone’s feeder. You seem to feel that there are standards you must meet. There are–but only if you care about rankings and such. If you’re blogging only to make moves on Technorati or attract links, then maybe you should hang it up.

    I’ll gladly take intermittent, quality content from someone whose opinion I respect and whose perspective I enjoy over slew of mediocre, “fresh” blather that pads someone’s stats. Sometimes, more is just more–not better. But if you’re incapable of that approach, I doubt I’ll change your mind.

    As for your cryptic message… I confess I’m missing it. Unless your being a George Strait fan was the big mystery.

    To your self-aggrandizement point: To me, the being-out-there aspect, whether on a blog or a networking site, is worth it for that one terrific exchange where I learned a new way to look at things, or when someone I haven’t seen/heard from in ages pops up and says hi.

    Three: If I remain as popular as Mick Jagger into my 60s, I will be happy to have 15 or 20 final tours. And when I’m finally gone, don’t forget to put roses on my grave. (I may be the only person on this planet who thinks “Dead Flowers” is the greatest Rolling Stones song ever.)
    I don’t doubt you’ll appear on stage again, Bill. You will Not Fade Away.

  5. Bill Sledzik says:

    I respect your points there, Breeze. But to steal from the old tree-falling-in-the- forest conumdrum: If no one is reading, is it really a blog? A blog without regular posts is a blog without traffic. And a blog without traffic is irrelevant. I don’t play the stats game, and as a regular here, you know how I loathe those link-loving types. Technorati rankings are a running joke among those in the know. As for the lists contrived by other bloggers, they’re ego magnets for the most vain among us. (Check out Robert French’s wonderful rant — and subsequent exchange — on this topic!)

    I believe the blogosphere offers great conversations and exchanges, but it’s also home to the vain and self-absorbed. I draw this conclusion in part from experience and in part from my reading of Andrew Keen’s “Cult of the Amatuer.”

    Finally, there was nothing cryptic in my response to you. The message of “My Final Post” was simply to point out a darker side of this medium that has been romanticized by too many of the true believers. My job is to view these things more critically. I just brought George Strait along for the ride.

  6. Bill,

    In the end, you need to make the decision that will make you happiest. If you want more time in the offline world and deeper relationships with people in the offline world, then I think it’s a good decision to make.

    That said, I would like to point out why I believe your blog is of great value. Here are some responses to the arguments you made about the ROI question.

    1. You are mentoring public relations educators and practitioners who are in the blogosphere. I learn a lot from your blog, and others do too. You might not realize its full impact. In fact, Jaculynn Peterson mentioned your blog at our last Greater Oregon PRSA board meeting.

    Some of my academic friends ask me how I make time for blogging. I reply that it’s like going to class every day with a dream team of professors. It’s high-quality, free education. Although you probably didn’t know it, you’re one of my post-college professors. I imagine you play this role for many others too.

    2. Having a blog means that your opinions are publicized, so they can better serve as a force of change. It would be nice to see PRSA respond to your criticisms, such as your questioning of having a celebrity keynote at the PRSA conference who apparently had nothing to do with public relations. Granted, I haven’t seen PRSA respond to criticisms and questions in the blogosphere, despite identifying several opportunities.

    Nevertheless, your blog creates the need for PRSA to respond, and when the association catches up with the millennium, I think it will engage in dialog with people who pose questions and comments about it. Thus, you engage in activism with your blog: activism for the public relations industry and for all other causes that you hold dear.

    When you say that no one in your academic community would interpret your blog as serious research or creative activity, I suppose you must be limiting that generalization to Kent State. I know you can’t apply that statement beyond Kent State, because as an academic, I believe your blog is significant, and I have a feeling that folks like Les Potter, Karen Miller Russell, and Robert French do too.

    I understand your concerns about the time you invest. I think about it too. Perhaps creating a blog with many academic authors would lighten the load? Also, I promise I won’t drop you off of my feed reader if you take a long break from blogging, and my guess is that others won’t either. That’s what the view “updated” tab on Google Reader is for. It’s painless to be subscribed to blogs that don’t update regularly.

    Good luck with your decision. Remember, there is no “right” or “wrong” in decision-making without you making it so.

    And thanks for giving me the whole story about Bernays today in your top posts list. I have a new ending to my class talks now when we address the Torches of Freedom campaign.

  7. Jenn Mattern says:

    Oddly enough, when I disappeared for two months (I really thought I’d be gone longer, but PR stupidity was like a siren calling me back) my traffic and subscribers actually increased. As a matter of fact, my feed subscriptions nearly DOUBLED! Go figure, right? Why does someone subscribe to a site, when the most recent post says the blogger’s called it quits for a while? Were they subscribing to be notified when I came back? Were they subscribing from internal pages, so they never saw that post? I have no idea. I don’t really care enough to try to find out. I just thought I’d share that tid bit, because it was so surprising. Maybe we should all take a break, and come back to bigger traffic numbers. 😉

    Then again, you already had your “I’m leaving” tease on your last break. So you’re stuck with us for a while now Bill. I was just posting recently about how I wiped my feed reader clean, and am only re-adding 10 PR / marketing blogs. Yours was one of only two I’d already decided to keep, so you better have plenty of blogging left in you. If not, I’ll be happy to pick a fight just so you have something to talk about. 😉

  8. I’ll share with you why I stopped my old ‘zine’ site years ago, as well as why I am a repeat offender, “on-again, off-again” blogger. But first, coffee.

  9. Bill Sledzik says:

    Dino…Nice to see you’re up an at it early. I trust you are on the mend and that the clouds are clearing from your head. Your friends wish you well in your recovery.

    Jenn…Thanks for commiserating. Make no mistake, I enjoy blogging as much as anyone, but it does come at a cost. Even with my reduced posting, I still haven’t been out to catch a mess of bluegill this summer, and the fish-fry season is nearly over! And while I haven’t wiped my feeder clean, I haven’t been there in nearly two months, thus I fear I’m becoming a one-way conversation. I still read Katie Paine, as she is so good about promoting her new posts on Facebook. More bloggers should do this. It would give me a reason to “friend” them, but they’ll have to come to my house and get drunk with me around the fire.

    Tiffany…Thanks for the ego boost. Any time I’m named alongside Professors Russell, Potter and French — well, that’s not too hard to take. As I move forward, I’d like to be a critical voice in PR — for what that’s worth. But I’d also like to steer clear of the Web 2.0 issues more than I have. I can’t afford to be thrown off any more blogs! While social media are a powerful force, those who focus their attention solely on the “Cluetrain” issues are missing the larger picture of PR practice. And those who think PR is a subset of marketing: They traded Cluetrain for “Clueless.”

    I’m not going to worry about the “scholarly value” of blogging. This site has done more for me and for the Kent program than anything I’ve published in more traditional venues. I won’t chase a promotion based on the misguided notions of what’s important. Instead, I think I’ll try to catch a few fish.

  10. Blake Lewis says:

    Evening, Bill…

    Like so many notes that are written, this must start with a “we’ve never met, but I feel I know you” lead.

    The premise behind your ‘draft’ final blog posting intrigued me. I suspect that most of us who work in the public relations profession toy with this issue every time the idea of a client/employer newsletter comes up. If the team can get beyond the “you know, it takes a bunch of content to keep a credible newsletter up and running,” the next question that, in fact, rarely comes up is “What’s our exit strategy?”

    No program is eternal, and “when the budget runs out” is a weak answer. Oftentimes, the answer is pretty easy, if a little time is spent asking and then discussing the notion. Like the idea that having a good crisis management program contributes to shaping the karma that results in no crises occurring, having an exit strategy may do more to keep a newsletter, a blog or any other program rolling forward.

    I agree with Breeze. Write when the spirit and content are there. We’ll be here.

  11. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks, Blake. I was with you all the way until you said you agreed with Breeze. We don’t allow that here. Ask Dino!

  12. Have you asked your students what they think? Just curious.

  13. Bill Sledzik says:

    Nope. If I do that I might learn that my blog isn’t relevant to them over summer break. A quick check of my student bloggers from last semester shows only one of 18 has continued to post once the semester ended. Too bad, as we had some outstanding bloggers in the class who developed effective online voices.

    But it goes to priorities, doesn’t it? My blog experiment remains an element of how we incorporate the social media component into our curriculum. Stir in a little ego and, presto, you can’t shut the thing off. But students come to Kent State because our faculty have done and continue to DO the work of public relations. We’re hands-on, and they respond to that.

    As I’ve said before, Karen, I really admire what you’ve done with your blog — focusing it on serving the students. PR educators would do well to emulate it.

  14. Breeze says:

    I was with you all the way until you said you agreed with Breeze.

    Ooh, that must have smarted.

    We don’t allow that here. Ask Dino!

    Calling on the medically mending for backup? Now that’s what I call floundering. 😉

  15. Breeze says:

    Kidding aside… it sounds like you’ve developed quite a following through your blog–one which doesn’t appear ready to cut and run if you don’t post regularly.

    Stuck with a built-in audience isn’t a bad place to be.

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