It’s time to turn the page

ToughSledding is taking a new direction — and a little time off.

As Yogi Berra said, when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. (Yogi Berra)

Sometime in the next six weeks, I will return this blog to its original mission: talking with students and young professionals about public relations. Tomorrow, I begin searching for topics that reflect my course content, and not today’s Twitter buzz or social-media dust up. Your ideas are welcome.

This will be my last post until the semester ends in May. Then we’ll see what happens.

It’s time I got back on track. The regulars are welcome to hang around, and I hope you will. But don’t expect me to argue with you — or anyone — about who’s writing Guy Kawasaki’s tweets. I honestly don’t care.

Why change now? Fatigue is part of it. But you can also blame it on the stats.

Last month, my post about the “4 Models of Public Relations” became the most visited essay on this site. Another post among the Top 10 presents a “sort of unified definition of PR.” Then I learned that my post on “the ethics of persuasion” had risen to 15th out of 269 entries. Is nice to know people care about ethics — a frequent topic on this blog and one of my teaching interests.

Readship is a rollercoaster: My last 10 days.

Readership can be a roller coaster: My last 10 days.

I know what you’re gonna say. It’s not my regular readers who visit those old posts. It’s more likely college kids doing research papers. But that’s all the more reason to shift focus. If I can use this blog to help students and young pros understand PR, what could be better? Those lessons are scarce in the blogosphere these days.

I can’t move on without a parting shot at my “evil twins” over in marketing (That post ranks 19th). I’ve spent way too much time explaining the differences between PR and marketing, and I’m through beating the drum. I’ll have to be satisfied knowing that PR majors who leave Kent State DO understand the difference and are equipped to operate in both worlds. Our students know that not all PR functions involve marketing, but they also know that nearly every marketing function involves PR. It’s a sweet irony.

So today I turn the page and take ToughSledding back where it belongs. But in case you’re wondering, I WON’T be returning to the original banner. I prefer that sinister guy in the black hood. Smilin’ Jack here is way too agreeable.


Will the new direction hurt readership? Probably.

But if you click to the 3rd most popular post on this blog, you’ll learn it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. I call it the “Meatballs Mantra,” and I reread it every time I start taking social media — or life — too seriously.

14 Responses to It’s time to turn the page

  1. Judy Gombita says:

    I can’t say I’m overly surprised at your decision, Bill. And I think it’s the right one, to refocus. There are far too many non-PR practitioners (particularly the consultants) who are using social media as an excuse to proclaim that public relations is dead or (at a minimum) usurped by marketing or proclaiming that the “lines are blurring.”

    That’s crap.

    If the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer’s results are any indication, I think my CPRS colleague, Dr. Terry Flynn, is bang-on in his tweet a few weeks ago:

    “Thinking about the “business case” for public relations in a collapsing economy–value, reputation and relationships.” (

    And your blog will be well-positioned to help propose the business case.

    With all of that free time over the next few months, I hope you read/comment on PR Conversations on a (more) regular basis. Our readership numbers are consistent (and definitely up from one year ago): about 80 per cent of the new visitors come via targeted searches: public relations, stakeholder relations, reputation management, etc.

    And pssttt…following the incredibly successful reception of our James Grunig one, we have another (exciting) group interview coming up with an equally prominent individual….

    (And don’t for a minute think I’m not wise to the timing of your blog sabbatical. Prime spring kayaking weather, eh?)


  2. Bill Huey says:

    Thank God! And enjoy your break.

  3. Guhmshoo says:


  4. Dino Baskovic says:

    There are enough PR bloggers bobbing at Twitter and every other shiny object in the lake, so good for you.

    Your blog will be better for this course correction, and your students and the program at-large will be better for it. Hopefully, other bona fide PR programs around academe will hop along.

    I did enjoy your fervent attempts to clarify public relations as a partner of marketing but not a subset. My two bits: Continue doing so. And, at the end of the day, when ask a dozen flacks to define PR, out will come 12 different answers.

    Keep working on that 🙂

  5. Perhaps it makes sense to quite while you’re ahead.

    I’ve been recommending your post on blog ghostwriting to my students. I like your tone: you sound like a human being, not a cautious and pedantic academic.

    Its time will come: the metrics are already there for peer-reviewed blog posts…

  6. Sally Hodge says:

    I kind of enjoyed some of those fights on the evil twins! S’okay, whatever the orientation of your posts, you’ll remain a great resource. We have far too many pundits on social media PR, and far too few on broader PR issues.

  7. Hi Bill, Long before we knew each other, I enjoyed your posts as a respite from the “social media changes everything” crowd. You always seemed able to add a new way of looking at social media issues while keeping the focus on foundational skills and strategies. I’ll miss that perspective as you move in a different direction.

    That said, however, I love the focus on helping students and young professionals. Let me tell you that our “discussion” of PR and Marketing still gets around 100 hits a week on my site, which echoes what you’ve seen at ToughSledding. There is still a large audience out there searching for a deeper understanding of the field, whether it is undergrads, grad students, or young professionals.

    I look forward to the new TS that emerges from your time away. You’re a wise counsel for us all.

  8. Greg Smith says:

    Back to basics. I’m sticking around, Bill.

  9. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for the support, folks. I’m not leaving, just shifting gears. So stay tuned.

    Have already jotted notes on 5-6 topics that just might interest you. Also thinking about a regular rant about the bad writing and abysmal grammar I find online.

  10. Rob Jewell says:

    We’re friends and former faculty colleagues as many reading your blog know. That’s the disclaimer. Here’s reality. Your blog demonstrates the inherent — but seldom realized — value of this medium. It’s one person willing to take the time to share considerable insight — and being able to create over time a community of people who are willing to talk about ideas, pro and con — give and take.

    I know students benefit from your writing. And based on the comments you receive here, many professionals do as well.

  11. Jim Kenny says:

    It’s the search for answers that I so enjoy about you, Bill. I’d likely follow you over a cliff. Thanks for challenging the rules. I’m looking forward to the end of the semester.

  12. Good for you Bill. I agree. When I started my blog I wanted to focus mostly on my region–a local blog, even though “community” means different things online. And I also find that connecting with students and others new to the profession is a great service for us profs to offer.

  13. […] redirected this blog a few months back to focus on issues that support my teaching and, I hope, the teaching […]

  14. […] include posts filled with cliches and hackneyed phrases. I used “fork in the road” only once, when citing the wit and wisdom of Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take […]

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