About the Blog

ToughSledding was born on 9/11/06 at a patio table on the north shore of Sandy Lake. While my decision to launch on the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy was coincidental, some readers may see it as appropos given the disasters I have since published.

ToughSledding is a middleaged professor’s attempt to learn about social media by doing social media. So far, so good. I was inspired to try it by Scoble & Israel’s book, but it has been sustained by a mix of ego and a desire to be part of the online discussions about public relations.

I fully intended to stop after one semester and walk away with lessons learned. But I find myself addicted to the medium and enamored by the conversations that are part of it. I continue to learn about social media and about life, but I see SM as another step in the evolution of communication, not a revolution as some out there seem to think.

ToughSledding addresses topics related to public relations but isn’t limited to “PR and social media.” Too many folks are already doing that.

I see my audience as students of public relations and younger practitioners, and treat this blog as an extension of my classroom. It’s an educational tool, and I don’t earn a dime from it. That’s the teacher in me — long hours and low pay!  I try hard to let my personality and smartass nature shine through on this blog. Occasionally my attempts at wit are clumsy. So I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me.

Comments are welcome. I don’t moderate them, nor do I censor them once posted. So far I’ve deleted just one comment, and I was so horrified at having to do so that I wrote a post about it. I won’t tolerate rudeness, nor will I allow crude language unless it has a purpose.

I welcome anyone an everyone who disagrees with me. That’s what debates are all about, and I promise you won’t hurt my feelings. I do prefer commenters who sign their names, but I do allow intelligent comments even when they are anonymous.

About editing: I routinely fix typos as well as errors in grammar, spelling, usage and punctuation. I don’t use strike-through type to denote changes, and see that custom as a silly affectation of the blogosphere. I don’t make changes that alter meaning or substance once a post goes up, though I do update the static pages (this one included). As circumstances change.

Updated 05/22/10

11 Responses to About the Blog

  1. Greg Smith says:

    Great stuff, Bill. You sound exactly like me. Also at http://theprlab.wordpress.com (haven’t decided where to plonk myself).

  2. Ann Davis says:

    I am currently researching whether or president/ceo should have a blog. It was suggested to her. I have found lots of information but quite frankly not enought to make a sound decisions. Any advise you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Ann Davis, Public Relations Manager. I case you were wondering how I got your name I was searching the internet for a topic for an ethic minute. We start each meeting with a safety, strategic plan (balanced scorecard) and ethics minute. I am using your 5 minute response to Lauren a PR major at West Virginia U. Thank you for your consideration.

  3. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Ann. When I started into this blogging adventure, I was convinced every CEO should have one. I even drafted a proposal to our new president to suggest it. I came away from reading “Naked Converstations” (Scoble & Israel) convinced I had found the holy grail.

    I’m no longer so sure. I’m all for a CEO blog, since it can really open up the organization. But you need to consider the variables.

    First, you need an open culture that encourages candor and rewards those who challenge the status quo. Your boss must be willing to post the negative comments alongside the positive or the “conversation” won’t happen. In my experience, that knocks out 90% of top executives, maybe more. A blog can turn into a free for all if the culture is wrong. And when that happens, the CEO will be asking you to censor it. When that happens, it’s game over.

    Second, you need a CEO who believes enough in the blog to commit plenty of time to it. If a blog is to be the voice of the top officer, then it should be HER voice, not someone from the PR staff (It’s OK if you clean up her typos). I can see a CEO getting excited about blogging, then losing enthusiasm as the burden expands. Blogs also require maintenance time, too, since they’re a conversation. That means checking comments and responding, at minimum, daily. I check mine every few hours. Since most CEO travel a good bit, maintenance is an issue.

    Third, It takes a certain amount of EGO to put oneself out there every day. Most CEOs are blessed with plenty of it, but the top execs truly interested in listening tend not to crave the limelight. This is gonna sound crass, but it really helps if you love the sound of your own prose. I know I do.

    My best advice would be to try a blog on a fairly vertical topic and limit the discussion to that topic. You can always expand. Maybe it focuses on employee wellness issues, or issues related to retirement planning. For customers, it could be an ideas exchange. But be careful. If you use the blog for propaganda, you’ll lose followers quickly. You might also want to test it with another officer of the organization. If it fails, it’s not the CEO’ s problem.

    Our president, though not a blogger, issues an email about once a week that goes to staff and students of the university. While his tone is light and conversational, the messages never addresses issues of concern to us. They just cheerleading for the organization, which is part of the CEOs job. But a constant harangue of “aren’t we wonderful” messages only leads to folks tuning you out.

  4. Noah says:


    Regarding the president’s emails, You hit the nail on the head. The emails were a refreshing change, but the lack of substance got old fast. Now, I just hit the delete key when the emails appear in my box. I suspect that most of the students and faculty do too. I would rather watch cheerleading on ESPN.


  5. Kate says:

    Love the blog. Funny, irreverent. Silly old things, these blogs. But we do love’ em, eh?

  6. Leah Koyiet says:

    Hi Bill. Good stuff. I actually leanred about your blog recently, when there was a vote on the most educational blogs and so from the options provided on the voting form, i decided to visit all listed to see how they work. I previously knew MNPR Blog, actually a favorite. Like you say in your comments about TS, I am a young professional looking to be extremely seasoned at this business. Exicted to come off better!! See you regularly.

  7. Leah Koyiet says:

    Okey doks, jus spotted grammatical error!!! Now i see what you mean!

  8. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for dropping in, Leah. I hope you’ll come by from time to time. But I also hope I can crank up the energy to post more. Summer always slows me down, this one in particular. One of the lessons most bloggers learn is how much energy it takes to sustain this type of site.

    As for that vote over at Arik’s blog — I suspect I got my butt kicked by the guy from the West Coast — you know, who write posts as long as the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Great content, but inefficient.

  9. CeCe says:

    I am new at this. I have enjoyed your article /bloggin on “What Public Relation Is Not” Do you have any articles about What public relation is?

  10. Carolyn says:

    G’day Bill,

    Just came across your blog and have decided to subscribe to your site.

    One other comment I would add to your response regarding a CEO blog, is to be wary of the direct line to the CEO taking over from the conversations people should be having with their managers. The blog should enhance these conversations. So, the senior leaders should also be informed regularly about topics raised where they should be encourgaing discussion with their people. Obviously if there is an issue with certain managers (and employees are by-passing them) then that needs to be addressed.

    I also believe that the constant maintenance and commitment to blog entries would wane if CEOs occasionally turn to what they believe to be more important matters.

  11. Bill Sledzik says:

    Flattered, Carolyn. But this is my old site. I migrated all the content over to toughsledding.com about a year ago.

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