Posted by Liz Banks-Anderson
06. Jun, 2012
Trevor Young is a leading thinker in the fields of public relations, marketing and communications. His blog the PR Warrior has been named one of Australia’s Top 25 Business blogs and Trevor also founded BlogHUB Australia, an online hub that promotes Australia’s blogging movement.
Trevor believes that blogs offer a great opportunity for people to connect with readers, spread ideas and engage with the online community. We had a chat to find out more.
MB: You have many different roles and content channels. How do you juggle all of this?
TY: I think being curious and always switched-on and open to new ideas and interesting story angles helps me from a content creation perspective. If you’re always reading and on the lookout for emerging trends etc, I think you’ll find that in the long run you will spend a lot less time actually searching for things to write about, which is half the battle.
In terms of productivity tools, I highly recommend using a platform like Bufferapp which allows you to schedule your tweets across various accounts as well as Facebook and LinkedIn updates. I’m not advocating you ‘phone in’ everything on Twitter – showing up and getting involved in real-time on a regular basis is critical – but if you’re someone like me who ‘batch reads’ a lot of stuff, then this is the most efficient and time-effective way to share content across the social web. And, it ensures you don’t clog up people’s tweet/LinkedIn/Facebook streams!
MB: What roles do you think blogs have played in they way we consume media?
TY: I often describe what’s been happening in terms of the changing media landscape as a ‘seismic shift’ in the way we – the people – are communicating with each other, how we’re connecting and collaborating as individuals and therefore as society as a whole.
The change brought on by the emergence of social media is every bit as profound, probably more so, than the advent of the printing press. I truly believe that, and it’s incredibly exciting, especially for someone with a communications background.
Blogs have been absolutely crucial in this shift and are becoming even more significant I think with platforms such as Tumblr, Posterous, Typepad and even WordPress making it dead simple for the ‘man in the street’ to get up and running with their own media channel.
MB: What is the greatest strength and weakness of a blog?
TY: In a conceptual sense, the greatest strength of blogging is its pure simplicity … it gives anyone the opportunity to create an online platform from which to communicate with the world, to share opinions and ideas and interact with people of like mind. No longer do you need gobs of money to become a publisher on a global scale. I think the story of Pete Cashmore, who at 19 founded Mashable from his bedroom in Scotland and six years later is now a highly influential media player, is indication of how far we’ve come in this new media space.
The weakness of blogging, I believe, is two-fold: firstly, if you’re wanting to build a sizeable audience around your niche or specialty, it takes a fair amount of effort – not necessarily to get a blog up and running per se but to keep it cranking and filled with great content, while at the same time growing the community of fans and followers of the site.
Secondly, there are a heck of a lot of blogs and online magazines out there across virtually all categories. Competition for people’s attention is fierce and not just confined to other blogs, so it requires commitment to the cause, lots of experimentation, high levels of interactivity with readers.
MB: As a Melbournian, are there events that keep you connected to the blogging community?
TY: Absolutely! I have been a regular at the Social Media Melbourne Friday coffee mornings since it first began a few years back at Mr Tulk (and now at 1000 Pound Bend). I’ve met a stack of really cool and interesting people at those gatherings, some of whom are really good friends today.
I was also one of the founding committee members of the Social Media Club Melbourne (I’m sure people get the two events mixed up!) – and make it a point to try and get to every event. Both clubs continue to grow and attract a really interesting, and interested, crowd. Definitely worth checking out if you’re keen on blogging and the social media space.
MB: How did you develop your blogging ‘voice’?
TY: It took a while to find my voice on PR Warrior to be honest. I unwittingly broke every supposed golden rule of blogging: I started with no plan nor did I have much in the way of designated ‘pillars of content’ or any sort of editorial schedule.
However, what I did have was a willingness to share ideas and opinions and a desire to just get in there and have a go; this was back in 2007 and my original goal, such as it was, was to learn as much as possible about “this blogging thing” mainly to keep me up-to-date for my PR consulting business. But I can say, I learned more in six weeks of writing the blog than I had done in six months of reading about blogging, so there’s a lot to be said for just doing it.
MB: What are your tips for creating great blog content?
TY: Know your audience, and write for them. Following on from the previous question, PR Warrior is largely a business-to-business thought leadership platform, a virtual soapbox for my opinions and observations as well as case studies, stories on major reports and surveys, interviews with people who are doing interesting things marketing-wise etc. This gives me flexibility and while I always have my audience in mind, I don’t think it’s as crucial for me as, say a blogger who is trying to own a particular niche.
A second tip is blog regularly. It doesn’t need to be every day by any means, but a constant drip-feed or flow of high quality content will work in your favour. In my case, the more I blog, the more traction I get. Simple as that. However, make sure you’re not simply blogging for blogging’s sake – do less if it means your content is going to remain at a high standard.
MB: Do you think blogs will ever completely replace traditional media channels?
TY: No. I think there will always be plenty of room for ‘traditional’ reportage of events plus ‘brand name’ columnists who provide insights, opinions and conversation starters. The traditional platforms might morph and change but the art of telling a good story in a crisp manner isn’t going anywhere.
But I do see the two roles melding to a degree. Journalists who blog and build their personal brand as a result, and high-profile bloggers who create content for newspapers and other media outlets. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of this: I look at someone like Sydney’s Natalie Tran – one of the biggest video bloggers in the world with an audience of millions – and I’m staggered no newspaper has snapped her up for their online offering (someone might have, I just haven’t seen it).
Mia Freedman has made the move from blog to News Limited but then she came from a magazine and TV background, so it’s not that much of a stretch versus someone like Natalie.
MB: Regardless of whether you are a newbie blogger or an established professional, what is the best piece of advice you have received about creating content?
TY: Be yourself and write with passion. The reason why we love reading blogs is because they differ in so many ways from newspapers and magazines. Successful bloggers are passionate people who are fantastic at connecting with their audience because they are authentic in who they are and in what they write about.
As Dr Suess once wrote: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
MB: What are your top 5 blogs?
TY: Tough question – I would read probably up to 40-50 blogs on and off on a semi-regular basis, but if I looked at my ‘must reads’, they would be:
MB: What’s next?
TY: I think there are several trends forming more generally in the social media space that bloggers might want to be aware of.
I think we’ll continue to see increased personalisation of the web. This is being played out in numerous ways, but the area that interests me is how people filter the mountains of information that’s out there. Content curation is a real skill, and those bloggers and companies that can master it will have a real opportunity to become ‘go-to’ resources online. The likes of content curation app Flipboard will only grow in popularity as more people discover how helpful packaging information tailored to our interests can be.
And finally – increased visualisation of the social web is really becoming apparent and we’re seeing that with Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook’s new Timeline. A picture tells a 1000 words, but a beautiful picture will win every time and be shared around more often than not. This is definitely a trend bloggers can tap into.
Follow Liz Banks-Anderson on Twitter @lbanksanderson
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