By Jonathan Lehrer
My ego has been a bit underemployed lately. (By “lately,” I mean since I was the P.A. announcer at Niles North High School in Skokie in 1971.) So today–Feb. 1, 2011–I am giving my ego a birthday present: A blog, with the ego-feeding title of “MrCommunicator.”
(Please don’t tell my ego that about 10 billion people have treaded this ground before me.)
So for my first official post, I reached out to journalism profs, writers and professional communicators to muse about why people bang away at the keyboard when they could be enjoying Craig Ferguson. Or, better, sleeping.
- Wally Podrazik says people blog because they have to.
- Jill Stewart says she blogs because she can.
- Joe Weber sees blogging as a way of living out a fantasy.
- Chris Ruys uses blogs to promote her business.
- And Scott Meis says a blog is a form of “personal brand positioning.”
Chris Ruys, owner of Chris Ruys Communications, Inc., a self-described child of the ‘60s, points out that most of what she’s learned is “out the window” in these days of social media.
Chris blogs “to share the new rules of marketing, PR and communications with my subscribers, friends, followers and connections.” While she runs her boutique PR firm–which she aims to promote in via the blogosphere–Chris still finds time to write for two blogs: “Getting Social” (about social media tools) and her newest online endeavor, chrisruys1on1, a subscriber-based blog with tips, tactics and advice on social media, public relations and communications.
What Chris is doing is “personal brand positioning,” in the view of Scott Meis, a Digital Group Manager on Weber Shandwick’s Social Impact team.
“Recruiters, industry leaders and clients scour the Web on a daily basis and want to know what smarts you bring to the table,” says Scott, whose blog is called “Social Media Snippets.”
Scott says he can’t count “the number of times my blog has served as a credibility tool to land jobs, build professional relationships and land speaking gigs.”
Jill Stewart, president of Stewart Communications, Ltd., and an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University, blogs to teach her students about writing for the Internet.
Jill, who has served many high-profile clients, notes that “blogs boost your visibility, get your perspective out, and ideally, contribute content to the web.”
Joe Weber, associate professor at the University of Nebraska’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, blogs under the masthead “Wide-Eyed Wonder.”
Acknowledging that not every blog attracts a large audience, Joe says blogging is “a nice way to sound off, entertain yourself and share the odd and outrageous with buddies.”
Let’s run that by one of my old college buddies, Wally Podrazik, media historian, Beatles expert, logistics consultant and instructor at University of Illinois at Chicago. Wally blogs at mediawally.com
“Why do people blog? Because they have to.”
“The drive is as old as the draw to step on stage for public orations, or to keep private diaries,” Wally told me. “First comes an eye for observing the intricacies of everyday life, noting connections and contrasts in issues large and small. That is quickly followed by the desire, the need, to communicate those observations.”
Similarly, Joe (until recently was chief of correspondents at BusinessWeek) sees an emotional element to blogging: “Don’t we all nurture a fantasy that somewhere, somehow, we’re being listened to? Few of us can lay claim to that at home, much less at work.”
My friends are never reluctant to answer my questions by telling me I’m not asking them correctly.
Wally says “Why blog?” is ultimately the wrong question. It is really: “Why write?”
For that, says Wally, author P. G. Wodehouse offered this assessment back in in 1956 (for his book “Over Seventy”):
“I should think it extremely improbable that anyone ever wrote anything simply for money. What makes a writer write is that he likes writing.”
With all these blogs out there, I hope somebody like reading.