On behalf of the Maccabee agency, I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Ryan May, freelance public relations consultant and long-time blogmaster of the Minnesota Public Relations and MNPR Jobs blogs. This interview couldn’t be timelier – Ryan celebrates his 10th year as a blogger on February 21, 2013!
Congratulations, Ryan! I shared with our MaccaPR blog readers Ryan’s blogging success story and tips he has for companies and agencies interested in starting their own blogs. With that, I give you this Q&A with Ryan May:
Question #1: Alright, let’s go way back to February 2003. Facebook didn’t even exist yet; it launched a year after you started the Minnesota PR Blog. How on Earth did you decide to start a ‘web log’ and why?
Ten years ago, I was writing for the Minnesota PRSA newsletter and had been working in PR for three years. I’d observed the power of bloggers in the world of media relations and I wanted to sample it for myself.
I remember another Minnesota-based blogger, Powerlineblog.com, actually broke political news before national media. (Editor’s note: Powerline is recognized for breaking the Killian documents scandal that contributed to TV newsman Dan Rather’s resignation from CBS Evening News. Also, Powerline was honored by Time magazine as its first-ever “Blog of the Year” in 2004). I was seeing that blogs had big PR implications, and wanted to explore the territory for myself. So, I started the Minnesota Public Relations blog.
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I didn’t tell work, not knowing how the blogosphere would develop. When I started on February 21, 2003, my Minnesota Public Relations blog was one of the first in industry. (Editor’s Note: Ryan May was amongst the first 10 PR bloggers in the whole world, according to Chicago-based PR man Phil Gomes who compiled this PR Blogging Timeline.)
Question #2: What did you want to achieve with your blog?
I really wanted to see how blogs could be used for writing articles, interviewing people… I was curious. Also, I knew that I could help local PR professionals. I hoped to help one person find one job in public relations. (Editor’s note: Ryan May started a blog devoted to employment, the MN PR Jobs blog, three years later on February 28, 2006.)
Question #3: Ryan, your PR jobs postings have been very useful for me. Thank you! Over the last decade, what have you learned along the way?
When I started my blog, things were so different; the world was just getting on board in 2005 and now there’s a whole world of blogs. I became an unwitting consultant for businesses interested in starting blogs. I had companies like Target and others bring me in to discuss how they should handle blogger relations. I was flattered.
Though, I’ve also long believed in the power of social media in general. In November 2008, the day after President Obama was elected into office for the first year, I was presenting about LinkedIn to a giant room of 500 human resources managers. Today, I run a fair number of LinkedIn groups, including the 2,600-member strong Minnesota Public Relations group. LinkedIn has a lot of potential for brands; it is not just for jobs and employment (Editor’s note: We agree).
Question #4: What do you know now about blogging that you wish you’d known back then?
- You have to have an appetite to blog. Blogging can be exhausting. Especially in the beginning, I was always thinking, “What will I write tomorrow?” It distracts you from business. You have to want to do it. If you can’t sit down and think of 20 possible blog post ideas from the get-go, then forget about it.
- Think about your focus. Looking back on it, I’d have not focused solely on Minnesota. When I was more junior in my career, I maybe could have taken this nationwide. I think about how I could have thought more about my blog’s focus.
- It takes time to become established. So many blogs started and then died throughout the last decade. I’ve found that your blog isn’t real until it’s been around for two years.
- Be consistent. A key to every blog is providing valuable content consistently. People stop visiting otherwise.
- A blog isn’t the end all be all. it is just another platform to express ideas. It can be a great and effective tool, but it can also distract from business if not managed properly.
- It’s humbling. My blogs have helped elevate recognition of my name locally. You can really command attention in your own space on the web. This whole process has humbled me.
Question #5: Crazy thought: What advice do you have for bloggers to help them survive a decade?
- Blogs will still require time. Blogging will continue to require intentionality. Think, “What am I going to post tomorrow?”
- Still advantageous. Starting a blog can help with SEO in a big way. For a small business especially, it can have good luck in a new space. One example is local PR consultant Brant Skogrand who has a good following on his PR Solutions blog.
- There will be more clutter than ever. I’ve learned, though, that not one channel – radio, TV, web, print – is dead. There are just more channels. How will you personalize your voice?
- Say something relevant. If there’s a whole auditorium of people, what’s the one thing you want to stand up and say to all of them? You only have a window of time; say something relevant.
- Remain humble. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Do what makes you great and has gotten you attention. Keep your focus on the future and let today deal with today.
Ryan, thanks for your time and congratulations on a decade of blogging. You make the public relations community proud!