Echo Beach, far away in time…

by Lee Hopkins on November 29, 2005 · 7 comments

in miscellaneous

Trevor Cook, Sydney, yesterdayTrevor Cook asks a very pertinent question – are we living in an echo chamber?

Trevor highlights that many of the links we generate to our blog posts come either from ourselves or the blogs of our PR/Marcomms colleagues (note to self: stop referencing Jenkins — he’s not making it easy for me to put in a hostile takeover bid when I keep bumping up his ranking. Oh, bugga — I just did it again).

Trevor quite appropriately asks if we are wasting our time ‘preaching to the converted’.

Already, Phillip Young has weighed in with a comment pointing to the extreme niche nature of the PR/Marcomms world and the value that leading edge early adopters like Trevor have in this niche world — trend setters, cluetrain advocates, willing sharers of wisdom in an otherwise fiercely dog-eat-dog world.

I do think that we early adopters do ourselves a disservice if we measure our value purely by current metrics.

By that I mean the PubSub ranking, or feedburner subscriber stats, are not true indicators of the size of the audience.

As Donna Papacosta pointed out in show #11, there are many who lurk in the background, observing us, wanting to figure out the rules of the sandpit before they kick off their sandals and join in. One of the most popular posts on my blog is the ‘How to blog’ post.

Trevor is right to be concerned that there may be some stagnation in the growth of both podcasts and blogs concerned with our niche. My own subscriber list to my blog has levelled out at between 60-70 per day; subscribers to my podcast at about 120-130 per day, with about 200 downloads per show. Neville & Shel have said they have about 550 downloads per episode of their show, a figure that has been relatively stable for a while.

It *may* be that we’ve reached saturation point for our blogs and podcasts; certainly Allan Jenkins and I have been discussing the popularity of sites like 43folders which enjoys over 24,000 subscribers on most days. I’ve wondered if, in the light of such numbers compared to my 70, my effort has been largely in vain.

But I firmly believe that we are in a period of consolidation. The early adopters have jumped in and found like-minded early adopters to have a conversation with. The majority of our niche are slowly becoming aware that this blogging/podcasting thingy is becoming more and more important. A few ‘not quite so early but ahead of the pack’ members of our niche are experimenting and watching us to see how they should approach and behave. Seeing us devour our young, as some did with Donna Tocci, hasn’t helped our cause or reduced their fear levels.

But after a period of rest I believe our niche *will* expand in numbers, until which it *will* feel like we are shouting ourselves hoarse down at Echo Beach.

But never forget — there are always people watching us. We just don’t know they’re there.

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  • http://prblog.typepad.com/ Kevin Dugan

    Does the content get better if more people read it?

    If the blogger is merely in it for the traffic, they definitely need to participate in the conversation at other blogs (not just PR) and of course there are sure-fire gimmicks (top ten lists, using the word blog in your headline) that will help you spike in the ranks.

    But if the content is solid, over time and with participation, the traffic should grow.

    My traffic log taunts me and calls me names. It’s the every once and awhile e-mail from one of the lurkers that keeps me going. I’m a camel that way I guess.

  • http://prblog.typepad.com Kevin Dugan

    Does the content get better if more people read it?

    If the blogger is merely in it for the traffic, they definitely need to participate in the conversation at other blogs (not just PR) and of course there are sure-fire gimmicks (top ten lists, using the word blog in your headline) that will help you spike in the ranks.

    But if the content is solid, over time and with participation, the traffic should grow.

    My traffic log taunts me and calls me names. It’s the every once and awhile e-mail from one of the lurkers that keeps me going. I’m a camel that way I guess.

  • http://publicsphere.typepad.com/mediations/ Philip Young

    Two observations. You only need to take a look at the postings to Gobal PR Blog Week 1 (instigated in no small point by Trevor), back in summer 2004 to see how far the debate has moved forward, and in some part that has been driven by ideas being batted about in the ‘echo chamber’.

    Secondly, it is important to recognise that one of the core reasons why PR practitioners haven’t yet seized the opportunities of blogging is that in the UK and most of Europe, they still not very sure what they are all about. For example, yesterday’s Guardian carried a special supplement, Inside Digital Media, with a front page plug that included a big quote beginning “Blogs are a hugely significant phenomenon and their inflence etc… The rise of blogging – page 2″.

    Note the language. Monday’s Guardian attracts the most sophisticated media audience in the UK mainstream, but sees blogs as new, as something readers will want to know more about. As a PR academic, I see it as part of my role to help bridge the gap between the real thinkers in the echo chamber and the practitioners who perhaps have a little less thinking time.

  • http://publicsphere.typepad.com/mediations/ Philip Young

    Two observations. You only need to take a look at the postings to Gobal PR Blog Week 1 (instigated in no small point by Trevor), back in summer 2004 to see how far the debate has moved forward, and in some part that has been driven by ideas being batted about in the ‘echo chamber’.

    Secondly, it is important to recognise that one of the core reasons why PR practitioners haven’t yet seized the opportunities of blogging is that in the UK and most of Europe, they still not very sure what they are all about. For example, yesterday’s Guardian carried a special supplement, Inside Digital Media, with a front page plug that included a big quote beginning “Blogs are a hugely significant phenomenon and their inflence etc… The rise of blogging – page 2″.

    Note the language. Monday’s Guardian attracts the most sophisticated media audience in the UK mainstream, but sees blogs as new, as something readers will want to know more about. As a PR academic, I see it as part of my role to help bridge the gap between the real thinkers in the echo chamber and the practitioners who perhaps have a little less thinking time.

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