Last week, Joe Hackman hosted Danny Brown, Gini Dietrich and me on his BlogTalkRadio show, aptly entitled PRapalooza.

Boy, was it fun!

I hadn’t actually spoken (voice-to-voice) with Gini before, so it was great to finally do so, as well as talk to Danny after ages and Joe after not-so-long.

Image: Chris Lott via Flickr, Creative Commons

One of the questions that Joe asked us was what our blogging experience has been like. As I answered, and listened to Gini and Danny share their thoughts, I wanted to tell you why I think all PR pros should take the plunge (because I know there are many who haven’t).

1. It helps you understand what a journalist feels like when you start receiving completely off-topic pitches.

Last week on BNET, I talked about the two critical elements of the perfect media pitch; the subject line, and the first paragraph of the email.

Once you’ve been blogging for a bit, you’ll start being pitched. Yes, you. Because as the media universe continues on its inexorable changes, bloggers are starting to be just as influential as mainstream media; sometimes, even more so.

And then you’ll know how journos feel when they get pitches that are completely off-topic, rambling pieces of nonsense or, worse still, just plain boring.

2. It helps you understand the medium.

Blogging is a strange beast. It’s not quite journalism, it’s full of opinion and bloggers live by their own rules even as the best of them do their utmost to adhere to FTC guidelines.

The only way to really understand how it works is to do it yourself. And understanding is one of the most important building blocks to a successful career in any field, and particularly in business communication.

3. It makes the blogosphere less frightening.

Image: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr, Creative Commons

I’ve already said that blogging is a strange beast. And, quite frankly, the blogosphere can be daunting. How will you ever get in good with such-and-such A-list blogger?

Once you start participating in it, you’ll start figuring out what works, and what doesn’t.

Pitching bloggers and pitching media ain’t that different. They both want good stories that will resonate with their audiences.

4. It’s a great way to exercise your writing muscles.

So much of what we do revolves around good, if not great, writing. Pitches, content creation, op-eds, etc.

Writing is one of those areas I believe is critical to good PR, because the written word – albeit sometimes through micro-blogging, sometimes through long-form – is how most of us first appear to our audiences.

Blogging is a great way to improve your writing. It makes you focus on what you’re trying to say, and how you’re going to get it across.

And if you’re already a good writer? You get even better.

5. It starts emboldening you to try other mediums of communication, such as video and images.

The really cool thing about blogs is that you’re not restricted to the written word (I love blogs that focus primarily on the written word, but that’s a personal thing).

But if what tickles your fancy are other mediums of communication, go for it. Video (think YouTube at the very least), images, podcasts… really, you’re only limited by your imagination.

And if you can incorporate one or more of those into your posts; so much the better!

What a great way to show clients how to use the Interwebz, eh?

6. It’s good discipline.

We’re used to conforming to other people’s schedules. We’re not always that great at keeping to our own.

If you commit to blogging, it doesn’t matter how often you’ll do it; at least in the beginning. But it does help if you decide what level of regularity you’ll blog with; once every couple of weeks, or once a week, or 2-3 times a week.

Like anything else, practice makes perfect (or almost perfect). And practice requires discipline, as Nadia Comaneci can tell you.

And that’s a great asset to bring to your job.

7. It helps you build your portfolio online.

Especially if you’re just starting out in the “real” world, I don’t believe there is a better way to start building your online presence… and your online portfolio.

Do a Google search for Bryce Keane, one of WUL’s regular guest-bloggers.

See how we show up at #s 4 & 5?

And Bryce has already talked about how social media changed his life. Blogging has been a part of that.

8. It helps you understand the reciprocal nature of 21st century communication.

The really cool thing about business communication today is that it’s no longer a one-way channel. Now, we interact not just with the media who will (we hope) tell our organizations’/clients’ stories, but we interact with our stakeholders directly.

It’s a two-way street. Give and take. That’s what blogging is all about.

If you don’t do it, you won’t understand it… not really. It’s that simple.

9. It brings unexpected connections your way.

How did I get my gig editing Women Grow Business? Because I guest-blogged for them (before I’d even started publishing on WUL). How do I get new clients? Because they find my posts. How am I suddenly a BNET blogger? Because my blog serves as my de facto portfolio.

None of these connections were planned. But they happen, more and more, because I’m trying to show, through my blog, that I’m committed to spreading the good word about public relations, social media, and measurement.

Social karma works in strange ways.

10. You’ll inspire someone else to find their voice.

If Kami Huyse hadn’t given me the opportunity (and a genteel kick-in-the-butt), I would never have ventured into the blogosphere.

If I hadn’t given Bryce Keane or Herwin Icasiano a genteel kick-in-the-butt, they may never have ventured into the blogosphere.

If our future lies in online collaboration, translating to offline understanding, why not start now?

Give someone else that voice.

Give yourself that voice.

Final image: Beverly & Pack’s Flickrstream, Creative Commons

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke