Beginning a Career in Public Relations

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Podcasting, RSS -- What does it all mean for public relations professionals?

Public relations practitioners must stay on top of changing times and changing technologies to best serve their organizations and audiences. Presenters at PRSA Houston's PR Day on Wednesday, Sept. 14, emphasized this need, as well. Appropriately themed "Breaking New Ground: PR Tools for Changing Times," this year's PR Day challenged practitioners to stay ahead of the curve on new technologies and tools and to use them creatively to advance their companies, clients and organizations.

In line with this theme, a podcast of the PR Day luncheon is available online at http://www.prsahouston.org/en/art/?207. PRSA Houston members and friends can download the podcast for future listen on an iPod or similar device, or they can listen to the session on their computer using Windows Media Player or Quick Time, for example.

Podcasting is a form of RSS (that stands for Really Simple Syndication) and is nothing more than making audio content available for download through a Web site. You care because more and more, downloading to iPods, phones and even your desktop is being pushed and sold everywhere we turn!

RSS is nothing more than presenting Web site files in a very basic format so that other sites can easily interact with that data. For example, my blog has an RSS feed - http://publicrelationscareer.blogspot.com/atom.xml - and many of the top news sites offer this as well, such as Time Magazine's Top Stories - http://rss.time.com/web/time/rss/top/index.xml.

What does all this mean? If you install an RSS feed reader, such as Mozilla Firefox's Sage (http://sage.mozdev.org/), you can easily enter in the RSS feeds for all the sites you want to "track," and you can click through them in one place, and if a particular blog post or story catches your attention, simply click through to the site to read it in its entirety.

Public relations practitioners care because they should monitor news sites and other sitees critical to the success of their organizations through RSS feeds. One topic of discussion at PR day was blogs, led by John Wagner of Wagner Communications and my boss, Ed Schipul, of Schipul - The Web Marketing Company. John and Ed teamed up to deliver a compelling discussion on blogging and PR. Members of PRSA Houston can download the session as a podcast at http://www.prsahouston.org/en/art/?205.

Both agreed that it was detrimental to an organization to ignore what bloggers are writing and that PR professionals should be on top of the blogs and what is being said about their organizations. While blogging is not for everyone or for every organization or company, bloggers are here and have a strong voice.

Check back for more on technology, PR and what you can learn to stay on top of an ever-changing industry!

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