What's good these days?

I had lunch Rick Weiss a few weeks ago, and one of the things we talked about was completely clearing your RSS Reader (removing all feeds), unfollowing everyone on Twitter, deleting your friends from Facebook and basically getting a fresh start. I took part of that advice, and gave the blogs I do still subscribe to a hard look. Which ones am I actually reading? Which ones do I just skim over every day?

Here are a few keepers:

When it comes to learning about the latest and greatest technology news, you can't go wrong with Slashdot. Their short, microblogesque posts leave out the hyperbole and hype of those 'other' tech blogs and leave you with the facts, short and sweet.

I might not read every post on io9, but that's just because I don't have time. This science-fiction blog isn't just about space aliens and Star Wars, and often talks about the real-life impacts seemingly sci-fi technology can have on our lives. I'd recommend reading it for anyone interested in where we might be in the next few years.

Nike Sportswear's Facebook page isn't necessarily a blog, but they still pump out some cool stuff on a pretty regular basis. Its also a great look at a slice of a big company with lots of different divisions doing something interesting in social media.

The Simpsons fan in me will never get tired of the Eye on Springfield blog. They've really captured some classic moments.

Gaga Stigmata is a blog of "Critical writings and art about Lady technological breed of journal that intends to take seriously the brazenly unserious shock pop phenomenon and fame monster known as Lady Gaga." What's not to like?

Yimmy is a taste-maker of the photoblog generation, and I feel like images that show up on his site always end up spread across the web a few days later.

So there you have it. Mostly guilty pleasures, and an escape from the fishbowl.

Any other reading suggestions?


Oh, and I also read Ed Lee's blog. He's not just my boss - he's also a pretty smart dude.

Stop Reading PR Blogs

Earlier this year, I suggested that PR students wanting to get involved in the online world should avoid starting a PR-focused blog. Now, I'm going to suggest that we all stop even reading PR blogs. They aren't that representative of the real world—the wilds of the internet.

Rather than focusing on how this tightly knit community (I believe David Jones referred to it as a "circle-jerk" on Inside PR) does things and communicates, why not spend that time getting more involved in understanding the way actual people use the internet?

Learn how your clients' audiences look for things online. Learn about what they're interested in. Become passionate about what they are passionate about, or at least try and understand their passion.

I'm willing to bet that most of you don't spend your evenings re-reading your old PR textbooks (nor do you buy the latest version every year), but that you probably do browse your region's daily newspapers on a regular basis.

Do you have any idea how few people care about RSS feeds? How many of your friends (outside of those involved in the communications industry) actually care about Twitter or even understand what it does?

Forget case studies. Forget best practices. When is the last time you did something truly new and interesting?


How big of a deal is RSSCloud?

The news (via TechCrunch)—a few weeks old now due to this post getting stuck in Draft limbo—that Wordpress has just made all of their blogs RSSCloud-enabled seems like a pretty big deal to me. While it might seem like RSS is real-time, it actually isn't. Depending on the setup, it can take minutes to hours for your reader to be updated once a feed you subscribe to has been updated.

Web 2.0 coding equivalent of a rock star, Shannon Whitley, offers a great examination of RSS Cloud on his blog. While it is a bit technical for me, it still gives a bit more information about how RSSCloud will work.

While the idea of real-time RSS feeds is pretty interesting, I wonder how many people will actually notice this lack of delay on their favourite blog.

Or will we see new uses for it? Will it make it easier to, say, cover a sports game play-by-play and have those updates happen on people's mobile devices/computers in real-time?

But how big of a deal is RSSCloud, really?


CNW Goes Big On Twitter

CNW Group has always been committed to getting our clients' news in front of journalists and the media. For years, the only way to really do this was via the news wire. When fax machines became an accepted way to send and receive news and information, CNW Group embraced that technology to reach members of the media. Similarly, when email became a popular form of communication, CNW offered interested parties the ability to subscribe to our clients' news via portfolio email. The same, too with our categorized RSS feeds. The point is that as technology has changed, CNW Group has changed with it in order to make it as easy as possible for both members of the media and the general public to get news and information from our clients.

That's why I'm excited to announce that we've officially launched hundreds of unique Twitter accountsto distribute our clients' news over Twitter. The accounts are based on our existing news categories, and all releases posted on our website and over the wire will also go out on anywhere from one to four of these accounts (depending on how the release is categorized).

By breaking the news into these seperate categories, we're making it easy for interested parties, be they members of the media or the general public, to find and follow the type of news they are interested in. Similarly, by offering news via the traditional wire, by fax, by email, by RSS and now by Twitter we are making it as easy as possible for people to get news from us.

Read the official news release from CNW Group about this, or check out the full list of accounts at


(note: Although I am an employee of CNW Group this post, like all my posts on BlogCampaigning, reflects only my own personal views and opinions and not those of my employer)

Twitter is the RSS dream made real (follow @BlogCampaigning!)

Twitter is the RSS dream made real. (I repeated the headline here because I'm feeling pretty self-satisfied with having written it.) If you're reading this post, you're probably pretty hip to the RSS scene (I know that the majority of BlogCampaigning's readers read it via RSS). But you're not mainstream—you're probably a PR Pro with a Penchant for Social Media, one of my Blogging Brethren, a Conference-Attending Corporate Communicator

RSS never really caught on because even the simplest analogies made it sound complicated. I mean, between Rich Site Summary and Really Simple Syndication people can't even seem to agree on what it stands for.

But Twitter... people seem to instantly grasp the concept of Twitter. They understand the idea that if they "follow" an account, they get updates from that account. No messing around with moving the subscription URL to your RSS reader.

Professional communicators should always try and make it as easy as possible for people to access their message, or at least make it possible for their audience to access the message in the manner they prefer.

While some people might frown upon feed-based Twitter accounts, I'm all for them and for that reason I've set up As I feel fewer and fewer people are checking their RSS readers and moving more towards their Tweetdecks, Twitter homepages and Twhirls, I want to make sure they're still able to easily access the freshest BlogCampaigning posts. Hardcore BlogCampaigning fans probably don't want to be bothered with the daily chatter that fills my personal Twitter account—they just want the hottest news from the BlogCampaigning team.

Even if you don't want to follow the BlogCampaigning Twitter feed, you can still subscribe by email, RSS or even access the page directly (which, in case you haven't noticed, went through a redesign recently).

Applied to the greater world of PR, don't limit your campaigns to just a Facebook group, just a news release directed at traditional media, or just a Twitter account. Except in probably very unique cases, making your message accessible in only one place probably won't result in much success.

How do you feel about feed-based Twitter accounts? Is there a better way we can be getting our news out?


PS: Don't forget to follow @BlogCampaigning!

RSS and The Masses

If you know me, you know that I'm always trying to convert my friends to the latest and greatest social media tools. For the most part, it hasn't worked. All it has done is remind me that I'm living in a bubble.

In fact, my only real success story is with my roommate Claudio who started a blog, a twitter account and has even been known to drunkenly describe Google Reader and using RSS to get his news as "life-changing."

My other roommate also writes a blog, and he refuses to use a reader to subscribe to RSS feeds.

"Why would I do that? I like visiting the pages," he once told me. Even after multiple explanations of how much more efficiently he would be able to absorb his diet of celebrity gossip and Toronto news sites, he still insists on visiting each one individually (I've even offered to buy him a proper domain name and I've set him up with a Twitter account in the hopes of getting him interested but .

I think it is a reminder that just because we are playing with some of the neatest online technology, it doesn't always make sense or appear useful to a majority of the population. Focus on creating a well-designed website that is easy to navigate. Offer an RSS feed, for sure, but also give your readers a chance to subscribe via email or give them updates via Facebook and Twitter.

I know that Google has been making strides to make RSS simpler (by referring to it as "following" and doing away with the technical terminology) but I still don't think most people are ready to subscribe to blogs that they like.

As fast as Twitter is growing in popularity, I still don't think that it will gain the kind of mainstream acceptance that will make people sign up for it and use it to follow blogs and writers that they like.

In fact, I recently commented to my roommate that the best way to get a girl to stop talking to you is to send her a text message telling her that you're into micro-blogging along with link to your Twitter account (I was right).

For more on RSS, I suggest you read this blog post by Ed Lee and this one by Connie Crosby about the need for simpler RSS.


Getting Started Online Part Two: RSS

(note: this is a belated followup to the post I wrote almost a month ago about Twitter) A few weeks ago, I told my roommate about the magic of RSS feeds. I also told him about how he could go about subscribing to these feeds using an RSS reader like Google Reader.

Last week, I couldn't help but feel pride when I walked into his room and saw him with Google Reader open, scrolling down through a number of posts.

"This is great, man," he told me. "I'm getting all these updates from sites I like, but I don't have to go back to them to check for new stuff."

With that statement, I knew that he understood the value of RSS. Even though his reading list of Ultimate Fighting news sites probably isn't the same as the list of sites that you check on a regular basis, what matters it that he is able to easily get the information he wants. As Seth Godin recently wrote about the topic of subscribing to information via RSS:

"If you subscribe to a blog, any blog, congratulations. Not only have you figured out how to keep up, for free, with huge amounts of information, you've done it in an elegant and efficient way. While it may be fun to try to remember which blogs you read and then go visit them in some sort of order, RSS and other subscription tools are way smarter."

So right now you're probably thinking that this sounds great, but wondering how it works. Well anywhere you see the RSS logo (normally in orange, but like shells in the Mario games, it can come in a variety of hues), or word 'Subscribe' or 'RSS,' you can sign up to start recieving RSS feeds. Nearly every these days allows you to subscribe via RSS, and those that don't are missing out.

At Toronto's recent WordCamp, I heard Joe Thornley compare subscribing to RSS Feeds to subscribing to magazines. Rather than having to drive all the way downtown to the store and look around to see if his new magazine had arrived, Joe noted that he simply took one of the subscription cards, filled it out, and everytime a new issue of that particular magazine came out it would be delivered right to his house. I think this is a great analogy, except that the best part about subscribing to things via RSS is that they are free and magazines aren't.

Get started by first signing up for (or downloading) an RSS reader. There are plenty out there, but I prefer Google Reader. It is easy to sign up for at and you can start using it right away.

While some sites will require you to manually input the address of the feed you want to subscribe to, clicking on the RSS logo on a page will generally take you right to Google Reader and allow you to subscribe to the RSS feed.

If you use Firefox, the little RSS icon will often appear in the address bar to let you know you can subscribe to that particular site just by clicking on the button, and being brought to Google Reader.

So what else can you do with RSS?

If you perform searches on a regular basis, it might be easier to subscribe to them via RSS. That way, you'll be notified everytime a new search result comes up. Technorati allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed of their search results, as do Twitter and Google.

I also use the Hype Machine to look up music fairly often Since I'm super into an artist named Lykke Li, I subscribe to an RSS feed of search results for her name on the Hype Machine so that I can always get the latest remixes.

For those of you using Yammer for internal communication, you can also subscribe to an RSS feed of your company's conversation so that you can stay in the game.

If you have an account with Delicious, you can also allow people to subscribe to either every bookmark you save, or just ones you save with certain tags. For example, you could subscribe to my Delicious account at and get every single book mark I save or, if you're like my roommate, you could choose to just subscribe to the bookmarks I tag 'music.'

And if you monitor certain Wikipedia pages, you can pay attention to them more easily with RSS. By going to any Wikipedia page and selecting the history tab near the top, you'll be able to bring up another menu down the left-hand side. One of those items is "RSS", and subscribing to it will alert you everytime someone makes a chance. Not only will it let you know that the page has been changed, but it will let you know how the new version compares to the old version. If you start making your RSS reader part of your routine, you'll realize how much time your saving and how much extra information that you're absorbing.

Oh, and Dave Fleet has some great tips for using Google Reader to help you with your media monitoring.

I'm sure I'm missing some RSS tips here...any other suggestions?