Steve Rubel, the PR man from New York who started writing about his job
on his own personal website two years ago, has a voice that seems
somewhat familiar. i felt like I had spoken to him before. Perhaps it
was because for the past two years, the man whose blog has topped
Technorati's rankings of 'most favourtites' has been sharing his
thoughts with us five-times-a-day, on his ideas about technology, the
industry and what's happening in his life and in his work.
At that time, in the UK certainly, writing about ones self on the web was considered the behaviour of a neurotic introvert. Someone who perhaps didn't get out enough.
Yet Steve was part a small group of PR consultants who had seen the future of online communications, and had chosen to experience the step-change first hand, in order to be able to advise clients more authoritatively on what was afoot.
What was afoot? Blogging, blogs and the blogosphere, that's what. Steve had set up a blog called Micropersuasion, a brand which was soon to become a PR division in its own right.
Writing blogs was quickly moving from the bedroom to the board room. Blogs have now become more credible than a press release, according to Steve's new employer, PR firm Edelman, which claims that according to 2,000 opinion leaders, trust in "a person like me" has increased from 20 percent in 2003 to 68 percent this year.
This public trust in a blogger over a CEO shows how raw, real-life media is growing in popularity, and how the controlled message is losing its audience. As a result, the PR industry has changed, and Steve Rubel has been in the middle of it from the beginning.
Over the last 12 months Steve has been snapped for for a cover story in BusinesWeek, waxed lyrical in The Economist and laid down the law in FORTUNE. As BusinessWeek put it, an entire industry is rising up to guide companies into the frightening new realm of blogging. And the consultants establish their brands and reps with their blogs. Perhaps the biggest, it says, is Steve Rubel.
I caught up with Steve this week as part of his 'social media
tour' - a press tour of podcasts and blog write-ups designed to get
him some more blog buzz. The reason? Rubel has been poached by Edelman
to join the firm's ranks of A-list bloggers that are helping the world's corporates enter the blogosphere. How has the PR industry really changed though, I ask Steve. And what is his opinion on the UK vs the US?
"My new job as SVP at Edelman will mean getting more of the global picture," Steve says. "I left CooperKatz last week, and this week I've been with Edelman in Chicago, right now I'm in New York, and next week I'll be in three cities in four days. Blogging is hard work. Day to day I'll mostly be evangelising, in sales meetings, giving strategic counsel, and maybe some tactical execution of blogging campaigns."
What will get corporates blogging more, I ask? "The fear," Steve states. "They will see that their competitors are being smarter and getting results from blogging or podcasting, and the fear will mean they can't afford not to embrace this too. They'll see that blogging is here to stay. When they see they'll get more media coverage then they'll start blogging."
Steve's not your average PR show-off, he isn't full of attitude. He is softly spoken yet full of energy and ideas about his passion. Whilst on Skype we chat about all manner of things bloggy, from when he felt he first got some online fame (the BusinessWeek article) to what kind of readers he really values (the PR and marketing ones of course). In fact, my time with Steve went so quickly, that I didn't get a chance to ask him about his other interests, what he did before he blogged, and how his health is - Steve famously started Skin Cancer Blog when he was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma in 2005. I think, from this post on his blog, that he's ok now. Let us know Steve.
So with a few minutes left before I have to leave Steve to his next interview, I get in a few quick questions. So here's Steves brain-dump to round off my Thursday evening, and even a Rubel top tips list to boot!
US media most into blogging:
- Blog daily
- Use plenty of links, and link to things your readers haven't seen
- Find people's passions, and focus on them. Music, technology, gossip and politics are good topics to start with
- Add value when you write
- Provide a point of view that people haven't thought about yet
- have a sense of humour