Steve Rubel asked - how do I read my feeds? It seems I'm not the only RSS addict in PR.
'Course, RSS isn't new, but most RSS geeks are geeks, not PRs. But as I work in a PR consultancy I need to track what's being said about the brands, people and issues that my clients are involved in. As a blogger I need to track conversations about my chosen topic. And as a consumer I track stuff that I might find interesting.
I use Bloglines to track my feeds - about 400-odd of them. Bloglines is my fave over the likes of Google Reader for two reasons.
1. Its desk/laptop interface has always been top notch for my needs - such as speed, organising, subscribing and presentation (Google Reader has a lot of buzz but I'm afraid it's not for me just yet - really basic things like you can't change the width of the sidebar really wind me up)
2. It integrates with my BlackBerry perfectly. As I spend about a third of every working day on the move this is really important to me
I have 30 folders in my Bloglines, which I organise like this:
1-2 - must reads: These are required-reading blogs (at number one) then my must-follow conversations and mentions based on custom-built RSS feeds (at number two). This folder contains any crisis work I'm also involved in
3-11 - client and industry feeds: These are split sector-by-sector for the clients I work on and contain mentions of their names, competitors, products and people. the folder also includes my industry feeds, podcasts, Twitters, aggregators/memetrakers and buzz-topics
11-12 - personal feeds: These I dip in and out of as they include hobbies or tracking the low-profile personal sites I run and incoming traffic
13-30 - sleeper feeds: These are for when clients call upon some tracking and monitoring of an issue on an infrequent basis. In other words I'll get asked, and can respond on demand, what blogs are saying about a niche topic. This happens once every few months so I keep the feeds ready and waiting once they're built
My habits - I'll tend to check feeds on my BlackBerry on my way into the office, then they'll be on in the background through the working day on my MacBook. I'll check them on my way home again on the BlackBerry. Evenings and weekends I'll dip in and out but not too much.
In response to Josh Bernhoff who asks whether people work better when they have time to switch off from feeds, I would answer yes. Same as email. Sometimes you need to focus and switch off from things, not that I often get that luxury working in a service industry. The reason I organise my feeds the way I do is so that I can dip in for a very short time and still get the important stuff done. But I have the choice to immerse myself in information and still get most of what I need brought to me instead of havig to search an infinite number of mags, papers, sites or stations to get it. That's the importance of RSS to a PR person, in my humble opinion.
Not that I ignore print or broadcast media - they're in the office too so I can keep it retro. I know some people are saying TV is full of yesterday's news, and that dead-tree media is dead, but they still wield enormous power as media, so can't be ignored.
How about you?