Are PR online networks a good idea?

picks up on a “kerfuffle” (or ) between those behind the Social Media Club and .

I’m not really sold on the idea of these “professional” networking sites, particularly when set up by corporates, although appears to have credentials in providing information for professional communicators.  (I have joined MyRagan, but have yet to be hooked.)

Rather than actively participating in a “” with commercial undertones (£1,000 ), I would prefer to develop a virtual presence where I am already a member of a group and would benefit from greater connections with fellow professionals. 

Adding in features of personal profiles, discussion forums and so on is on my wishlist to develop for (if members would find them useful) and to make more active (as the technology is already there) for my educational groups at .  

It would also be good to see the website similarly revamped to offer opportunities for more online networking, interactive CVs, and so on.  I am sure there are many interesting CIPR members who would have something to share.  The technology would be good way of adding value particularly with the reach of members not only in the UK but globally.  I wonder if this is on the webmaster’s wishlist there also.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

8 thoughts on “Are PR online networks a good idea?”

  1. What I find fascinating is that sites like MyRagan are not like sites run by organisations — such as the IABC or PRIA — wherein you have to be a ‘paid up’ and qualified member to join in. MyRagan (wither MyMelcrum???) allows anyone to join in the conversation. Whether that will lead to ratbaggery and anarchy remains to be seen.

  2. Or apathy if they don’t become a really useful place to be. Maybe the professional organisations will adopt the technology once they see the potential value for engaging members more.

  3. I would not characterize it as a flame war – flame wars are nasty fights that pop up between people for little to no reason, more about personality issues than substantive one’s. This is simply me reporting on the fact that he deleted the Social Media Club group, our posts, my profile etc… from his Social Network and had no valid reason for doing so. Further, that he invited me to create and moderate that group and he offered to help us promote our workshop, but reneged because the group used the Club’s logo.

    To your point about CIPR and other trade associations, that is what we have been working on for Social Media Club members – and it is why some have characterized what we are doing as a new form of trade association. You are completely correct that it works much better if the members of the Social Network are already members of an offline group – this is perhaps why the SMC group on Ragan grew so big – we already had awareness around what we are and the values we represent. It is also the reason we have created groups on all the Social Networks, which you can personally start on your own as well for the groups you belong to – this is particularly easy on FaceBook and Ning. The question is really going to be whether or not the associations themselves will appreciate someone doing this on their behalf, or if they will respond in the traditional command and control sort of way and try to take it away from you – it is perhaps a telling litmus test as to whether or not the organization is ready for the way things are changing, with people wresting away the control from institutions and more often than not, behaving with good intention rather than sinister ones.

    For us, someone who was not a member, but was friendly and has since become active, created the Club’s group on Ning. Rather than getting upset, we joined in and started a conversation. Bottom line – go to where your people are and help them make the most of the tools and technology…

  4. Chris – thanks for your comments. My view is that if members are able to add life and dynamism to what the organisation is doing that is great. Command and control will never be as effective as facilitating, leading and encouraging members into new areas – and even better if your members are suggesting new directions and opportunities as it shows they care enough to be active.

  5. Why are these PR sites needed? There is a litany of communications and connectivity tools out there for professionals to use, most of which are easier and with better functionality. It would seem to me that PR is late to most web dances has to make up their own ball when they get there so they’ll have someone to dance with. Also, most of the time these sites serve a very thinly veiled secondary agenda.

    I tried to join MyRagan per a “suggestion” of my CEO, but the registration failed in Firefox, thus, I’m not joining. These sites can’t just rename what others are doing; give me a reason to join. For now, I’ll stick to what works and away from PR web ideas.

  6. Greg – I can see some merit in a forum to discuss issues of relevance to any group, but agree that PR seems to be behind the game here, again.

    As I said, I’m not convinced about MyRagan or Melcrum (although I have joined both) – your question is good about the reason to join, which really isn’t clear to me. I generally prefer to have my conversations and connections here. That may be marginal, but it feels like home.

    I think you are right about the secondary agendas of these specialist sites, which is why I may be more interested in social media within the CIPR site since I have already joined that organisation and so am prepared to engage with the agenda there.

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