I had the opportunity to interview A list blogger (and wireless industry author, publisher and consultant) Ajit Jaokar about his views on social media and the changing nature of PR.
Ajit’s blog OpenGardens has been consistently rated as one of the top mobile blogs. Ajit literally wrote the book on Mobile Web 2.0, is part of the Web 2.0 working group and his company Futuretext has published many important books about mobile and tech.
Ajit is very much connected with what is happening in the industry, and seems to be a one man PR machine – you can see him speaking at just about every important industry conference, and his blog and views are often cited on other blogs and in the media.
If your work touches the mobile and telecom spaces, you may well already know about Ajit. So I’ll cut to the chase, the interview text follows:
Please share your views on the state of PR
PR has evolved quite a bit, and that is a good thing. It’s not just the big magazines and publications, but now there are many blogs to pursue as well.
You can track people who are speaking about companies and see what the blogs are saying about clients or subjects on – if I may use that term – “long tail” publications.
Doesn’t this create an attention diffusion problem?
That may be true, but there are also many long tail opportunities. My blog speaks to very specific areas, and that is a key difference between what works on a blog vs. traditional media.
For example, I have been covering on-device portals, Android, open social networks, Mobile Ajax and so on. These are very specific topics that often may have a small group of companies involved. Issues related to device and network integration are fairly complex. I am following this, and also feel that topics like cloud computing, and how this relates to Web 2.0 and the work companies like Google and Nokia are doing is important.
So, I believe that specialization is important – it is no longer just the broad technology categories, but sub-categories that are being followed.
Has your blog helped with the success of Futuretext?
We were thought leaders in this space even before the blog. I had wanted to start a magazine, but blogging achieved the same on a global level, I started it 3.5 years ago. Today the blog has close to 800 entries. Many of these are complex, article type entries. So, the blog has a lot of content.
The blog is a sub domain of the main site, so people who link to the blog also link to the main site. This drives ratings in Google; it is a form of SEO and helps market every book we do.
There are also indirect benefits, as the blog positions us as being thought leaders in the space. People have found us and our publishing company through the blog.
It helps us get feedback and do R & D.
We don’t pay too much attention to comments, or to promoting the site. Instead we focus on content, it is more important to be consistent and have clear viewpoint. The blog has a philosophy (in Open Gardens). It is not random; having an ethos and consistency help build audience.
So the blog has helped to market our books. Although there is some overlap between online free content, and what winds up in the books, we have found that the blog has increased not cannibalized sales.
Also, we have found that aggregation services have helped boost our traffic – people extract our content and add it to their newsletters.
That trend is important, and we think it is really good, despite concerns by some that it is parasitic.
What Else Has Changed in PR?
Clients of PR agencies now have more options to get their viewpoints out (as opposed to previously, when they had only a few major publications).
What has been your experience in working with PR People?
Most PR people do not understand the blogging world. I am not a journalist. I have different personas, for instance publisher, author, PhD student etc. I find PR companies do not look beyond the obvious – they treat bloggers as targets for their press release and expect the blogger to be a journalist/media person – which in many cases, they are not.
How do you like to receive info?
I get too many press releases. They are generic, I take them less seriously. I prefer to get info via direct emails. There are few people who write well.
I read extensively online and offline. I read BusinessWeek, and Wired when I fly, which is often. I read Fortune and Forbes.
I use Google to track RSS feeds. I subscribe to Techmeme, and use keywords to filter news.
What blogs / bloggers do you follow?