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Blogworld Expo Speaker Interview: Jason Falls

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We’ve pulled together an extraordinary lineup of speakers and panelists for Blogworld Expo this year and are really excited as the event draws closer. To help you learn about our great participants, this is the first of a series of fun interviews with speakers we’ll be doing. This first is with Jason Falls of Doe-Anderson, who writes the splendid Social Media Explorer blog and is on a panel entitled “Putting Social Media in the Newsroom: How New Media can help Old Media Maintain Relevance”.  Here we go!

Q: In two sentences, highlight your background and professional experience to date. One bonus sentence: how’d you get started blogging?

I’m a public relations professional by trade who advises clients on the use of social media, including blogging, as an effective channel of communications with their customers. The biggest selling point I have is probably that I’ve proven that blogging can be an effective promotional and thought leadership tool since Social Media Explorer is really only a year old and I’m already presenting at Blog World Expo. I got started blogging, however, in 1998 when I started self-publishing my local newspaper column online for those outside my hometown to read.

Q: How often do you blog?  What platform do you use?  Why?

Social Media Explorer generally has new posts three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) but we often have timely or too much information and probably publish around four days each week. (I say “we” since Kat French, Doe-Anderson’s social media manager, joined me as a staff blogger a few months ago.) For the longest time, I published five days a week but I shifted to a quality over quantity focus in the sprint time and backed off my everyday emphasis a bit. We’re still fairly prolific, however.

I use WordPress because the open-source community makes the platform so powerful and robust. You can literally find a plug-in to make it do just about everything. And it’s free, which is always a bonus.

Q: Point us to one or two recent postings on your blog that you think were superb, and tell us a bit about your writing process. How long did it take for you to come up with the topic?  How long to write?

I’m always most proud of the posts that cause a great deal of conversation because the engagement level is the most meaningful measure of my blog’s success to me. The more conversation that results shows that I’ve caused people to think about an issue which always leads to learning and growth. If there is a promise I make to my audience, I think it’s that: you’ll think about things and pick up a few thoughts you didn’t encounter before.

That said, I think, “Is it time to re-think e-mail marketing?” from August 1 was a good pot-stirring post. I’m also partial to “Social Media Is The Responsibility of Public Relations” from mid-July. While a lot of the comments misconstrued my point – that PR, as the primary professional communicators in organizations, need to take responsibility for social media education, training and strategy, it sparked a good deal of discussion, disagreement and discourse.

For almost all of my posts, I come up with the topics in the course of daily thinking and work. I’ll file a topic away as something I want to spend more time thinking about and, when I have time, search for articles on the topic, research a bit online, take another day or so to just mull over the topic when I have time, then sit down to put the thoughts on paper. Once I sit down to write, I normally pound it all out in under an hour – the result of writing on deadline for years. But I’m normally chewing on 3-4 topics all at the same time, so it’s not a real linear process.

Q: How often do you leave comments on other people’s blogs?  How do you find their entries in the first place?

I comment frequently on several blogs. It’s not only good form in promoting your own blog but also actively participating in the greater conversation about the topic. My blog isn’t the only good social media blog out there. I like to read the others to balance my own thinking and discuss the issues of the day I may not be focused on. Finding the entries is fairly easy. I subscribe to just about all the social media blogs out there. New ones surface from pointers in posts I read. When I’m researching a topic, I also find some new blogs via search.

Q: Tell us a bit about your talk at Blogworld Expo. Topic, key points you’ll cover, etc?

The presentation I’m responsible for the most is the session, “Putting Social Media In The Newsroom — How New Media Can Help Old Media Maintain Relevance.” I essentially wanted to talk about how, in the face of a shifting media marketplace, many traditional media outlets are tapping into social media to change their approach to business and journalism. The audience shift away from newspapers and television to the online realm has many traditional media struggling to maintain their audience and their revenues. We’ll look at media outlets that are finding social media useful in turning the tides, talk about how other media outlets can capture that momentum using social media and talk about some of the potential issues media outlets will face moving forward.

Q: How do you recommend new folk best experience a major conference and expo like Blogworld Expo?

As much as there really is a great deal of knowledge to gain from the sessions, the most use I get out of Blog World Expo is the professional and personal networking that occurs just in the halls, the parties, at lunch and milling about the exhibit hall. So much of the connections we make blogging and through social networking occurs online. This is our chance to meet face-to-face, get to know each other and find those friends in the business that can serve as professional and personal counsel, folks to bounce ideas off of, potential business leads and more. Some of the best friends I have in the business I met at Blog World Expo last year, so I recommend folks stick out their hand, introduce themselves and get to know each other. You can do that the whole weekend and not meet everyone, but it sure is fun trying.

Q: Easy ones: Mac or PC?  Ipod or Zune?  Iphone or Blackberry?

I’m non-denominational, but use a Mac most of the time. I have a SanDisk MP3 player I like just fine. I’d prefer to have an iPhone, but my office supplies me with a Blackberry, which I find pretty useful.


Interview conducted by Blogworld Expo co-host Dave Taylor, who you can find on the podium giving a talk during the conference, on Twitter as @DaveTaylor or blogging about either tech support or business blogging.

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