Keeping up with current events in public relations is important to all PR students, educators and practitioners. An easy way to do this is by reading blogs on PR topics. There is certainly no shortage of blogs out there to read with everyone from firms to magazines, practitioners to students blogging about public relations. But how can you keep up with all of this information coming at you from hundreds of different sites?
The answer for many is to utilize RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. These feeds make it easy to keep up with the latest blog posts so you don’t miss the discussion, but also enable you to see all of these posts in one convenient location so you don’t have to visit each blog’s Web site. The problem with RSS feeds is many people do not know how to use them. Because of this I will take the opportunity to briefly explain how easy it is to make your quest for public relations knowledge a little bit easier.
First, you need to find some blogs that interest you. They don’t have to be public relations blogs, but as someone connected with the field, I would hope that you are looking at one or two a month at least. Once you have found these blogs that you would like to read regularly, you need to find the feed reader that best suits your needs.
One of the most popular readers is now available from Google. In order to use this reader, you must have a Google email account (Gmail). The link to Google’s reader is available on the upper right hand side of your screen once you log into your email (which I have put in a red box in the screen shot). Yahoo also offers a feed reader through their My Yahoo! feature. Other sites offer free readers such as Omea Reader and RssReader. If you choose to utilize these readers, you will see the blog posts in their entirety, including pictures. You can even customize the look of your reader through these services, changing how you view the newest posts, among other things.
Another option you have is to utilize the “Live Bookmarks” or “Feeds” feature available on browsers such as Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (the Firefox feature is shown at right). This option allows you to view the title of each new post in your bookmarks sidebar. Once you click on the title, it takes you to the Web site so you can view the post you want to see.
Now that you have picked some blogs to subscribe to and have chosen your reader, it is time to learn how to subscribe. This is probably the easiest part of the process because it requires only a few clicks of the mouse. Though the process looks a little different on each browser, the logistics are the same. On the blog’s Web site, look for a link that says something to the effect of, “subscribe to this blog’s feed.” This is usually accompanied by an orange box with three white lines originating in the left hand corner, smallest to largest (like this: ).
Once you click on that box you will either be immediately prompted to add this blog to a reader or you will have to click again on another link saying, again, “subscribe to this blog’s feed.” You can now choose which feed reader to use. From the drop-down menu, select the reader that you would like to use and click subscribe. It’s that easy! You can even repeat the process to subscribe to the blog using several of your readers if you want to experiment with a couple before choosing the right one for you.
You’re all set now so happy reading!