Posted by Amanda Chapel
Okay, first off, I've only been talking about this for a couple years now. PRs are notorious herders. We love the social seen 'cause that's where all the communications action is. So how come none of the biggies -- O’Dwyer’s, PRWeek, Bulldog, PR News – none have really put it all together? I’m totally at a loss.
Well, fast forward... someone's finally done it. Someone's put all the social media tools together in one place for the industry. Lawrence Ragan Communications Inc., one of the leading training companies for external and internal communications worldwide, just launched MyRagan.com; and it’s already being described as "the MySpace of the PR industry."
Hate to be an I-told-you-so but... I was soooo on the money about demand. They’re exploding. In less than two weeks since the launch, they already have well over 3,000 members. It’s THE new HOT SPOT in PR. If you’re in, you’re in. Apparently, it’s THE place to see and be seen.
According to Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications: “It’s all been done with very little promotion actually. We had purposefully planned for a soft launch to ensure all systems were go. But word of mouth spread like fire. We’re just in awe how this thing has mushroomed globally."
Well, word is that none of this is surprising to the younger members of Ragan's staff. Kevin Allen, one of Ragan's young reporters, quipped with a smile: “Look, if you grew up on MySpace and Match.com, then you know that much of the allure of these social networking sites is checking out the babes and hunks. Excuse me but, there's a LOT of attractive people in the PR Business!"
Sure sounds like fun. But some industry observers remain a little skeptical. Can Ragan sustain that momentum once this initial sex appeal wears off? One Canadian blogger, Ron Shewchuk warned that early success may not mean anything if people don't have any reason to come back.
Ragan understood that at the outset and planned for exactly that online eventuality. “That pure sex appeal phenomenon of social sites is another reason we wanted a soft launch. I have no interest in being a flash in the pan. We know that in order to maintain the cohesiveness of the site, we need to deliver the goods. At the end of the day, you’ve got to offer value.”
Indeed, he does. The new social networking site also offers news roundups, free downloadable toolkits, executive reports and an information exchange for members to swap tips, resources and strategies.
WAIT... THERE’S MORE! Ragan’s put his longtime senior editor David Murray in charge of content. Murray has an industry reputation for editorial integrity. Unlike other web free-for-alls, Ragan plans variety as well as high editorial standards.
Ragan said: "With Dave at the helm you can be sure there’ll be all the food groups -- controversy, humor, debates, contests. We’re going to offer the business a smorgasbord of content to keep people wanting more. More importantly, we’re going to offer a plethora of things that will help members grow professionally.”
With all that a given... the rest of their growth plan is pretty organic. They’ve already seen evidence of it unfolding. Without any intervention from the Ragan staff, some three dozen interest groups have sprung up on the inside pages, including Fashion PR, Hollywood PR, Crisis Communications and Intranet Development. Equally surprising was the instant creation of a global community.
"We have people pouring in from South Africa, India, Europe, Canada and Australia. Last week we started seeing members come in from China." says Ragan. “As a networking platform for the industry, it’s really unbelievable.”
Fantastic! Again, I hate to say "I told you so" but...
Anyway, all good. Big props to Mark and his team.
If you haven't yet already, I do encourage you to check it out. If you happen to bump into Mark, tell ‘em Amanda sent ya.
DISCLAIMER: In the next day or so, you're going to see an ad here for MyRagan.com. Note: it's not a paid spot. We are just thrilled to support what they're doing.
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Thanks for the heads up on this. You can "I told you so" all you want... excellent find. :)
I'm a member (thanks to you prodding and some direct mail). Still, should I be concerned about this note from a colleague at Topaz Partners?
Social Media Club group removed from MyRagan PR networking site:
By the way, I'm all for brand identification, but it's call MySpace not MyMurdoch - couldn't they have come up with a name where is doesn't feel like I'm on their Intranet?
I hope some other members will comment on the value they are getting from the site.
Adam, I love your comment about "MyMurdoch." We agonized about this name for weeks and months, weighing its obvious Ragan-centeredness against the fact that we have brand identification with so many communicators who we knew would instantly understand what "MyRagan" meant.
Almost as significantly, we couldn't come up with a compelling name--"MyCommunication" looked awfully dull on our whiteboard.
Anyway, that was the thinking behind our decision to call it MyRagan.
As for this Social Media Club business, Mark Ragan asked them to change their logo and their name so it didn't appear to the rest of our members as some kind of commercial group that had perhaps paid to be included on MyRagan.
As I understand it from Mark: When they didn't respond after several days, we removed the Social Media Club., on the same grounds that we're also banning members from using their corporate logos instead of personal photos and from making blatant pitches to our members.
We didn't like the appearance of the Social Media Club's logo, and we tried to fix that. The fix didn't work, so we reluctantly nixed it.
And that's our thinking on all that. I hope it clarifies.
Thanks for your reply. I'm distant from these issues, but maybe some of the Social Media Club business people will jump in. Best of luck with the site!
I'm also a member now, so myragan.com has got a member from Indonesia :)
The kind of information I've found in myragan.com was still a surprise to me: it has much relevancy to the business I'm ini. You can always find interesting new stuff every time you log in.
I'm still exploring the site, since I am a newbie, but I have to admit that this site has been well designed; and the content are worth reading.
Thanks for highlighting this site, Amanda! And thanks for Mark Ragan :)
Whew, I was worried there for a moment that you were going to dismiss MyRagan! It' a cool tool and goes way beyond even my local PRSA chapter in encouraging interaction with local professionals. I'm excited about it and hope I meet some folks to commiserate with at the very least.