PROpenMic Reflections :: One Year Old, and Growing

Today marks our one year anniversary. I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’ll greatly appreciate your opinions and suggestions below.

So, what have we accomplished? Your thoughts? Here are some observations.

Out of 4,135 members (as of this writing), we have:

Yes, I know that adds up to 4,289. Well, that’s because we have some people selecting two options (practitioners that teach, for instance).

Numbers are ok, but I’m happier about the diversity of those numbers. We’re about 50/50 academic and practicing pros.

Add to that, the realization that the latest scouring of our member date reveals that PROpenMic has members from over 50 countries and over 300 colleges and universities around the world. Imagine the possibilities with that kind of membership! We even have two members that have actually done PR work on, or for, Antarctica. No kidding. So, we have PR people representing all 7 continents. I find that to be both funny and cool.

I fear thanking individuals, because I know I’ll leave someone out. That said, I do want to at least acknowledge and thank a group of people that have helped me both behind the scenes and actively on the site.

We have a volunteer group of site administrators that both watch the site and allow me to bounce ideas off of them throughout the year. I am very grateful for their kindness, patience and wisdom. I owe them a great deal. The site does, too. (God help me if I leave anyone off. It’s 3 a.m. and I’m sort of spinning now.)

They are, in no particular order: Phil Gomes, SVP Edelman Digital; Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu, Clemson University; Dr. Karen Russell and Dr. Kaye Sweetser, University of Georgia; Dr. Barbara Nixon, Georgia Southern University; Professor Kelli Matthews and Dr. Tiffany Derville Gallicano, University of Oregon; Dr. Ginger Carter Miller, Georgia College and State University; and Dr. Corinne Weisgerber, St. Edwards University.

Dr.s Miller and Weisgerber are our most recent volunteer administrator/advisors. I’ve been bad about getting back to them, by the way. My apologies for that. I do appreciate what all of you have done for me and PROpenMic. I already respected each of these educators a great deal. Having now been able to interact with them more, that respect and appreciation has only grown. They are remarkable people. Thank you!

Also, I want to thank just a sampling of people that have taken it upon themselves to help the site by contributing via blog posts, forum topics, videos and more.

Phil Gomes’ “A Minute with Phil” is the largest group devoted to such content. Peter Shankman hosts his video series, “What’s Hot on HARO” and “Buy Peter a Sandwich”, on PROpenMic. They have brought great attention to the network. In fact, Peter has likely brought in more new members (maybe 500!) than any other supporter of the site, too.

There are many others that have contributed over time. Leo Bottary has shared 31 blog posts. Anna Osgoodby has posted the most photos, 39. Students from Leeds Metropolitan University and Bournemouth University have likely been our most active and prolific contributors from Europe. The list goes on … I will try to add to it later today. Please comment below with the glaring omissions I’m sure I’ve made.

We have a Facebook and LinkedIn group, too. We’re on Twitter. PROpenMic has a presence.

Have we realized our full potential? No, of course not. As a volunteer social network with an organic focus (let the network be what it wants to be), we’ve really just watched the site grow and adapt. I actually like the aspect of creating the site, then letting it go where it wants to go. Yes, I’ve tried to provide some guidance, but really … as a volunteer endeavour, not that much.

Aside from a brief experiment, for class purposes, using ads in Facebook, we really have not done any organized promotion or advertising. This semester, for example, is the first time all year that I’ll really let the students take it over for about three weeks and do that “social network management” function. I want that to be an ongoing aspect of the site, and even want to involve students from other students around the world.

The organic (put the site up, watch it and see what happens) kind of philosophy has worked for PROpenMic. This one year activity report shows that PROpenMic either comes close to, equaled or surpassed (in traffic and ranking) sites like MyRagan.com, Communitelligence.com, PRSSA.org, and HolmesReport.com. We even come very close to O’Dwyer’s PR/Marcom news site.

By the way, I don’t mean to pick on those sites. I merely tried to find similar sites (at least dealing with public relations) that had similar traffic numbers and search ranking. Trust me, no one was as surprised as I was to realize that we were so comparable to those sites. It stunned me, really. They are, in some instances, part of million dollar businesses. Hello? And we’re matching their traffic/activity/rank numbers?

Admittedly, some months those sites beat us. I’ve noted that our activity seems to follow college terms. When students are in school, we’re quite busy. When they’re out of school, not so much. However, over the breadth of a year, we’re equal to or better than the other sites’ traffic/rank performance.

What does this all mean?

I take it to be an indicator that niche social networks can work, even without a budget. Imagine what we could do if we had the budgets of those for-profit commercial sites.

I’ve seen more and more schools begin to embrace the idea of a private internal social network for their own students and alumni. We started one at Auburn University this summer. Georgia Southern is launching one now, too. Others have privately mentioned it to me, as well.

I believe that, with effort, PROpenMic and other niche social networks can become positive additions to classes in college PR programs around the world. In fact, an international PR class could be taught using the resources to be found in PROpenMic.

Here is just a small recap of activity on the site. Hope it helps you get a feel for how active we’ve been.

  • There are 4154 members on PROpenMic
  • 164 new members joined during the past week
  • euzinha_lindinha … is the most popular photo to date
  • There are 629 photos on PROpenMic
  • Minneapolis Mayor… is the most popular video to date
  • There are 262 videos on PROpenMic
  • The Hobson and Holtz Report, For Immediate Release, is the most popular audio/podcast to date (see the frong page audio player)
  • There are 323 audio files on PROpenMic
  • Digital Dirt is the most popular forum post to date
  • There are 438 forum topics on PROpenMic
  • There are 56 events on PROpenMic
  • Want People to Find Your Blog .. is the most popular blog post to date. And, since I’ve been so bad about keeping up that list, I’m grateful to Adam Lewis for his new Wiki of Student Bloggers.
  • There are 872 blog posts on PROpenMic
  • There are 60 groups on PROpenMic

Well, that’s the best I can do, so far. I hope this helps you get a feel for what’s happened throughout the year.

Thank you all for your interest, patience and contributions. Here’s looking at a second year!

So, what are your thoughts about the network and where would you like for it to go in the future?

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0 thoughts on “PROpenMic Reflections :: One Year Old, and Growing

  1. Robert

    Thank you, Andrew. I appreciate your kind support. Here’s hoping we can continue to reach out to students and involve them in the site.

    Reply
  2. Mark Story

    Congratulations, Robert!!!

    I am going to join now and get involved any way that I can. The teaching at Georgetown is adjunct, but my day job is director of new media at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Would love to be a part of the fun — and congratulations again at building such a vibrant community in just a year.

    Best,

    Mark

    Reply
  3. Robert

    Thank you, Mark! Very happy to have you join us in PROpenMic. The students will be excited to see you there as a resource. I’d love to do a phone chat with my classes at some point, too. Thanks!

    Reply

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