A gong for The Gong Blog: Reflections on our 1,000th blog post

Three cupcakes with 1K piped in blue icing

It was the week before Christmas 2008, and to give you a sense of just how long ago that was…

  • The Dow opened that day at 8,606. (If you haven’t checked lately, it’s above 34,000.)
  • Facebook had a measly 100 million active users (vs. 2.9 billion today).
  • Instagram, Uber, Groupon, Pinterest, Slack and Venmo (to name a few) had yet to be created.
  • The Hodges Partnership launched its agency blog.

While that last event may not measure up in historic significance to the others, for us Hodgers, that first December 21, 2008 blog – created in our blog’s former iteration, Jon Newman’s PR 1.5 – leads us to a special milestone.

Today, we bang the gong for The Gong Blog as this post marks … wait for it…. the 1,000th entry into the annals of Hodges blogdom.

That first blog all those years ago was, appropriately enough, a rationale for why we were undertaking a blog in the first place. This was a time of disruption within public relations, and PR practitioners were finding new arrows in their quiver. As Jon wrote at the time:

This blog will chronicle my journey as an “older” media relations and PR pro who realizes that while newspapers, TV newsrooms and magazines are shrinking, the same tools that made me and the folks who work with me successful can be used in this brave new world of social marketing. We have the tools that our ad brothers and sisters may not. We have the content, and we have the experience of convincing this new generation of reporters that what we have to say is newsworthy. 

And so, we began learning how to best harness the new tools at our disposal, and we transitioned from “social marketing” to “content marketing,” and we enthralled ourselves with terminology like EOP (earned, owned, paid) and bought into the “buyer’s journey” that the folks at HubSpot were preaching. All of that that felt so new – and actually was new – is reminiscent somewhat of when the internet first made its way into the workplace, and we were all trying to figure it out. And now that the future has arrived, the growing pains range from quaint to comic.

One thousand blogs are a lot (we did the math, about 6.4 per month) over 13 years. Here’s a stroll down memory lane. I’ll spare you the posts where we were fascinated with FourSquare and Snapchat Discovery and other ephemeral flavors on the month, but for the others, feel free to gong along with us.

The ultimate bottom line for me in all of this is that to make this work in the long run, CONTENT will be king.

– Jon Newman, Feb. 22, 2009

No matter what device you’re texting and emailing from today, there’s no doubt that when the iPhone launched in 2007, it changed the tech world — and the public relations industry.

– Cameron McPherson, Sept. 18, 2013

Guest blogging is not a new concept, but building a blog with the intent to regularly source original content from outside sources reminds me of the traditional media landscape before “The Facebook.” Plus, it solves two barriers businesses typically face when starting a blog — the concern over having enough content and the challenge of organically reaching new audiences — through collaboration.

– Emily Shane, March 26, 2014

More than 75 percent of journalists say they feel more pressure now to think about their story’s potential to be shared on social platforms. The survey went on to explain the five key elements that make stories more shareable, which include videos/images, brevity, localization, more use of human voice and a proximity to trending topics.

– Cameron McPherson, March 3, 2015

Change never comes easily, but there are ways to convince a reluctant CEO to take the Twitter leap. Remind your CEO that one of the draws of Twitter is the ability to communicate directly to customers and partners instantaneously. No need to rely on media placements to get your message across or be beholden to others’ publishing schedules. 

– Paulyn Ocampo, March 11, 2016

Fast forward to today where various platforms not only exist for reaching customers and potential customers directly, but that also make it cheaper and easier than ever to create, publish and promote your own content. While the rise of these platforms has some doomsday naysayers preaching the death of media relations, the fact is that earned media and social platforms will live comfortable next to one another for quite some time.

– Greg Surber, Aug. 10, 2016

You know the old saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” right? This idiom perfectly applies to a lot of things in our industry, especially when it comes to social media advertising strategies. It’s easy to think your money should be spent on Facebook, one of the largest social media platforms and one of the earliest adopters to advertising, but if your audience is on multiple platforms, you should be, too.

– Casey Prentice, May 7, 2018

How popular are podcasts becoming? Consider this: The Daily and Joe Rogan Experience have approximately 250 million downloads a month. It’s a sign of the health of podcasting and a precursor perhaps of what’s to come. And advertisers have noticed. 

– Evans Mandes, June 17, 2020

Imagine you’re driving on I-64, heading west for a quiet weekend in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and you see a billboard. That billboard gets thousands of impressions a day, but there is no control over who those impressions belong to. But through social media advertising, you can create dozens of billboards for a fraction of the cost, and you can dictate that only people between the ages of 25-45, with a college degree and an interest in dogs can see them. This is why you advertise on social media. Better control of your dollars, serving up your message to the people most likely to need your product or service.

Casey Prentice, Jan. 12, 2021

If you’re creating content for an editorial calendar in 15 minutes or less, you’re not doing it right. Full stop. The fact is, when you’re curating third-party stories, crafting posts to support your key messages and value propositions and finding ways to transform long-form content into smaller, digestible chunks – that takes time.

Casey Prentice, Sept. 28, 2021

So just about everyone who knows I’m on Twitter asks me the same questions: “How does Twitter work?” or “I don’t understand how it can apply to my business?” or “I tried it but all it is, is people telling other people what they ate for breakfast.”

– Jon Newman, May 1, 2009

What is Sponsored Content? It’s the growing intersection of news and information websites and portals with unlimited space (and the need to make money) and brands looking for ways to reach those websites’ audiences in ways that look more like news and less like a banner ad.

– Jon Newman, Jan. 8, 2014

It’s rare that we meet a client that we don’t think should have a blog. An ongoing blog gives marketers a chance to showcase their expertise, to put flesh around the bones of their brand, to amplify their key messages, to shape an identity that people like and can relate to. Blogs do all this and more.

– Josh Dare, Dec. 10, 2014

The idea behind inbound marketing [is to] provide informative, helpful content – blog posts, ebooks, checklists – that draws customers to your website. The first step in creating that content is developing buyer personas.

– Laura Elizabeth Saunders, April 27, 2015

The open-source way [of creating content] is about creating an environment where experts and influencers in your field can contribute content and learn from each other. It’s where communities are formed around a common purpose. Here, participation is critical, and more activity means more information and collaboration to solve problems together.

– Amanda Colocho, May 25, 2016

The rise of digital media finally has brought the public relations industry the tools necessary to easily and cheaply employ metrics that can show whether and how much our strategies are effectively meeting quantifiable objectives.

– Tony Scida, Dec. 6, 2016

Internal communications always has been somewhat of a red-headed stepchild in the PR world. But employees are some of the best brand assets a company has, and getting them engaged and empowered on social media can not only boost their understanding of company news, but also help you in your social media efforts.

– Greg Surber, March 21, 2017

In 2017, 63 percent of businesses were using video as a marketing tool. Just a year later, that number increased to 81 percent, and jumped to 87 percent in 2019. Marketers are learning to leverage this form of content and nurture audiences from the awareness stage through completing a transaction.

Amanda Colocho, Dec. 17, 2019

If the past three months have taught me anything, it’s that our social media normal is rapidly evolving. More than ever, we are all obsessed with consuming as much information as possible through video and sound—even on our social platforms. While this trend in media consumption takes over, marketers are having to quickly adapt to stay relevant and a part of the conversation. With new social media features comes opportunities for creative expression and putting a voice to a brand.

– Julia Loudy, July 14, 2020

Being on TikTok is still a tough sell for small businesses because of the time and creativity needed to make it worthwhile, but sending product to a TikTok influencer could be a way to reach more eyeballs without making the necessary investment in the platform.

– Aidan Newbold, March 23, 2021

That was just over 20 excerpts out of 1,000 to choose from. Care to dig deeper, you can find all 1,000 here.

Gong!

Josh Dare

Josh’s career in communications spans more than four decades. In addition to providing strategic counsel and crisis communications direction to clients, he is the resident Writer-In-Chief, regularly writing op-eds and bylines on behalf of clients that have been published in The Washington Post, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Huffington Post, among others.

Read more by Josh

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