December 13, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Meet the Blogger – Bill Sledzik

Meet the Blogger – Bill Sledzik

If you’d asked him a month ago, [Bill Sledzik](http://www.toughsleddingwordpress.com), associate professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at [Kent State University](http://www.jmc.kent.edu/), would have told you he was a recovering blogger.
He’d written his final post and was “standing on the bridge, figuratively speaking, of blogger suicide,” he claims. When asked why he blogs, he tells this story and explains that, by the end of his contemplation, he had written several posts that were just waiting to be published. “So you see,” he said, “I blog, in part, because I can’t stop.”
Bill Sledzik has spent 16 years as a public relations professional in various capacities and 16 years with the faculty at Kent State in positions ranging from associate professor to coordinator of the PR program to accused social media junkie. His most recent “position” as an addict began with his blog, ToughSledding. The blog began as a way for Bill to learn social media by doing social media. While his initial plan was to blog for a month and then stop, taking the lessons he learned into his classroom, he says his blog was “sustained by a mix of ego and a desire to be part of the online discussion about public relations.”
***Sledzik remains “unconvinced that social media is somehow the second coming of Gutenberg.”***
ToughSledding is devoid of blogosphere clichés like link love and memes and full of opinionated posts that have gotten him [banned](http://toughsledding.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/banned-from-the-buzz-bin-bummer/) from Geoff Livingston’s [BuzzBin](http://www.livingstonbuzz.com/blog/2008/02/28/strategic-marketers-see-pr-as-a-tactic/) and linked to a (self-professed) “love affair” with Amanda Chapel of [Strumpette](http://toughsledding.wordpress.com/2007/10/16/one-pr-man%e2%80%99s-sordid-affair-with-amanda-chapel/). What is it about his approach to blogging and his opinions on the importance and utilization of social media that contribute to such tiffs? “That’s simple,” he says. “I say what I think and I don’t worry about what others think.”
He credits his rumbles with blogosphere royalty to his opinion that social media is not the revelation of relationship marketing. He opposes the views of many social media-lites that feel they’re on the threshold of a new era…and he’s not afraid to publicly disagree. “We’ve been discussing the central role of relationships in PR for almost a century,” Sledzik explained. “The tools change, the business – not so much.”
Sledzik has debated the definition of PR since the Web was a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye. It was this open debate that led to his banishment from BuzzBin. As for his “relationship” with Strumpette, Sledzik became a fan of Chapel’s writing and satire that, in his opinion, contained serious and valid criticism of the PR industry and its “stampede toward social media.” In rebel fashion, Sledzik adds: “By the way, my professed ‘love affair’ with Amanda got me knocked off a few blogrolls here and there. I didn’t lose any sleep over it.”
***”There’s a lot of real crap floating around in social media”***
Sledzik thinks social media will be a part of the strategic planning discussion in public relations forever. Why? “They create so much potential for us to gather intelligence and to monitor our clients’ reputation issues,” he answers. The first conversations on most key issues are taking place in social media outlets and Sledzik advises, “You best be a part of it.”
While he’s confident it’s here to stay, Sledzik remains unsure of where social media is headed. “There’s a lot of real crap floating around in social media, and it could lead millions to simply tune out,” he says.
Overall, Sledzik encourages PR professionals striving to embrace tools and establish social media strategy to rejoice “since social media create real job security for those who understand them and use them responsibly,” he says.
***ToughSledding guidelines: “.. nor will I allow crude language unless it has a purpose, or if I decide I want to raise a shit storm about something.”***
Sardonic to say the least, Sledzik’s favorite quote is by Emerson: “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say,” while his favorite retort is “F*#@ ’em if they can’t take a joke.”
Sledzik says he’s happiest when he’s offline, catching fish, hunting deer or paddling his kayak. With the evolution of ToughSledding, Bill’s as wired as he cares to be. Blissfully ignorant of how to track his own blog stats, he knows that to maintain authority in Technorati and build readership you have to spend time engaging with other bloggers, which is hard to do while you’re fishing. You can also try to be outrageous and controversial, but he only does that “when the spirit moves him.”
At the end of the day, Sledzik blogs because he likes to write. It’s probably a good thing he remains unaware of his subscriptions or rankings. He’d become obsessed with keeping readers happy and “to hell with that,” he says.
*Kait Swanson is the manager of client fulfillment for a Cleveland-area public relations and marketing communications agency. She’s currently playing a lead role in the integration of new media into her company’s traditional model. Kait also writes at her personal blog, [www.somesangs.wordpress.com](http://www.somesangs.wordpress.com).*

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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4 Comments

  1. theprlab@gmail.com'
    Greg Smith

    Thanks. A great article, Kait. Bill is right. Social media and it’s components are just weapons in the armoury, to be used selectively.

  2. wsledzik@kent.edu'
    Bill Sledzik

    “That’s simple,” he says. “I say what I think and I don’t worry about what others think.”
    Judging by the volume of comments to this post, apparently no one else does either! Bless you, Greg Smith. You will forever have a place on my blogroll! And thank you, Kait Swanson, for your fair and balanced reporting.

  3. jzingsheim@customscoop.com'
    Jen Zingsheim

    Bill, I think we did both you and Kait a disservice by posting this before a holiday weekend–my apologies.
    For what it’s worth, I thought it was a great and interesting piece, Kait is a wonderful writer and that speaks volumes to the instruction she received at Kent State (in addition to all of that natural-born talent).
    I enjoy the thoughtful posts both of you contribute: Bill on your blog, and Kait through her tweets.
    Jen

  4. jeff.davis@sawmillmarketing.com'
    Jeff Davis

    Thanks for this great overview. I have been a faithful reader of TS for more than a year – perhaps longer? Due to an overload of info – and yes, some social media crap – I am whittling down my RSS feeds, but ToughSledding will always remain on my short list of must-read blogs.

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