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Introducing Katie Wall: How To Have Something Worth Saying

September 11, 2009

LAF Note: Katie Wall is the second regular contributor on the LAF blog. Please welcome her!

Like Chevis, I was more than honored when Lauren asked me to contribute to her blog. Every day I scroll through countless Twitter posts and find myself drawn to people who I consider “valuable contributors” or “key players.” I can’t help but marvel at the content and worth of the information they share and wonder how they do it…

Why didn’t I think of that?!

Before I ever post anything on Twitter, I try to ask myself “Do I really have anything worth saying?” “Is anybody really going to care?” or “If no one responds to my questions or re-tweets what I say, does that mean I am not saying something that matters?”

On August 16 David Spinks wrote a post on his blog entitled “Are You a Social Media Expert or Evangelist?” I was intrigued. He talked about enthusiasm for social media versus actual application of the medium, and how, as a social media evangelist, it’s easy to share someone else’s ideas or advice, but experts build their own content and add value to the conversation.

*Sigh* I’m just an evangelist.  But why?

First there’s the issue of having time to create valuable content. I’m sure we’ve all been there before: sitting & wondering “How the heck does *generic PR person on Twitter* post so many things that I want to read in one day?!” It seems that no matter how many times I revisit Arik Hanson’s post on the LAF blog PR pros: Overwhelmed by social media? Stop complaining and start taking action, where he encourages PR professionals using social media to stay focused, take time and start small – I still tend to be distracted, rushed and try to take on the world.

Then there’s the matter of understanding the medium as a tool for generating conversation and disseminating information. I think this has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my recent transition from college life to the professional world. I’ve grown up on social media – it’s just something you do. I guess I still need to learn how to change my mentality from a simple college status update (i.e. “5th floor, Davis Library—come find me (and bring chocolate)!!”) to a thought provoking post that can get people talking.

So how can we change that? How can we learn? Any secrets to share? I’m all ears.


Katie has an ever-playing jukebox in her head, and when writing this,  all she could think of was the song “Q” by Cartel “If you’re not getting answers ask better questions…”

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate permalink
    September 11, 2009 8:33 am

    Great post Katie! I am in a similar position and have struggled with this too. I end up spending so much time looking for the article/ info that will ignite conversation, that I am neglecting all the real time action- which is what Twitter is about in the first place! I think I just need to stick to my regular morning reads (that do not originate from Twitter) and when I find something that I am SO happy to learn then I will share & tweet about it. I also think tools like Google Alerts and RSS feeds of your favorite blogs/ hot topics would also be a good place to start?

    • goktgo permalink
      September 11, 2009 8:52 am

      Thanks for getting the conversation started, Kate! Some great tips! Sometimes I just feel like I’m on information overload when I read through my Google Alerts… etc! haha! 🙂

      But I also usually wade through that information at the same time I’m logging on to Twitter for the day – that’s smart that you read *before* you get on! I bet it lets you keep a clear head!!

      Thanks so much for the advice!!!


  2. September 11, 2009 8:51 am

    “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” – Plato.

    If I do a blog post on any site, whether it be personal, or professional, I ask myself ‘Why am I doing this? What do I hope my readers will get out of it”. If the answer is nothing, then I don’t post.

    I’d rather post something once a week that is meaningful, then some bs that is in my mind a waste of someone’s time to read.

    • goktgo permalink
      September 11, 2009 8:57 am

      That’s a great way to look at it – how do you define “meaningful”? I think that’s where I’m still struggling…

      Is it meaningful if it makes people laugh? Is it meaningful if it creates conversation?

      What are some of the key things you want your readers to get out of your posts?

      I’d love to know! 🙂


      • September 11, 2009 9:58 am

        Meaningful is whatever you are trying to get across. If you are making someone laugh, that is fine, you can switch it up.

        I just know when I write. If I’m writing a soccer piece I try not to repeat what people have said 1000 times over. If its a personal piece, I try to give some insight or advice that is novel.

        What is meaningful on a blog post depends on your own personal blog and what you are portraying.

        • Katie permalink
          September 11, 2009 10:11 am

          Thanks, Ryan! This is some awesome insight!! 🙂

          ps- I *LOVE* that you write about soccer! I’ve pretty much played my whole life! 🙂

    • September 11, 2009 9:01 am

      That’s great advice, Ryan – one that I think many could benefit from. Katie’s question is one I ask myself constantly. I think some people “scream so loud” to be heard that they don’t realize that their audience needs to find it beneficial.

  3. September 11, 2009 8:55 am

    With time, I think it will be easier to create that must-read blog post. Or if you want to be a valued contributor in the PR world, and you’re “just an evangelist” or “just a newbie” then I think it’s best to seek out a niche that will need/value your particular expertise. Let’s face it, you’re an expert at being a new-to-social-media recent college graduate. You’re an expert at being you. Someone will find that valuable, I guarantee it.

    I also think that you can add value by not necessarily providing original content, but connecting ideas that others have and connecting with others. I follow a variety of people on Twitter and sometimes I wonder if they know each other, and I try to comment when I noticed that @genericPRperson wrote a blog post that asked a similar question at @genericITperson.

    My fall back, though, is to ask questions. I read all that original, incredibly thoughtful content and then ask the author a question. It often leads to a valuable conversation, and I like to think that it bring value to the author as well as to myself.

    • Katie permalink
      September 11, 2009 9:10 am

      That’s some great advice, Rebecca! I guess I still don’t always see myself as an expert – but you’re right! I am an *expert* at being ME! 🙂

      I also love the idea of “building conversations” even when you’re not “building content” – That’s a super smart idea! I’ve always loved bringing people together, why not do it on social media!!


  4. Jackie Adkins permalink
    September 11, 2009 9:08 am

    For me the biggest thing has been learning to think throughout the week about what to write. I used to think of something during the day and try to make mental note of it and usually forget about it later on. Now, I’ve started writing it down as soon as I think of it, whether it’s on a notepad, emailing myself, or on my phone. I’ve thought of ideas at some rather strange times and places!

    I’ll also find inspiration from reading other people’s blogs. Some of my posts have been inspired by comments I’ve left on blogs when I felt like I could elaborate even more in another space.

    • Katie permalink
      September 11, 2009 9:16 am

      That’s a smart idea, Jackie! I always think of things and manage to forget them throughout the day…maybe I’ll have to start carrying a notebook around!

      I also really like the idea of not necessarily :building content: but :building ON content: – you and Rebecca (above) have both offered some creative ways to add to the conversation without necessarily being the one who breaks the ice! Very helpful! 🙂

      Thanks Jackie!!!


  5. Jackie Adkins permalink
    September 11, 2009 9:11 am

    Jumped the gun on hitting submit somehow…

    Really, what it comes down to for me is immersing myself in what others are saying about similar topics and then finding something interesting and unique that I can add to the conversation. That’s how you turn heads with what you write.

  6. September 11, 2009 9:55 am

    Question that runs through my mind…what does a must-read post mean to you? Will you know when it happens?

    I’ve been blogging for three years now. Still can’t predict which posts will be passed on. People read for different reasons and I can’t control my who my readers are like I might in a market I’m pursuing.

    I write for volunteer leaders; however have learned I’ve got a diverse readership. In addition to the leaders, I’ve got folks following me because of how I write, because of the dorky photos I use, because I put a smile on the face of people with cancer – and because sometimes my dog steals my laptop and blogs instead of me!

    It’s been an interesting adventure of learning how to let go as far as where my blog content goes.

    Have faith in your writing. Don’t underestimate the impact you can have on someone’s life and the world when you write – even if only one person reads your post and is touched by it.

    Just some food for thought, Cynthia

    • Katie permalink
      September 11, 2009 10:04 am

      Oh my goodness, Cynthia! You just about made me cry there!!! 🙂

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate such valuable feedback from an experienced blogger!

      I cannot express enough how much all of this feedback means to me – I really like the idea of blogging as an adventure that you cannot control the outcome of!


      ps- What kind of dog do you have? I love the idea of a dog blogging!! haha

  7. September 11, 2009 10:20 am

    Life is an adventure when you live it large Katie. Hats off to you for being willing to blog for Lauren! You are doing a great job fueling conversation here.

    Raindrop is a 23# Chug – chihuahua/pug – who just got invited to submit HER posts on MY blog to a national gallery of writing. (Yes, they know she’s a dog.)

    As I said, you just never know who’s reading your blog.


  8. September 11, 2009 12:46 pm

    Seems you’ve already solved your problem! Look at how many comments you’ve gotten. Could it be, that sharing your problem could help you to solve your problem? I think we’re on to something here. Most of the posts I write, are simply identifying a problem, or providing information that hasn’t been provided already. You don’t even have to know the answer right away, it’s more important that you identified the problem. Then, you think about it for a while, ask your peers for their input if needed, and provide the solution…or don’t! Some of the best posts simply ask questions.

    I’ve found that my most successful posts are ones that touch on a nerve. Something that many have been thinking about, but no one thought to bring it up. Then again as many others have said here, you never know which posts are going to resonate, and which ones are going to flop…you just have to try to learn what makes them flop or fly. (I think I just found the title for my next blog post)

    You also bring up the issue of being rushed and trying to take on the world. I just wrote about this in my last blog post called “One Fell Swoop Mentality”. It’s an epidemic in the social media space. People see the success of other, convince themselves of how easy it can be, and forget to take the necessary steps to get there. Don’t let those success stories fool you, they put in their own blood and sweat to get there too, or they just got lucky.

    When it comes down to it, you’ll find your own groove. You’ll find a balance that works for you, a style that’s effective and you’ll grow steadily over time. That’s how true experts are made.


    • September 14, 2009 3:27 pm

      You said it better than I ever could have, David. I wholeheartedly agree.

  9. Chevis English permalink
    September 11, 2009 4:40 pm

    I love this post Katie and I have dealt with the same thoughts! What do I write? To tweet or not to tweet? Will people like it?

    After a while of filling my head with these questions, I just started to tweet about anything I thought was interesting. If someone likes it, good. If they don’t like it, I don’t care. I am naturally a people pleaser and I like to make others happy, but I have found that it is exhausting. When it comes to tweeting, and now writing, I just put down what makes me happy or what I think is interesting and I am sure somebody out there will find it valuable as well.

    I keep reminding myself that I am still young and with experience will come interesting/valuable things to talk about. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but I am really trying to take my time learning everything I can while also taking on new tasks to speed things up. I think by us contributing to this blog, it’s a good start for us both!

    • Katie permalink
      September 15, 2009 8:44 am

      I agree! I’m so excited to be on here! I think it’s going to help a lot! 🙂

      Thanks Chevis!!

  10. September 12, 2009 10:10 pm

    Re: “How the heck does *generic PR person on Twitter* post so many things that I want to read in one day?!” That made me laugh. I often wonder how people get any work of their own done if they are reading so many blogs!

    That said, I try to mix my own tweets by retweeting the good stuff that comes my way, posting interesting articles I find and occasionally tweeting what I am actually doing. I also limit my time on Twitter because it can certainly suck me in and before I know it, half my day is gone.

    • Katie permalink
      September 15, 2009 8:42 am

      Haha, I’m glad you were able to get a laugh out of that, Nadine! 🙂

      I really like the idea of balance – having a variety of post types so that you’re keeping your material fresh and interesting!

      I also really like the idea of limiting how much time you spend on Twitter – that might be something I need to try – I’m bad about logging in and just staying there all day dwelling on what everyone is saying! haha

      Thanks so much for your ideas! I really appreciate it! 🙂



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