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Colin McKay: Gov Web 2.0 Communications Pioneer

Colin McKay Colin McKay was an early Canadian pioneer in blogging and social media, but also in the Government use of social media. In my continuing series of interviews with Alumni from the Global PR Blog week, I ask Colin questions about the conference.

Colin looks back on the Global PR Blog week, its influence, what’s changed in PR since 2004, and how Government is embracing web 2.0 today.

John:  What did you learn from the Global PR Blog Week?

Colin: Global PR Blog Week was my first real opportunity to work with like-minded people from around the world. Collaboration, community and crowd sourcing are words that are thrown around quite easily today: just five years ago, it was unusual to pull together virtual teams working to a common agenda. YoungPrPros and other listservs were the most similar beast.

John: What did you learn about blogging, if you learned anything about blogging, from the blog week?

Colin: By July 2004, I had been blogging for nearly a year. I had been posting short observations, longer analytical pieces, and even commentary. I didn’t, however, truly realize the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience that could be shared if bloggers pulled their resources together and focused on a common series of topics.

John: Did the conference give you any new insights into PR, and if so what were they?

I had been aware of the different fields of PR and communications, but hadn’t really spent much time really thinking outside my own day-to-day work. PR Blog Week really demonstrated that there were inspired and influential bloggers who could bring insight to issues common across all these fields.

John: What were the lasting effects of the Global PR Blog Week?

Colin: Personally, I am still in contact with many of the contributors. Participating encouraged me to write longer form posts and articles on my blog and elsewhere, and to consciously look to other bloggers and online sources for inspiration and ammunition.

John: How did the Global PR Blog week influence you and the industry?

Colin: I’m not sure how influential PR Blog Week was for the industry. We’ve certainly seen an explosion in the number and quality of PR pros expressing themselves online. I’d hope that PR Blog Weeks 1 and 2 demonstrated that sold, well-reasoned and influential work could come out of blogging, and that blogging was not just a distraction for disaffected employees.

Interestingly, I look back at the list of participants, and I notice many names that are still influential in the field – personalities that have remained consistent and have continued to contribute, often without a care for being identified as influential, or a guru or a thought leader.

John: Reviewing the post(s) you wrote for the Global PR Blog week what has changed? What has not changed, since you wrote your post?

Colin: In year 1, I covered crisis communications. I notice that I didn’t cover online tools in any detail. That would definitely change today, but my advice on the preparation, attitudes and approaches to a crisis would not.

In year 2, I focused on the intersection between online communications and the development of government policy. For the longest time, that article remained current – it seems that the ground has begun to shift over the past nine months or so. #Gov2.0 has taken a great leap forward with the arrival of the Obama administration and the experimentation of the Labour government in the UK.

John: Give an update on what you've been doing in the last five years, and what you are doing now?

Colin: Well, canuckflack is still well and alive, although it has received greater and less attention over the years. I continued as a communications manager at the Department of Industry until 2007, when I joined the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. At the moment, I’m the Director of Research, Education and Outreach, and have been able to launch some fairly novel outreach tools that draw from my experience blogging and fooling around with social media: http://dpi.priv.gc.ca, http://blog.privcom.gc.ca and http://youthprivacy.ca. Not to mention our fledgling Twitter account http://twitter.com/privacyprivee.

Thanks for this, John!

John: Thank you Colin. Great insights into the virtual event, how PR has changed and not changed. Also I think your point about the faster pace of change in Government is very true.