A phoned-in comment to yesterday’s FIR podcast from PR podcaster Bryan Person brought news of a new social network for communicators launched by Chicago-based Lawrence Ragan Communications.
MyRagan.com quietly opened for business a few days ago. So quiet, in fact, that there’s not yet any reference to it on Ragan’s website.
Launched in beta (what isn’t these days?), MyRagan.com offers a raft of services including discussion forums, messaging, chat, groups, your own blog, uploading photos and video, RSS links, and easy ways to search for other members and make connections.
The free service seems to have got off to a racing start – when I signed up last night and glanced around, I reckon more than 250 communicators have signed up so far including many I know or whose names I recognize.
From my quick tour of the service, it’s clear this is an offering that’s been planned for some time, judging by the quality of what’s on offer right now. And this is no dry or stuffy place – plenty of informal if not irreverent content abounds. Take a glance at the FAQ to see what I mean.
One intriguing aspect is the use of the domain name ‘me.com‘ which underpins the personalization behind MyRagan.com. The underlying technology is SNAPP which describes itself as “Everything you need to rapidly build your own branded online web community that is completely customized to the interests and affinities of your target audience.”
On first looks, this is a service that I think has real potential to be a valuable focal point for communicators – that means people in PR, advertising, corporate communication, marketing, employee communication, etc – who want an easy way to build a personal presence online and be part of a relevant and global community.
There are other offerings out there aimed at communicators – IABC’s and the CIPR’s discussion forums spring to mind – but nothing I’ve yet seen that offers this breadth and depth of community presented in a very simple-to-use way. And did I mention it’s free?
Once you sign up, you have your own memorable web address that you can publicize. For instance, mine is http://me.com/neville, although trying that URL brings up someone else at times (must be one of the reasons why the service is labelled ‘beta’).
My only real criticism right now is that the website is painfully slow. Whether that’s something on the net between my PC and the servers hosting the site, or just those servers, I don’t know. Either way, it’s an experience hurdle.
Still, a great professional and social offering for communicators everywhere.
What can I say? Thank you so much for your generous comments about our new site. Yes, we decided to launch this slowly, niche by niche in fact, so we could monitor bugs in the system and quickly fix anything that breaks down. As you know, you can only get to a certain level of confidence in a new site before you have to take the plunge.
You mentioned the slowness issue. We think we fixed that shortly after you registered (of course that would be the case, wouldn’t it?) But we are monitoring speed 24/7.
We think MyRagan is different from any other social networking site because of the integration of Ragan’s content into a Social Media platform. This is a fancy way of saying that we are planning to bring Ragan’s known journallistic talents into the site to keep people coming back.
In two days you will see another significant change. We think the current homepage is boring. As Shel or you might point out, because I know your thoughts on these issues, there is too much boring text about us and not enough links to the content that has given Ragan such a loyal following over the past four decades. So watch for changes there.
Toby Ward has weighed in to our discussions as well and has persuaded me to reduce the number of images on the homepage.
So there is a lot to do, but we welcome your comments and feedback.
P.S. Hope to see you at the London conference in June on Social Media. Last night, about three dozen UK members signed on to MyRagan. Very exciting.
It’s a terrific start, Mark, and many congratulations on the launch.
Good move re that home page! Looking forward to seeing what shape it takes. Complete personalization by the user, perhaps? That would truly make it ‘MyRagan.’ I guess I’ll find out in two days :)
Yes, I’ll be at the conference, co-presenting the pre-conference podcasting workshop with Shel on June 6. Look forward to meeting you there.
Yes, we’re going to address the personalization question, but that is a bit far off for now. The bigger news is that MyRagan.com is only a tiny part of a much bigger and NEW communication site we’re unveiling around the world on Sept. 1.
It will be called Ragan.com, and it will include foreign correspondents, video news, both live and pre-taped, audio voice-posts on blogs, more blogs from experts around the globe, a 30,000-article database, a nerw consulting company and research institute, a new polling technology that drives dialogue between respondents, live video stand ups from London, Sydney, South Africa…..and much more.
MyRagan will be linked to every story so that communicators can jump back forth between the journalist-driven piece and the chat in a MyRagan forum.
Finally, we just launched the most prolific jobs board we know of on the MyRagan site. And, unlike other companies that charge for postings, ours will be free.
So there is a lot coming……and it is so much fun.
Finally, Neville, you need to go to MyRagan.com and look at how we throw baby showers for our employees. One involves a goat, but I will say no more.
Thanks again for your wonderful post. And yes, we’re working on your to-do list.
P.S. See you in London
That’s quite a plan, Mark. Very much looking forward to seeing it rolling out. Experiencing it, too.
I saw the goat!
Thank you Mark for the fantastic new site – I’m encouraging my UK-based communications colleagues to join up too. We look forward to the launch of the interactive Ragan.com site in September – sounds amazing!
Neville, a special thanks to you for this post, in particular for your thoughts on Snapp, the underlying technology behind Ragan’s innovation. This has provided a potential solution for a new site a colleague of mine wants to set up to supplement his new blog, which aims to connect budding UK entrepreneurs with each other and the right type of investors. We’ll let you know how it goes!
Thank you. Sam.
Sam, there’s a Brit group now on MyRagan, started by Marc Wright. Do swell the ranks so we can compete against those Canucks and Aussies :)
You guys will get a kick out of this.
I am starting to get the feeling that our site is turning into—banish the thought–a professional networking site AND a match.com site for PR and internal comms.
I got a letter from a young professional PR woman in London saying, “Thanks for creating this. I already made three business contacts–and a date!”
It seems innocent enough, and we monitor the site 24/7 for any signs of bad behavior. But should I be concerned?
When we came up with this idea of marrying the MySpace-typeplatform with the PR and internal comms industry, we realized that many of our customers would be young PR people entering the market for the first time. Many of those folks are single.
At any rate, I think it’s kind of cool–but who knows. I guess we can only wait and see.
P.S. Sam, thanks for your kind words.
Could be that MyRagan.com is meeting a clear need in the PR community, Mark. In London at least.
I wonder what the folks at PR Darlings would think of this!
[…] Last week, Chicago-based Ragan Communications launched MyRagan.com, a free service aimed at communicators around the world that’s a mix of social network, knowledge and information resource. […]
I think I’m going to check this out too, it sounds very interesting, I like the media links.
[…] “The bigger news is that MyRagan.com is only a tiny part of a much bigger and NEW communication site weâ€™re unveiling around the world on Sept. 1. It will be called Ragan.com, and it will include foreign correspondents, video news, both live and pre-taped, audio voice-posts on blogs, more blogs from experts around the globe, a 30,000-article database, a new consulting company and research institute, a new polling technology that drives dialogue between respondents, live video stand ups from London, Sydney, South Africaâ€¦..and much more. MyRagan will be linked to every story so that communicators can jump back forth between the journalist-driven piece and the chat in a MyRagan forum.” […]
Hey Neville, Thanks to your mention on FIR 237 I’d signed up for myragan…and did a mini-preview (since the site is still beta) on my blog. Looks like a great concept, with a few rough edges yet, but I’m already engaged…and that’s what it’s all about no?
And we few
CanucksCanadians now have a group there too.
Keep up the great work.
Thanks, Brad. See you there online!