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.
It’s captured a lot of imaginations and got off to a cracking start. When I signed up last week, there were about 250 members. Today, that number is over 500.
Also last week, London-based research and training firm Melcrum announced The Communicators’ Network, described as a business-grade professional networking community, that will be launching in June:
[…] It’s already in advanced stages of development, but we’re ironing out the kinks behind closed doors for now. We have been quietly researching what communicators from around the world want and are building something a little bit different. Not only does The Communicators’ Network have all the social networking functionality you’d expect, namely groups, blogs, photo uploads, custom RSS feeds and discussion forums, it also has some really interesting ratings and review features for user-generated content.
[…] We are not looking to replace existing communities we are looking to improve and enhance them and add some value through bolt-on features such as directory of knowledge and resources to help save time and facilitate better business decisions. The site should help bring Melcrum’s globally dispersed customer-base of more than 25,000 communication practitioners a little bit closer together.
Melcrum’s offering will also be free to join.
Ragan clearly has first-mover advantage, though, and CEO Mark Ragan has ambitious plans for MyRagan.com:
[…] 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 new 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.
That sounds like a compelling offering.
Indeed, ‘compelling’ is the key word. With two of the communication profession’s most powerful and influential commercial players launching services that will compete for communicators’ attention, it’s hard to see right now whether there will be a market for two such services without some clear differentiation between them.
Time will tell.
I think there will be room for two, actually.
Melcrum is a fabulous company led by two very smart principals. They publish great editorial products and research reports, their conferences are known thoughout the US, UK and Australia and their Internet-based Hub is quite powerful. Finally, Melcrum’s staff is proud and dedicated.
Yes, we compete with Robin and Victoria in a few areas, but the differences between the two companies are significant—large enough to assure that both social media sites will survive.
For example, Ragan serves the market from the bottom up. Our customers include: entry-level writers, Intranet content managers, web content developers, speechwriters, copy editors, public relations professional, media relations pros, students entering the market for the first time, and other people who are not considered high on the food chain.
Though we also serve the VP and director level above them, we have not covered that market as well as Melcrum.
I think having two sites may be hard on Melcrum and Ragan, but terrific for internal communicators and PR people. More competition means better products. I know that last statement is a cliche, but it’s true. And the tone and personality of our respective companies are different enough to guarantee that the sites will look and feel significantly different, as they should.
In sum, I welcome Melcrum’s Communicators Network.
interesting post to compare the two.
i wonder if a distinguishing factor might come down to geography?
perhaps the two organisations can do more for customers in their local markets? it seems to me that the best networks often have regular offline regional activities attached to them as far as possible.
a few months ago, i sold in the concept of designing and managing a social (professional) network for community outreach people working in the uk heritage sector. it’s been commissioned by UK government agency, English Heritage. having run several focus groups with a cross section of people working in the sector, a major demand was the need for regional networking events. interesting huh?
Yes, but at the risk of being too proud of my site, I should point out that it allows regional communicators to do the very thing you are suggesting. Myragan allows local groups to split off and hold events, publicize them and even create a mini-site within the Mother Ship for content and dialog. So I agree with your comment, but I think it dovetails nicely into what we’re trying to accomplish.
Thanks for the kinds words about Melcrum and the new site we are launching, namely The Communicators’ Network, which is being described as a cross between LinkedIn and TripAdvisor.
And just to set the record straight, Melcrum and Ragan have happily co-existed for nearly 11 years now, serving their own niches within the corporate communication market. The world is a big place and there are lots of niches! Hence the clear need for social networking sites to connect these various niches around the special-interests or industry sectors they serve.
But also, The Communicators’ Network will be more than (social) networking, which is important, but people have day-jobs too! The site is also designed to help people find useful resources, such as books, blogs, websites, white papers etc that communicators can rate and review. This is the core technology that made us choose Small World Labs as our partner.
We hope that the site will quickly become a directory of industry knowledge and resources which would help people find and share what works for them with their peers.
If anyone is interested in volunteering to help with either running a group for a special interest, industry sector or region or to submit books and resources, please get in touch. It’s quite an undertaking!
Couldn’t agree more with all of your points.
I know Small World Labs. I spent a considerable amount of time studying their work. They seem like good people. In fact, I am a member of two of their sites and have been for a while (so is my wife).
So I am sure your site is going to be terrific, and a great addition to the Internal Comms community.
The meeting place for communicators around the world
It’s terrific to get both your viewpoints, Mark and Robin. I think the fact that you’re publicly discussing your two firms’ offerings in blog posts like this one is a great example of transparency.
I talked a bit more about MyRagan.com and The Communicatorsâ€™ Network in today’s episode of the FIR podcast, just posted. Before I saw your comment, Robin.
Thanks to both of you for your openness.
Transparency is the whole point, isn’t it?
We can all benefit if we decide to do what’s best for the internal comms or PR person we serve. There is a lot of knowledge within both organizations and it is a big, big world (as Robin says).
So let’s go.
Listened to the podcast tonight. Great job of describing our site and Melcrum’s.
It will be fun to see how this new Social Media world plays out in our market.