Let me start by saying, I’m a big fan of RSS readers, etc. thanks to their very tangible benefits. My iGoogle page is still the first site I go to when I get online everyday and I’ve started using TheDailyInfluence as well (this is an Ogilvy PR Reader we created with NetVibes and is a good site to consider if you want to jump start an RSS Reader).
Earlier this month, Mashable posted a story on RSS readers and their possible decline, but the poll at the end of the story showed that more than 70% of respondents still use some form of reader daily (as of May 27th). Only 1% use something else, 5% never use a reader and 16% use it less than they used to.
The one thing I’d pose and recommend for my peers and colleagues in the industry is to not live and die by your reader and set some personal ground rules. Early on I found myself so reliant on the convenience of the site that I stopped visiting the main pages of the publications I enjoyed reading. RSS readers are certainly addictive thanks to their efficiency, ease of use, how comprehensive they have become, how flexible the platforms are and lets just say how flat out convenient it is to get the news from the sources I really care about (or the topics I care most about) on one screen at one time.
But, they don’t replace the good old fashioned need to visit a website. I’ve seen quite a few PR professionals fall into the trap of just relying on their RSS reader and don’t spend the time learning about the publications, sites and, dare I say, hard-copy issues that are critical to their clients.
There is still a lot of value in spending time reading publication sites and blogs and bouncing around from section to section. Not only do you learn about news, trends and discussions that are outside of your specific areas of interest, but often times you find something you wouldn’t normally expect to see that is relevant to your interests — maybe a new section or a new feature added to the site or a new contributor or just an interesting story you wouldn’t have read otherwise.
I found myself so reliant I created three personal rules of using my RSS reader that I thought I’d share:
1- Keep my RSS Reader open all day, but only check it 3 times per day max. (Morning, Lunch, Evening)
2- Visit at least 5 news sites directly per day
3- Read at least 3 unusual stories or new sections per day
Happy RSS Reading and let me know what works for you?