Whether you think blogs are a complete waste of time or are the greatest thing since the Any Key was invented, one point remains; they allow readers to peer through a window. While this glimpse can arguably be bittersweet at times – not everyone cares that your orange cat ate some brownies – the lasting impressions are if nothing else cost-effective (almost no overhead) and therefore can be part of integrated strategy for advertising and selling your brand-name.
I recently discussed this issue with David Skarbek, a lucid blogger and senior economics major at San Jose State. As a soon-to-be graduate student at GMU, he believes that blogs can afford the academic world many opportunities. Among these is simply the time-honored marketing role of first-impressions.
While some may argue that Dr. Strangelove spiked the Kool-aid out in Fairfax with fluoride, the faculty at George Mason University’s economics department are a great case-in-point of how blogs can be used as an effective tool for recruiting, conducting research, promoting hobby horses and celebrating collegiate basketball.
Whether it was intentional, a deliberate act of commission (I suspect it was organic), numerous GMU professors post on a regular basis to independently operated blogs. In no particular order:
- Cafe Hayek (Don Boudreaux and Russell Roberts)
- Marginal Revolution (Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen)
- The Austrian Economists (Pete Boettke, Chris Coyne, Peter T. Leeson, Frederic Sautet)
- EconLog (Arnold Kling and Bryan Caplan)
Because of the prolific and personal nature in each of these authors’ musings, potential students are able to now have a better idea what they will get themselves into – effectively gauge the personalities involved – and decide if they want matriculate to there. And just like working for any kind of firm, finding a good person-organizational fit can save everyone a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth (no doubt there are a cornucopia of testimonies on how much a graduate student loved and/or hated their tenure at a particular institution).
Thus, whether it is centrally managed or divorced from the academy, blogs can be leveraged like all other media. To steal Tyler Cowen’s catchphrase, there is a market in everything, including your blog.