MyRagan: Flacktastic New Social Networking Site for PR Pros

Here's an interesting move.

Ragan Communications has just launched MyRagan - a social networking service (or "YASNS", in danah boyd's memorable coinage) designed specifically for PR people and professional communicators.

Ragan is a 35-year old, family-owned publishing business, organizers of a renowned series of conferences and, not incidentally, sponsors of a Webinar series run by friend-of-Thornley Fallis, Shel Holtz. I mention that last point simply because it's a leading indicator that Ragan, as an organization, clearly has a clue when it comes to the evolution of social media and the impact on the PR world.

Through their newsletters, awards programs, conferences and many other online and offline initiatives, the Ragan organization has, in a sense, always been in the business of building communities.

They've established themselves as a vital part of the connective tissue that joins the disparate practitioners of all the many flavours of professional communications and PR. The ideas and stories that appear in the pages of publications like The Ragan Report often become part of the water-cooler vernacular of the PR trade.

It's good to see them extending their community-building into the social software world.

I've only just signed up and started to experiment, but it's looking promising so far. They've used the SNAPP development platform to build this, which is kind of a rapid application development service for YASNS (Instant Communities: just add water!).

There are some positive indicators, even in the first five minutes of using MyRagan, that this SNAPP thingy is a well-thought-through piece of kit.

For example, as you're signing up for the service it reads your IP address and does a quick lookup, so that the City, State, Country fields are autocompleted for you. Slightly spooky, but a nice touch. It's something that's just about brain-dead simple to do, but always a nice surprise to see that someone's taken the time to make the first couple of screens as usable and friendly as possible.

Looking forward to exploring this further. For now, a polite little ripple of applause for Mark Ragan. Smart move.