This is one in an occasional series on MediaShift where I discuss issues in-depth with thought leaders in online media. The format has changed to give you a profile of the person, as well as more of our dialogue — including video clips. If you have suggestions for future Q&As or want to participate yourself, drop me a line via the Feedback Form.

Profile

Steve Rubel

Age: 39

Hometown & Current Location: Long Island, NY

Favorite Websites: Gmail, Friendfeed, Posterous, Google Reader, NYTimes.com, Instapaper

Online Persona (all the places to find you online): Lifestream site, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Friendfeed page, Google Profile.

What Makes Him a Thought Leader: Rubel was one of the first PR people to take up active blogging back in 2004, and his Micropersuasion blog has been a must-read A-list blog since then. Rubel is now senior vice president, director of insights, for Edelman Digital, looking at technology, media and online trends. He has more than 27,000 followers on Twitter and writes a bi-weekly column for Advertising Age magazine.

What He’s Doing Now: The biggest change for Rubel was mothballing his Micropersuasion blog and putting all his efforts into a lifestream site run through Posterous. He can now post more frequently and embed more multimedia easily into his stream. He told me the new site gets twice the traffic of his blog, likely because of the higher volume of posts, the curiosity of people who want to see his new site, and his experimentation on the site.

Q&A

I spoke with Rubel a couple months ago when he was visiting San Francisco for the Ad:tech conference. We met at B Restaurant near Moscone Center and I interviewed him with my Flip camera. We talked about his balancing act as a blogger/journalist/PR person, how PR is shifting with the advent of social media, and what lessons Edelman and Edelman’s client Wal-Mart have learned from previous missteps online. Here’s the edited video from that chat (apologies for the background noise), with notations below on particular questions and subjects if you’d like to jump to topics of interest to you.

01:48: Blogs losing their luster to Twitter and other online forms of expression.

02:52: Elephants (social media) and zebras (old media) mating, creating…?

03:58: What’s the next big thing in social media?

05:44: Rubel got in trouble with PC Magazine by saying he doesn’t read it anymore.

06:50: Social media has become an integral part of PR.

08:30: Will PR companies hire marketer-programmers?

08:58: What’s the biggest mistake PR people make online?

09:55: Celebrities cut out the PR middleman by using Twitter, social media themselves.

11:05: What Wal-Mart and Edelman learned from past PR mistakes online.

12:30: Is the press release outdated, and should it be replaced with “social media press release”?

13:40: What’s the best way for brands to track themselves on social media?

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What do you think about the changes happening in PR? Do you think social media has become an integral part of a PR person’s daily routine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.