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LinkedIn Attempts to Put Its Finger on The Pulse: A Review
By: Mike Bush
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The LinkedIn Pulse application attempts to bring relevant stories from across a person’s network to their smartphone, serving as a sort of curated news feed based on professional interests. For the past couple weeks, I tried to use Pulse as my go-to source of news. Below is a review of how things went.

LinkedIn obviously has the eyes and ears of the PR world. Heck, our own Jeannine Wheeler wrote about the platform last week here on Flack Me, highlighting the importance of company pages to PR teams. For me, LinkedIn seems to bounce between incredible professional resource and email carpet-bomber.

Recently, the company launched an app called Pulse, which is a news feed of articles that LinkedIn thinks you’ll find relevant based on who’s in your network. I tried to use Pulse as my primary source of info for a few days, and came up with a couple conclusions:
  1. Pulse took some of the joy out of my news feed. Anyone who came up on Google Reader and now uses something like Feedly has, if they’re anything like me, built in a couple Easter Eggs to keep things interesting. For me, this means a couple of online cartoons and some baseball news. As a flack, I’m going to scour the news to see what trends are going on, what news is happening, and where my clients fit. If I stop to read about the next baseball player that I should add to my fantasy baseball team, or laugh a little bit about the idea of DIlbert being targeted by the U.S. government, well, that’s 20 seconds of time wasted letting my brain take a break. Pulse missed this, and to be honest, I’m not sure LinkedIn should be worried about this. As a professional network, LinkedIn should maybe dance with the girl they brought, and not worry so much about this issue. However, even the NY Times has a comic section. I can see lack of distraction being a concern at some point in the future.
  2. Holy alerts, Batman! I’m a Pebble smartwatch owner and wearer, and generally speaking, I’m very picky about which apps I’ll allow to send notifications to my wrist. If you haven’t tried out wearables, here’s the brief synopsis: The notifications are the most jarring alerts you’ll have ever seen. In some cases, like an upcoming meeting or an incoming call, these are great. In the case of “someone in your network just recommended an article by Richard Branson,” they are not.*** In order for news apps like Pulse to work, they have to be on a person’s schedule. Thinking back to the old days of the town crier, this was like having a random 12 year old show up and scream news in your face, at any time he felt like it was a good idea. Did not work for me.
  3. It’s tough to curate for a curator. For me, I’ve spent years (and years) building my perfect mix of news, based on the roles I’ve had, the interests I’ve carried, and yes, the occasional distraction. For Pulse, it has to be hard to out-target a super-targeted list that’s been personally built since...2009?
  4. "It’s tough to curate for a curator" may be the biggest strength of Pulse. It gives me variety I likely wouldn’t see elsewhere. In some cases, my Feedly setup may be a little too “influencer” heavy, and might lack mainstream publications. Pulse filled this gap for me.

The verdict: Pulse isn’t going to replace Feedly and Twitter as my source of info that I’m most interested in. However, it very well could serve as a complement to those sites, offering stories and takes I might not have seen elsewhere. A couple times this week, I’ve found myself looking for something “different” and have found what I was looking for in Pulse.

In sum: It’s a good app, as long as you turn off the notifications and use it as a complement to the way you read the news.

In my hometown, there were two newspapers. One was a daily paper that discussed the events of the day, both locally and nationally. The other was a weekly that aimed to highlight the good stories that people might have missed. Pulse fills this latter role perfectly.

***Due respect to Richard Branson…he’s an amazing entrepreneur. I used him because it seems like everyone in my network agrees, and his thoughts show up in my LinkedIn feed daily.  

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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