Social Media Top 5: It’s Not About You, Mr. Journalist, and Blogging is Not a Business Requirement

What Really Needs to Change? How about journalists making themselves the story (and for the purposes of this column, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch is a journalist)? Dating back to my time in journalism, it has always irked me when journalists make themselves part of the story. I want a publication to report on whatever their special topic is, not themselves. Granted, Michael Arrington has always based TechCrunch on his personality, and noone should condone his being spat on or the death threats he writes about– but whether or not people like Arrington or not does not affect whether I read TechCrunch or not– and that goes for any media outlet. Maybe I’m an old crank, but I really don’t care.

Journchat is wicked cool: I have mentioned Journchat here, but thought it worth adding to a SM Top 5. Monday nights, a group of PR people and journalists on Twitter, led by Sarah Evans, get together to discuss a bunch of questions, and topics, loosely moderated. I strongly recommend it to any PR people or journalists. While I have missed a few weeks, I see people are still singing its praises, and my friend Christopher Penn in particular added his own unique thoughts to the latest edition in a blog post.

From Baltimores via Ragans PR Junkie blog

From Baltimore's via Ragan's "PR Junkie" blog

Mommy is not an exotic dancer. She just loves her job: I already got some mileage out of this post on Twitter, but it’s worth repeating. Apparently a young schoolgirl drew this picture of her mother at work, and the mother frantically had to explain that no, she’s not a pole-dancer, she’s a Home Depot worker who was helping customers get shovels during a snowstorm- and that’s why her daughter was so proud. I don’t even care if it’s real, it’s hilarious. Plus, it illustrates the need for context- something we need to remind ourselves constantly in social media and all communications- quite well.

Can We impeach PR Flacks Too? I don’t want to waste too much breath on Impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blogojevich, but Drew Kerr had an excellent post about some of our less reputable PR cousins (no, not political press secretaries). The specific point I am drawn to is the press release put out by Blago’s publicists, crediting themselves as a source. That would be hard for me to top:

“Gov. Rod Blagojevich will go to Springfield tomorrow to present his case to Illinois senators preparing to impeach him, according to The Publicity Agency, the outside PR/publicity firm hired by the governor.”

“Blogging is a Business Requirement:” No. it’s not. Really. I understand what Shel Holtz is getting at, but one of the smartest blog posts we should always remember is B.L. Ochman’s “10 Reasons Your Company Shouldn’t Blog.” Some companies shouldn’t blog. Some will never need to. I can’t see that ever changing. Blogs are great, and I’ll often recommend them, but the first thing I will ask a client that isn’t sure is- well, “Are you sure?” A better question to answer before blogging is, “Why?” In fact, if I ever outright plagiarize a presentation idea, it’ll be Jeremy Pepper‘s presentation on social media in which he simply put up one slide with the word “Why?” on it. (Jeremy, I can’t find a link to your post about that– I’d love to link to it).

UPDATE: And here it is. thanks Jeremy!

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  1. There are lots of reasons to blog that have nothing to do with blogging. We set up a website that we do some affiliate marketing with, the top part we turned into a call to action and we put the blog post at the bottom of the page.

    We then hired someone to start writing post. We found the post ranked in a matter of moments and the call to action was able to convert a lot of the new traffic. We made a list of keywords and targeted those keywords in each post.

    It worked out better than a website would have ever worked and was easy for someone with no skills to make post.

  2. Thanks Janeth– one of the things I love most about blogs is it has pretty much killed off the ugly DIY web site. Now it’s the no-frills DIY blog, where people can concentrate on content and not whether they look good.

    Design is the next big step of course, and should be a big part of corporate blog planning, but for personal blogs I breathed a sigh of relief and did not mourn the fact that I would never have to visit another Geocities page.

  3. And I remember being told the lists of reasons for companies to not have email, followed by the lists of reasons to not have websites.

    The times, they are a’ changing.

    Maybe if we followed the advice of Mike Pusateri at Disney and not call them blogs, but rather “an instant publishing system with regularly updated content subscribable via RSS that facilitates conversation and provides you with a vehicle for instant communication when it is required,” then we could move on.

  4. Shel – the thing is: there are companies that shouldn’t have any type of website. They’re the ones who need every word vetted by lawyers; who need a committee to respond to every question, which then takes a week to get an answer.

    If a company doesn’t really want to facilitate conversation, WHY bother.

  5. Quote: B.L. Ochman They’re the ones who need every word vetted by lawyers; who need a committee to respond to every question

    That sounds like the government trying to stimulate the economy.

  6. B.L., that thinking was entirely appropriate BT — Before Twitter. Today, the use of the blog as a business communication channel is entirely different. It’s a requirement because it is the ONLY widely accepted and monitored tool that allows an immediate response to a lightning-fast reputational crisis. Motrin needed one. United Airlines needed one.

    Remember, I used to take the same position. But there simply is no other vehicle that lets you get your position on the record fast enough to forestall significant damage as conversation about you spirals out of control while you (not you personally, of course) craft a press release or develop a statement for the home page of the website.

    So, while many uses of the blog are the same, having one ready to respond (as Michael Hyatt did when Publisher’s Weekly got Thomas Nelson’s new policy wrong) is vital. Of course, if something else comes along that works as well, I’ll be all for it.

  7. Thanks all– I should note that my comment when I originally bookmarked this on was: “I think we need to be flexible how “blog” is defined.” Twitter has proved there are plenty of avenues to accomplish swift communications– and sometimes old channels may prove to be sufficient. Like Shell is fond of saying, “it depends.”

    My reaction to the post is grounded chiefly in my natural reaction to absolutism.

    that said, I can;t see many better, fully-developed channels at this point then a blog.

    And B.L., if a company doesn’t want to engage, to me that’s a problem, not a reason not to blog.

    Yup, I’ve got this issue surrounded.

  8. I just wanted to say that the picture and the point about context made my morning. Too funny/cute.

    And again with the contrarian p.o.v.–I’m okay with some companies deciding that engagement isn’t right for them. Who is going to change their mind about Halliburton, for instance? The cost/benefit analysis on them engaging with their detractors would make it a losing proposition. Social media in its “classic” sense–connecting with the public–isn’t necessary for all businesses.

    Monitoring, as I often point out, is different.

    And re: Blago/PR firm quoting themselves…and I thought things there couldn’t get any stranger. I stand corrected.


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