A Marketer’s calling is quite simple: provide solutions (through marketing channels) to consumer’s problems.
A Communications Specialist’s calling is quite simple: provide clarity (through media channels) to their client’s messages.
Personal Blogs do neither. A Personal Blog provides an individual’s perspective (through the Web) to that individual’s thoughts.
That’s why Marketing, Communications, Advertising and Public Relations people need to be careful (and leery) about what they Blog about. All of the content a Blogger creates is a reflection of their personal brand and, for most, the only reflection of who they are in everybody else’s eyes.
Blogging is still a relatively new channel. All of this content being created becomes part of your Personal Brand’s Long Tail. It will exist forever when somebody does any kind of search on you, and can be accessed by anyone looking for specific content that you Blogged about.
I’m beginning to see some trends in the Blogs of Marketing and Communications professionals that are making me nervous.
A lot of people who would be called a “communications professional” are Blogging from such a visceral and emotional level that their professional insights are being overshadowed by these emotions and their lack of industry experience. I used to follow their Blogs for professional insights, links to other relevant content, and to feed off of their passion. And now, I feel like I am following a soap opera that revolves around challenging what another Blogger has said/done, a customer service rant about why they should get some free stuff, or generalizations about their peers’ business model.
It is hurting our industry and our ability to convince clients that these channels are excellent for their Marketing and Communications’ needs (which it is).
Overall, it stinks of immaturity and reminds me more of High School than anything else.
The art of telling a story and skills of journalism don’t come easy (or cheap). In recent months, I’ve been tracking and tagging Blog postings where so-called Marketing and Communications Professionals have used sensationalism-like headlines to either draw a bigger audience or link bait. Both are worthy pursuits to grow an audience, but there is a warning here: if this is the type of stuff you will publish on your own personal Blog, to what depths will you go in your professional life to get ahead?
The other big point is to have a little levity and humility. Just because you have a Blog with traffic does not mean that you are at par with people like Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki or Richard Edelman. Yes, you have the same ability to reach the same audience with the same volume, but it does not mean that you have the experience, insights and analytical skills. You have your own perspective and they have theirs. Both are worthy and should have a public voice, but I don’t kid myself into thinking that I stand on par with Seth Godin because we both have a Blog that focuses on Marketing. I have years ahead of me in Marketing before I can gain the insights, lessons and experience. I keep this in mind when I Blog. This way I’m not fooling myself (or you) into thinking what I say is as valuable as someone with Seth’s experience. The truth is, when you see a Blog, it’s hard to gauge the Blogger’s level of experience. This is good because it does level the playing field, and it’s bad for the exact same reason.
Bottom line, Marketing and Communications Bloggers need to be a little more careful when they post. Clients, future clients, employers and future employers are reading. It’s easy to say, “I would never work for anyone who does not like what I have to Blog about,” but go back and look at some of the stuff you wrote five years ago. I know that my opinions at that moment may not reflect my current state of mind (I usually cringe when I look back on my stuff). People change, people grow, and people gain experience. I am of the David Weinberger mentality that everyone should Blog. Everyone should share their thoughts and their insights. This is an amazing time for people in the Marketing and Communications business. At the same time, be careful: everything you say can (and will) be used against you in the court of public opinion… forever (hint: that is a long time).
Remember: Google has a mighty long tail.