On most Saturdays, I make it a point to thank tweeps for shout outs on the retweets or favorites regarding my PRNewser posts. Why? Because it’s nice to get a shout-out and I’m from Texas, so I’m sweet like that.
In short, everyone — bloggers and tweeters alike — appreciates the sharing of love in “@” form. We’re all working here.
That is what led me to think about today’s “5 Things“: the rules to ethical (and good) blogging.
1. Have a real opinion. Very few blogs work as news only. That is why news websites have blogs: reporters have opinions too but don’t often get to express them. This is why segments like a “Viewers Voice” exist on local broadcasts. (National news doesn’t count since it’s in the entertainment business at the moment.) If you want to blog, understanding your message well and communicating it with a bit of direction is a way to get people interested.
2. Get to the good stuff. In news, the cardinal rule is “Do not bury the lede.” The news leads; the details follow. In blogs, the same is true but it’s like Christmas decor — tell people about the tree and all the other crap that goes with it. News is where people want to know “what.” Blogs (for the most part) are written for people who want to know “why.” You want your blog to get traffic? Understand the why behind your point-of-view. This is PR, which is why it’s important to discuss the PR issues in today’s news while also pulling back the curtain and talking shop about the industry.
3. Cite your sources. It’s about ethics. Did you write the story to which you are referring? No — so what’s wrong with giving the author a shout-out? And if you don’t like the journalist because he or she didn’t pick up a phone when you pitched, put that aside and do the right thing. Same thing goes with shares. You take the time to copy and paste the link. Sometimes you even visit a link shortener. And then you post the headline and link with no source because you forgot? Share the love.
4. Ready. Set. Engage. If you blog is about a certain topic — say PR and the media — then stick to that topic. Ain’t nobody coming to PRNewser to learn about paint colors at Lowe’s. If blog topics stray to far off-subject into “this is my world” land, you’ll lose your readers’ interest because what you are saying is not engaging them. People end up reading your blog because of you: if they really like you, they read. If they hate you, they will probably still read. If you play it safe enough to stay in the “friend zone,” interest will probably (understandably) dip. By writing a blog, you are creating a community. Think religious cults, only without the poisonous Kool-Aid and bad fashion.
5. Stick to what you know. Much like engagement, hacks and flacks alike come to PRNewser (and the rest of the mediabistro nation) for information and a point-of-view. You’ll rarely find an ad executive talking about TV reporting, because the players usually stick to their respective fields. There are three fields to knowledge: what you know, what you don’t know, and what you know you don’t know. If your readers visit your blog for a certain topic, and begin opining about something else, you end up leaving your audience. Kinda’ like being on Gilligan’s Island with no professor (80s humor, Millennials. Go ask your directors).