It’s public, baby, not private

Still learning a great deal about this Internet, World Wide Web, and the blogosphere. Beth and I learned a few lessons early on when we got comments from influential PR bloggers Jeremy Pepper, Elizabeth Albrycht, and Constantin Basturea. Oh, people are actually reading this thing? Uh oh.
It really exemplified for us the idea that people are out there listening. I have the same chance of being read everyday as does the New York Times or other influential PR bloggers. You laugh, but all it takes is a few keywords in a search engine to produce this post. Scary. What’s really scary is how I find out about this. People can comment on your site directly showing that they are not only listening, but that they are joining the discussion. My blog stats tell me when someone has linked to us. I found out that Robert French was blogging about Graduate Observations that way.

Sometimes you find out in unusual ways who is “listening.” I subscribe to the daily PRSA PR Issues and Trends e-newsletter. The first line in the February 15th edition read:

Armour and Farrell’s presentation on Social Media, from the February 8th meeting of the University of Akron’s chapter of PRSSA, are available for download at:
http://homepage.mac.com/lukearmour/PRSSA/FileSharing8.html

I was stunned. “How did they find out about that?” I wondered. Well, duh, it’s on the Internet; it’s public, baby, not private. We had intended that information to be a resource for the people at that PRSSA meeting and for those who couldn’t make it. We never intended for it to be broadcast to the national PRSA and PRSSA membership. It immediately made us a little nervous. What if the presentation was a dud and people are out there pointing and laughing at us. Well, I guess next time we’ll think about that. Robert French tried to persuade me that PRSA wouldn’t have posted it if it hadn’t have been good. He’s assuming that they downloaded and viewed the presentation and the handout, but I appreciated his reassurance all the same. Thanks, Robert.
So what does all this mean for PR?

  1. You never know who’s reading. Monitor the Internet, someone complaining about your product/ service/ company has the same chance of being read as The Wall Street Journal.
  2. Watch what you say. I try to keep this professional, but every time I get a comment or link from a PR person whom I respect I break into a sweat wondering, “have I written anything embarrassing. To be blunt: don’t put yourself in that position if it’s something you worry about.
  3. Have something to say. Bloggers blog to blog. I have a personal blog where I rant and rave and say outrageously ludicrous things. Who cares what I say because my mom may be the only person reading it. It do it for me. But if you’re a business or someone trying diving into social media because everyone else is doing it: remember that having a strategy will indicate if it fits into your plans or is just something you want to do. It will do more harm than good to blog or podcast about something no one cares about or is hastily put together. It’s kind of like a news release. Would you send one out without any actual news? (Of course you would, but it’s never a good idea, that was to be a rhetorical question.) What’s the point? You could save everyone a lot of time, bandwidth, and money if you just wrote newsless press releases, printed them out, and put them directly into the trash yourself.

And another lesson learned.

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2 Responses

  1. We are reminded several times a day that the Internet is indeed a global network that allows for the freedom to rant and rave with few controls. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what is actually going on in blog postings because you can only observe what a blogger is saying and not what they are actually doing. Michel Foucault, a French philospher I have been reading about lately, in a book I am trying to locate called Technologies of the Self: Seminar with Michel Foucalt (1988). Foucault discusses the notion of the ethical care of self, referring to his notion of “technologies of the self” as ways that allow each of us to make possible the social creation of personal identity. He was certainly not talking specifically about blogging at that time but blogging can be seen as one way of representing a new technology of the self. As in everyday life, some people agree with what we say or do while others will criticize us. The difference is that the Internet is indeed a much bigger stage that is out of our individual control. Bloggers do need to be aware of the ethical care of self while still test the boundaries of this new network of critical readers.

  2. […] Spinfluencer: Beyond the Blog: Web Publishing 2.0 Blogs are not just about blogging, but really about the new format for publishing, and the ease to publish for everyday people. Will this change how companies are doing business? While not every company needs to blog, they should be aware and track blogs – but is that happening, or are too many eating the blog dog food? Graduate Observations of Public Relations: It’s Public, Baby, Not Private The hard lessons of realizing that blogs are public forums, and easily found … . Okay, they were not totally freaked, but it is interesting to see what happens when you blog, and your blog gets found, and how it changes your views of blogging – and how you need to be very aware of what you are putting out there…. […]

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