I may be an old codger of the blogosphere, but I do think there’s a proper way of doing things. Blogs and now Twitter offer a great way to network and build a creative community, but lately I find that while I love both these platforms, they’re getting more and more frustrating. The whole point is to share and share alike, not pick on people, “overlook” them, or be mean. For the most part, this isn’t what happens, but in the past few weeks I’ve been annoyed by some less than classy behavior 'round these parts. So, I’ve created a list of guidelines which are opinionated, yes, but to the point.
Do your research. This is for everyone. Bloggers, PR people, anyone who wants to say something. When I write about a topic, I do a quick Google search to see who else has written about it, see what they wrote, and if applicable, I link back to them in my post. THAT’S how blogs began and that’s how you build a community. Posting something without giving props to those that have voiced their take on the matter is a little bit déclassé, especially if you’re new at this. Chances are the post has been done somewhere, some place, by someone…find it and mention it.
Don’t over-do it. I love visual blogs and think they’re a fantastic source of inspiration for all manner of projects. That being said, there’s no need to find every single picture of one topic/style/person/idea and include ALL of them in a single post. This is like being faced with a plate of cookies and licking every single one so no one else can eat them. The whole point about blogging is to share. Okay, you’re cool, you have unlimited picture resources, but are twenty pictures of one person really necessary? Tell us Grasshoppers how to learn more and send us on our own journey.
No one likes a name-dropper (especially when they don’t know the names.) Kind of like the first two, this one rule refers to some of the general ass-hattery that’s been going on. If you’re in fashion PR in New York and part of your job is to tweet about your glamorous fabulosity of celebrities and events, keep this in mind: less is more. If you have your job, chances are you’re all of the following things: pretty, well-dressed, in-the-know, and up for a party. How do we know? Because people that aren’t those things don’t get your job. There’s no need to talk about who’s at the Standard Grill at this very moment, and that Patrick McMullan is snapping photos of you all, and that someone you're sitting next to will be on Page 6 tomorrow. We already expect that you’re there interacting with the glitterati because that’s your job. Get it?
To be fair, companies should be vetting their Twitter voices, making sure they don’t cross certain lines of TMI, but you’d also think the people would know that they’re responsible for a very visible aspect of the brand. (To be sure, it's sort of shocking that the brands don't have this more under control.) It should be understood that each tweet is a branded communication and treated as such. I don’t need to hear about your dematologist appointment (because you have a huge zit developing because of all you have to do at work), what you ate for lunch, and especially all the things you don’t know. If you don’t know them, pretend that you do. You’re working in fashion PR in New York – please don’t shatter my illusion that you’re actually a human being who’s totally overwhelmed (not to mention underqualified) by her job.
Be there, be present, and don’t forget your manners. This is really part B of the rule above. Once again, if you’re in fashion PR and part of your job is to tweet about the things you do, don’t be a complete idiot about it. If you’re at Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards at Carnegie Hall, please don’t “live tweet” them. It’s insulting to your fellow guests as well as those being honored. When I saw tweets about this, I felt dirty all over; the idea of people typing on mobile devices from inside of Carnegie Hall is just gross. Please be in the moment, not in your mobile device. I would so much rather you put your phone away, took everything in yourself, and then wrote a reflective, well-crafted post about it afterwards. It’s all very exciting, yes, but show some respect and I’ll respect you more.
Most importantly, read the damn post. One of the most frustrating things about blog commentary is the way people use the box as a mouthpiece for their unrelated opinions. One of my most visited posts is one I wrote long ago about Giada de Laurentiis. I love Giada, and made this very clear in the post. What I don’t like is the way that her producers have sexualized her so much that her on-screen presence detracts from her abilities as a cook, and I said as much in the post. Someone found this opinion many many months after it had been published and used it as an opportunity to call me “jealous”. I’m sorry, what? There’s nothing I hate more than unnecessary preaching to the choir. Unless it’s someone using the already over-used word “jealousy” because they can’t form a logical opposition. If I only had a nickel for every time that happened.
Good bloggers work hard on their posts, forming well-crafted opinions and ideas. After tracking down the post via searches and links, the least you can do is read what they have to say before mouthing-off. I’m sure they’d agree with me.
Don't punk-out. Also, part of the rule above. If you DO actually write a comment on a post, don't be a punk and write it anonymously. If you have something to say, at least leave an email address out of courtesy. Peoples' blogs are like their homes: they open them up and ask you to come in for a cocktail. Don't swig a glass of beer, pee in the potted plant and then leave. There's a civilized way to visit, offer a dissenting opinion, and then bow out gracefully. Bloggers are brave enough to be open with their perspectives, you should do them the same courtesy when you leave comments.
Of course, my impatience with all of these things may mean it’s time for me to hang it up as I approach the four-year mark on Poetic & Chic. I’m not sure about this as I think I have a lot to do still, but it is getting more difficult for me to be a naïve neophyte of starry eyes and blogging magic any more. I do love how the creative cycle constantly renews itself with fresh opinions and ideas, I just wish the people doing it were as classy as they were a few years ago.