For Expression’s Sake

Written by:

Filed under: Onlines

For Expression’s Sake

As we have been working on our new marketing promotions and services for 2009, I’ve been thinking about writing blogs for clients, and how it requires that the client give up what for some can be an immense level of control over their public expression. This isn’t a result of having a firm write the blog and be open to public comment so much as the loosening of control that publishing the blog itself can require.At Canright, we have our staff write blog posts, and I generally don’t read them until they are published. Our project manager and editor, Karen, reads and approves before they are posted, but I do not. It has caused concern on a couple of occasions, but we’ve decided it’s better to have expression than control.That is, after all, what gave rise to blogs in the first place.It’s also what makes them work. Our blog posts are designed to let readers know who we are as people and what we are interested in. (The old-fashioned terms “publish” and “readers” still come across my newspaper-based brain before “post” and “visitors.”)When I see readers of our newsletter, Canright Communicates, at networking events or talk to them on the phone, the one thing they mention is our staff reading, movie, and music recommendations. It’s the highest read part of the newsletter, the only thing most people read. They read it because they’re interested in us as people more than as what we do. It gives our firm personality.The blog posts do the same. They should entertain and inspire, and, I think, provide information on our activities and how we approach communications. But above all they show our personality, for good or ill. It’s the “for ill”—or more accurately the fear of “for ill”—that can be the stumbling block. Public perception has traditionally been tightly controlled by individuals and organizations, and in many ways it should be. Allowing an entire organization to write blog posts by definition lessens that control.  Even five people posting per week in a small organization would require a tremendous amount of management energy to worry over every word in every post. It would defeat the purpose of getting as much information out as possible, to let visitors know who the organization is, and to increase the organization’s search standing. We are settling our own concerns by setting some guidelines. We started with just write. We have evolved to just write but no blame or criticism of our clients; no gossip, meaning if we aren’t going to say it directly we aren’t going to write it in a blog; no pornography; and don’t write about what you did on your lunch hour, meaning everything should have a modicum of relevance to communications.This coming from the person who, at our weekly inspiration meeting a few weeks back, showcased an excellent 1990 novel by Nicholson Baker, The Mezzanine. which at the micro level is all about what happened over a lunch hour.-Collin