New Rules

Posted by Mike Chapman on May 15, 2020 at 4:05 pm

I really enjoy irreverent comedy and I regularly DVR Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO. He says what many are thinking but are too polite to say out loud. He also brings in guests from every end of the spectrum and no topic is off limits. It’s a little like the blogosphere.

One of Maher’s regular features is a segment called “New Rules.” In it, he pokes fun at conventional wisdom and current events. Recently, referring to a photo of the Pope walking with President Bush, Maher announced that new rule would be, “from now on, the Pope has to wear a slip,” making fun of the fact that you could see the outline of the Pope’s legs through his garment. I laughed. Others might have been offended. Watching is optional.

Back to the blogosphere, Gina Trapani, of the very well known Lifehacker blog, let it be known this week that she is going to filter and block, using gmail, all incoming emails from a long list of PR companies. Gina had apparently established some rules regarding submission of tips for her to consider writing about. PR firms that ended up on the list had violated her rules with the usual spam-like mass pitching that some PR firms engage in. Her response to them not following the rules of her blog is to black-list them, and to share her list with other bloggers. This is big news because Lifehacker is a very widely-read blog and the PR firms on the list will have to adjust their clients’ strategies if they involve her blog and others who might follow her lead.

My own thinking is that if you want to get something printed in a blog, you have to follow the rules, customs, whims, desires, superstitions, or whatever is involved, of the author of that particular blog. No standard set of rules applies. For the millions of blogs now in existence, each is their own nation, with their own local laws and customs. If it sounds like too much work, then it’s probably not the work you should be doing. Of course, you could just get lucky.

To date there have been a number of suggestions for how PR firms should deal with bloggers, but no hard and fast set of rules is in place for general use. Even if there was one I imagine it would still be a pretty standard thing for certain bloggers to deviate from them. Blogs proliferated in the first place because of a convergence of new technologies and the strong desire to get out from under the limited world of the “mainstream media.” What incentive is there to recreate the same or similar rules?

Maybe the new rule for media relations is that there will never, ever be any one set of rules for dealing with social media, the blogosphere, and social networks. Perhaps the new rule, which is really a very old rule, is that you should treat everyone the way you would want to be treated; the golden rule.

Here at Every Dot Connects, we blog. So, hopefully, when we communicate with bloggers on a cause, an issue, or on behalf of a client we’re working with, we have the ability to relate to what they’re going through. Maybe not on the same scale, but we can relate. Because no college course, certificate from the state you live in, authoritative book, study guide or instruction manual, will even come close to providing a handy guide to the new media than being directly involved.

In the meantime, I know I’ll be making some mistakes and doing some good work at the same time. And, like the rest of us in social media, I’ll be watching to see how these many new rules play out. Because, just like on Bill Maher’s show, new rules are probably being written even now. And someone, maybe even the Pope, is already breaking them.

Category: In the News, Bloggers

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6 Comments

Comment by Tim Walker

Made May 16, 2020 at 3:36 pm

Yes yes yes yes YES. Mike, this is EXACTLY right, and I’ve found it incredibly tiresome to see round after round of griping from bloggers to p.r. folk and back again about the “right” way to do this.

I hope you won’t mind if I quote this gem about 500 times:

“No standard set of rules applies. For the millions of blogs now in existence, each is their own nation, with their own local laws and customs. If it sounds like too much work, then it’s probably not the work you should be doing.”

This makes me think of two things:

1. In my bachelor days, I came to the not-very-groundbreaking insight that different women liked to be approached different ways. Some women didn’t want to be flirted with, ever, even if you were dating them. Others would flirt with you while they were holding hands with their boyfriend - not because they were unfaithful, but because they liked the playfulness of it. Some would only date you if they knew you very well; others might go out with you if they barely knew you. The point: PEOPLE VARY.

2. In the business world, I’ve had bosses who wanted airtight documentation to back up every decision, and I’ve had bosses who would never, ever read an e-mail that was more than six lines long. Which way is right? DEPENDS ON WHO YOU’RE DEALING WITH.

Honestly, you’d think it wouldn’t be this hard. Thanks for your note of sanity here.

Pingback by Mike Chapman speaks sense about the blogger-P.R. feud. -- Hoover’s Business Insight Zone

Made May 16, 2020 at 4:35 pm

[…] New Rules […]

Comment by Marina Martin

Made May 16, 2020 at 5:02 pm

I think it’s important for bloggers to have an easy-to-find page that outlines how they prefer to be contacted.

I love how Merlin Mann only accepts “check this website out” requests via del.icio.us. That’s probably *easier* for most people to do, and it’s certainly easier for him to sit down and check out a bunch of websites in one sitting.

I have an outline for consulting clients explaining the best ways to reach me in a given situation. (Phone = emergencies or appointments only, email is best, don’t send me a personal message via a public Twitter reply.) It’s worked very well so far and I need a similar outline for my blogs.

Comment by Eric Eggertson

Made May 16, 2020 at 7:10 pm

That Maher guys is a subversive….

Of course the other thing to keep in mind is that one person’s iron-clad rule is another person’s guideline.

And interpretation of the simplest rules will vary widely.

The only defence is to be personable and willing to apologize if s.o. Thinks you’ve violated their house rules.

Explaining to them that they’re wrong is a mug’s game.

Comment by Mike Chapman

Made May 16, 2020 at 9:18 pm

Thank you for your very kind comments. Absolutely feel free to use what I’ve written.

Comment by Murphy

Made July 23, 2020 at 9:22 am

This is big news because Lifehacker is a very widely-read blog and the PR firms on the list will have to adjust their clients’ strategies if they involve her blog and other software development companies who might follow her lead.

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