Friday, March 21, 2008

Inmates dangerously close to running the asylum, and we're letting them...

Every once in a while I get very contrarian about this blogging stuff, and today is one of those days.

One of my Twitter buddies alerted me to a posting on CrunchNotes, the companion to Michael Arrington's hugely popular TechCrunch blog. (Find it yourselves, I'm not going to contribute link-love to someone whose only aim is to embarrass someone.)

In this posting, Arrington ridicules a PR person for a Washington firm for emailing him and requesting permission to reprint something from the blog -- and for a price quote on obtaining reprints.

This is a very standard practice for the mainstream media. If you print an article from the Wall Street Journal's online edition, it comes automatically emblazoned with a warning that you can only use it for your personal needs, and must purchase a reprint from them if you want to use it for other purposes (so much for the mainstream media's attempts to kill "fair use", but I digress).

Let's be clear here: Someone actually respected intellectual property enough to ask the content owner for permission to use the content owner's content.

But instead of a rational, professional answer, Arrington posts a lightly redacted copy of the email (by lightly I mean he blocked out the signature and email address, but "accidentally" left the writer's name in the reply block ("On XXX, Jane Doe wrote:...")

The key here is that Arrington is trying to make the PR person look stupid. That's grossly unfair in this instance.

The PR person was doing her job protecting her client from what I suspect would be guaranteed misery that Arrington would inflict in his blog if they dared to quote him WITHOUT asking permission.

In this world where "gotcha" drives blogging, you cannot communicate with some bloggers on any level.

If you send them a press release, they blog about how clueless you are for sending them a press release.

If you don't send them invitations to press junkets or nice toys, they blog about how clueless you are about their influence and how important they ought to be to your clients.

Why do we even bother with these people?

We need to take the conversations above the "gotcha" level.

But I don't know how to do this. Bloggers like to be snarky and even mean, especially when there is a PR pitch involved.

We need to move the blog conversations beyond what we don't like about "the process," so we can actually get to the conversation about the things, whatever those things are.

Way too much energy being wasted on ridicule and criticism. I remember having a teacher in the eighth grade whose technique was to ridicule kids instead of teaching them. That sure works. NOT.

If you blog and don't like the way people (PR people especially) approach you, how about helping them by explaining yourself instead of ridiculing them publicly?

What do you think?

1 Comments:

Blogger CaffiNation Paul said...

Fantastic Article Steve,
I often get turned off by the tone of some of the more popular sites, like arrington's. The problem is they have the power to literally bury small content producers so people are hesitant to call them out. While on the flip side they do command legions of readers who do get influenced by their opinions.
The Stern of Tech?

March 21, 2008 8:01 AM  

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