Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Life as a Tool

I am not too popular at the moment in certain cliques among the social media set.

Mark Drapeau, the “Cheeky Geeky”, said my thinking is “backwards.” Social media wunderkind Geoff Livingston suggested I “lighten up.” And some guy named Shaun Farrell who works at the Library of Congress even called me a “tool.”

What’s my crime? It’s a perceived slight of their online buddy, Justin Thorp of ClearSpring.

At Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), we counsel our clients that the foundation of a successful social media or digital PR program is content that engages, educates and entertains. When it comes to blogging, this often requires an executive who is willing to share what they think and why, even it irritates segments of the blogosphere.

My colleague Chris Parente recently penned an excellent post about the importance for an industry thought leader to never shy from expressing their…well…thoughts. He is spot on. Straddling the fence on an issue or regurgitating the ideas of others is no way to establish a credible position in the market.

I have had two situations in the last few weeks in which the views expressed in this blog raised the ire of others. My chiding of ClearSpring’s Thorp for a poor presentation was one. The other incident involved my post about the failure of collegiate journalism and PR programs to incorporate social media into their curriculum.

While I was primarily blitzed in comments on my blog and in other online venues, my daily readership has jumped dramatically, as has the number of subscribers to my RSS feed. Plus, I’ve raised important issues for discussion that obviously have competing sides.

So…what to do when your ideas (however well supported) irritate others?

1. Listen…respect opinions…and, when appropriate, respond. In the case of my admonishment of colleges for their lack of social media education, it was correctly pointed out that I had made a generalization based on a single experience. I acknowledged that this was unfair and an error in my thinking.

2. Always take the high road. It’s simply not worth the time or energy to engage in an argument with someone committed to their line of thinking. Even worse, a battle of insults makes everyone involved appear childish.

3. Look for opportunities with non-believers. One passionate commenter to the “Strategic Guy” blog has an interesting creative and technical background. We may not agree on a specific issue, yet I do plan on meeting with him to determine if there are ways we can collaborate on behalf of Strategic’s clients.

4. Stay a true believer. I am going to keep writing what I think and why, even when I know a certain topic will rub some the wrong way. If that makes me a tool in the eyes of the Shaun Farrells of the world, than so be it.

7 comments:

Maggie said...

I propose #5--Celebrate. As you pointed out, even pissed off readers are readers. People like a good fight online, where they can hide behind anonymity--or at least their Oz-like computer screens. Write posts that incite people and suddenly you reap the rewards: more readers, subscribers, blog mentions--just as you said.

Who wants to be known as the blogger who writes really stupid or obnoxious post that get everyone's panties in a bunch? Every blogger--because it's far better to be infamous than invisible in the blogosphere.

JF said...

Well, you're a PR guy, so why are you crying? Anyone who "blogs" has his/her opinions open to discussion.

Marc Hausman said...

@JF - I sure did mean to come off as a complainer. My intent was to illustrate the best practices we employ when negative criticism arises from thought leadership.

Mark D. Drapeau, Ph.D. said...

Anyone who is the slightest bit familiar with Mark Drapeau, Geoff Livingston, and Shaun Farrell knows that we are not in the same clique. Good ideas tend to coalesce.

R of Westchester said...

'Public Relations' is relating to your publics, we all have many
'publics.'

Not every comment to a single group will make another group happy.

But, did you make people think? Were you able to stir them to an action?
If so you have succeeded, you are making a difference in your world.
My father was fond of saying: “I don’t care what you say about me, just say it often and spell my name right.”
LesterMillman.Com, photographer

Anonymous said...

Marc, when were opinions not challenged, and their spokespersons not harassed? Remember Torquemada at a little social club called The Holy Inquisition?

In your shoes, I would be proud to be called a “tool”. So much so that I propose we define it as "Tech Oriented Opinion Leader". Sounds great? Always a matter of perspective.

Hell, I want to be a T.O.O.L. as well!
Rats, I do believe I am!


Mathias Carvalho
Web Consultant

Anonymous said...

Marc, great post! And how right you are! How about a 5th point: Agree to disagree. While you say your previous posts have not made you very popular, I think the opposite, you are in fact more popular now thanks to those who disagreed.