Posted by Tom Foremski - January 8, 2016
I also feel a little uncomfortable about drawing attention to such accolades as do the majority of former newspaper reporters. We don't mind if someone else blows our horn but it feels crass doing it yourself. In today's media world that attitude is a handicap because if you can't handle a certain level of self-promotion no one will see your work.
The early Blogosphere...
When I left the Financial Times more than ten years ago to become a "journalist blogger" I suddenly fell into a very small, very strange community of writers I hardly knew before. It felt great to be part of this tiny and very feisty band of bloggers with Robert Scoble, Om Malik, Renee Blodgett, Dan Farber, Anil Dash, Doc Searls, Craig Newmark, Andy Lark, Dennis Howlett, Nick Denton, David Galbraith, Dan and Steve Gillmor, Jeff Clavier, etc (please see: Original Thinkers list).
I marveled at the variety of forms and media formats that "blogging" allowed -- it seemed as if it were a superset of all other media forms rather than a subset because it could include them all.
And I marveled at the pure meritocracy of the blogging environment. I could write something at midnight and by the time I woke seven hours later the Blogosphere -- as we called social media in those days -- had discovered it without my having to do anything, had picked it up, picked it apart and carried it further afield into other communities, other blog posts.
I marveled that if I wrote something of value the world did indeed beat a path to a better mousetrap!
That early blogger culture certainly wasn't shy about self-promotion -- there was always a need for some braggadocio -- but it didn't matter because only the good posts rose to the top.
I came to terms with self-promotion realizing that it is OK if I have something of value. The worst self-promoters are the ones that are noisy and empty.
Blogging and bragging...
Today's online media world is far removed from those early days of blogging and the noise level requires certain level of self-promotion. But I see many people -- not just former newspaper reporters -- struggling with the most simple of promotional activities such as tweeting out a link to a recent article, or mentioning it on their Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
Blogging and bragging today go hand in hand and like it or not you have to do both. Here's how you can deal with the discomfort:
- Focus on producing content that is of value to your community. If it doesn't waste people's time but makes their life better, easier, maybe more wonderful? Is it of service to others rather than blatantly self-serving? Then it is perfectly fine to bring attention to it because you are helping others.
- I'm developing a concept called Media as a Service (MaaS) defined as: editorial content that is of service to others in some way; it doesn't waste people's time; it doesn't try to "engage" for engagement sake; it doesn't chase the fashionable content marketing trends of the day... If it passes these "MaaS" criteria then promoting it is fine and no one will complain.
- "Content marketing" fails because it looks and reads like marketing. It is self-serving rather than being of service. Every company is a media company but media companies don't focus on themselves -- they provide a media service.
MaaS media is the best media
- When you write a blog post or column or share anything online -- make sure it offers something of real value, that it has originality, and it serves others more than it serves you.
- If you have nothing that fits MaaS criteria wait until you do.If you have nothing original to say don't say anything. Don't waste people's time. Wait. You will come up with something good.
- Trust your instincts rather than trying to second guess what others would like. If you find something interesting and useful it is likely others will too.
- Write in the moment, write because you have to, even at 3am because you feel you'll explode/implode or you'll drive yourself crazy if you don't.
- Write because it clears room for more ideas. Writing is an innovation engine.
- Write for your audience and especially write for an audience of one -- yourself. Because then you've made at least one (v. important) reader happy.
The more you do it the more you'll discover that the act of writing and publishing is an extraordinarily fulfilling activity. There is a professional reward but there is also a spiritual reward that is rarely spoken about. Try it and you'll see what I mean.
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