Blogging about one’s industry is fun but we do so at our own peril.
April 21, 2010
Sometimes I wonder if I can keep operating this blog in the manner I’m accustomed to… or even at all. I ask because recently I wrote something that created unpleasant exposure for a colleague and/or client. I won’t get into specifics (No –it wasn’t Newport essay.) but it amounts to my words pissing somebody off. When that somebody is a colleague or client (or connected to one), well, you can guess the rest. Steffan gets sent to the principal’s office.
Honestly, I don’t wake up in the morning wishing to piss anyone off, least of all colleagues and clients. But it happens. The crux of the problem is that I am gainfully employed by the industry I write about. I don’t want to be a shill. Nor a whistleblower. Yet conflicts of interest are inevitable. And while I think building a credible blog is helpful to my company and myself I doubt creating angst with key players is.
What to do? I created Gods of Advertising to be an emotionally honest, credible exploration of our industry. Gods of Advertising is a spiritual hall monitor for the people, places and things comprising (and sometimes compromising) the advertising industry, a discussion between the commercial (and sometimes capricious) world of advertising and the spiritual side of its human contributors. My opinion is that makers of ads often play fast and loose with the seven deadly sins (lust, greed, envy, sloth, etc). I speculate what that means for the advertising community…and for all of us in it.
Yet however righteous, these opinions get me in hot water. And what’s even more troubling, I hurt people.
Ironically, my company has been urging everyone in its employ to “get social” (as in social media) and to otherwise “put digital at the core” of everything we do. It’s our top management’s top priority. In that regard, I’m ahead of the curve. The problem comes with reconciling my blog with my company’s agenda.
In order to build a credible blog, I cannot shill for my agency, much less my own work. I have done it and paid a price. Readers pummel me for being a pimp. Worse yet, they stop reading me at all. On the other hand, I can’t criticize my agency’s work, even if it is my own, as this infuriates colleagues and clients. In many respects the same applies to me commenting on other agencies, their work or any number of industry related matters. Commentary from me is liable to incite someone somewhere. I know that. That’s true of almost any blog. The good ones anyway.
If I only wrote about our industry (let alone my agency) in a positive light none of you would read it. And I wouldn’t blame you. Ask anyone who blogs for of their company. Very few people come to read press releases.
So, I’m at a crossroads. I love Gods of Advertising. The conversation. The debate. The attention. But I also love my job. A lot. And unlike blogging, it pays. Moving forward is tricky. Any thoughts from readers would be much appreciated.