The emergence of the blog caste system

I have thought long and hard about writing this post. I have mixed feelings about the importance or lack thereof of the subject matter, but after mature reflection I’ve decided to write it.

These days I get an increasing number of e-mails each week from people wondering how they can build an audience for their blog, how can they build relationships with the hundreds of practitioners all over the globe who are already blogging.

I always try and give the same advice. Focus first and foremost on what you want to write about. Read other blogs. Comment on stories that interest you. Get in touch with bloggers who you think might be interested in something you’ve written – but target them carefully. Finally develop a thick skin. You may not get a response, or someone may take exception to your point of view. It doesn’t matter. (I apologize in advance when sometimes I can be a little slow replying though I do try and reply to everyone).

Since March 2002 I’ve always welcomed people to get in touch and let me know if they’ve started a new PR blog. There’s no braintrust here, no one has the patent on good thinking. And more interestingly the nature and beauty of blogs is that the world’s most popular PR blog might not yet have even been created.

I’ve always found a strong and valuable kinship amongst the PR blogging community. Yes there are disagreements and the odd time people throw their rattles out of their respective prams but by and large it’s a useful, interesting, fast-growing and diverse global network –as it should be.

This is why Steve Rubel’s post took me a little by surprise. First things first, Steve has done a fantastic job of building his blog into the unquestioned number one PR-associated blog. He has done this through his hard work, his dedication and his passion. No one should begrudge that – though I think some do.

I think with the benefit of hindsight that Steve’s post was badly written but as a communicator he should have thought how it would appear to the casual observer. It upset people and however unintential the post comes across as the digital equivalent of don’t hate me because I’m beautiful – and I don’t think that’s Steve’s style.

Of course he should have just said “look I am getting shed loads of e-mail and while I try and get through it all, sometimes I won’t be able to reply to everyone”. That was the correct answer.

However leaving Steve aside for one moment, it’s a good illustration of a disturbing trend among the more popular bloggers.

They start looking for links from other bloggers as they start off. They preach the gospel of blogging, they write great parables about the religion of communication, the zeal of conversation – and then all of a sudden they arrive and they’ll no longer take direct communication – “talk to one of the lower class bloggers, and if it’s interesting I’ll cover it.”

As we say in Ireland, what a load of my arse.

Either get involved and accept the responsibilities of having a popular blog or stop. If you want to author something without the responsibility for conversation then publish a book – without any contact information.

Blogs are about communication and conversation, if you no longer want to play by those rules then you are no longer playing in the blog land.