Why would a PR professional preside over a relatively successful blog and not tell anyone about it?
Note: On this blog, I’m interested in anonymity on the Internet. I think there is value in people being anonymous, but I recognize that social media (especially Facebook) is making the world a nicer, less troll-like world. That said, there are still reasons to be anonymous. Which is why I asked a colleague at Eric Mower and Associates to do a guests post, as herself, on why she blogs anonymously.
My name is Meredith and I’m an anonymous blogger. I blog about the New York Yankees, and I’ve produced enough baseball-related content to rival War and Peace.
The blog’s best traffic day occurred after former Yankee Carl Pavano bruised his left buttocks while diving for first base in a minor league game – 17,350 unique visitors, thanks to a link from ESPN.com. A joke in one post put me on blog rolls and I was off and running. On average, 800 people meander in and out during a game and many follow the action via Cover It Live, which I embed to provide polls, links, and instant commenting without the need to refresh.
I started blogging years ago for three reasons:
1) As a PR professional at a forward-thinking communications agency, how could I advise clients to engage if I didn’t know how to do it?
2) I was bored and needed an outlet for when life got too messy or too quiet…and since the Yankees kept me captive for three hours a day, I figured it would be a good use of time.
3) I love to write. No one would confuse me for Shakespeare, but the format plays to my strength. I write like I speak – colloquially, with dots and dashes littered in sentences. I save AP Style for the office.
My posts are always about the Yankees, but the conversations that commenters have with one another often drift elsewhere. Readers will share a story about a baby’s first steps, a job promotion, their latest vacation, or why they prefer Droids to iPhones. Some of the regulars even let their guards down enough to meet up for games at Yankee Stadium or at a midtown bar in the City.
I love that I created a community of nice, dorky baseball fans who bleed pinstripes. I smile when beat writers, a few celebs, and front office folks with @yankees.com in their email addys contribute to the discussion. Since I’m private with my information, I don’t insist upon real names or verify email addresses during the registration process. There are times I have to moderate with a heavy hand (Sox trolls!), but the community self-polices or ignores. I block the IPs of users who make comments I find to be particularly egregious.
Years after my first post, the blog is still just a blip in the universe. But it provides insights that make me better at my job… insights that can’t be replicated by reading a case study or watching a webinar.
I try different plugins for measurement and aesthetics, troubleshoot without relying on the IT guys, and consider how to optimize search. I’ve figured out how to monetize the site (thanks, Matt!), but only enough to upgrade my seats at the ballpark. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to provide content that resonates.
Since I don’t share the URL, I’ve lost the right to make it a part of my social media ‘book of business.’ I can’t blab about something if I won’t back it up. And if I won’t back it up, how will anyone at work know that I could be a more valuable contributor in the digital arena?
Back to the original question: Why would a PR professional preside over a relatively successful site and keep it to herself?
1) The initial decision to keep my identity hidden came easily and I still appreciate the freedom that comes with anonymity. No one can Google me and form an opinion based on anything but what I put forth on the blog. With preconceived notions out of the way, I had a blank slate and was determined to be as authentic, unselfconscious, unafraid, and confident as possible. My blog persona continues to be the person I strive to be every day in real life…admittedly it’s sometimes easier to be that person anonymously. I assume that my readers like it that way, too — without clearly defining myself, I’m who they want me to be.
2) One quick Internet search provides a fairly detailed, though often inaccurate sketch of everyone and I’m no exception. In fact, I’m already out there more than most people as a representative for companies in articles and media contact in press releases. To achieve a modicum of privacy and a real sense of security, it’s good to be anonymous.
3) I spend much of my time at work thinking about how to breathe life into a brand, concept, cause, product and president. I like having my own thing in my own voice without worrying about how it will play to others.
4) For those who don’t know me or don’t like sports, my PhDs in Jeterology and WAR (wins above replacement) may not amuse. I’m better off being evaluated on client work.
5) My family and friends know that I have a blog, but only two people know what it’s called. It really is an anonymous blog – to this day, I’ve never signed in on my office computer or written one word about my job.
6) The blog will change. A few friends and colleagues follow me on Twitter;* I use it as an aggregator and tweet during games. I check my Klout score for kicks (46 today), but I mostly follow Yankee beat writers, news and sports pubs, and those who are not necessarily inclined to engage. I tweet like everyone’s watching, with good reason…but I don’t want to blog like that.
7) Having a blog doesn’t make me a social media guru; it just keeps me tuned in. I have more to learn. Most of us do.
If you’re reading this, I’ll go on the assumption that you’re a digital expert or strive to be.
So I’ll ask for advice… what would you do? Would you share the URL because it’s something you do and do it well… or would you keep the happy place to yourself?
*@Yankee Beat Check (one word). It’s only semi-anonymous so feel free to follow, but be warned that I’m teaching myself how to use Photoshop and my avatar looks nothing like me! Who knew that you could straighten hair with a mouse!