A blogger code of honour? #Twespians bloggers’ seminar (part 3 of 4)

And so to the third part of last night’s Twespians bloggers’ seminar, after Luke’s introductory talk and Jason’s tips on SEO. Third up was Twespians co-founder Laura Tosney, talking about a ‘blogger code of honour’. As ever, the sections in italics are my own thoughts, and the rest just my own (imperfect) summary of what was said.

Because the elements below are general rules of thumb, I found the individual points tend to overlap quite a bit. They are all branches of the single point: Don’t be a dick on the internet.

Update: Laura has written up her own notes (with the slides she used) on her own blog.

A blogger code of honour (@lauratosney)

  • Recent conflicts and disagreements between journalists, critics, bloggers, etc., with regard to theatre bloggers are neither new nor unique to this sector. Friction between companies, traditional media and social media has existed in other sectors too (here, she cites issues in the fashion blogging world)
  • What can help mend bridges, and build new ones, is an ongoing code of honour. This is not (self-)censorship, or a harsh ruleset, just a way to get along.

Transparency

Be transparent. If you’re writing a blog post after having seen a preview, say as much (rather than citing it as a ‘review’).

I’d also suggest that if you have been given tickets, say who gave them to you. If you paid for your tickets, say so. Organisations that work with bloggers will appreciate the shout out, and your readers will have all the facts when deciding how much to trust your word – the less transparent you are, the harder it will be for them to trust you.

Offer a right of reply

When writing news stories, journalists will go to people involved in the stories for comment. For blogs, we often assume that leaving comments open will be enough – but not everybody wants to respond in a public forum like  that. To offer a right to reply properly requires thought.

Make it easy for people to find a way to contact you privately, either via a contact form on your website or by publishing an email address.

I’d also add:

  • Go for the contact form option if you can. If you include email addresses on your web pages, they’ll get ‘harvested’ by spammers.
  • If you get things wrong, make your corrections as quickly as possible. If somebody points out an error in a comment, publicly thank them (and consider crediting them in the amended copy if appropriate)

Don’t watch from the sidelines

This especially applies to companies and/or traditional media who want to engage with users of social media. If someone’s being snarky about your product, you gain nothing by not engaging with them. Similarly, being snarky about bloggers just makes you look out of touch.

Make it a conversation

An example here is the dispute between the Royal Opera House and operatic blog Intermezzo. The fallout showed the ROH they needed to talk to bloggers rather than work through lawyers.

Getting all heavy handed and sending out solicitors’ letters benefits nobody except the solicitors. Working with people can be beneficial in lots of ways, but only if both sides listen to what would work from their point of view.

Create a community

Bloggers: work with your readers, respond to their comments, take up any suggestions they have that you think would be useful. Companies, work with your bloggers. But be creative – passing out free tickets in exchange for reviews is only one way. Another example: could you offer a special discount code to readers of an influential blog for a short period, or for a particular show?

Your blog is your digital footprint

Everything you write leaves an impression of who you are, and it stays around after you’ve written it. It represents you – so it’s in your interest to make sure it represents you honestly.

Trailblazers

A number of trailblazers on the web include Lyric Hammersmith (@LyricHammer), York Theatre Royal, Pilot Theatre (@pilot_theatre) and (following the Intermezzo incident) the Royal Opera House.

As I type this up, I think this is the weakest of the four sessions from Tuesday’s sessions, but nevertheless contains some useful pointers. The final presentation was the most tangential to theatre blogging, but was potentially the most interesting. I will type that up when I can…

Author: Scott Matthewman

Formerly Online Editor and Digital Project Manager for The Stage, creator of the award-winning The Gay Vote politics blog, now a full-time software developer specialising in Ruby, Objective-C and Swift, as well as a part-time critic for Musical Theatre Review, The Reviews Hub and others.