Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Please look before you cross the street

Posted on | November 29, 2007 | No Comments

About 10 years ago at the height of the early day-trading frenzy, a colleague of mine on a sister publication inserted himself into a day-trader chat group rant about a story his paper wrote. (If you’re from CMP’s Electronics Group, you know to whom I’m referring). He did so rather aggressively, and it blew up in his face. They piled on him for days. Mercilessly and personally. And he battled back. He left his job not long thereafter.

In pre-internet days the line was “never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

In digital times, it’s pick your words carefully and never pick a fight with someone who has a popular blog with the ability to spread things virally in moments.

This lesson seems not to be understood widely.

Nicholas Carson of Valleywag calls out a flak who sent him a draft press release. This isn’t the first flak-smacking. Chris Anderson published a blacklist in October. There are blogs that publicly humiliate flaks and their mistakes. It’s all very 21st century…to bitch-slap someone publicly rather than handle the situation like an adult, but then again technology overwhelms us and we tend to lash out.

But then again, some of the mistakes are really bad, as Carson’s post indicates. What’s worse is throwing gasoline on the fire by responding.
These kinds of things wreck careers, as my
former colleague found out a decade ago.

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No Responses to “Please look before you cross the street”

  1. Kerri
    December 4th, 2007 @ 8:34 am

    On one hand, I feel bad for Monica — she made a mistake, and hit send prematurely. We’ve all made mistakes.

    On the other hand, flaks are the original spammers. I remember 18 years ago when I was all but drowning in a sea of press releases, 80% of which were completely irrelevant to the work we were doing.

    And on the gripping hand, I can’t *stand* working with people who are incompetent. If you cannot DO your job, do a different job. If your job is to represent a company, and you don’t do it with excellence, you have no business representing that company. Period. Bloggers are not (usually) beholden to individual advertisers, and regular circulation numbers don’t matter that much (it’s the score when you’re Slashdotted or BoingBoinged that matters), so there’s rarely that gentle hand of an upstanding publication that has a reputation to uphold. If you’re a blogger, you WANT your reputation to be controversial, so you get press.

    Until the intertubes eat themselves.

    Did you see the big MacHeist II ‘Malcor’ blow-up last week? Talk about backfiring.

  2. Anonymous
    July 31st, 2008 @ 12:19 am

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