After four plus years of blogging and ten plus years speaking and introducing speakers, I've said quite a bit. If you read this blog, you know what long posts look like — my average post is more than 800 words. I try to make every word count and hopefully succeed.
I'm not talking about this kind of editorial choice, though. When I saw Fred Wilson's post about editing, I realized that I have been doing that more and more here, and in public speaking as well. Maybe I always did to a certain degree.
When it's best to keep it separate
I started blogging when still in the chemical industry, and later working at a corporation where it was a better idea to keep things separate. Although the company knew about my online activities, keeping them personal afforded me some responsible leeway.
This didn't prevent the business from fully realizing the benefit of my learning and carrying that knowledge into my day role. However, it was clear early on that an integration would have meant losing my streams to the organization.
While it wasn't the case with me, this is an issue still common in many companies — the inability to be one person on and off the job. Is it fair? Particularly in light of the fact that in some businesses, having an associate with many and positive online connections ends up being beneficial.
Exercising editorial restraint is smart for more reasons than this one.
Being a long term kind of person, and seeing and living issues from different roles — corporate communications officer, brand strategist, and blogger active in social networks for 10+ years — have both been good counselors to me. If you ever published something you ended up regretting, you know why.
Here's how I gain perspective and do my editing.
I research and write most of my posts during the weekend and reread them/edit them as the week progresses. This allows me to see what I'm saying from a distance, a bit more detached from the moment.
In case you're wondering, my passion for certain conversations runs deep, so I don't generally lose that. What may be lost in immediacy ends up benefiting all of us. So many are starting to talk about real time — it's the new navy blue (walking the talk is the new black) — I hope there is some real time thinking to go with that.
While I believe in transparency and authenticity, I also believe strongly in responsible choices. To me that means making fewer assumptions and doing more research and homework up front. What I may lose in traffic and number of comments, I gain in self respect, which is an important metric for me.
To me the maturity of online communications means also shifting to making more editorial choices that are the result of declaring and living out values. Last week we talked about how braided journalism is connected with the future of public relations. Good execution of that means making more editorial choices and adding to the signal.
What is your threshold for keeping things to yourself? Have you written posts and then chosen not to publish them in their current form and edited them? These are not right or wrong questions, of course. The mere fact that I am seeing more evidence this is happening is a sign of maturity in the space.
In case you were wondering, editorial choice rooted in public interest pays more than traffic bait.
[with Jonathan Fields at Blog World, courtesy of Annabel Candy]