This post was born out of frustration, watching people in the public light on the internet post updates, rants, and even threats and insults on a daily basis. It’s bad for business and bad for your health, so I thought I’d put together some “best practices” for how to interact with the public when you’re in the spotlight (however small that spotlight might be).
You may say, “Who are you to tell me what to say and how to act? I am a genuine person and people enjoy that about me. I won’t lie and pretend for the sake of appearances!”
And I would tell you, “Okay.” I’m not going to preach at you to change your ways, or pretend to be someone you’re not. If you get something out of this, great. If not, that’s okay too. I am sharing this for no other reason than to share, so take it as you will.
“Be cool, Hunny Bunny,” – The Art of Public Relations
People have written oodles of books on the subject and I won’t bore you with too much detail. Just a short bullet point list of tips to help you navigate the shark infested waters of the Internet:
- What goes up, does not come down. What you put out there, stays there in one way or another. Before you post something, think about whether you will want someone to see it years down the line, maybe at a time when your public image will be the deciding factor in your success, whatever that might be.
- Words hold power, and once spoken, they can never be taken back. Yes, I just quoted The Royal Wizard at you, but the point is a valid one. Don’t believe the lies, words can hurt as much as sticks and stones. Something you consider an off-hand remark might crush whoever is on the receiving end of it. Some of my friends and family are amazingly good at destroying my confidence with a well chosen sentence, so in this, I know exactly what I’m talking about. Don’t be that person.
- Reputation is your currency. It truly is. It can take years to build it up, and lots of effort to maintain. Think of all those Bestsellers out there, raking in readers and sales based solely on the popularity of their name. Think of all the times a public figure was utterly discredited based on one story or rumor. That is all it takes. One mistake, and you can lose your audience. If you think building a reputation is hard, imagine having to rebuild it after something like that.
- How you see yourself is not necessarily how others see you. We perceive the world through the filters of our own making. People might not share your background, sense of humor, or experiences. Alienating someone is as easy as being inconsiderate of their background or views. See the first two points above.
- Like attracts like. That is perhaps the most important thing to remember in PR, and it’s not some hokey spiritual nonsense, either. What you put out there is what you will get back. Think about it, when you turn on Facebook, for example, what do you want to see? A funny picture of a cute cat, or someone complaining about how much their life sucks? And when you see it, how do you feel, and how does it affect what you post? If we spread negativity, it will only create more negativity in others and rebound back to us. So instead of posting about that bad review you got (which isn’t attracting any new readers) or the weirdo sending you annoying messages (which only makes people paranoid about what you’re saying about them behind their backs), why not post something inspiring or uplifting? “I just passed 50,000 words on my next novel!!” packs a much greater punch than, “I can’t believe this @$$hole just slammed my book on Goodreads!”
- Share your ups, not your downs. There are times when tragedy strikes and we truly need to see there are people out there who want to support us and give us a shoulder to cry on. This is not what I am talking about. I’m talking about the dozens of little things that go wrong throughout the day. A coffee spill, stand-still traffic, all the petty little things that drag us down. They tend to add up and if that makes up the majority of your online public presence, eventually all people remember about you is all the whining. In times like this, try to be your own cheerleader, not a ball and chain. Find something to be happy about and share that with the world. Not only will people admire you for your strength, tenacity and spirit, but you might just inspire them to be better, try harder, enjoy life more. Isn’t that worth doing?
- And last but not least, be good. Be the change you want to see in the world. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Don’t lower yourself to petty fights on the internet. Make peace, not war. Step out of the shadow. Be the light. Resist the Dark Side. “Be cool, Hunny Bunny.” (Pulp Fiction) And any other cliche saying you can think of. There is enough bad in the world without us adding to it. Yes, it’s hard work, but if something as simple as a smile can improve your mood, imagine what offering a hug or encouragement can do for someone else–as well as you!