Let’s understand something – My audience is the most important thing to me in my world, next to my wife and cat. I’ve spent YEARS and YEARS cultivating my audience. I’ve spent countless nights figuring out what my audience wants, how they want it, and what they’re going to want next. I’d take a bullet for my audience.
Peter Shankman got a PR pitch asking to “borrow” his audience, and he explained in vehement, articulate detail why the sender couldn’t.
It’s a fun read… but I hope people take more from it than just “respect other people’s audiences.”
First, the most important lesson I’d take from this is to respect my own.
That means thinking just a little about the value to my readers of everything I post. It means asking myself when I have a conflict of interest, real, potential or perceived. It means looking for the line between self-expression and self-indulgence.
And the other lesson I hope we can take to heart is this: forget ineffective for a moment. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is right.
I’d argue that a PR pitch that ignores the subject matter of a blog is off-base, but not necessarily unethical. The same isn’t true of a lot of the behaviour in the pitches I’m seeing these days — a strain of search-engine “optimization” that actually amounts to search-engine sabotage
Business models that rely on deceit are wrong, whether it’s three-card monte, phone scams or black-hat SEO.
It’s wrong to game search engines to produce results that aren’t as relevant to a user’s search. It’s wrong to trick people into clicking on links to your content.
And I think maybe it’s the fact that you sometimes have to be a little clever to outsmart Google’s algorithms or a site’s users that obscures the fact that even clever can be wrong.
Respect for your audience makes a lot possible: real connection and communication, genuine community, and yes, sales and profit. But it also rules a lot out.