There's an online newsletter called HARO (Help A Reporter Out) that links reporters and public relations sources. Three times a day, HARO puts out a list of queries from reporters working on stories, asking for information, background, quotes and other resources from PR people who get the newsletter.
A few weeks ago one of the headlines for a query struck me as odd. It read:
Blogging while black.
What could be or should be different about blogging for a person of color as opposed to someone who is white or latino, Roman Catholic or gay. When I took a closer look at the details of the query, the headline came into focus for me.
Here's some of what the query asked...
What are the challenges and disadvantages faced by bloggers of African heritage? Do you consciously avoid imagery that will define or brand you as black? Have you ever been asked or challenged on the tone or look of your site based on race?
It posed some interesting questions I had never considered.
My blog began just for fun, but I quickly realized its potential impact and it has become an extension of my public relations agency and my brand. From the start, I decided to keep personal info and activities to a minimum on the blog and to steer clear of politics -- a rule I've broken a few times. But the bulk of the content is reporting, analysis and commentary about media, marketing and public relations -- the business of Reich Communications.
I've never tried to hide who I am, although I don't flaunt it. My photo is there with my bio, so anyone who looks will see I'm a white guy. The grey hair clearly shows I'm from the boomer generation. I've occasionally made reference to Jewish topics such as Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. And I think my bio mentions I'm president of the Jewish Community Council in my hometown. My contact information is clearly posted, so anyone can quickly see I'm a New Yorker.
I don't post my political preferences or party affiliation. But regular readers might have figured out I'm not a fan of Sarah Palin. They might also know I love jazz and New York City.
But the HARO query made me wonder if some seemingly innocuous information like the color of a blogger's skin might hamper him or her in business. I'm not such a pollyana as to think that race, religion, country of origin or political or sexual preferences might never impact someone's decision on whether or not to hire or work with a person. I know that even in these times, prejudice still is alive in some hearts.
I realize that someone in my field who is black may have faced discrimination in business more than I have. So I can understand their reluctance, perhaps, to include their photo on their professional blog. Although at some point, photo posted or not, a potential client may meet you and see that you're black. And if that's a problem for someone, wrong as it is, that old prejudice will still be acted upon.
My feeling is if someone won't work with me because of my color or my religion, there's a pretty good chance I wouldn't want to be working with them either. But that's just me.
I wonder how others feel about including personal information on a business or professional blog. Do you or might you keep some information off your blog?