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work blog question
October 16, 2007 11:14 AM   Subscribe

How big a deal should I be? Do I deserve my own work-related web page?

I work at a radio station (classical format) as a backup on-air host. I don't have a regular show or set hours. But the listeners seem to like me, and people have asked me if I'm going to be on the air more, am I ever going to get my own show, etc. etc.

I keep having to say no, because all of this is out of my hands. But I would like to be able to say something affirmative about myself when listeners ask. One of them asked me if I have a web site, and it got me thinking.

Our station has its own web site, where each of the on-air hosts--except me--contribue to the daily blog feature. I think it's dumb because it's collective. Something like twenty people contribute to it. I think a blog should be personal, and if it were me, I'd have each host have their own blog. And the blog entries would have something about the music, of course, but would also include personal stories. For some reason everyone shies away from that, but when I tell stories on the air related to my experience of the music, the response from listeners and management alike is super positive.

For some reason I'm not allowed to be one of the blog contributors. It might have something to do with my hour cap--I'm not permitted to work more than 29 hours a week. In any case, I've got the idea to start my own music-related blog and link to the station's own web site. I can only go forward with this if my manager approves, and I haven't floated the idea yet, so this whole thing may be premature.

But I wanted to ask mefites first: Would it look like I'm trying to toot my own horn or get managerial attention by starting my own blog? I don't want to seem as if I'm trying to outdo the other on-air people. But I suspect that if listeners like my blog, the other hosts will follow suit. I think we should all have blogs.

I am only part-time, though. I'm not alone in that--two of the most popular hosts are also part-timers. But I'm unique in that I alone have no regular time slot. I fill in when others are on vacation, and that may be all I ever do for this station.

In short: I'm trying to determine the appropriateness of starting my own "personality" blog, the sole raison d'etre of which would be to connect to our listeners and give them somewhere to go when they say they like me and want to hear more from me and about me, as well as my reactions to the music. The blog would feature trivia about the music on the program or composer information, and would also have elements of the personal. Music is personal after all, and I think this is lacking in general in the approach that our station is currently taking. But they seem to like it when I move in that direction...

I just don't want to seem like I'm making a bid to become a "big" personality, when I don't even have a regular gig on their air yet. I just want to find a way to connect more with the listeners.

Anyway, your ideas would be welcome.
posted by frosty_hut to Work & Money (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sure! Give yourself a website. That's cool. Talk to your fans.
But...avoid like the plague talking about any of the internal operations of your station if you have any desire to continue your on-air work. Definitely take an "aw-shucks, it's up to the big guys" when it comes to questions about getting your own show.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:26 AM on October 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Is there anyone responsible or vaguely clueful about SEO in your org? I can't imagine that person turning down "Hi, I'd like to volunteer to write some content for the site".

Also, why do you have to get permission before starting a blog? Is it contractual? I'd jump in and start writing content. Just maybe don't mention it in situations where it could be construed as company-approved.

IMO your career success is tied very strongly to self-promotion - I'd expect you to have a website, blog, whatever.
posted by Leon at 11:34 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is more a matter of principle than law, but I think an employer has very little moral ground to oppose any attempts by a part-time employee to advance their career and pay their bills. Since you are in the media in a public-facing role, it is natural that you would seek other outlets for yourself.

I think the only issue is the degree to which you can use the brand and resources of your employer to promote your blog. I would take pains to avoid the suggestion that your blog is endorsed by the station, but I wouldn't hide the very public fact that you work for them (your employment contract might have different ideas).
posted by Good Brain at 11:38 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think you should go for the blog, but I'm not sure whether you should mention it on-air or promote it at work in any way, at least for a while. Just tell your fans, when they ask, about it, and see if you can build a little momentum via word-of-mouth. Then maybe once it's been running for a while, you can ask if you can mention it online, or use it as an example if you wanted to suggest something.

But don't talk about your work on the blog; don't mention people who work there, don't talk about inside stuff, and don't do anything that might sound like you're speaking as an employee of the radio station, instead of just as frosty_hut, regular dude extraordinare.

Particularly in the entertainment industry I think a certain amount of self-promotion is necessary and expected, but there's a certain point before which you may get a lot of negative reactions for your trouble, because people will see you as not having done your time at the bottom yet. And in a very personality-driven business, you don't want to piss anyone off.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:51 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd be careful about starting your own blog outside of the official site; some places are funny about employees blogging outside of the official one. So, you should send an email to the Powers That Be saying that you want to do some blogging about music, but if they don't want you doing it on the official blog, would they mind if you did your own? If they are cool with that, do your own blog, and write about the things that you mention in your shows. But don't mention the blog on air; people will find it if they google your name.

And, for gods sake, don't be rude about the radio station management on your blog! That'll get you fired, prestissimo.
posted by baggers at 1:45 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nonprofits have conflict of interest and non-competition clauses, frequently. For instance, I work at a museum, and I am asked not to bid on items at auctions or on eBay that the museum is bidding on. I'm asked not to represent the museum without the museum's permission, and not to use my time at the museum to promote my own projects.

However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't start your own independent blog. I think you should. The people I know who are getting lots of notice for what they do are comfortable with self-promoting. Sometimes it's their comfort with self-promoting alone - not necessarily their talent, skill, experience, or value -- that makes the difference between the level of regard their colleagues get and the level they get. It's likely that by putting yourself out there, good things will happen. People will find you (and your station) through the web. Listenership and underwriting may increase. You'll have a platform for discussing things at length.

My only caveat is that I think you should link to the station, and be open about your identity and the time and name of your show, but let all connection end there. Keep it as your own independent website. Don't disparage the station or discuss anything you wouldn't already know if you didn't work there. Focus on your own knowledge and contributions. Don't mention your blog on-air - instead, soft-promote it when it goes live by emailing all your friends and listeners you're in touch with, and then let people find you on Google. Print your own postcards, small flyers, or business cards to bring with you when you go to station events or other music events. Don't use the resources of the station to promote the site, and they can have no beef.

In the end, it may make your employer see you as more valuable. If there's a sudden spike in web traffic to the station or increased underwriting showing up because of your webpage, that won't hurt. And if you can go to the next program review meeting and say "I get X discrete hits per day on my music blog and have X-100 people on my monthly email list," they may take a bit more note. I can say for sure that that sort of thing does have an impact at the radion station I help to run -- though we are an all-volunteer LPFM and probably a lot less structured than your station, it does influence some of our programming decisions when we know that Jane Doe has the Thursday morning show AND a highly-frequented blog with an avid following of commenter/listeners.

Don't by shy. Set up your page. Sounds like you have great ideas for it and your listeners would like it. Just don't get your chocolate mixed up with your peanut butter, and you'll be fune.
posted by Miko at 2:59 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


My main question is, why do you need to ask them before starting your own blog? If I start my own blog on my own time, I don't see how it is the companies business?

Anyone can freely link to an external website as well, so you could feel free to link to your radio programs website. So create your blog, mention it in your program (visit me at yourfavoriteshow.blogspot.com!) and then link from your blog to the radio stations website.

Seems open & shut to me?
posted by ceberon at 3:20 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


mention it in your program (visit me at yourfavoriteshow.blogspot.com!)

This is the part that's probably not kosher - using the station's resources (studio equipment, frequency) to promote the DJ's own private project.

If you don't do that, you don't need the station's permission, and you're OK.

If you do do that, you should first get the station's permission.
posted by Miko at 3:53 PM on October 16, 2007


Before I launch right into an epic-length answer, I'll give you a little backstory on myself, and why I've been thinking about some issues that are raised by your question. I am a little bit of a dork, and I work with a bunch of other dorky people at a university studying neuroscience. One of my new co-workers is a prototypical cool kid-- a former D1 NCAA basketball player, and a great schmoozer. There are a few things about him that rub me the wrong way, but in the end I suspect it has as much to do with my own weaknesses than any characteristics of his. He is a lot of fun to have in the office, but at times I get the sense that he undervalues the technical side of research as just something that you can persuade/hire a geek to do, rather than seeing it as an integral part of the research. But, I do my best to set aside these prejudices and learn from him as best I can. As I think about your question, I wonder, what would the cool kid do?

so, your question is a delicate one. You have a right to do what you need to do to promote yourself on your own time, and a blog would be a great way to do that. On the other hand, if you want to be saavy about the more political implications of what you plan to do, you need to consider a bit more than you are obligated to consider strictly within the domain of ethics.

In light of the potential delicacy of the situation, Id like to ask for a slight clarification. In many lines of work, the people starting out need to "pay their dues." They need to accept for a short time that they are the least important and least experienced person on the team. They need to take the jobs nobody else wants. They also need to work longer hours for lower pay. But, in any situation where you are "paying your dues" your employer owes you something back-- a clear road-map and time-table to full-time regular-rank status. It is completely unethical for an employer to string someone along for this period of time with no intention of ever offering them a full-time position. From your question, it seems like you are paying your dues, but I don't know at all where your boss stands on his/her end. So, the question I would put to you is, have you ever talked to your boss about a full-time position? If someone retired right now, would you be considered for a regular gig? How long have you been in the position you are in as a backup host, and as a non-blogging persona?

To speak to the blog issue, I think it would be a great thing to do. But, in reading over your question, I get the feeling you aren't playing the "office game" as well as you could be. Would it at all seem strange if you were the only person with your own blog, while the other twenty people on the station share their own blog? Rightly or wrongly, do you think you could generate some small amount of resentment if your initiative subtly pressures others into spending more time promoting themselves? It sucks to have to take other people's insecurities into account like this, but if you take the bad with the good, then it is wise to weigh out all potential ramifications.

Another question I'd put to you is, would you rather be invited to join the group blog, or would you prefer your own blog? Or, given the exclusive choice, would you prefer to make your own independent creative outlet on the internet, or would you rather join the rest of the group and become better integrated into your workplace?

Finally, you say you don't know why you are the only person without a spot on the blog. Have you asked anyone? Id suggest asking in the most positive way possible, along the lines of, "I'd really like to contribute to the station blog-- would you be willing to consider this submission for posting?" [hand boss your sample posting]

I agree with the others that starting your own blog could be a great move, but there are also plenty of other things you could do to get your name out and also strengthen your relationships with your coworkers. For publicity, I wonder if you could start to develop a relationship with some of the smaller venues in your town for classical music. In my town, several of the larger churches would host amazing concerts, and bring to town great musicians. Ditto for local universities. Both of these places would be natural for developing potentially helpful contacts.

So, to get back to how I started this answer, my advice, inspired by my coworker, would be to do the following:

1) Let your boss know where you hope to be career-wise in a few months to a year.

2) Know how your boss feels about helping you get there.

3) Make it clear that you expect a somewhat defined upward trajectory, and if you cannot get that, look for opportunities elsewhere.

4) In the mentor-protege relationship, your job is to make the mentor look good, and the mentor's job is to leverage their decades of connections to your benefit. Cultivate a mentor-protege relationship. Fulfill your end of the bargain.

5) When subbing in co-workers timeslots, name-drop them a bunch and respect their turf.

6) Be generous with praise. Tell people what you like about working with them, and what you admire about them.

7) Be cagey with praise. In front of the boss, instead of saying "I did X well and Julia did Y well too," you can say, "Julia did Y so well, and that was the sole reason for our success" so that Julia will feel compelled to chime in with "yes, but we never would have pulled it off without frosty_hut doing X." (Its funny how the first instance seems more honest but the second generates so much more goodwill).

8) Do not take any small slight personally. Or, assume the most innocuous and charitable motive that fits the actions you have observed.

9) Promote yourself in ways that do not so easily suggest a contrast between your sense of initiative and others' lack of it.

10) Better to team up with people in many cases than go it alone. It is a proven psychological principle that if another person does you a favor, they will subsequently upwardly revise their estimate of you in order to make their actions consistent with their feelings. Also, then, you owe them a favor, and have an opportunity to tighten the bond even further.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 7:39 PM on October 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks, everyone, for these ideas.

My manager has been stonewalling me, which is why I'm feeling frustrated. I've asked him if he would let me blog along with everyone else: he said, "In time." That was months ago. I recently found out that a famous pianist was going to be in town. I volunteered to do all the footwork and interview him for a segment on the air. My manager said, thanks, but had someone else do the interview. I asked him a couple of weeks ago about starting my own blog, and got no response via email...I'll need to ask again when I see him

The managerial take on me, as far as I can put it together, is that I'm a second class citizen. I'm a back-up host, which means I'm not really part of the established, regular team. I found Maxwell's comments interesting--that my manager owes me the vision of a plausible career arc with a time line attached. Some day, all this will be yours!

But that's pretty pie in the sky where I am right now. I agree, it would be wonderful if a mentor who would kindly take me under his wing and nurture me, go to bat for me, promote me, etc. But I don't see it happening at my particular place, unless somebody dies. It's not that they're keeping me down. It's just that I'm firmly ensconced in my part-time fill in slot for now.

I've been there eight months as a part-timer...I'll take your advice and ask if there's any chance I could become full time. I asked this question when I was hired. I suppose I need to keep hammering on it, and keep at this guy no matter how much he tries to evade me. Welcome to the wonderful world of self-promotion, I guess!

Thanks again for all of these great responses.
posted by frosty_hut at 12:59 PM on October 17, 2007


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