Online PR Principles: How Not to Write a Blog Entry

There are literally thousands of resources that teach how to write blogs, but the ones actually that tell you what not to do are relatively rare. This is probably because teaching has a (good) tendency to focus on the positive – as a matter of fact, my partner often tells me that effective teaching is two thirds reward and one third criticism, or else the ones you try to teach will forget what they did right.

It’s hard to do things the right way, which is my partner’s way. Obviously, I am more inclined to criticize because I am used to learning from constructive critique. I know that many people (including myself) get their feelings hurt when criticized, but a lesson learned the hard way is a lesson we never forget.

BbloggingLobbying the one who errs is not part of my philosophy. I do tolerate common errors, the little accidents that happen to all of us: misspellings, some small grammatical errors, etc. I do not however tolerate errors that are potentially harmful for other brands (like here); pretending to be something you are not; talking about things at superlative because everyone else does it; and so on.

This introduction was necessary because in the following discussion I will be terribly blunt, and I will link to some blog entries that will serve as examples to prove the next points. Just that we set the record straight: I am not perfect either and many times I made the same mistakes. But understand that if you do some or all of the following, nobody will be interested in what you have to say, you will alienate your readers and potential customers and the list could go on.

  • The first rule of blogging is: do not make it all about yourself. Not even on a corporate blog. It’s bad karma!This blog entry from KidZui for example is shameless self promotion disguised as a “we care about you because we are parents too” blog entry. The author gives some “tips” to help parents keep their children busy. But after every set of three tips, the author never fails to emphasize: “KidZui has tons of kid-friendly …” or “KidZui Homework Helper is for kids kindergarten through eighth grade and comes with paid Membership.” Is it clear for you too that the blog entry is actually promoting KidZui and that the “tips” are just the “clever” excuse to make parents opt for a paid membership?
  • Don’t write about things you obviously know nothing about. It’s hard to find an example to illustrate this. I have encountered this type of blog entry repeatedly, but never saved a link. I guess it is easy to understand why: all articles written about people who do not understand the things they are writing about lack quality. Fortunately I recall an example, because I wrote about it at Everything PR:The New York Times recently labeled SEO “A Future in Directing Online Traffic”. The days when SEO alone was enough to direct traffic are long gone, so obviously the author of the above cited article does not understand search and SEO very well.
  • Do not steal other people’s ideas without giving due credit. This has happened to all of us: scrapers are any publisher’s nightmare, but they are not the only ones. I cannot give a link for this particular point, but if you have the habit to find your inspiration on other blogs (you know, when you fight that “writer’s block” by taking topic ideas from other blogs in your niche), just have the common decency to say: I recently read an article that inspired me to write this dissertation… or something like that.
  • Do not make it hard or impossible for people to comment on your blog entries, no matter how big you are. Seth Godin for example, an idol for many, is never open to dialogue. He rants and rants about everything marketing under the sun, but he never encourages responses on his own site. This is somehow a smart technique: responses will be given on other sites, with links back at the original post. Is Seth using this as an SEO technique or is he simply a self important guru figure?

Well, these “do not” advice tid-bits mark the beginning of a new topic at Everything PR News: Online Public Relations Principles. I think this publication is the right place for such a discussion, given the niche it is trying to cover, therefore I appeal to you to take some time and share your thoughts about this issue in the comments below. What other “don’ts” can you think of, and, in your experience, which are the most condemnable mistakes encountered on business blogs?


  1. says

    Great article. It seems no matter how often we teach lessons about the ill effects of plagerism the lesson is lost on some. If you adhere to the golden rule and don’t exagerate you are likely to stay out of trouble. It also helps to know your audience. Another phlosophy I share is that you should always make friends first–sales will follow and you won’t be considered a blog jerk.

  2. Phil Stricker says

    On the topic of giving credit… I think its a great idea to not only let your readers know what has influenced you, supply a link (opening in a new window of course), and also contact the person who’s work you are referencing. Who knows, they might even link back to you somewhere as a result.

  3. says

    Handy info that is too easily overlooked. It is often the case that people bang on about their own site, product, service or whathaveyou without thinking about how it reads. Always write good quality original info on your blog and you won’t go far wrong.

  4. Mihaela Lica says

    I think you are right, Chris, but I still don’t like it. I mean how busy can he be? Matt Cutts, for example, is a busy man, and he still has open comments.

  5. says

    I think in Seth’s case it is more of a comment moderation issue. He probably doesn’t want to bother sorting through the crap that would accumulate on his blog so he makes people “comment” off site.

    Not saying I agree with his approach. I just don’t think SEO was his first priority. To me it seems more likely a byproduct of his time priorities.

  6. Matt Keegan says

    Scrapers are a nasty side show to the internet — they’ll steal treasured work and sometimes get all of the Google glory if “their” work rises higher in the SERPs than your own.

    Giving attribution to others even when only an idea was borrowed is smart. Lots of work is generated thanks to an idea crafted by someone else, even if the subject matter goes in an entirely different direction. Give credit where credit is due, you’ll be respected by others and treated like the professional that you are.

  7. Mihaela Lica says

    Thank you very much for all your comments – and I am very glad you found this particular article useful. I was amazed to see how much traffic it got, and how many RT! I guess there is a real need for constructive criticism after all!

  8. says

    Who said ‘the strange thing about common sense is that, it isn’t!’ Very good advice. I completely go along with describing what something is ‘not’ in order to shed more light more on ‘what it is’. Being ‘critical’ in an educative sense is essential to improvement, growth and innovative thinking. It’s one of the key things we encourage in our marketing students. My feeling about much of the ‘prescriptive’ content that can be read about blogging is that it often lacks a critically self aware dimension. That is, lack of awareness of ones assumptions, and using terms and labels without explaining the range of possible meanings. Having the capability to undertake ‘immanent’ criticism i.e. ‘of’ and from ‘within’ the profession or endevour you are part of is much more personally challenging than merely responding to external criticism too.

  9. Edward Beckett says

    Great Post Mihaela …

    Here’s One …

    Never put negative superlatives in your post’s title …

    I.E. The Worst (n), Bad (n),

    Else you’ll link your post to (n) negative keyword.


  10. says

    I think you can find examples of your second point on about 90% of “how to make money online” blogs. While some people are writing what they know, the vast majority start their online money blogs in an attempt to earn money online.

    Good list, thanks for doing something different.

  11. says

    Hey there,

    First I gotta say, I love the cartoon. That cracks me up. Thanks for sharing this post with me on Twitter because I’m glad you did.

    I am new the blog world. This is my 9th week blogging and my blog has blown up beyond my initial expectations such that I am so conscious of what I write.

    I had this girl on Twitter tell me today, and I quote (I’ll leave out her Twitter handle, not to embarrass her,) “Enough of the “suicide” innuendos – think of a better word to use instead of comparing your articles to something so horrific.”

    This is in reference to a series of posts I recently started on my blog called the ‘Suicide Series.’ It aims to tell you what NOT to do in a particular arena based on experiences and general knowledge.

    I kindly responded to her – “’Suicide’ posts = series on my blog, Little Pink Book. I suggest you venture there to see a VARIETY of topics before typecasting :)” (smiley face included).

    The thing is, just as you said above there are so many different things going on with someone’s blog you never know what type of dialogue you are going to start, or what type of posts will hit particular buttons.

    This person, obviously, has not visited my blog, and simply thinks that because she constantly sees two posts linking back to me that I cite everything a ‘Suicide,’ which again, if she visited the blog would see otherwise, as I suggested.

    But that got me thinking, that is an image perceived by someone else, who is not myself. The titles of my post use strong words to get a point across.

    Have I crossed the line? I do not believe I have, nor would I rename the series. But have I pushed someone’s button? Yes. It would seem I have.

    The thing is, I take responsibility for my content, and everything I put up I know exactly what I’m getting into. I’ve even posted disclaimers prior to particular posts.

    Not all bloggers do this, and often the lines between self-indulgence, bias and plainly wrong information can be so blurry.

    In blogging land there are no rules, I don’t think – you just need to be an informed reader, know what you are reading, who your source is and if you are offended, take it with a grain of salt, unless it’s a direct stab at you.

    Okay, I’ll get off my soap-box now, lol.

    Good tips for people to see.
    Best wishes,


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