Where’s The Community?

Lauren Fernandez

We took away game night in my house growing up because it got too competitive. In a Cuban household, you have the short temper and the ‘always want to win’ mentality. We did away with it because it took away from the family dynamic. Social Media and the blogosphere is starting to point at a typical Fernandez style game night.

Social media can be a selfish space, and it’s starting to reflect in the blogosphere. Who has the best posts, the most comments, who’s publishing the story first – all questions that I hear people chattering about. Before, everyone wanted to learn and engage from each other. It’s still there, but there is also an underlying of wanting to be the best, of always wanting to be first. It’s steering away from what’s best for the community, and steering toward what’s best for the author.

I’ve seen more self promotion than community building recently, and I wonder if the effect has been caused by the competitive blogosphere. Don’t’ get me wrong, many do a great job of incorporating guest blog posts and commenting on others. They know how to balance their own promotion while putting others in the spotlight.

How is it that PR people have turned so competitive in the online space?

Our industry is about being in the background. We put our brands and clients first. We rarely get credit in the public sphere for our work, because it’s the brand work. In a new space, are many trying to get the credit they feel they deserve? Is it a contest – both popularity and a way to make a name for yourself in the field?

The mindset of many has turned from community based to self promotion based, although many are not practicing what they preach. If you e-mail or direct message someone about your post, why not promote theirs? Reach out to others and see what kind of work they are doing. The people that I respect most are the ones that get talked about without shouting their name.

So how can we combat it? How can we continue to engage, and still get our name out there? Where is the balance?

Lauren Fernandez is a marketing and public relations professional in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She currently works as the marketing coordinator for the national office of American Mensa and its international philanthropic arm, the Mensa Education & Research Foundation. She is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the Social Media SIG Co-Chair for the Ft. Worth Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA.)

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