OK, gotta get this off my chest. There have been a few mildly-to-seriously snarky comments about “the Press” lately, and it’s stuff I’ve seen said for the few years I’ve been involved with this stuff. I’ve got a few things to say about that.
I realize to a lot of people, “the Press” is a big, shapeless group that spews out drivel, gets paid a crap ton of money to do a mediocre job poorly. That may be accurate for some members, but I can assure you, people who try to cover EV technology are, like the rest of the EV industry, a fairly small group of people devoted to covering something they believe in. I “know” most of them, as in, I’ve exchanged emails, talked about issues and events, and I’d invite any of them over to the house for beers. Aaron Colter (EarthTechling), Domenick Yoney (Autoblog Green), Jensen Beeler (Asphalt and Rubber), John Adamo (PlugBike), the Hell for Leather guys… and there are more I’m missing right now… these are the “reporters” who cover electric motorcycles consistently and with a great deal of knowledge and expertise.
They don’t work for Fox News, ‘k?
A lot of them are like me… hammering out blog posts for zip. Some of them have figured out a way to actually make some money from this work in the era of crowdsourcing and “free content”, and god love ’em for it. At a point that I’m trying to figure out why I waste all my time writing blog entries for nothing, promoting companies and projects that seem to think it’s their god-given right to be promoted for free, these guys make me think I may actually be able to make a little drinking money off this insanity yet.
I’ve done two series of posts that were 5-part posts. 3000 words each, with links to the manufacturer’s site, info the manufacturer doesn’t see fit to publish (good information that would sell product), and favorable comments and recommendations. These posts get some of the highest traffic and linking on my site. You think I got even an email thanking me? I know there are errors, there have to be, but you think they might help me out by correcting them? Nope, nada. For the record, a detailed, technical story of 3000 words takes about a week to write. So I have to ask myself why I bother, if they don’t seem to care enough to even read it, or acknowledge it?
When you write for a publication, you have a team of professionals whose job it is to make sure you don’t look, and make the publication look, like an idiot. When you write your own blog, you don’t have that luxury. Just about the last thing I want is to write some crap that’s wrong, and have someone bitch about it on a forum rather than send me a note correcting me. If you have a story done about you and they get details wrong, just send them a note offering a correction. They’ll kiss you for it, even the bigger publications… but especially the bloggers.
I had a team bitch to me about how Chip Yates got all the press and they, in spite of setting a few records themselves, got nothing. Guess what? Chip Yates, personally, himself and not some PR team, sends out tweets, texts and updates constantly to everyone who may write something about him. (That is, when he is actually doing something worth tweeting about…) If you’re running a team or a race bike, or anything else that you think is newsworthy, it’s a rare thing to get it picked up out of the blue. You have to tell people about it. That team now sends out emails whenever they’re doing stuff, and I generally post about it now. Sometimes my posts get picked up by the big boys. That’s how it works.
Again. We’re all working hard at this for little or no pay, out of love and commitment, and we’re dying to get this news. It’s not a “build it and they will come”. You have to get out and talk about it.
We’re all on the same team, and we’re all trying our best. If you want to make it an “us vs. them”, there are plenty of people to point that energy at, but the guys trying to cover EV events aren’t who you should be aiming at.
My points, simply:
1) We are in a very small community of enthusiasts and supporters. Not some big group of faceless cube-dwellers who don’t care if they get it right or not.
2) To the other enthusiasts I say, be a part of the community and help bring the rest of the world along.
3) To the people here who represent the business ventures in the community, I say, don’t **** where you eat. You may hate to hear it, but even a better mousetrap needs someone to sell it. It ain’t gonna sell itself.
4) To the teams trying to promote themselves, reach out to the community in a positive way and you’ll be welcomed, but don’t expect you’re going to get promoted because you’re just that awesome. Much as you may not like tooting your own horn, there’s a lot of noise out there and you have to make some to get noticed.
5) You see an error? You have a pet peeve? Look at it as an opportunity to make a contribution, make a connection, and help someone who’s already on your side. Don’t assume they don’t know what they’re doing, especially if it’s one of the guys I named above. Assume it was an honest mistake, and reach out to them. Yeah, you can be a consumer, or you can be a contributor.
6) I guess, finally, “the reporters” as you call them are for the most part professionals or at least try to be. The guys I mentioned above all are. They may not be engineers, but they’re as good at, and care as much about what they do as you are at what you do.
Sitting down now.