When is a blog not a blog?

Homer Simpson Thinking

I suppose before we get into the crux of this article, we should define what a blog actually is. Let’s consider the definition of a blog from the Oxford English Dictionary:

Noun: A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

Additionally, Dictionary.com defines a blog as:

Noun: a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc, and often having images and links to other websites.

The first key point for me here is the “informal or conversational style” that a blog is typically written in. The writer’s personality, humour and style should radiate from the page as if the reader were in the same room as the writer, listening to them in person. In other words, it should not written in the stiff, politically correct, inoffensive style akin to a brand’s press release. I’m not saying f-bombs need to be dropped every alternate sentence, but the beige language and info-laden post script notes in a press release from [insert name here] PR agency exist simply to provide background info for a blogger’s piece. They should not be seen as off-the-peg-articles ready for publication.

The second key point for me, which leads quite nicely on from the first and is arguably more important to me, is that a blog should contain the individual’s “own experiences, observations, opinions, etc”. A blog is not a press release regurgitation machine… in other words it is not a website where the owner simply does a bit of Ctrl+C then Ctrl+V and… BOOM… a finished article is born in an instant without any thought, argument, care or criticism about the news/product/event the press release contains. Want that? Read trade media like The Spirits Business, Imbibe or Drinks International. These are (very good) news outlets, designed specifically to spread the word about whichever topic is discussed in the press release without critiquing, however constructively, said topic. Scotchwhisky.com straddles the ‘news outlet’ side and ‘blog’ side quite nicely with it’s Latest News section and From The Editors section (amongst numerous other very interesting and detailed sections).

The reason for me writing this article is down to the vast number of ‘blog’ posts I’ve seen over the past few months which are entirely made up of text copy-and-pasted straight from a press release (and I know they are, because I get those press releases too). I understand the need, what with there being thousands of whisky blogs out there, to ‘compete’ (if that’s even the right word); the need to continually create content in order to increase your social media reach, boost your Alexa ranking, improve your Google positioning, and generally stay relevant. I honestly do. But fuck me, have some integrity and at least attempt to morph a PR agency’s words into something which sounds as if it would actually come from the mouth of a real human being.

If you want your website to consist of copy-and-pasted press releases, that’s boring as hell but absolutely fine. Just make it clear that you’re doing so. Feel free not to have an opinion, or engage in meaningful dialogue. But then, well, what’s the point of your website? If that’s what you want to do then go ahead, just don’t masquerade your website under the guise of a blog. You’ll find that your press release regurgitation machine is quickly found out by the Google bots, actual bloggers, and your readership too. And quite suddenly, your spiral into irrelevance will be complete.



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