Press Creds: A Few More Thoughts

You wouldn’t think there would be any more to say about press credentials than I said yesterday, but here we go.

– Press credentials are the badge of honor that says you are a successful blogger. This isn’t to say that they are not useful, or to downplay their importance for some, but that they are another indicator that a blogger has ‘made it.’ whatever that means. When I started this blog (get off my lawn, you kids!), my indicator of success was being linked to. I got a ton of links for my writing at the time, and as new blogs would start, they would put me in their short blogrolls. A few people even said they started their blog in part because of my blog. That’s as flattering as it gets, and it told me that I was doing something right.

That changed when AOL Fanhouse came about. You knew who the top tier bloggers of the time were, but now they were in one place, and they were getting paid to do it. They weren’t getting paid much, but it was more than most other blogger were getting. And suddenly what success looked like was a little different. Not long after came Puck Daddy, and then SB Nation. There was money out there, and people wanted it. There were invites out there, and people wanted in. The bar had shifted again.

Press credentials are another shift. There were a ton of bloggers and podcasters who were at the 2010 Draft. It’s great to see them there, and some of them did great work with their newfound access. But it isn’t everything. And it shouldn’t be treated that way.

– I guess I should say what I would want for myself. I don’t really want a seat in the press box. Maybe once for the experience (and if it worked out or I really liked it, then do it again), but overall, for now, it doesn’t sound that appealing. I would like to be able to pick up the phone and call an organization for an answer to a question or a statement. I would love to be able to talk to someone at a team and get a helpful voice on the other end, or simply some clarification. That doesn’t have to mean locker room access, or a seat in the press box. But it does mean being recognized as some sort of media outlet.

I am considering applying for press credentials for the 2011 NHL Draft for The Rink Podcast. I’m actually less interested in talking to the draftees and hockey personnel than I am talking to the people in the stands. A press pass means I could bring my recording equipment in, and not get hassled talking to the fans for the show. Also, a press pass gives people some idea that what you are doing is legitimate.

– Eric McErlain, the man who wrote the guidelines for the Washington Capitals on issuing credentials to bloggers, weighs in. This is must read, but this is the takeaway for me:

In the meantime, I do have a message for independent bloggers who have been watching this episode with growing alarm. At the end of the day, your credibility is based on the trust you build with your readers everyday, not whether or not you have a laminated plastic badge hanging around your neck. If you follow your passion and develop an audience, there will come a time when the powers that be have little choice but to let you inside the gate, if that’s what you really want.

Please note that little bit at the end. Press credentials aren’t something that are for everyone. And you should consider if you really want them or not before going after them. Really think about what you would do with them. Not having a press pass for every game doesn’t make you any less of a writer, and it doesn’t mean less people will read you. Just like the Jim Rome show, have a take. Or in more blogger friendly terms, have a voice and use it. Then see where that leads you.

– I had a few questions on twitter yesterday for the bloggers out there, and I would love to get some responses. Have you called your local hockey team and asked what their policy for giving credentials are? And I mean, have you yourself picked up the phone and made contact? And are you proud enough of the work you have done to submit it for consideration? Because you are going to have to do that at some point. Like it or not, and no matter if you feel like a review is going to be about controlling the message, someone at a team is going to take a look at your work and make a decision. Are you happy enough with your work to say it’s ready?

– What happens next? Well, we sit back and wait. The credential issue is in the hands of others for now (some of whom are on the bloggers side). In the meantime, write your ass off, develop a voice and a style, and don’t worry about your site meter. Do all the things that will make your work shine, instead of taking shortcuts for short term gains. And don’t sweat the credentials. Just go create something excellent with these wonderful tools we have at our disposal.

There, I said it.

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