Friday, October 29, 2010

On Blogging and Op-Ed with Andrew Potter

This past week AMPA sponsored the LitFest session "Making Your Opinion Matter: On Blogging and Op-Ed Columns," and I thought I would share just a few of the many gems of advice offered by Andrew Potter, public affairs columnist with Macleans magazine and features editor with Canadian Business Magazine.

Potter co-authored the international bestseller The Rebel Sell with Joseph Heath and has just published The Authenticity Hoax. He also blogs regularly for and at In other words - he's a man who knows what he's talking about when it comes to writing, specifically opinion writing, and the wild world of blogging.

First, I have to share Potter's wryly proffered definitions of his journalistic specialty, the op-ed column, as "complaining in an entertaining way" and "the empty calories of journalism." On a more serious note, he also shared his belief that "good opinions can fundamentally change the way you think about the world." His advice to the many emerging writers in the audience? "Do not write for free!" or risk undermining your work.

The topic of blogging quickly became the focus of the session, beginning with Potter's advice that a blogger must identify their purpose and their goals by answering the question "What is your brand?" Everything on the blog should promote this brand, offering a kind of predictability for readers.

Then Potter dropped the bomb, stating that "blogging is dying." Twitter has fundamentally changed blogging by becoming a micro-blogging platform in and of itself, a forum for the small tidbits of information and links that used to be blog fodder. Blogging is now just one aspect of brand building online, one branch of a "unified space" of social media cross-promotion.

I'll leave you with one of his especially resonant statements in response to a question about how to drive blog traffic: "Link and be linked to. Follow and be followed. Quote and be quoted."

So, Andrew Potter, if you're out there and reading this, I've taken your words to heart. Note my link to your blog[s], my many quotes of your sage words, and the fact that AMPA now follows you on twitter. I'll be watching those traffic stats carefully!

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator