Sorry on Australia Day-sky writing

“Sorry I haven’t been in touch. I’m crap”

That is an email I sent to someone with a quirky story for my blog and I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t got back to them. It was a follow up to an email I sent on 21 October. That email said:

“Nice one. Yes I definitely want to do a piece. I’ll have a nose at this info and come back to you later this week.”

Ouch. It hurts to let someone down. It hurts knowing they may not come back to you with a quirky story as you’ve failed to keep a simple promise to get back to them.

Definitely. I said to someone who came to me with a story I would definitely do something. And I haven’t.

If only that was the only evidence of letting people down. I also found these in my inbox:

“Hi all, sorry for the delay.”

“Cheers Sara. Will have a look on my laptop later.” (Sent 24 email sent 15 November)

“Thanks for this. No problem. I’ll have a look and write up a post and come back to you with any questions (Sent 21 October…next email sent 24 November)

“I’m so sorry this got lost in emails and I’ve just been going through my inbox.”

“Sorry I haven’t been in touch with your mate, I will do.”

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch and ouch. That is five more examples of me letting people down.

Running a hyperlocal blog is not a job. I don’t get paid. I can’t get sacked. I don’t log in at 9am and go home and 5pm. It eats into your personal life. But I love doing it. Journalists have news editors and that’s always the rule if a story is not used. You can’t say to a reader you will definitely run their story unless you definitely want to get into a row with your news editor.

I decide whether or not to press publish. I’m allowed to use the word definitely but seeing that word written in an email I sent makes me cringe.

So I’ve made some changes to how I blog and come up with these five tips to stop letting people down as a hyperlocal blogger. My failures come from being disorganised thanks to juggling a day job, a six year-old-daughter and her sport classes, an obsession with Twitter and an addiction to reading.

My six tips

1. Evernote. I now use Evernote as my home for blogging. Ideas and drafts are saved in a Cwmbran Life notebook. It is easy to copy emails over to keep everything linked to a story in one place. It helps to have everything in the same online filing cabinet.
2. Give yourself a deadline and write it down. I’m not a professional journalist but I know that a deadline gives you a feeling in your belly that helps you to type. Add the time and day you plan to get the post on your blog in your calendar.
3. Be clear what you need for a blog post. I’ve let things slip in my inbox when I haven’t been clear with someone. If I need a high-res jpeg photo and then a PDF arrives it means I can’t do the blog so may lose another day when I planned to finish it off that night. Write down what you need and be specific.
4. Phone numbers. I get stories from emails and tweets but you can’t beat a phone number. It’s easy to hide behind a ‘sorry I haven’t been in touch’ email. It’s not so easy when you’re regularly speaking to someone in person or on the phone. You obviously build better relationships with people and I think that makes you work harder to not let them down. ps I’ve now got the phone number of the person who I emailed the “I’m crap” message and will be calling him by Thursday evening this week. See I’ve set myself a deadline.
5. Say sorry. We are all human and forget to do things. Don’t fib. I know I’m crap as I don’t write things down in one place that be checked regularly. Be honest about the reasons why you haven’t contacted someone. If you’re like me it’s because you have a life outside your blog and no one is going to feel let down because of that.
6. Stop using the word definitely. It’s not worth it.

The lovely Sorry photo was taken by butupa and shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons Licenee

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