Posting in a public space is a great way to communicate with a large number of people and distribute news or information. However, it is important to make sure that your message comes across in the right way. If you do not write with care then you may give rise to unfortunate consequences – so how do you make sure that you’re on the right track?
Who Could Read Your Message?
Think about who might be able to read your post. The reach of some platforms is obvious but at times you may be addressing more people than you think. In general, you need to take particular care in any place where you effectively don’t control access. Your post may be visible to a large number of people either now or in the future.
You can expect a broad reach on a website, a public Facebook group, Twitter, Pinterest, an open forum or a platform such as Tumblr. Social media sites can have a huge membership and while there may be restrictions that you can set, you will usually not have complete control so the number of people you reach may be even greater in practice than a website. If you are posting to a Facebook group that is classified as a Public Group then rest assured that ANY Facebook member can read it and so can any search engine. Would your message be better aired in a restricted group?
What is a restricted group? Typically, this might be a closed or secret Facebook group, a forum that requires a login to view, an e-mail list or a group messaging platform such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. The important distinction is that you are able to restrict access.
The purest form of a restricted group is a one to one message. If your message only needs to be passed to one person then why not use a private message unless the content may be genuinely helpful to others – in which case you could use a closed group.
Content appropriate for the public domain may include
- News of events and meetings
- Information for prospective participants
- Questions and answers
- Information about useful resources
- Messages of a useful and positive nature
Content best saved for the restricted space may be
- Content only really applicable to specific participants
- Topics that may give rise to spirited debate
- Messages containing anything controversial
- Comments that may be seen as critical of an individual or a group
- Content that might lead to a group being seen in a less than positive light
Writing Good Practice
Irrespective of whether you are using the public space or not, there are certain matters that deserve careful consideration.
- Is your message accurate?
- Is your message factual or are you stating an opinion?
- Is your message phrased in a respectful and polite manner?
Do you have the full picture? Are you sure? Might there be missing information that, if you knew it, might lead you to take a different position? Wise journalists usually check their facts!
Is your message aimed at one or a few people or just club members? If so then the public space may not be an appropriate forum.
Does your message contain any of the following? If so then it may well be unsuitable for the public space-
Controversial subject matter
Breaches of confidence
Statements likely to cause offence to a group or individual
Content likely to belittle, shame or cause embarrassment
Discussion of matters that may give rise to strong feeling
Even messages of an anonymised nature that may be seen to be deriding or criticising one or more people are usually problematic because of their negative sentiment. Can you re-phrase a critical message as a call to positive action? In most cases you can.
Choose the correct place for what you have to say and be careful how you say it. If you don’t, you may have an undesirable impact on the club in general or one or more individuals within it. Be truthful, be helpful and most importantly be kind.