The Marketeer

Celebrity Teachers and Lawyers

This is an oxymoron – there are none. I challenge anyone to come up with one. I define celebrity in the U.S. US magazine style – someone who gets press for nothing more than being part of the entertainment/media machine, not for having accomplished anything that would make them respected or even famous.

Once you reach celebrity status you can no longer be an effective Teacher or Lawyer. These positions rely upon the image of the professional. If the school committee or the jury can find the normal celebrity crap about you on the web, your career is over and you better hope you can score on the celebrity front because your professional days are finished.

You’re probably asking “What the hell is this rambling about?” and the answer is that before the explosion in social media this would only apply to fringe cases – the teacher that sleeps with a student, the attorney that kills his wife, stories you may recall from past years. These were literally less than 1 in a million chances – the problem is that the odds now are dead even.

Any professional can be strung up if the wrong information hits the web. I’ve consulted a number of friends and family about how to defend your reputation, and I was reminded of the topic when Lisa Kate was writing about reconciling her personal writing against her professional.

If you are an attorney you’d better have Google Alerts set up for both your name and your firm and you need to investigate every occurrence of your brand. The good news is that it’s fairly simple of you to strike fear into those who are abusing your name and most things should be very simple to clean up if you strike early.

Here’s the sad truth – you cannot blog about your personal life without doing it anonymously. Blogging about your professional life is a great idea. I have no doubt that there will be many teachers that will become leaders in their field because of their blogs, and there will be many law firms that will squash the competition because they have simple blogs that describe legal concepts in simple terms and use their city name in the post (if you Google CLP“Dallas Real Estate Attorney” guess who just beat the crap out of the firm that has a full page ad in the paper or the yellow pages? Oh yeah, and they did that for no cash down.)

Even with an anonymous blog it’s kind of a bummer because you are denied photos. You could try to use pictures that don’t identify you (like my relative that I’m reminding about CLP – career limiting photographs), but the problem is that if your blog starts to gain any steam, you’re going to have the whole world trying to solve the mystery of who you are.

So, the conclusion? If you are in Law and Education and you want to blog about your personal life you only have 2 options. You can go with password protected posts and only let your circle of approved friends have access. Or, if, deep down inside, you are itching to create a blog that’s widely read, maybe you want to consider a different line of work.

2 replies on “Celebrity Teachers and Lawyers”

Great post!!
I use online tools in my teaching like FLickr, YouTube, and WordPress…but always with reservation, with filters (literally – YouTube is blocked from our firewall!), and under another identity. The old cliche of teachers having “dual lives” rings true when you look at the split personalities one must have online in my profession. Although no I am not hiding pix of me pole dancing, I do have 2 flickr accounts – 1 for my private network, and 1 for work-related photos – I once was keeping up 2 separate blogs and after struggling with privacy issues, abandoned one for a more professional purpose – and the list of dual accounts goes on…At times it is frustrating because I want to connect with people online in an authentic way, and sharing your personal identity is a huge part of that. At times I feel like I am missing out on some of the fun too…but I realize that teachers must abide by a stricter code of “netiquette” than their celebrity-blogger-friends!

As I approach PodCamp and Blogtoberfest this week, I am wondering if I lose the “cool” factor of all of these tools when they are used for an educational purpose? I’ve been trying to get a podcast going at my high school for over a year now…this is part of the frustration too…

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