“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.” Mark Twain
Our profession has two schools of thought about self-promotion. The first school we all claim to belong to believes we shouldn’t self-promote. The other school of thought is more subtle in that we deny we self-promote, but do it because we, personally, don’t “overdo” it the way others do. I’ve been at conferences, workshops and concerts with folks who tell me they would NEVER self-promote their programs or ensembles or book or—you name it—and then fifteen minutes later, they do. It’s a slippery slope to NOT self-promote and then do something others believe IS self-promotion.
What should we, as a profession, do about self-promotion? When is self-promotion okay or is it NEVER okay? And what IS self-promotion anyway?
I am in the middle of auditions for my chamber choir’s spring concert cycle. I post on my choir’s Facebook page, announcing them and updating pertinent information. I also Tweet about our auditions and say nice stuff about my singers and the fun we have together. I post on Facebook and Tweet about our concerts too. I share my ChoralNet Blogs on my choir’s Twitter account and Facebook page. I also share them in a couple of Facebook groups I belong to. Others in those groups share similar things. But in an Alumni group, one person complained I was “blatantly” self-promoting. He was nasty about it too. I never knew him in grad school but I do know he is a ChoralNet member. I thought about his complaints and accusations but never believed I was self-promoting. If his goal was to get me to stop sharing my weekly ChoralNet Blogs—mission accomplished. I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing my Blogs there again and that’s unfortunate.
I don’t think posting information about auditions or concerts is self-promotion but sharing my Blogs may be. I try not to be “that person” who can’t be quiet about how great they are and their choir and everything else they do. We all know people who behave like that and while it IS obnoxious, is it self-promotion?
I worked with someone a few years ago who told me over and over again we should never self-promote and that it’s wrong. This person also expected ME to be the one promoting her groups, asking quite me bluntly to do so. She said it would look much better if I was the one saying nice things. I did say nice things about her group, as she wished, but I felt uncomfortable doing so. Was her request a form of self-promotion?
It seems we live in an age of self-promotion. There are so many ways to promote everything. I get emails from composers quite frequently touting their compositions; is that self-promotion or just doing business? I follow many choirs on Facebook and some days every other item in my news feed seems to be something from one of them telling everyone how marvelous they are, how unique, how truly brilliant their music director is—is that self-promotion? The humble brag, when someone tells you (shyly) about the food panty they’ve donated to or the blankets for children’s hospitals they’ve collected, is that a form of self-promotion?
What do you think? What is self-promotion in your opinion? Should we? Shouldn’t we? And what is right? Your opinions are encouraged!