Editor’s Note: Michael Herklots is the Executive Director of Retail and Brand Development for Nat Sherman Cigars. Following an impassioned address to the online cigar community at the 2012 Chattanooga Tweet-Up, Mr. Herklots agreed to provide us with his comments in the form of a written editorial. With a very special thank-you to Mr. Herklots, we present his thoughts:
Ok, so first- Cigar Smokers, our Brothers and Sisters of the leaf, whether enthusiasts, bloggers, or whatever- I believe we all share an inherent desire to “better the industry”. Everyone who loves cigars loves the discovery, loves the camaraderie, loves the culture… and loves their fellow BOTL’s and SOTL’s. To that end, when you look at the folks who’ve dedicated their lives, and who’ve put their blood, sweat, tears, money, hard work, faith, and livelihood on the line to try and bring to market a product… the intention is of course, to be good and to be enjoyed.
When you look at the culture of enjoying cigars prior to the internet, the analysis and critique of cigars generally existed person to person… mouth to mouth. Some folks kept notes. Some folks shared opinions… but there was never such permanence for a review or opinion as there is today with the internet. To like or not like a particular thing is one’s own opinion, and I believe 100% in a person’s right to share and express that opinion any way he or she sees fit. But, I’d hope that before committing that opinion to the permanent record of cyberspace- he or she thinks about why they’re sharing the opinion publicly in the first place.
I believe the real reason is rooted in what I mentioned above- an inherent desire to better the industry… and engaging in the sharing of great products… ones that you enjoyed and hope others will enjoy as much as you. But, I would simply offer for consideration… personally, I always focus on the positive experiences I’ve had. Those are the stories I share with my fellow enthusiasts. Those are the conversations I want to have with my fellow brothers and sisters of the leaf. Those are the cigars I want to share and enjoy with folks. Let’s face it- no one sets out, and invests their time and money into making a product that you won’t enjoy.
We’re inquisitive by nature- we always search…. And the internet has brought so much more information available at the click of a mouse. If, I have a bad experience with a product… I don’t document it publicly, because it’s not worth the time it takes to write about it in the first place. I move on from a bad experience. I remember it. And I don’t repeat it. But, just because I had a bad experience doesn’t mean other people will have the same… it just means it wasn’t for me. But we all get better at things when we experience things for ourselves… good and bad…
Our industry is under attack, at federal, state and local levels. We need to work together to fight against the things that are killing our industry, rather than devote time to sharing negativity within our industry. And even more- the folks who work in this industry, whether you like them or their products or not… these folks are working together to ensure we have an industry that we all enjoy.
The industry is connected. It’s people are connected. Every blog, review and opinion about our products, we read… positive or negative. Might I ask, though- that if you have a negative experience, and have some helpful criticism, that you reach out to the manufacturer. I can’t tell you how much we all appreciate feedback, positive or negative. We need to hear opinions. We need to know if there are problems so we can help resolve them. Whether manufacturer, retailer or consumer- we’re all in this together. We’re all cigar lovers… and through continued teamwork, support, and trial and error- we’ll continue to become a stronger, better industry for the future.