Posted by Amanda Chapel
By way of introduction, the "Top Web Marketer" in our headline is Joe Jaffe. Joe happens to be the real deal. He's Founder and President of the new media mashup consultancy, Crayon. He’s a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School. He’s a renowned consultant and sought-after speaker with this whole “conversational marketing” thing. Bottom line: he’s the genuine article, a passionate and true voice in New Media. Let’s put it this way, he's a diamond in the rough of all the knuckleheads that compose the bloggererati.
That said ironically, in this case, it also happens that he's does a fine job of articulating why they're all wrong. In defending the MWW-Nikon D80 Blogger Campaign yesterday, he inadvertently made a rather strong case against blogola. Yikes! Exactly the opposite of what he had hoped to accomplish, I'm afraid.
Bottom line: For marketers to influence the blogosphere, they absolutely need to “incentify” and bond with this amorphous metaverse. Blogola is an important strategy. Actually, Web Marketers are not going to give this one up without a fight. If they lose this... so also likely goes the business case for Web Marketing, period.
Below are excerpts of a podcast done by Joe for "Across the Sound." We tried to boil it down to key quotes. Unfortunately, "it’s a loaner but I’ll be damned if I give it back” and “not many strings attached,” etc., ended up on our cutting room floor.
Now, one more moment before we get to Joe's comments. Here are a few quick definitions for reference:
KEY QUOTES: Jeff Jaffe on the Nikon Blogger Campaign
Excuse me... as you are someone who accepted the MWW-Nikon “bribe;” one who fully and enthusiastically participates in their program; and one who advocates similar programs as a part of his own business and livelihood... I totally understand.
Fact is most reporters, e.g. NYT, WSJ, BusinessWeek, Forbes, etc. , can't even accept a free lunch anymore because of new ethics guidelines. The era of wining, dining and bribing reporters is long over. So the PR industry has now leveled its sites on the horde of unprofessional bloggers; And you are their enthusiastic champion.
Anyway, selling out is nothing new. What ever the medium, this stuff is always in the end ferreted out. Sorry but, no matter how you try to spin it Joe, this kind of shit will NEVER escape the taint of the perception of impropriety. It just won’t. It's dirty.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Just for kicks...if I give back the camera and continue to say all the same things - which I meant; were not coerced etc - would you feel differently?
Problem is, you can't un-ring a bell, Jaffe. There are lines we can't uncross. You've got the camera so giving it back is moot after accepting it.
Having blogged about this extensively at Mack's, Daily Fix and my own corner, my position is well-known. Programs need to create value for both sides (psst: marketing is about value-creation, not manipulation) and I fear programs like this taint the space.
There are a ton of discussions but here's the active one I held in my corner, with a criteria of HOW to do such programs:
CK, I'm going to respond on your blog. But for the record, I'm not going to give back the camera. I haven't crossed any lines. I'm not un-ringing a bell.
Just trying to understand the rationale of the naysayers, of which you unfortunately are one.
The program is fraud and manipulation of the highest order. None of the bloggers have to admit they accepted a camera? Yet, they're encouraged to talk up the fact that they are now taking excellent photos with said new camera. And none of them must disclose that they're only using this camera and talking about it because they were provided one by Nikon?
I've always been a Pentax photographer, even when my friends at the newspapers told me I should switch to Nikon. But I didn't listen and still shoot with a Pentax 67. However, I spent nearly $2,000 US to outfit that camera and would love a new lens! But I couldn't accept a gift lens from Pentax, especially if it meant I was "expected" to hype that gift on my blog. What if I don't like the lens? Do you really expect me to write something negative? More than likely, I'd just ignore my negative thoughts and keep them to myself.
Public Relations ruined its reputation by manipulating people into believing something was truthful when it was not. How is this program any different? This is just an attempt to manipulate people into believing their favorite blogger picked up a cool camera. If you don't disclose how you got the camera, and repeat that disclosure each time you talk about it, then you're manipulating your readers and lying about your motivations.
I worked in radio long after the payola scandal, but we thought about it endlessly. You never accept a bribe or gift or cash to play a song. It is illegal. This Nikon Blogola scandal is in the same vein. An investigation isn't a possibility; consider it the next step. The G-men are coming with warrants for a Nikon Blogger near you.
The appearance of impropriety is as real as factual impropriety. Isn't this the good advise we give clients? Why would we not live with these guidelines.
The Internet has changed the game. We don't have a governing body or organized oversight (yet) that will slap us with fines and chastise us for bad behavior. We have a self-policing blogosphere that demands transparency and a high ethical bar. Has J. Jaffe been paying attention?
It helps to have a radar for public opinion and acceptable behavior. It's a losing game for J. Jaffe to defend his position. Basic common sense and human impulse says so. Give a 10 year old a free snazzy new bike and he's going to love that bike. Snap out of denial Joe.
When you are clearly and publicly wrong you should admit it, clearly and publicly. Is it time for J. Jaffe to visit the Strumpette PR confessional? Like the Edelman Acer Ferrari mistake, this is not isolated to a few bloggers, MWW, and Nikon. It taints the whole industry.
It's amazing to me that we're even having this argument. Does anyone really in their heart of hearts think this is anything but a bribe? As Amanda says, if any self-respecting reporter from the so-called "dead tree" media did this, their ass would be canned before the first click of the shutter.
You see, this is the problem I have with the blogosphere. In the traditional media, there are generally accepted rules of behavior. Those rules are often violated, but at least everyone agrees that they ARE the rules and that they WERE violated. Then, after a violation, the entire industry usually undergoes a period of self-flaggelation. If it's The New York Times, that usually means a series of front-page stories beating themselves up on the issue. This is why the old-world media will always be the more trusted source. Always.
But in the blogosphere, they actually argue that bribery is OK. Up is down and down is up. In the blogosphere, respected marketers like Jaffe can say without a hint of criticism that the A-list of blogger bribe-recipients chose not to reveal that they took the payola.
In the dead tree press, if this had happened, some newspaper would be attempting to publish the list of reporters who took the bribe. Does anyone have the list of bloggers who were paid off? Did I miss it?
Anyone ever thought about how hypocritically self-serving it is of PR professionals to criticize this? Sure... it's fine for companies to pay you big $$$ to convince bloggers to talk about their product, but you scream bloody murder if they just decide to pay the bloggers directly and cut you out as the overpriced middleman. They could send out 1,000 cameras for what it costs to try to get a PR person to reach out to 1,000 bloggers. Which scenario is better for the company? Which scenario is better for bloggers?
Let market forces decide this. Readers will either trust their favorite bloggers or they won't, and those are risk the blogger can decide for themselves when considering whether to accept the offer and whether or not to disclose about it when posting. I don't feel any safer as a consumer because a few self-appointed watchdogs are telling me not to trust someone because they accepted a free camera.
Next you'll be advocating that we legalize drugs so as to do away with pushers.
Bottom line: We do NOT let pure market forces decide on a whole myriad of things. In this case, like payola, we try to protect the public from fraud and manipulation.
As to you not feeling safer with speed limits, traffic signs and such... go play on the highway.
> Next you'll be advocating that we legalize drugs so as to do away with pushers.
Yup. Behind that 100%. That makes me... what... crazy? Stupid? Or in pretty good company with a wide range of very smart people, both liberal and conservative?
> We do NOT let pure market forces decide on a whole myriad of things.
So that makes it right? Because that's not how we do it currently? I could give a whole laundry list of other situations where I believe that's a big problem.
> we try to protect the public from fraud and manipulation.
I'll admit that I'm on the fence about the matter of disclosure... I would have my ethical doubts about someone who didn't disclose it, and I probably would either quit reading them or at least take it with a grain of salt. I've made a consistent practice of disclosing such things on my blogs.
But if it's disclosed? I don't see the issue for either the company or the blogger. If the reader wants to make it an issue... fine.
> As to you not feeling safer with speed limits, traffic signs and such... go play on the highway.
Bad analogy. Speed limits and stop signs are the law. This is more like the Ad Council putting up a "Drive safely!" billboard, or a MADD mom putting up a "Don't drink and drive!" bumper sticker on her car (or worse, my car) -- no, it doesn't make me feel any safer.
Excuse me but you pretty much killed you case in the first sentence. Suffice to say that abandoning drug law in favor of market determination is naïve and ludicrous.
Listen, you sound like one of them OS tech cult guys that like to think the populace Web 2.0 movement is democracy. It's not. Further, there's definitive evidence that it's doing more to fuck things up dramatically than add one iota of value.
Scott, we are a country of laws for reason. Mark my words: Not only do we currently protect the public against the ills of payola and similar fraud, manipulation and deception... you are absolutely going to see the FTC come down on this shit within the next two years. Count on it.
Lastly, to the "free market" guys, I don't mean to wish you ill will but maybe if this wild-west kicked you ass some, you'd be more inclined to look to protection.
So my opinion on drug legalization disqualifies my opinion on everything else? Read James Ostrowski's policy analysis for the Cato Institute, "Thinking About Drug Legalization" (http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa121.html), or Laura Huggins' "Drug War Deadlock" (http://www.hooverpress.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=1102). To simply dismiss anyone supporting drug legalization as "naive and ludicrous" pretty much shows the one-dimensional, black-and-white view with which you take on issues. It's a complex issue, as is blogger ethics. Dismissing opposing views as "naive and ludicrous" isn't debate -- it's propaganda.
Oh wait... I forgot... you're a PR person... propaganda is your business.
And no, the Web 2.0 movement isn't a democracy -- it's a meritocracy. Again, not a simple issue. That "definitive evidence" you talk about? There's "definitive evidence" that there are positive benefits as well. It kind of depends on what you value, doesn't it?
> ...maybe if this wild-west kicked you ass some, you'd be more inclined to look to protection.
Find me ONE person who bought a Nikon D80 because they read one of these bloggers' favorable reviews of it, and the blogger hadn't disclosed, and the person is dissatisfied with their purchase and feels misled. When that happens, you can take it to civil court. In the meantime, NO FOUL.
1. Yes. For all intents and purposes, drug legalization does disqualify your opinion here. You are arguing for argument sake. Indeed, there are numerous studies that can be referenced that go counter to common sense. Bottom line: Making things more fucked up does not make things better.
2. With regard to a black-and-white approach... Okay. So too is the concept of right and wrong. What is wrong today is the fuck-up liberal belief that it's all gray and that everyone is equal. It's not and we aren't.
3. The Web 2.0 movement is not a meritocracy. It's a populace mob who would not know merit if it hit them in the heads. If anything it is the "Cult of the Amateur."
4. As far as "propaganda is your business"... fuck you. If anything, we have worked very hard here at Strumpette in opposition of all things manipulative and surreptitious. Moreover, and who are you to judge? Virtual Handshake... cut me a break. Total crap.
5. As to value of Web 2.0, we are awash in idiot opinion, misinformation and porn. I take it that's aligned with your value.
6. For the same reason we outlaw payola, blogola similarly distorts a marketplace and provides some an unfair advantage. "No foul" is again naïve.
PS You're having you ass kicked by a girl.
1. No, I'm arguing because I disagree with you. You're the one who raised drug legalization, which has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
2. I suppose there may be some absolutes, but in many cases, right and wrong are contextual. I'm sitting here watching Larry King interview Jack Kevorkian. In a poll, 92% of Americans believe assisted suicide should be legalized. But the Supreme Court wouldn't hear his case and he spent 8 years in prison. What's "right" in that case? And who are you or I to decide?
3/5. You take a position, but with what to back it up? It doesn't become any more true the more strongly you assert it. Look, I'm not completely idealistic about it -- yes, there's idiot opinion, misinformation and porn. So far as I know, none of those things were invented this century. There's also people developing real personal and business relationships with people across the country and across the globe. There's also an opportunity for good information to find an audience where previously it wouldn't make it through the filters of the major media outlets. I'll take the bad with the good.
Oh, and the irony that your PR blog is prominently displaying a lingerie ad at the top isn't lost on me. :-)
4. That was supposed to be a joke - sorry you didn't take it that way. Did I mention I do PR too? If you're in opposition of all things manipulative and surreptitious, what do you call taking an antagonistic stand with anyone who disagrees with you so as to stir up controversy and attract readership? Or what about the use of a pen name rather than your real identity?
No wonder Shel Israel wrote about you:
"Amanda Chapel calls herself a satirist, but I've never been so sure. The great satirists I've known--Jonathan Swift and Mad Magazine, have used humor as a weapon to reveal truth. Amanda, all too often, seems to me to be using harshness and even cruelty. She often seems to me more like she's talking trash then serving up satire."
I now see first-hand what he was talking about.
As to who I am to judge... since when do I have to qualify to have an opinion?
Regarding "The Virtual Handshake" -- OK, I'm pretty thick-skinned, but that's over the line... calling the result of my three-and-a-half years of hard work "total crap" is completely uncalled for. Have you read the book? The reviews of it at Harvard Working Knowledge, Kirkus, BusinessWeek and a host of other credible third-party validation sources? I made it through the filters -- that's not self-published, it's put out by the American Management Association. I've also spent four-and-a-half years as an About.com Guide, now part of The New York Times Company, and I have PR and IR experience for publicly traded companies. And all of that can be easily validated... how about you?
Disagree with me, but don't diss me til you know me.
1. "No, I'm arguing because I disagree with you."
Never said that. I said you are arguing for argument sake. Intellectually contrary and as such basely annoying.
2. "I suppose there may be some absolutes, but in many cases, right and wrong are contextual."
No. Moral relativism is more crap. Your Kevorkian example ironically is exactly my point. YOU (plural) think populism trumps vetted representative standard. Mobs are an animal and they are, except for rare occasion, stupid.
3/5. Again, read Cult of the Amateur. That's all you're exposing. And ya know what, it is a waste of time to try to convert a cultist. To quote Woody Allen, "It's nothing a fist full of Prozac and a baseball bat couldn't cure."
4. Taking an antagonistic stand is neither manipulative or surreptitious. I do not suffer fools. Period.
With regard to Shel Israel, he's a light-weight putz.
With regard to Virtual Handshake... next you'll tell me that you're also doing motivational speaking with George Foreman and Donald Trump.
Scott, there are a TON of similar self help business books. Common sense and opinion wrapped in pseudo science, that's lame.