Posted by Amanda Chapel
It has been brought to our attention that we may have been a little one sided in our reporting on the Nikon Blogger Outreach Program. Perhaps we overreacted to Joe Jaffe's stated "quid-pro-quo reciprocity" that he admits is inherent in MWW's campaign. In retrospect, our "whore" accusation may have been accurate but... a bit strong.
That said, we recognize there are always two sides to a story. In the interest of accuracy and fairness, we've reached out to uber blogger and self-described PR expert BL Ochman. As a blogola recipient, the outspoken Ms. Ochman certainly sheds light on the debate. BL contends that she is participating in a limited and sophisticated test; one that she's demonstratively completed.
What follows directly is: a brief description of BL's domain knowledge, i.e. why she is uniquely qualified to test the camera; her subsequent product review of the Nikon D80; and a few select photographs BL was able to capture with the camera.
OCHMAN'S BACKGROUND IN PHOTOGRAPHY
According to BL's website, photography's a "hobby". She did actually study it as part of an undergraduate degree (took a course apparently). And if it weren't for the allergies... who knows. BL: "I used to print my black and white pix until I became wildly allergic to the chemicals and had to stop going into dark little rooms."
Undeterred, BL says she later "went to the Maine Photographic Workshop" and also claims to have taken a few courses at the International Center for Photography. Note: although no specifics were provided, we do understand BL met some nice people there.
Lastly, one source has it that Ms. Ochman has been seen prowling the photography section of Barnes and Nobel a few times. And the book, Ansel Adams' "The Making of 40 Photographs," is proudly displayed on her coffee table in her living room.
So, unlike the majority of the other bloggers in the blogola program, BL has a considerable amount of depth in this area.
If there's one thing that surely quells the critics that want to characterize MWW's campaign as a simple bribe for positive coverage... it would be a substantive technical review. BL does just that.
Since receiving her 1-year "loaner" a few weeks ago, BL has provided a review that has even the experts in awe. She's written and published a product comparison pitting her cheapie 3-year-old, Canon PowerShot A85 pocket consumer camera up against the almost 4-times-as-expensive new professional SLR, the Nikon D80. Here in its entirety:
Note: To ensure the relative accuracy of the comparison, both cameras were on automatic for the test. Also note, where Benny is a labradoodle, both Sophie and Billy are of undetermined dog breeds which may have slightly skewed the photo results.
The following are a few select shots that not only clearly demonstrate BL's expertise and artistry, but also more importantly, show off the true capabilities of the Nikon D80. (Click on the image for a larger view.)
What more can be said. BL's test and review have certainly been comprehensive. As ethical as she is, we suspect BL will be returning the loot directly.
As you can probably imagine, "Two boys on a stick" has been quite viral especially among the mostly ambiguously male members of the PR blog community. As last count, that photo alone has had some 231,917 downloads. Now that's PR 2.0! You just can't buy that kind of credible endorsement and market reach.
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Whew! The results are outstanding and show the clear power and remarkable diversity of this camera. I'm able to see every curl and snarl in their coats. I'm sold! Nikon send me a free camera today!
These people just open the door and walk into these shit-storms without fail. I'm constantly amazed at how unaware of their own image management. Or perhaps they enjoy courting controversy through stupidity?
Thanks for making my day. You never fail to make me smile!
I think the product comparison is a the right thing to do. I think that sending these cameras to people who might not appreciate their use is probably not going to yield the results they sought. I am trying hard not to pass judgment on anyone here because I'm not certain that a major transgression has occurred. I may have jumped at the chance just because I could without thinking about it. We all do that. It is nice to have it brought to our attention in less public fashion. Perhaps that was done and when there was no response it was important to bring it out in the public view.
As for Brand Equity - the WAYS question has to be applied here: "What Are You Saying?" By accepting this and acknowledging it you are saying that you have become a product tester for said company. This is done all the time. A friend of mine works for Lexus. He gets a new car every year. The magazine writers get a road test opportunity and maybe a loaner for a few days. Once the test is over the product should go back or be passed on to charity. What did Nikon say? We want publicity. We are happy to have people try out our new camera. We are not afraid to buy votes. One, two or all three?
Ultimately, the issue is this - *Everyone has an agenda*. Everyone does, even if they do not like to admit it or recognize it. You have an agenda when you write. I have an agenda when I comment. If we as readers of any blog, newspaper, or other product endorsement don't consider that then perhaps we get what we deserve.
PS - the photo title will draw a crowd but will it be the desired crowd. Maybe it will generate a lot of Google clicks.
I agree that everyone has an agenda. But there's the selling agenda and then there's the greater good agenda. Some things elevate us; and some things diminish us.
If one were a complete retard, I could see where BL's silliness might elevate.
Ask and you shall receive?
I'm still trying to figure out if disclosure is enough in this case. Seems like the campaign has worked, but at what cost?
Wow. Those are terrible photos. But BL isn't a pro shooter. I shot for Corbis for ten years (nee The Stock Market) but I don't shoot any more. The 80 isn't for pros. What kind of glass did they get? 20-35mm 2.8? 80-200mm 2.8? Probably not. So, stop rationalizing whether a blogger deserves the Nikon (I was all F-4s and N90s myself). They don't. But, they are A-list bloggers and top influencers. Isn't that enough?