Bribing Blogs

Posted by on Nov 2, 2011 in ComLead, Integrated Marketing Communication

Blogs are a great way to hybridize word of mouth advertising. You can find a blog in all areas of interest. The top 3 blogs according to Technorati are The Huffington Post, Mashable! and Gawker. These blogs have high levels of traffic and are influential in the blogosphere. With high readership and that draws traffic from all over the web, the ethical responsibilities of blogger comes under question.

The PRSA includes honesty as a core professional value stating “we adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.”  Do blogs fall under those who need to meet this obligation? Yes has been the overwhelming response.

This can be seen as far back as 2006 when Wal-mart paid bloggers to write about their experiences while travelling. The couple was RVing across the company and talking about how wonderful their interactions with Wal-mart employees were. This backfired when the blog was exposed as being paid for by the company.

Transparency is essential in today’s journalistic society when the truth can so easily be revealed. Marketing company 43a recently attempted to pay a blogger at Gawker.com to place links to their company’s websites in their blogs. This was to be done without the knowledge of editors or readers. Traditionally this relationship is disclosed and concealing it would be against the professional values of many bloggers and writers. The blogger exposed the offer from the marketing firm, only reinforcing that journalists are writers and not advertisements.

Do you think it is unethical to pay bloggers to write about products without revealing they are being paid? I think that transparency is needed in order to avoid leaving the reader with negative sentiments. It takes a lot to come up with creative PR and marketing, but it cannot leave the customer or reader feeling manipulated.

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