Monday, August 23, 2004


There seems to be a never-ending supply of dumb ideas in PR and here is one. An outfit calling itself Blogversations is proposing to pay bloggers to discuss topics.

Blogversations says it is trying to do this properly. It claims it will match topics to bloggers and if bloggers opt to write about a product, service or topic, they will get paid for doing so -- or something like that. The outfit says it doesn't want bloggers to sell out, but it misses one small point -- whenever money changes hands there is suspicion of a sell-out. Here is what Blogversations says -- missing the point:

Advantages for bloggers: Leverage your authority and audience to earn money - without losing control over what you've got to say. Turn your ideas, criticisms, opinions, and reader share into money - and not muddy up your site with clunky ads in the process. Engage your audience with thought-provoking issues and questions.

The outfit says it doesn't want advertorials but what the heck are they if you are paying the blogger to write about the topic, no matter how seriously the blogger treats it? Or, let me ask it this way, would Blogversations still pay the blogger, if the blogger says the product stinks? How long would an advertiser stay with Blogversations, if one blogger after another said the product stinks?

There are fundamentals in PR that must be preserved to keep credibility. Paying for editorial, no matter how you do it, is a breach of fundamentals. Credibility comes from impartial consideration of a topic, product or service and impartial discussion of facts and opinions about it without payment. The PR person resorts to persuasion and only persuasion to get someone to write because it is essential to preserve credibility.

In defense of Blogversations, early publicists did pay for coverage. In fact, the first publicity shop of the 20th Century used to pay newspapers to run stories on the wonders of the telephone. But, it didn't take long before other publicists realized this was not the way to operate, and these publicists stopped paying but relied on persuasion and the merits of the topic, product or service. Blogversations wants to take us back to the future.

For the sake of the PR business, I hope this idea goes away quietly. Otherwise, bloggers will have to defend themselves every time they turn around and that's a pain.

(For the record, neither this blog nor the web site -- www.online-pr.com -- take any remuneration of any kind from anyone and never have. That way, I'm free to say what I want about the field. )


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?