*UDATED at the end*
To be asked to the tune of “girls on film”.
If you’re a regular reader of Canadian PR bloggers, you may have noticed a large orange and white banner or badge, inviting you to prove you’re a player. If you haven’t clicked through, and let’s face it, why would you, you’d have found a small flash based game designed by revered ad-agency, Taxi, for the Canadian News Wire (CNW).
I’ll give you a few seconds to think about that. Adverts on public relations blogs. Doesn’t that sound a little…counterintuitive?
Wasn’t the new social, interactive Internet, web 2.0 supposed to be the preserve of the PR agencies. Didn’t we lose out on the first iteration of the web but this time round it’s all ours? Wasn’t that the deal we made with the devil in the pale moonlight?
Do they detract or distract from the content? Have you gotten so desensitised to ads that you’re just studiously ignoring them?
Before I give my two cents I have a confession. I was approached by Taxi to run ads and I turned them down. Ads on a PR blog seemed…not right. Then I was told how much it was for and I was tempted. Not a life changing amount, but enough to buy a PVR recorder and ignore more adverts (ironic huh) on TV. Then I saw something on WordPress’ terms of service about only for non-commercial use and the decision was made for me. I’m still not sure how I feel about. The money would be nice, but I’m not in it for the money. I’ve already been more than adequately compensated through a great job and an even better new career.
With that disclosure out of the way, here’s how I feel. First off, did CNW get good value for money? I’d say that the program is probably costing them around…well, a fair amount. Instead of hitting up half a dozen bloggers for ads, what if they had appraoched all the PR bloggers asking them to link to the game? If they had handled the outreach in a half competent manner (my experience with Taxi would suggest that, while unlikely, it’s not outside the realms of possibility) I’m sure they’d have had quite the link collection at the end of it.
As a company “serving” the PR industry, shouldn’t they have spent their marketing dollars to PR us, not on shilling us?
And what of the esteemed bloggers? What does their taking the almighty ad dollar tell us? I’ve been as big a supporter of the role PR in the realm of social media as it’s possible for a mid-level PR guy to be but this kind of takes the shine off it. Why should companies bother to earn coverage, links and conversation when they can just buy it? What example does it give to our clients when the people evangelizing the use of this new form of communication as a PR tool can be, themselves, bought?
Hard work pays off later; laziness pays off now…
Does even the act of taking adverts sully the excellent content these guys are producing for us, or is it a Darwinian way to weed out those not good enough to be considered for adverts (and who then lose interest)? Leaving the fact that they’re all PR (or in Donna’s case, communications) blogs, what about ads in general?
I started a blog to make the mistakes my clients wouldn’t have to, and I’d never recommend a client who wanted to start a thought leadership blog run ads. Yet Fred, Mathew and Mark all do. And Mark went to become a VP at a blogging network…Jaffe does; Seth doesn’t. Where’s the balance – is there even a balance, is it just personal choice?
I guess in the end the answer, as always is “it depends”.
So three defracted points of view from my perspective – the client, the reader and the flackette. But they’re all mine; not yours. What do you guys think?
*UPDATE* – Mitch has some interesting thoughts, while Colin’s encouraging everyone to share their POV’s as well. If you haven’t done so already, there’re some great points in the comment section here (including some comments longer than this post!).
One aspect of the discussion that hasn’t been broached yet is whether we should be experimenting with blogging as a “technology” or as a totally new approach to communication. If the answer is technology, then my esteemed colleagues are well within their rights to monkey around with their blogs/feeds etc as much as they want; if it’s as a new approach to communications then, to me, it feels like trying to fit old media practices into a new media platform.
Don’t take my word for it; check out what everyone else is saying as well.
Powered by Qumana