Lee's 'Better Communication Results' blog

A blog to help YOU communicate better for better business results!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Sponsored blogging and podcasting

A commentary on Shel & Nev's FIR today raised, for me, the issue of sponsored blogging and where the ethical line is drawn.

More and more mainstream media are utilising blogs and bloggers to capture news for them, both local and international.

Which is fine if you trust the blogger.

But what if your blogger is just someone with a winning way with words who readily accepts financing from a third party in order to both fund his hobby and to put bread on the table? Where does the ethical line lie?

I would think that the ethical line is that the blogger in question would announce prominently on his/her post/site that they are sponsored by XYZ Corp.

But I'm not stupid (my wife would disagree, judging by her views on how much time I spend on my internet interests).

A loud, opinionated, 'squeaky wheel' of a blogger or podcaster can easily garner significant airtime and media time, with a corresponding growth in reader/listenership. Indeed, its how many great PR campaigns begin - with a controversial point of view.

-- sidebar --
Consider the average GP (local doctor for my non-UK/AUS friends). They are extremely time poor, so rely on third parties to feed them synopses of conferences and medical literature. These third parties are 90%+ of the time pharmaceutical companies.

Wither the editorial integrity? Can GPs trust the provider of the information to be unbiased? Of course not, which is why more and more GPs that I know are no longer attending seminars and conferences put on by the drug companies.

--- end sidebar ---

Back to the mainstream media or blogworld (like my fellow compatriots at Corporate Engagement, I find the term 'blogosphere' faintly laughable) ...

If a particularly successful 'squeaky wheel' gets a lot of oil (attention), who is to say that their rants and raves aren't influenced by someone who is secretly sponsoring them? Or at least 'supporting' their cause...

Just as 'product review' websites are little more than clever and highly successful affiliate income earners for their owners, so bloggers can very shortly become PR darlings, and the most capable bloggers will no doubt be approached with sponsorship offers.

Watch the feathers fly on PR blogs when examples come to light!