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Bloggers are Growing Up

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Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising that a company can get. It is better than millions of dollars spent on TV ads that few see, or Internet Advertising that people have learned to ignore.

Robert Scoble points out that the PR hacks have been quietly working their way around the personalities of the A and B List bloggers, to get their new shiny app or toy featured on techmeme.

Techmeme is the supposed pinnacle of technology consolidation systems, better than Digg, reddit and the whole rest of the crew. What makes it that way is the level of people who read techmeme as a way to quickly digest what is important to the tech geek crowd. While it does not do much to deliver actual traffic to a web site, it does have a stature effect that can not be ignored or dumped away.

PR folks are smart to this, and want to try to get their shiny new app or toy up on techmeme to show how the blogger community is thinking about the new latest big thing. The sad part is that Scoble points out that they are also dealing with people, which means appealing to their personality, or vanity, or what ever will motivate someone to write about their new tool, toy or app. While most will do it for a t-shirt, or even a link back, some well, need to be the one delivering the scoop.

First they’ll call Mike Arrington of Tech Crunch. Make sure he’s briefed first (Mike doesn’t like to talk about news that someone else broke first, so they’ll make sure he is always in the first group to get to share something with you all). Then they’ll brief “second-tier” bloggers like me, Om, Dan Farber, Read/Write Web, and a variety of others. Embargo us all so we can’t publish before Mike does. Then they’ll have a party the night of the launch where they’ll get everyone else to come — if they get even a few bloggers to talk about the new thing then it’ll hit TechMeme by midnight. Source: Web Pro News

In the drive to get the scoop, the right question to be asking is what if any objectivity is left in the A List and some B List blogs. Is there any device or new toy that comes out that is generally just plain old bad, or does not do something. The initial Iphone hysteria really proves the point, it was not until those first bills started rolling in that the Iphone started being doubted. Some good coverage on the Ipod Touch about how the screen had issues was good pre-sale information, and kept people from purchasing the Ipod Touch.

Outside of Valleywag (which is really more of a gossip “News of the World” style blog) there really is not a whole lot of real commentary about both the good and bad of a device unless someone suddenly finds objectivity. The other point is that when I do write a negative these are the issues article, I rarely if ever get asked to beta test for those groups again. Sometimes though you have to tell the whole story, not just the shiny happy story about a device, tool or application.

This is not as it should be, but as it is, which is also more interesting in the long run. If you have ever been on the phone with a company, and had the PR person say to you “Oh, I see by your writing you are a friend of the company, here are some complimentary tickets to the show” (which has happened, and can be a very weird moment) you know that the whole backend PR system for anyone or any company relies on being a “Friend of the Company”.

While some will question the objectivity of the A and B list, in many ways once those sites are perceived as tools, people will move on, and they will wonder what happened to all their traffic. That is the real underlying issue, sacrifice objectivity for the scoop, and people will figure this out over time. People make decisions about new stuff based on what they consider to be trusted stories from trusted sites and people. When they recommend a product, people will listen to that and make decisions based on that input. The whole Ipod thing for me is part of the process, I wanted a shiny new Ipod Touch, but based on feedback from people and sites I trust, I am really thinking about getting a Zune instead, if I am going to pay that much for something, it has to do what I want it to do.

Bloggers do need a certain amount of objectivity, with hands on experience with the systems, toys, tools, devices, gadgets, and other things that they talk about. If it has glaring issues, then you need to honestly state them. You might never get a chance to get your hands on the pre-release new toy for that company, but you will have a chance to at least speak what you think about the device or system, rather than just be another PR person in the chain of word of mouth recommendations.

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Bloggers are Growing Up
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About Dan Morrill
Dan Morrill runs Techwag, a site all about his views on social media, education, technology, and some of the more interesting things that happen on the internet. He works at CityU of Seattle as the Program Director for the Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Security educational programs. WebProNews Writer
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