Dateline NBC Courts Blogs for Links – So What?

    January 31, 2006

According to Nathan Weinberg, Dateline NBC is courting certain tech bloggers to link to a special live blog they are hosting in conjunction with their series on sexual predators.

Nathan smells trouble because Dateline is already advertising this same episode on his blog via a BlogAds campaign.

Nathan writes….

“I don’t fault NBC for doing this. I think every advertiser on my blog should send me a pitch when (or better, before) they buy an ad, with no expectation of payback. I hope that if someone were to write about that pitch, they be transparent and point out the ad in their sidebar. I think NBC should have went the Marquis route, financing the discussion, so it was clear that the content is sponsored.”

(For blog newbies, the Marqui program Nathan mentions refers to a campaign about 18 months ago where a telecommunications company paid bloggers it sponsored with ads to reference them.)

Honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is here. So Dateline pitched Nathan on blogging about a subject and they also just happen to advertise on his site. How is this any different than if Wiley pitched a Naked Conversations review to Fortune – a magazine which they are advertising in? It’s silly to always assume that marketers need to uphold to a higher standard of transparency when dealing with bloggers. Sometimes they do, but not in this case.

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.