- There has been a lot of talk among bloggers (especially but not limited to “Mommy Bloggers”), about attempts by the government to regulate sponsored blog posts. an “Integrity” badge nominally serves to signify some sort of ethics compliance.
- The proposed “PR Blackout” is supposed to take place this week (Susan told me about Blog with Integrity a week ago).
- I inherently trust Susan- and by extension her three BwI co-founders- because of our friendship and the professional trust she has earned over the years. I ‘m happy to sniff out agendas in these types of efforts, and see none here.
As a PR person, I otherwise had reason to be concerned about the PR Blackout and Blog with Integrity. Is this an attack on the PR profession? A rejection of our outreach methods? As it turns out, no.
I listened to a podcast interview that Susan and BwI co-founder Liz Gumbinner did with For Immediate Release’s Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz (Liz blogs at Mom-101, by the way). I recommend listening to the podcast, it’s illuminating. What did I think about after listening, as a PR person?
- The PR Blackout idea, whether or not you think it’s a good idea, is more an attempt at a cleansing exercise than a flip-off of PR.
- I often say that blogger relations is not a lot different from mainstream media relations. We need to “relate” and deal with writers/editors/bloggers as individual. Where that breaks down, however, is that most bloggers do not have training as journalists. That does not mean they aren’t ethical, but it does mean they may be naive in how to deal with PR promotions, and when they should disclose relationships with companies. You can say it’s common sense, but if you have spent two decades in journalism in PR, it’s hard to remember the days before you knew how to sort out the flacks from the genuine rep’s.
- (ADDED 8/13); I was reminded via a question from Eden Spodek- Susan made a great point in the podcast: the badge is not so much a signifier to PR people that the blogger is ethical, but a reminder for the bloggers about their own values. We don;t need badges, unless we do.
We in PR are defensive, used to getting attacked because of bad practices and the unethical few (this didn’t start with bloggers, by the way). It’s nice to think that a move to “ethical” blogging, and even a break from PR, is not an attack no our industry, but a way to educate bloggers and rally the community behind ethics and common sense.
By the way, I signed the petition, and sport the “Blog with Integrity” badge. Not that I get pitched often (don’t get any ideas).