Monday, March 23, 2009

Controversial Sponsored Conversations on Blogs

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Steve Rubel, SVP, Director of Insights for Edelman Digital, is an industry leader in the PR and marketing field. Recently, he wrote on his blog, Micropersuasion, about an attention-grabbing debate over “sponsored conversations” on blogs and a brief conducted by Forrester Research.

“Sponsored conversations” are when a blogger is paid to post about a product or company. Both he and the Forrester study predict these controversial posts will soon become more widespread across the blogosphere.

Steve notes that this is not a new practice, highlighting the link between sponsored blog posts and advertorials in magazines or radio sponsorships and DJ endorsements. The controversy lies within posts where bloggers write about personal experiences with a product in turn for compensation. The difference with blogs is that they grant the principal the power to be author, editor and publisher all in one.

According to Steve’s post, the Forrester Research brief offers recommendations for ethical practices when paying bloggers. They include “mandate disclosure, ensure freedom of authenticity, partner with relevant blogs, don't talk and walk away.” In addition, Steve offers another ethical way to get around sticky situations. He suggests writing and submitting “your own content as a sponsored post. Have the blogger run the copy but with an advertorial label. This has worked in magazines for years.”

I thought this was an interesting discussion that affects professionals in PR, Marketing and bloggers alike. To read more about Steve’s thoughts and links to the Forrester brief, please click here.

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