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Re: [prbytes] Re: XP - A new dimension on social media

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  • Ned Barnett
    Mike I agree that integrity matters, but I think your hard-line approach brands ALL public relations as lacking in integrity because ALL public relations is
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 22, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      Mike

      I agree that integrity matters, but I think your hard-line approach
      brands ALL public relations as lacking in integrity because ALL
      public relations is bought-and-paid-for. Considering what we both do
      for a living, this seems a bit odd to me. Scroll down for specifics.

      At 03:52 AM 12/21/2006, you wrote:

      >All blogs are a type of medium. The majority are nothing more thanb
      >personal diaries, rants, talking about family and friends' matters, etc.

      I have no idea about the ratio of personal/nonsense blogs and those
      that deal with political or commercial issues. I think that the
      "controversy" over the influence used regarding blogs relate to those
      that deal with issues (politics, etc.) or commercial promotions. At
      least, that's what I was commenting on.

      I do a lot of book reviews on my history and publishing blogs; to
      review books, I have to first get the books. While I occasionally
      review books I've bought, most books I review are sent to me by
      publishers. Does this mean that my reviews are "tainted?" After
      all, I get a financial benefit (the books have value - I can sell
      them on eBay or Amazon or I can take them to a used bookstore and
      trade them) - and it seems that this over-the-top "ethics" rule I
      posted about objects to any blog-post for which the author has
      received any kind of remuneration.

      Frankly, the assumption that I am not objective because I got a free
      book is insulting.

      And if it's OK to review books that publishers provide, then that
      means some kind of remuneration is OK - so it becomes not a
      principle, but a dimension.

      How about people who are professional columnists - people like George
      Will or Frank Rich. They write blogs, too - and presumably, they
      write blogs as part fo their larger paid-for column-writing. Does
      that mean, because they're paid for their writing, that their blogs
      are suspect? Or does it just mean that they make their living
      writing, but for some reason they are exempt from the ethical
      standard being imposed on others?

      If it's OK for columnists or reporters or other paid journalists to
      write blogs, and be paid for writing blogs, how is that ethical while
      others who get paid for writing blogs are assumed to be
      unethical? Where is the difference?

      And how about those of us in PR who are on retainer to communicate
      for our clients? If we write blogs, are we assumed to be tainted
      because we're on retainer? If so, how is that different than book
      reviewers, who also receive something of value for their review blogs?

      How about those of us who have jobs on the 'client-side' - who handle
      PR for for-profit companies. Are our blogs deemed tainted because we
      draw a paycheck. How is that different than columnists, who also
      draw a paycheck for writing their blogs.

      Does it matter if those of us who are 'client-side' but who work for
      charities or other non-profits write blogs as part of their
      employment? Are they given a "pass" because they work for
      socially-acceptable non-profits (rather than the obviously
      frowned-upon for-profits)?

      How about this: I write a lot of blogs about how to promote books
      and authors (http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/) and a lot of
      blogs about PR (http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/) and Marketing
      (http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/). Oddly enough, I make my
      living by providing PR and marketing services, including promoting
      authors and books. Clearly, I hope to make money by influencing
      potential clients via my blogs. Is that unethical? After all, I'm
      not paid directly - but I do hope to be paid. Or is this OK because
      anybody who reads it will assume I have something to sell?

      In short, there is no black-and-white determination - there can't be,
      since there are so many "acceptable" exceptions - yet this
      proposed/imposed ethical standard seeks to do just that. To make some
      things unethical on the face of it.

      Or is the answer simply that we who write blogs must reveal all of
      our direct or indirect financial incentives for writing?

      Frankly, I don't buy it - I don't buy it because there is no
      clear-cut delineation between what these self-appointed ethics mavens
      see as "unethical" and what is clearly and obviously just business as usual.

      Those of us in PR write for clients or employers for pay - that
      doesn't mean we're unethical, merely that we're paid for our
      efforts. I don't know about you, but I won't put my name on
      something I don't find acceptable and ethical. I refuse to work with
      clients whose efforts I cannot support - living in Las Vegas as I do,
      I've turned down a LOT of potential clients because I find their
      legal businesses objectionable - but those I work with I believe in,
      and write about honestly (and get paid well for this).


      >For those that have some traffic (and some supposed measure of
      >influence), they will be candidates for social media/PR outreach. Just
      >like any other media outlet. But, unlike traditional media, they
      >should be communicated with differently.

      I just cannot accept this, Mike. We've debated this before, and I've
      never heard any reason explained to me why placing an article with a
      blogger is any different from placing an article with the New York Times.


      >PayPerPost's change in policy (as a result of the FTC opinion and peer
      >pressue, IMO) is welcomed as it requires transparency and honesty
      >among the bloggers that sign up for it. Hopefully, it'll help
      >encourage the same in all.

      I think that any business that's threatened by the FTC is wise to
      cave - the Federal Government can afford all the lawyers they need;
      most for-profit businesses cannot afford (as Microsoft did) to fight
      the Feds - even if they're in the right. The fact that they prudently
      caved in does not mean that they were doing anything wrong - only
      that they can't afford to fight city hall.

      Unless, of course, we assume that the federal government is always
      right. Do you believe that? I don't. I think federal regulators
      make lots and lots and lots of mistakes. Some of them fatal (think
      Waco or Ruby Ridge) and some just offensive (think Elian Gonzales -
      or the Japanese-American internment camps). But few can afford to
      "fight city hall" and they wisely cave in to even unwarranted federal
      pressure. This is now I interpret the situation here.

      The assumption that honesty is compromised is insulting; I recall
      that people used to be presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty, but
      apparently, that no longer applies. At least not in the so-called
      "social media," where you're guilty if you take money for writing,
      even if all you write is honest and true. That smacks of
      sanctimonious socialism to me, and it's a bitter abrogation of the
      First Amendment freedoms we all claim to cherish.


      >It's all about calling a spade a spade.

      What's the answer? Should all bloggers post their 1040s? Must we
      reveal all of our financial ties, direct or indirect? What about our
      spouses' ties? What's to keep us from letting family members accept
      payment, then advocating in blogs for their employers?

      Hell, Mike I remember doing an entire PR and ad campaign - gratis -
      for a school board seeking approval for a bond issue ... at the time,
      my then-wife was employed by the school board, but I was not. Still,
      it could be argued that I had an interest (though my then-wife's job
      did not depend on the passage of the bond issue, some might still
      argue that I had a financial incentive). This happened before the
      advent of blogs and other social media, but if they had existed, I'd
      have blogged away on behalf of the bond issue. In this case, would
      I have had to reveal my dubious and secondary connection?

      Or even more remote - I was a volunteer member of the fund-raising
      advisory board of a non-profit area zoo. In that role, I ran a major
      PR campaign supporting the zoo, but in doing so, I did not make it
      known that I was volunteering for the zoo - instead, I ran the PR
      campaign through my employer (a community college whose students were
      building an exhibit for the zoo as part of their construction-trades
      academic programs). Should I have revealed this? Is there any harm,
      or any dishonesty, involved in my advocacy of this laudable
      community/civic non-profit organization?

      Do you see how slippery this slope is? How dangerous it is to set up
      "absolutes" and to create the assumption that unless we "call a spade
      a spade" we are defacto unethical.

      >We know ads are paid for.

      But blogs aren't ads. Nor are book reviews. Nor are volunteer-run
      PR campaigns for non-profits, if those campaigns are run by people
      who are "on the clock" with some organization that will benefit from
      the campaign. All may have some financial ties, yet none of them are ads.

      When I buy an ad, I know exactly what is going to be said and exactly
      when and where the ad will run. Blogs that are incentivized still
      represent the (presumably) honest opinions of the bloggers - the
      incentivizers do not write or approve the blog-copy - and to me, that
      all by itself makes these not ads and not ad equivalents.

      >We
      >know editorial is not.

      No, we don't. See book reviews, above. Or the article I wrote that
      ran - literally unedited - in the October 24, 1992 issue of the New
      York Times (an article for which I was paid $5,000 by the client
      under whose name it ran).

      >Yes, the reporter may have had help or received
      >the story idea from a PR person, but the integrity in the story is
      >still there.

      I'm sorry, Mike, but what planet do you live on? Assuming that
      reporters are men and women of integrity - even when they write what
      PR people tell them to write? I send out a lot of press releases to
      high-tech media, and a lot of these wind up being printed, unedited,
      but with a reporter's or editor's name placed on them. They strip
      out "BusinessWire" and put in "Bob Jones, Editor" and run it
      as-is. That's integrity? C'mon.

      Lots of induced blogs have much more integrity than that - to assume
      that they're all guilty is wrong, just as wrong as assuming that all
      reporters have integrity. Most do, many don't.


      >The FTC opinion is simply a measure to ensure the same with blogs.

      No, in my opinion, the FTC opinion is simply one more power-grab by
      the government, one more unwarranted degradation in the First
      Amendment. They picked on a small company that couldn't afford to
      fight this up to the Supreme Court, so the FTC "bought" a cheap
      precedent. To assume that the FTC is right is to assume that Waco
      and Manzanar are also right. I do NOT make that assumption; I'm
      surprised you do.

      >That, if you have a paid-for or sponsored slant to your blog, just say
      >so and go about with your postings. Then, readers can judge the
      >content's value fairly.

      Unnecessary and (to me) unwelcome government intervention into free
      speech. What's next - regulations governing press releases, pitches,
      website copy, etc.?


      >The integrity of the messenger *does* matter.

      Yes - so does "innocent until proven guilty" and "Freedom of Speech
      and the Press" (you know, the Constitution).

      Ned


      >Mike
      >
      >_____________________________
      >Michael Driehorst
      >Media Relations Manager
      >The Lauerer Markin Group Inc.
      >
      >Y!M: miked918 / GTalk: mike.driehorst
      >Blog: www.mikespoints.com
      >
      >--- In <mailto:prbytes%40yahoogroups.com>prbytes@yahoogroups.com,
      >Ned Barnett <ned@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > Now it's a regulated advertising medium - so much for freedom of
      > > expression. I wonder: will this same rule apply to PR-written
      > > contributed articles, or to paid columnists? Probably
      > > not.
      > >
      ><http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TECHBIT_BLOG_DISCLOSURES?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-12-20-19-54-08>http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TECHBIT_BLOG_DISCLOSURES?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-12-20-19-54-08
      >
      > >
      >
      >



      Ned Barnett, APR
      Marketing/PR Fellow, AHA

      Barnett Marketing Communications
      Exceptional Marcom Services for Exceptional Clients

      420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3 - 276 - Las Vegas, NV 89110
      Phone: 702-696-1200 * FAX: 702-696-1211
      ned@... - http://www.barnettmarcom.com

      Barnett on PR: http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/
      Barnett on Marketing: http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/
      Barnett on Book Promotion/Marketing/Publishing:
      http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/

      BMC - A Sound Investment in Exceptional Success

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Michael Driehorst
      Suffice to say that no one size fits all. Different media have their own ground rules. We, as public relations and communications professionals, need to know
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 22, 2006
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        Suffice to say that "no one size fits all." Different media have their
        own ground rules. We, as public relations and communications
        professionals, need to know the accepted rules to effectively work
        with the varying media.

        In traditional media, journalists are not paid, bribed, etc., to write
        news about ABC company. They do so because they (or their editor)
        feels it's newsworthy or otherwise of interest to readers, viewers, etc.

        With bloggers -- who are not held to the same journalistic, integrity
        standards -- the rules are a bit different. But, still, if a blogger
        is being paid to write about a product, service, company, issue, etc.,
        the reader should know about it. If a blogger is "pitched" and he/she
        writes about a product, etc., but not paid, that's no different than
        traditional media.

        I've successfully dealth with traditional and social media (bloggers)
        and know you can't work with them the same way.
        Mike
        _____________________________
        Michael Driehorst
        Media Relations Manager
        The Lauerer Markin Group Inc.

        Y!M: miked918 / GTalk: mike.driehorst
        Blog: www.mikespoints.com

        --- In prbytes@yahoogroups.com, Ned Barnett <ned@...> wrote:
        >
        > Mike
        >
        > I agree that integrity matters, but I think your hard-line approach
        > brands ALL public relations as lacking in integrity because ALL
        > public relations is bought-and-paid-for. Considering what we both do
        > for a living, this seems a bit odd to me. Scroll down for specifics.
        >
        > At 03:52 AM 12/21/2006, you wrote:
        >
        > >All blogs are a type of medium. The majority are nothing more thanb
        > >personal diaries, rants, talking about family and friends' matters,
        etc.
        >
        > I have no idea about the ratio of personal/nonsense blogs and those
        > that deal with political or commercial issues. I think that the
        > "controversy" over the influence used regarding blogs relate to those
        > that deal with issues (politics, etc.) or commercial promotions. At
        > least, that's what I was commenting on.
        >
        > I do a lot of book reviews on my history and publishing blogs; to
        > review books, I have to first get the books. While I occasionally
        > review books I've bought, most books I review are sent to me by
        > publishers. Does this mean that my reviews are "tainted?" After
        > all, I get a financial benefit (the books have value - I can sell
        > them on eBay or Amazon or I can take them to a used bookstore and
        > trade them) - and it seems that this over-the-top "ethics" rule I
        > posted about objects to any blog-post for which the author has
        > received any kind of remuneration.
        >
        > Frankly, the assumption that I am not objective because I got a free
        > book is insulting.
        >
        > And if it's OK to review books that publishers provide, then that
        > means some kind of remuneration is OK - so it becomes not a
        > principle, but a dimension.
        >
        > How about people who are professional columnists - people like George
        > Will or Frank Rich. They write blogs, too - and presumably, they
        > write blogs as part fo their larger paid-for column-writing. Does
        > that mean, because they're paid for their writing, that their blogs
        > are suspect? Or does it just mean that they make their living
        > writing, but for some reason they are exempt from the ethical
        > standard being imposed on others?
        >
        > If it's OK for columnists or reporters or other paid journalists to
        > write blogs, and be paid for writing blogs, how is that ethical while
        > others who get paid for writing blogs are assumed to be
        > unethical? Where is the difference?
        >
        > And how about those of us in PR who are on retainer to communicate
        > for our clients? If we write blogs, are we assumed to be tainted
        > because we're on retainer? If so, how is that different than book
        > reviewers, who also receive something of value for their review blogs?
        >
        > How about those of us who have jobs on the 'client-side' - who handle
        > PR for for-profit companies. Are our blogs deemed tainted because we
        > draw a paycheck. How is that different than columnists, who also
        > draw a paycheck for writing their blogs.
        >
        > Does it matter if those of us who are 'client-side' but who work for
        > charities or other non-profits write blogs as part of their
        > employment? Are they given a "pass" because they work for
        > socially-acceptable non-profits (rather than the obviously
        > frowned-upon for-profits)?
        >
        > How about this: I write a lot of blogs about how to promote books
        > and authors (http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/) and a lot of
        > blogs about PR (http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/) and Marketing
        > (http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/). Oddly enough, I make my
        > living by providing PR and marketing services, including promoting
        > authors and books. Clearly, I hope to make money by influencing
        > potential clients via my blogs. Is that unethical? After all, I'm
        > not paid directly - but I do hope to be paid. Or is this OK because
        > anybody who reads it will assume I have something to sell?
        >
        > In short, there is no black-and-white determination - there can't be,
        > since there are so many "acceptable" exceptions - yet this
        > proposed/imposed ethical standard seeks to do just that. To make some
        > things unethical on the face of it.
        >
        > Or is the answer simply that we who write blogs must reveal all of
        > our direct or indirect financial incentives for writing?
        >
        > Frankly, I don't buy it - I don't buy it because there is no
        > clear-cut delineation between what these self-appointed ethics mavens
        > see as "unethical" and what is clearly and obviously just business
        as usual.
        >
        > Those of us in PR write for clients or employers for pay - that
        > doesn't mean we're unethical, merely that we're paid for our
        > efforts. I don't know about you, but I won't put my name on
        > something I don't find acceptable and ethical. I refuse to work with
        > clients whose efforts I cannot support - living in Las Vegas as I do,
        > I've turned down a LOT of potential clients because I find their
        > legal businesses objectionable - but those I work with I believe in,
        > and write about honestly (and get paid well for this).
        >
        >
        > >For those that have some traffic (and some supposed measure of
        > >influence), they will be candidates for social media/PR outreach. Just
        > >like any other media outlet. But, unlike traditional media, they
        > >should be communicated with differently.
        >
        > I just cannot accept this, Mike. We've debated this before, and I've
        > never heard any reason explained to me why placing an article with a
        > blogger is any different from placing an article with the New York
        Times.
        >
        >
        > >PayPerPost's change in policy (as a result of the FTC opinion and peer
        > >pressue, IMO) is welcomed as it requires transparency and honesty
        > >among the bloggers that sign up for it. Hopefully, it'll help
        > >encourage the same in all.
        >
        > I think that any business that's threatened by the FTC is wise to
        > cave - the Federal Government can afford all the lawyers they need;
        > most for-profit businesses cannot afford (as Microsoft did) to fight
        > the Feds - even if they're in the right. The fact that they prudently
        > caved in does not mean that they were doing anything wrong - only
        > that they can't afford to fight city hall.
        >
        > Unless, of course, we assume that the federal government is always
        > right. Do you believe that? I don't. I think federal regulators
        > make lots and lots and lots of mistakes. Some of them fatal (think
        > Waco or Ruby Ridge) and some just offensive (think Elian Gonzales -
        > or the Japanese-American internment camps). But few can afford to
        > "fight city hall" and they wisely cave in to even unwarranted federal
        > pressure. This is now I interpret the situation here.
        >
        > The assumption that honesty is compromised is insulting; I recall
        > that people used to be presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty, but
        > apparently, that no longer applies. At least not in the so-called
        > "social media," where you're guilty if you take money for writing,
        > even if all you write is honest and true. That smacks of
        > sanctimonious socialism to me, and it's a bitter abrogation of the
        > First Amendment freedoms we all claim to cherish.
        >
        >
        > >It's all about calling a spade a spade.
        >
        > What's the answer? Should all bloggers post their 1040s? Must we
        > reveal all of our financial ties, direct or indirect? What about our
        > spouses' ties? What's to keep us from letting family members accept
        > payment, then advocating in blogs for their employers?
        >
        > Hell, Mike I remember doing an entire PR and ad campaign - gratis -
        > for a school board seeking approval for a bond issue ... at the time,
        > my then-wife was employed by the school board, but I was not. Still,
        > it could be argued that I had an interest (though my then-wife's job
        > did not depend on the passage of the bond issue, some might still
        > argue that I had a financial incentive). This happened before the
        > advent of blogs and other social media, but if they had existed, I'd
        > have blogged away on behalf of the bond issue. In this case, would
        > I have had to reveal my dubious and secondary connection?
        >
        > Or even more remote - I was a volunteer member of the fund-raising
        > advisory board of a non-profit area zoo. In that role, I ran a major
        > PR campaign supporting the zoo, but in doing so, I did not make it
        > known that I was volunteering for the zoo - instead, I ran the PR
        > campaign through my employer (a community college whose students were
        > building an exhibit for the zoo as part of their construction-trades
        > academic programs). Should I have revealed this? Is there any harm,
        > or any dishonesty, involved in my advocacy of this laudable
        > community/civic non-profit organization?
        >
        > Do you see how slippery this slope is? How dangerous it is to set up
        > "absolutes" and to create the assumption that unless we "call a spade
        > a spade" we are defacto unethical.
        >
        > >We know ads are paid for.
        >
        > But blogs aren't ads. Nor are book reviews. Nor are volunteer-run
        > PR campaigns for non-profits, if those campaigns are run by people
        > who are "on the clock" with some organization that will benefit from
        > the campaign. All may have some financial ties, yet none of them
        are ads.
        >
        > When I buy an ad, I know exactly what is going to be said and exactly
        > when and where the ad will run. Blogs that are incentivized still
        > represent the (presumably) honest opinions of the bloggers - the
        > incentivizers do not write or approve the blog-copy - and to me, that
        > all by itself makes these not ads and not ad equivalents.
        >
        > >We
        > >know editorial is not.
        >
        > No, we don't. See book reviews, above. Or the article I wrote that
        > ran - literally unedited - in the October 24, 1992 issue of the New
        > York Times (an article for which I was paid $5,000 by the client
        > under whose name it ran).
        >
        > >Yes, the reporter may have had help or received
        > >the story idea from a PR person, but the integrity in the story is
        > >still there.
        >
        > I'm sorry, Mike, but what planet do you live on? Assuming that
        > reporters are men and women of integrity - even when they write what
        > PR people tell them to write? I send out a lot of press releases to
        > high-tech media, and a lot of these wind up being printed, unedited,
        > but with a reporter's or editor's name placed on them. They strip
        > out "BusinessWire" and put in "Bob Jones, Editor" and run it
        > as-is. That's integrity? C'mon.
        >
        > Lots of induced blogs have much more integrity than that - to assume
        > that they're all guilty is wrong, just as wrong as assuming that all
        > reporters have integrity. Most do, many don't.
        >
        >
        > >The FTC opinion is simply a measure to ensure the same with blogs.
        >
        > No, in my opinion, the FTC opinion is simply one more power-grab by
        > the government, one more unwarranted degradation in the First
        > Amendment. They picked on a small company that couldn't afford to
        > fight this up to the Supreme Court, so the FTC "bought" a cheap
        > precedent. To assume that the FTC is right is to assume that Waco
        > and Manzanar are also right. I do NOT make that assumption; I'm
        > surprised you do.
        >
        > >That, if you have a paid-for or sponsored slant to your blog, just say
        > >so and go about with your postings. Then, readers can judge the
        > >content's value fairly.
        >
        > Unnecessary and (to me) unwelcome government intervention into free
        > speech. What's next - regulations governing press releases, pitches,
        > website copy, etc.?
        >
        >
        > >The integrity of the messenger *does* matter.
        >
        > Yes - so does "innocent until proven guilty" and "Freedom of Speech
        > and the Press" (you know, the Constitution).
        >
        > Ned
        >
        >
        > >Mike
        > >
        > >_____________________________
        > >Michael Driehorst
        > >Media Relations Manager
        > >The Lauerer Markin Group Inc.
        > >
        > >Y!M: miked918 / GTalk: mike.driehorst
        > >Blog: www.mikespoints.com
        > >
        > >--- In <mailto:prbytes%40yahoogroups.com>prbytes@yahoogroups.com,
        > >Ned Barnett <ned@> wrote:
        > > >
        > > > Now it's a regulated advertising medium - so much for freedom of
        > > > expression. I wonder: will this same rule apply to PR-written
        > > > contributed articles, or to paid columnists? Probably
        > > > not.
        > > >
        >
        ><http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TECHBIT_BLOG_DISCLOSURES?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-12-20-19-54-08>http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TECHBIT_BLOG_DISCLOSURES?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-12-20-19-54-08
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        > Ned Barnett, APR
        > Marketing/PR Fellow, AHA
        >
        > Barnett Marketing Communications
        > Exceptional Marcom Services for Exceptional Clients
        >
        > 420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3 - 276 - Las Vegas, NV 89110
        > Phone: 702-696-1200 * FAX: 702-696-1211
        > ned@... - http://www.barnettmarcom.com
        >
        > Barnett on PR: http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/
        > Barnett on Marketing: http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/
        > Barnett on Book Promotion/Marketing/Publishing:
        > http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/
        >
        > BMC - A Sound Investment in Exceptional Success
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
      • Ned Barnett
        ... Mike - again, we disagree. I have been doing this a lot of years, and have found that one set of ethical ground rules works for all, at least from a PR
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 22, 2006
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          At 05:22 AM 12/22/2006, you wrote:

          >Suffice to say that "no one size fits all." Different media have their
          >own ground rules. We, as public relations and communications
          >professionals, need to know the accepted rules to effectively work
          >with the varying media.

          Mike - again, we disagree. I have been doing this a lot of years,
          and have found that one set of ethical ground rules works for all, at
          least from a PR perspective.


          >In traditional media, journalists are not paid, bribed, etc., to write
          >news about ABC company. They do so because they (or their editor)
          >feels it's newsworthy or otherwise of interest to readers, viewers, etc.

          Which is why we never take them to lunch, why we never send them
          Santa hats with review-copy DVDs of a holiday video, or $40
          stethoscopes with a release announcing a major hospital company
          venture (that release got 4,000 uses, by the way). And why we make
          theater reviewers and restaurant reviewers pay for their shows or meals ...

          Its not as squeaky-clean as you make out, Mike.


          >With bloggers -- who are not held to the same journalistic, integrity
          >standards --

          I'm a blogger, Mike - I'm also the editor of a trade journal (The
          Construction Zone) as well as a PR guy; and I write contributed
          articles for publications on behalf of clients. In all cases, I
          follow the same high journalistic standards of integrity. I also
          choose to treat others as if they have integrity too - innocent until
          proven guilty. I guess my biggest objection to this approach you
          seem to support (assuming I understand your views) is the assumption
          that bloggers are "less than." It seems that high-integrity bloggers
          (in pyjamas) brought down Dan Rather and CBS, who apparently had no
          integrity.

          I write for American Thinker on occasion - the integrity issue there
          is paramount - much more rigorous than what I've written for the NY
          Times. Yet it's a "blog" (I guess - it's certainly some kind of
          "social media"). It's widely quoted by the more mainstream media,
          perhaps because of it's reputation for integrity. There are others I
          can mention, including the famous "bloggers in pyjamas" blog-site,
          which routinely breaks news the mainstream missed or botched.

          Bottom line: I disagree with your assumption that bloggers are "less
          than" and not held to high standards. Those who I know who pay
          attention to certain blogs only pay attention to those with high
          standards - just as we ignore the National Enquirer but pay attention
          to the Washington Post (both printed media).

          >the rules are a bit different.

          The point is, there are no rules. That's another objection I
          have. Some want to impose rules on what has been the ultimate
          manifestation (up to now) of free speech and free press. The FTC is
          wrong here, but who in the blogosphere is big enough to fight them?
          Nobody I know.

          >But, still, if a blogger
          >is being paid to write about a product, service, company, issue, etc.,
          >the reader should know about it.

          Why?

          If the blogger has no integrity, people will figure it out.

          Who (at least who in their right mind) makes purchase decisions or
          intellectual-process decisions based on a single blog? Nobody smart
          enough to fog a mirror.

          Hell, we both know a lot of trade journals only provide favorable
          editorial content for advertisers (or who preferentially provide
          favorable content for advertisers). A competitor of mine, California
          Construction Network is a great example - and very blatant about it -
          but I've seen "legitimate" mainstream trades that have that as a
          subtle bias ... and I've had clients buy ads just to open the PR
          pipeline a bit wider ... Tell me I'm wrong here, Mike - anybody in PR
          who's dealt with the trades knows I"m right on target.

          But is the FTC infringing on THEIR First Amendment editorial
          freedom? Hell No! Why not? Because the mainstream print media would
          fight back - and win - they'd recognize an FTC attack on any "legit"
          trade journal would be an attack on all of them. But who'll fight
          for the bloggers? Nobody with much in the way of big-bucks resources.

          >If a blogger is "pitched" and he/she
          >writes about a product, etc., but not paid, that's no different than
          >traditional media.

          If he's paid, as I keep pointing out, it's still no different than
          traditional media. Many, many, many traditional media are for sale
          (or for rent) - Off-list, I'll be glad to name names of specific
          legit trade journals who I know do it (because I've been party to
          recommending ad buys and seen the PR/editorial coverage soar in
          direct reaction to the ads).

          So I've got to disagree. Blogs are no different, and an assault on
          them is an assault on the First Amendment - and that hurts all of us.



          >I've successfully dealth with traditional and social media (bloggers)
          >and know you can't work with them the same way.

          Well, there we are. I've dealt successfully with both - in the case
          of traditional media since 1972 - and I know you CAN (and believe you
          MUST) deal with them the same way. Respect them, but recognize that
          one way or the other, most are for sale or for rent - not all, but
          even the most blatant will have ethical standards of some kind (even
          the National Enquirer has fact-checkers).

          Interesting debate, Mike - thanks for taking up the cudgel - only by
          debating and refining our ideas will the truth be separated out from the dross.

          Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, all the best to all

          Ned

          >Mike
          >_____________________________
          >Michael Driehorst
          >Media Relations Manager
          >The Lauerer Markin Group Inc.
          >
          >Y!M: miked918 / GTalk: mike.driehorst
          >Blog: www.mikespoints.com
          >
          >--- In <mailto:prbytes%40yahoogroups.com>prbytes@yahoogroups.com,
          >Ned Barnett <ned@...> wrote:
          > >
          > > Mike
          > >
          > > I agree that integrity matters, but I think your hard-line approach
          > > brands ALL public relations as lacking in integrity because ALL
          > > public relations is bought-and-paid-for. Considering what we both do
          > > for a living, this seems a bit odd to me. Scroll down for specifics.
          > >
          > > At 03:52 AM 12/21/2006, you wrote:
          > >
          > > >All blogs are a type of medium. The majority are nothing more thanb
          > > >personal diaries, rants, talking about family and friends' matters,
          >etc.
          > >
          > > I have no idea about the ratio of personal/nonsense blogs and those
          > > that deal with political or commercial issues. I think that the
          > > "controversy" over the influence used regarding blogs relate to those
          > > that deal with issues (politics, etc.) or commercial promotions. At
          > > least, that's what I was commenting on.
          > >
          > > I do a lot of book reviews on my history and publishing blogs; to
          > > review books, I have to first get the books. While I occasionally
          > > review books I've bought, most books I review are sent to me by
          > > publishers. Does this mean that my reviews are "tainted?" After
          > > all, I get a financial benefit (the books have value - I can sell
          > > them on eBay or Amazon or I can take them to a used bookstore and
          > > trade them) - and it seems that this over-the-top "ethics" rule I
          > > posted about objects to any blog-post for which the author has
          > > received any kind of remuneration.
          > >
          > > Frankly, the assumption that I am not objective because I got a free
          > > book is insulting.
          > >
          > > And if it's OK to review books that publishers provide, then that
          > > means some kind of remuneration is OK - so it becomes not a
          > > principle, but a dimension.
          > >
          > > How about people who are professional columnists - people like George
          > > Will or Frank Rich. They write blogs, too - and presumably, they
          > > write blogs as part fo their larger paid-for column-writing. Does
          > > that mean, because they're paid for their writing, that their blogs
          > > are suspect? Or does it just mean that they make their living
          > > writing, but for some reason they are exempt from the ethical
          > > standard being imposed on others?
          > >
          > > If it's OK for columnists or reporters or other paid journalists to
          > > write blogs, and be paid for writing blogs, how is that ethical while
          > > others who get paid for writing blogs are assumed to be
          > > unethical? Where is the difference?
          > >
          > > And how about those of us in PR who are on retainer to communicate
          > > for our clients? If we write blogs, are we assumed to be tainted
          > > because we're on retainer? If so, how is that different than book
          > > reviewers, who also receive something of value for their review blogs?
          > >
          > > How about those of us who have jobs on the 'client-side' - who handle
          > > PR for for-profit companies. Are our blogs deemed tainted because we
          > > draw a paycheck. How is that different than columnists, who also
          > > draw a paycheck for writing their blogs.
          > >
          > > Does it matter if those of us who are 'client-side' but who work for
          > > charities or other non-profits write blogs as part of their
          > > employment? Are they given a "pass" because they work for
          > > socially-acceptable non-profits (rather than the obviously
          > > frowned-upon for-profits)?
          > >
          > > How about this: I write a lot of blogs about how to promote books
          > > and authors
          > (<http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/>http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/)
          > and a lot of
          > > blogs about PR
          > (<http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/>http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/)
          > and Marketing
          > >
          > (<http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/>http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/).
          > Oddly enough, I make my
          > > living by providing PR and marketing services, including promoting
          > > authors and books. Clearly, I hope to make money by influencing
          > > potential clients via my blogs. Is that unethical? After all, I'm
          > > not paid directly - but I do hope to be paid. Or is this OK because
          > > anybody who reads it will assume I have something to sell?
          > >
          > > In short, there is no black-and-white determination - there can't be,
          > > since there are so many "acceptable" exceptions - yet this
          > > proposed/imposed ethical standard seeks to do just that. To make some
          > > things unethical on the face of it.
          > >
          > > Or is the answer simply that we who write blogs must reveal all of
          > > our direct or indirect financial incentives for writing?
          > >
          > > Frankly, I don't buy it - I don't buy it because there is no
          > > clear-cut delineation between what these self-appointed ethics mavens
          > > see as "unethical" and what is clearly and obviously just business
          >as usual.
          > >
          > > Those of us in PR write for clients or employers for pay - that
          > > doesn't mean we're unethical, merely that we're paid for our
          > > efforts. I don't know about you, but I won't put my name on
          > > something I don't find acceptable and ethical. I refuse to work with
          > > clients whose efforts I cannot support - living in Las Vegas as I do,
          > > I've turned down a LOT of potential clients because I find their
          > > legal businesses objectionable - but those I work with I believe in,
          > > and write about honestly (and get paid well for this).
          > >
          > >
          > > >For those that have some traffic (and some supposed measure of
          > > >influence), they will be candidates for social media/PR outreach. Just
          > > >like any other media outlet. But, unlike traditional media, they
          > > >should be communicated with differently.
          > >
          > > I just cannot accept this, Mike. We've debated this before, and I've
          > > never heard any reason explained to me why placing an article with a
          > > blogger is any different from placing an article with the New York
          >Times.
          > >
          > >
          > > >PayPerPost's change in policy (as a result of the FTC opinion and peer
          > > >pressue, IMO) is welcomed as it requires transparency and honesty
          > > >among the bloggers that sign up for it. Hopefully, it'll help
          > > >encourage the same in all.
          > >
          > > I think that any business that's threatened by the FTC is wise to
          > > cave - the Federal Government can afford all the lawyers they need;
          > > most for-profit businesses cannot afford (as Microsoft did) to fight
          > > the Feds - even if they're in the right. The fact that they prudently
          > > caved in does not mean that they were doing anything wrong - only
          > > that they can't afford to fight city hall.
          > >
          > > Unless, of course, we assume that the federal government is always
          > > right. Do you believe that? I don't. I think federal regulators
          > > make lots and lots and lots of mistakes. Some of them fatal (think
          > > Waco or Ruby Ridge) and some just offensive (think Elian Gonzales -
          > > or the Japanese-American internment camps). But few can afford to
          > > "fight city hall" and they wisely cave in to even unwarranted federal
          > > pressure. This is now I interpret the situation here.
          > >
          > > The assumption that honesty is compromised is insulting; I recall
          > > that people used to be presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty, but
          > > apparently, that no longer applies. At least not in the so-called
          > > "social media," where you're guilty if you take money for writing,
          > > even if all you write is honest and true. That smacks of
          > > sanctimonious socialism to me, and it's a bitter abrogation of the
          > > First Amendment freedoms we all claim to cherish.
          > >
          > >
          > > >It's all about calling a spade a spade.
          > >
          > > What's the answer? Should all bloggers post their 1040s? Must we
          > > reveal all of our financial ties, direct or indirect? What about our
          > > spouses' ties? What's to keep us from letting family members accept
          > > payment, then advocating in blogs for their employers?
          > >
          > > Hell, Mike I remember doing an entire PR and ad campaign - gratis -
          > > for a school board seeking approval for a bond issue ... at the time,
          > > my then-wife was employed by the school board, but I was not. Still,
          > > it could be argued that I had an interest (though my then-wife's job
          > > did not depend on the passage of the bond issue, some might still
          > > argue that I had a financial incentive). This happened before the
          > > advent of blogs and other social media, but if they had existed, I'd
          > > have blogged away on behalf of the bond issue. In this case, would
          > > I have had to reveal my dubious and secondary connection?
          > >
          > > Or even more remote - I was a volunteer member of the fund-raising
          > > advisory board of a non-profit area zoo. In that role, I ran a major
          > > PR campaign supporting the zoo, but in doing so, I did not make it
          > > known that I was volunteering for the zoo - instead, I ran the PR
          > > campaign through my employer (a community college whose students were
          > > building an exhibit for the zoo as part of their construction-trades
          > > academic programs). Should I have revealed this? Is there any harm,
          > > or any dishonesty, involved in my advocacy of this laudable
          > > community/civic non-profit organization?
          > >
          > > Do you see how slippery this slope is? How dangerous it is to set up
          > > "absolutes" and to create the assumption that unless we "call a spade
          > > a spade" we are defacto unethical.
          > >
          > > >We know ads are paid for.
          > >
          > > But blogs aren't ads. Nor are book reviews. Nor are volunteer-run
          > > PR campaigns for non-profits, if those campaigns are run by people
          > > who are "on the clock" with some organization that will benefit from
          > > the campaign. All may have some financial ties, yet none of them
          >are ads.
          > >
          > > When I buy an ad, I know exactly what is going to be said and exactly
          > > when and where the ad will run. Blogs that are incentivized still
          > > represent the (presumably) honest opinions of the bloggers - the
          > > incentivizers do not write or approve the blog-copy - and to me, that
          > > all by itself makes these not ads and not ad equivalents.
          > >
          > > >We
          > > >know editorial is not.
          > >
          > > No, we don't. See book reviews, above. Or the article I wrote that
          > > ran - literally unedited - in the October 24, 1992 issue of the New
          > > York Times (an article for which I was paid $5,000 by the client
          > > under whose name it ran).
          > >
          > > >Yes, the reporter may have had help or received
          > > >the story idea from a PR person, but the integrity in the story is
          > > >still there.
          > >
          > > I'm sorry, Mike, but what planet do you live on? Assuming that
          > > reporters are men and women of integrity - even when they write what
          > > PR people tell them to write? I send out a lot of press releases to
          > > high-tech media, and a lot of these wind up being printed, unedited,
          > > but with a reporter's or editor's name placed on them. They strip
          > > out "BusinessWire" and put in "Bob Jones, Editor" and run it
          > > as-is. That's integrity? C'mon.
          > >
          > > Lots of induced blogs have much more integrity than that - to assume
          > > that they're all guilty is wrong, just as wrong as assuming that all
          > > reporters have integrity. Most do, many don't.
          > >
          > >
          > > >The FTC opinion is simply a measure to ensure the same with blogs.
          > >
          > > No, in my opinion, the FTC opinion is simply one more power-grab by
          > > the government, one more unwarranted degradation in the First
          > > Amendment. They picked on a small company that couldn't afford to
          > > fight this up to the Supreme Court, so the FTC "bought" a cheap
          > > precedent. To assume that the FTC is right is to assume that Waco
          > > and Manzanar are also right. I do NOT make that assumption; I'm
          > > surprised you do.
          > >
          > > >That, if you have a paid-for or sponsored slant to your blog, just say
          > > >so and go about with your postings. Then, readers can judge the
          > > >content's value fairly.
          > >
          > > Unnecessary and (to me) unwelcome government intervention into free
          > > speech. What's next - regulations governing press releases, pitches,
          > > website copy, etc.?
          > >
          > >
          > > >The integrity of the messenger *does* matter.
          > >
          > > Yes - so does "innocent until proven guilty" and "Freedom of Speech
          > > and the Press" (you know, the Constitution).
          > >
          > > Ned
          > >
          > >
          > > >Mike
          > > >
          > > >_____________________________
          > > >Michael Driehorst
          > > >Media Relations Manager
          > > >The Lauerer Markin Group Inc.
          > > >
          > > >Y!M: miked918 / GTalk: mike.driehorst
          > > >Blog: www.mikespoints.com
          > > >
          > > >--- In
          > <mailto:prbytes%40yahoogroups.com><mailto:prbytes%40yahoogroups.com>prbytes@yahoogroups.com,
          >
          > > >Ned Barnett <ned@> wrote:
          > > > >
          > > > > Now it's a regulated advertising medium - so much for freedom of
          > > > > expression. I wonder: will this same rule apply to PR-written
          > > > > contributed articles, or to paid columnists? Probably
          > > > > not.
          > > > >
          > >
          > ><<http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TECHBIT_BLOG_DISCLOSURES?S
          > ITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-12-20-19-54-08>http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TECHBIT_BLOG_DISCLOSURES?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-12-20-19-54-08>http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TECHBIT_BLOG_DISCLOSURES?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-12-20-19-54-08
          > > >
          > > > >
          > > >
          > > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > Ned Barnett, APR
          > > Marketing/PR Fellow, AHA
          > >
          > > Barnett Marketing Communications
          > > Exceptional Marcom Services for Exceptional Clients
          > >
          > > 420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3 - 276 - Las Vegas, NV 89110
          > > Phone: 702-696-1200 * FAX: 702-696-1211
          > > ned@... - <http://www.barnettmarcom.com>http://www.barnettmarcom.com
          > >
          > > Barnett on PR:
          > <http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/>http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/
          > > Barnett on Marketing:
          > <http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/>http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/
          > > Barnett on Book Promotion/Marketing/Publishing:
          > >
          > <http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/>http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/
          > >
          > > BMC - A Sound Investment in Exceptional Success
          > >
          > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          > >
          >
          >



          Ned Barnett, APR
          Marketing/PR Fellow, AHA

          Barnett Marketing Communications
          Exceptional Marcom Services for Exceptional Clients

          420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3 - 276 - Las Vegas, NV 89110
          Phone: 702-696-1200 * FAX: 702-696-1211
          ned@... - http://www.barnettmarcom.com

          Barnett on PR: http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/
          Barnett on Marketing: http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/
          Barnett on Book Promotion/Marketing/Publishing:
          http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/

          BMC - A Sound Investment in Exceptional Success

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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