Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wild Wild West of Internet About to End

Today was a win for PR people, reputable journalists and those with ethics. I cannot count how many bloggers out there refuse to cover the clients I pitch (even when they really are different and useful).

Why - because they live by "pay to play" a form of marketing that fools the masses into believing that the products they are covering - and what they say about them - is an honest opinion. But the truth is these blogs and their writers are for sale. If you pay them, they will write about you. If not, well shrug, shrug, shrug.

Reputable journalists hate this because they are bound by ethics and rules. They can't take gifts. They can't take money. And most important, they try not to be sleazy.

Recently I realized just how bad it had gotten when I got an email from a personal finance blogger who just flat out said, “Tell your client to spend some of the marketing budget they are spending on you here on my blog and I’ll write about him.” WOW.

Sorry bloggers but your reign of ethics free writing is taking a big hit. According to an article in today’s New York Times, the F.T.C. said that beginning on Dec. 1st, 2009:

Bloggers who review products must disclose any connection with advertisers, particularly if they are paid for placement.

Celebrities will need to disclose any ties to companies, should they promote products on a talk show or on Twitter.

Advertisers are losing the ability to gush about results that differ from what is typical — for instance, from a weight loss supplement.

The important thing is that the government is beginning to impose rules on the Internet, similar to the same sorts of regulations that other forms of media, like television or print must live by. They must have some powerful lobbyists out there.

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