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The new rule of blogging: Common Courtesy.

There’s a lot of talk in the blogosphere about how  influential bloggers are.  This has been stoked by PR companies, brands and of course bloggers themselves.  The post that did the rounds yesterday, which incidentally I wrote about here (you can follow the links to the original) seems to be testament to that fact.  In fact this particular tale of how a blogger was let down by a PR agency and Nokia and then wrote a letter of complaint which she published on her blog, was viewed over 15,000 times.

It did the rounds in my agency with staff declaring it was the new example of how NOT to approach bloggers. Bloggers responded with ‘go girl’ style comments and even ‘poor you how terrible for you’ which I, personally, felt was a bit extreme.  We’re talking about some material goods not the promised cure for cancer that wasn’t forthcoming. But before you unfollow me or comment on what an unfeeling cow I am, I do get it, I think this particular blogger had a very good case.

It’s just that I think there are so many different levels to this story though.  It brings back the debate of whether bloggers should expect special treatment from brands in exchange for publicity but it also shines a light on something much, much more basic than that.

Common courtesy.

The courtesy bloggers show brands when they review their products by being honest about them.

The courtesy bloggers show readers when they write with integrity and disclose what they were given in return for the review.

The courtesy PR agencies show bloggers when they have clearly read their blog before pitching them something.

And in the case in point it’s the common courtesy that the PR agency failed to show this blogger in keeping her updated.

This morning I had a request for a review from a very nice lady.  She had read my blog and she even told me about her favourite post.  I was flattered, of course I was, it’s nice to know people appreciate this nonsense I write. She offered me a review of a new toy but said she would arrange for the toy to be picked up from my house after my review.  I have to say I was initially thinking ‘how the hell do I wrestle something off my children after they’ve played with it, shit maybe I can’t do this’ then I thought, Christ what am I bringing up here?  Spoilt brats who don’t or can’t understand that not every box that comes to our door is theirs to keep? Children who don’t understand the concept of borrowing? What kind of parent am I if I can’t attempt to teach them that?

I could ‘out’ this kind lady, I could say ‘how dare she offer me a product I can’t keep?’ but then where’s the integrity in that?  Surely it works both ways and as bloggers we must expect to be treated with professionalism.  I am as yet undecided about the review, not because I can’t keep it (frankly I don’t need anymore children’s toys in the house, specially since it is a certain little girl’s birthday today), but because time is so tight at the moment.

So I guess this is a very longwinded way of saying that yes bloggers do have influence in their own networks and that can reach wider depending on how shareable their content is. So it is true to say that a degree of damage can happen to brands if bloggers are handled badly.  But the reality is that if we all play by the rules and if we are all considerate to each other then mudslinging and ‘outing’ really shouldn’t be necessary.

Peace man.

So by the way it’s Eliza’s 3rd birthday today, so expect another post on that coming v soon!


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