The other day Sandra was posting about my lecture at RUC. We discussed how product placement and stealth-marketing is increasingly becoming part of PR-strategies, more specifically how delivering stories to individual bloggers is possible and what the ethical challenges are.
I think the question was something like “Is a company ethical when they deliver a product or the story about a product to a blogger in order to have him/her post the story on their blog”. My answer was that I think this is not an ethical problem on the side of the company. But I think it is very much so for the blogger. And hence I think it is a pseudo-discussion in a corporate communications-debate. But certainly a consideration that any blogger has to make as she chooses the content of her blog.
I wrote a bit about it on Kommunikationsforum at one time as there was an increasing tendency to talk about bloggers as media which they are not. As I write in the comment to the article “Blogospheric PR”, bloggers are people – not media. And this is really the challenge when it comes to spread the word of a product or service in the viral community that any organization has to consider its role in: How do we communicate our “news” to the network? Some have argued that this is a matter of “changing the pressreleases”. It’s not. If it is to really work out both on a short term and in the long run you have to create real relations with the people that are going to blog about you or your company. Otherwise they’ll feel used and abused and do their best to make you and your company feel equally.
I guess the question also origined from a misunderstanding about who’s doing what in the process of delivering stories to bloggers. As the blogger choses whatever content they want to put in their blog it’s completely a choice on the side of the blogger and in their own right to chose what they want to write about. And if the subject of an indivduals blog is design there may be a story that has exactly that content and will fall in the interest of the blogger. Luckily so.