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Being a Corporate Shill

Tris Hussey sets out how he thinks about blogging, product reviews, and being a corporate shill.  It is a fine line to tread, I agree.  Here’s how I think about these issues.

I don’t accept cash payments for pieces published on the site.  I do review products, occasionally, and will keep the product, or send it back (at the owners expense) depending on what the provider of the product wants.

I won’t write a positive review, just because I’ve been given the product.  Sometimes, if it’s a really bad product, I won’t write anything at all, and I will explain to the person soliciting the review why I didn’t write.  Most of the time my reviews contain some good points, and some areas where I think the product can be improved, simply because almost every product can be improved.


{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Easton Ellsworth May 20, 2006, 1:21 pm

    Alec, I think those are good groundrules to follow. Disclosure is always important – letting the reader know when you have a vested interest in something or someone you're writing about.

  • Tris Hussey May 20, 2006, 3:12 pm

    Alec, Thank you for continuing this discussion (especially on a holiday weekend!). I don't consider myself a corporate shill (lots of negative stuff attached to that term), but yes we're going to need some kind of guildines. I think early on though it's going to be a gut feel thing … and friends letting friends know when they might be getting too close to the line.

  • Andrew May 20, 2006, 5:22 pm

    Agreed, good ground rules and good discussion. The guys at http://www.forimmediaterelease.biz have been discussing the right and wrong way to leverage the blogosphere for PR, they use Andy Abramson's Nokia blogger relations as a good example of what to do, as well as others they have worked on.

    I dislike receiving press releases out of the blue from people I have never spoken to or companies I know nothing about, essentially I consider this spam as it is sent with the hopes that I blog it. It generally recieves a standard "what am I suppose to do with this response, if you have software or product you would like me to review please call and I would be happy to discuss" etc.. or call a professional PR/Blogger to learn how to set up a blogger relations program..

  • Alec May 21, 2006, 4:19 am

    Tris — didn't mean, in any way, to imply that you were shilling. My apologies if my writing implied that.

  • Alec May 21, 2006, 4:23 am

    Andrew, I think Andy's program was run very well. On the press release front, I get them, and solicitations all the time. I DO take the time to read many of them, but if they're clearly in left field, then they are, as you point out, spam. Sometimes, though, one strikes me as interesting, and I write a longer reply back. For instance, recently I was approached by a compay that provides LED components for lighting, which is something that personally interests but I have never written about on the blog. I told him what I WOULD be interested in writing about, and suggested he contact me again when those products were available.

  • Tris Hussey May 21, 2006, 6:27 pm

    Alec, No worries. No harm, no foul. Actually, I'm really happy that it's getting attention and a catchy headline is a good way to do that!

    I don't like getting presss releases either. I preferr to know the people and have written about them before. Just a release out of the blue goes into the "blog about it when even my cat is too boring" file.

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