Blogger or marketer – your choice.

I encountered this article in my Twitter feed today, and to be honest it bought a lump to my throat.  No, not that good sort of lump – the sort that makes you want to run for the bathroom.

Let me start by saying that I don’t get paid for blogging, and won’t be carrying adverts on the blog.  It’s so cheap to run – in the course of a year I spend less money on this baby than I spent the other night buying a round of beers in the pub.  And the time – well, I do it for the love of it.  I don’t expect to get paid for the time that I spend doing my other hobbies, so why this one?  If folks run a blog as part of a business, then so be it – that’s good practice these days.  Or even if the blog IS the business – excellent if you can do it.  All I’m saying is know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

A quote from the article:

“The blogosphere is where authentic conversation is happening,” said Pamela Parker, a senior manager with Federated Media, which sells ad space for an A-list roster of about 150 bloggers that includes superstars like Dooce and the Pioneer Woman, who’ve parlayed their blogs into lucrative one-woman industries.”

I think this and:

“Last summer, one blogger organized a weeklong public relations blackout in which bloggers were urged to eschew contests, product reviews and giveaways and instead get “back to basics” by writing about their lives. Another blogger replied that she couldn’t do so because the blackout fell the week of her daughter’s first birthday party, which she was promoting on her blog. With sponsors and giveaways.”

were the bits that made me reach for my sick-bag.  ‘Authentic conversations’ where a mother gets her baby’s first birthday party sponsored, for crying out loud?  Did the kids get thrown out if they weren’t drinking the right brand of fruit juice?  Come on, people!

As soon any form of advertorial, promotion or marketing gumf comes in to view, the concept of an authentic conversation goes out the window.  I’d respect people more if they just said ‘We’re here to sell.  We’d like you to write editorial items that can push our goods.  Oh, and we’ll pay you in some way’.  Or, ‘I write articles for my website that are actually promotions for goods and services’.  But this sort of double-speak?  Authentic conversations my arse.

I subscribe to a number of freelance sites where people looking for freelancers post their needs.  A common requirement is to write ‘copy’ for what are described as ‘blogs’.  A typical description is as follows:

“You must be able to obtain an adequate amount of knowledge for a specific topic, as well as generate the information necessary for that topic within the relevant market. Then write captivating and very original content about the topic (i.e. a new weight loss product.)”

If I ever get up one morning and decide that my great desire in life is to write captivating content about drugs that stop your guts absorbing fats, then I hope one of my friends will do the decent thing and take me behind the barn and shoot me.  It’s not blogging; it’s writing advertising copy. 

It’s the nature and job of advertising agencies and marketing companies to subvert to their own use any form of media; that’s what they do.  There’s nothing new in it.  We just need to look back at how the youth brands of the 90s tried to engage young people through ‘street culture’ – again claiming authenticity.  (Take a look at Naomi Klein’s No Logo

Blogs offer an opportunity to be truly personal and original and engage people in conversations about your life – or just tell folks about what you like, dislike, whatever – like this place.  Mass media isn’t too happy with that and will, if it’s any good, try to subvert the blogosphere like they have subverted every other form of wide reach media on the planet.

Don’t let ’em.  Run an advertising business or run a blog; know what you’re doing.  I personally hope you’ll choose to run a blog and keep that subversion out for just a little longer.