Monday, March 29, 2010

Why can't traditional media just play nice? ~ My response to Washington Post article

It drives me nuts when traditional media writes slanted negative garbage, especially because they claim to be unbiased.  Traditional media is not unbiased.  Bloggers are not unbiased but they don't claim to be, the whole point of being a blogger is being able to share your opinion (your bias) with people who are interested in reading it. 

I usually try to stay out of the blogger/brand drama but this (click HERE, dear husband of mine) article written by Michael S. Rosenwald in The Washington Post this morning was so negative and one sided that I just couldn't stop my little fingers from tapping away.  The article explains how companies use social media to alter "word of mouth".  My work as a social media consultant allows me to bridge both the blogger and the PR/agency/brand world.  I can assure you that the majority on the PR side are working hard to coordinate a true and honest experience with bloggers.  Likewise, the majority of bloggers bend over backwards to disclose relationships with brands and most of them have been doing it since way before the government stepped in.

Here's the thing.  I didn't truly appreciate the sensationalism of TV advertising until I had children.  One year for Christmas my kids absolutely had to have Floam.  Floam is this goopy beady foamy stuff you can mold and oooh it's sooooo fun.  The commercials were placed in between kidlet programs and hypnotized my little beasties.  They were sold!  They had to have it!  Let's just say that Santa delivered the goods and they were devastated.... this was their first lesson in "buyer beware".  My eldest was most heartbroken.  It was cool stuff but not nearly as cool as the commercials said it would be.  This led to a great discussion and he now looks at all commercials with skepticism and I LOVE it!

The best online reviewers will tell you the good AND the bad.  The best bloggers will provide a recommendation for improvement or a feature they wish the manufacturer would include. This is helpful in providing feedback to the brand but it also allows the reader another dimension of information about a product.  An ad placed by the brand alone is one sided and sensational, as my kids learned from Floam.

I am an optimist and I like to think that most businesses are trying to deliver the best.  I was brought up to do my best and to always seek better.  Social media provides an enormous opportunity for companies to deliver their best and to strive for continuous improvement.  There will be those who do not use it appropriately but to overlook the positive is just plain stupid.

I was particularly interested in this portion of the article...

PR companies track people who post negative comments about everything from pizza to gadgets and then offer those naysayers free products or technical support, hoping to reverse the flow of opinion about their clients' goods. Many start-ups sell online tools that scrutinize Twitter and Facebook to rank users' online influence, helping manufacturers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and PR firms figure out who can best spread messages quickly.

Why is this bad?  If a company can reach out to people who have had a bad experience with a product or service and help them with the experience, isn't that just good customer service?  Restaurants often comp a meal when the diner's experience has been poor.... how is that different?  I was once given a free sandwich coupon at Einstein Bagel because they screwed up my order twice.... I was happy and I remember the gesture years later.  Reaching out to the most influential bloggers is no different than choosing to advertise in The Washington post vs. Ye Small Towne Gazzette.

What happened to presenting a balanced story? What pisses me off most is that many of us are out here working hard to "Blog with Integrity" and articles like this and the one in the New York Times a few weeks (Honey don't bother Mommy...)  ago spew the negatives and portray bloggers and those of us involved with social media as sleazy and dishonest.  Our efforts to evangelize and explain the power and the good of social media, are taken a step back each time traditional media takes a slanted dig at our industry.  But...

Traditional media is drowning and articles that don't show a balanced view of social media, well.... it is a little like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.


7 Responses to "Why can't traditional media just play nice? ~ My response to Washington Post article"
  1. daddybookins said...
    March 29, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    It's true, traditional means of media is out, they are scared and playing dirty politics to try and smear the masses. Which, this is entirely what they fear, the masses....numbers speak volumes! The blogosphere is able to reach the masses, opposed to print....additionally bloggers have created niche markets where they have come to know one another and the chain continues on down the line across each niche eventually tying us all together in some fashion or another.

    Who is Michael S. Rosenwald? I am not sure, would he reach out to me? Probably not in a million years. I do know Fiona Bryan...and I would take her opinion on any such item of interest, whether it be right or wrong....she would take the time to reach out, opposed to the likes of 'traditional media writes slanted negative garbage' why? They are scared....she is not!

    Peas Out!
    ~daddy b.

  2. KLZ said...
    March 29, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    I've never really gotten why all these articles are so negative.

    I've read blogs for years and only recently started on myself.

    But I really don't understand how a woman having a blog is any different than her running a business or simply working a job. So what if they can or choose to do it for a few minutes at home? Why is this bad? Do people genuinely think kids are being neglected?

    And changing word of mouth? Yes, that is what companies want to do. Who's to fault them for trying - or for people presenting their experiences with a product? I'm sure most of us can see when an opinion has been bought and we take it for that.

    I just....I just don't get it. I see how the articles are offensive to many. What I don't understand is why the articles are negative in the first place. I sort of feel like these articles are accusing people of getting paid to do a job. what a job is.

  3. John Bryan said...
    March 29, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    Traditional corporate structure doesn't handle "imperfect" very well as they fire for "mistakes." We are trending to understand that products and services are rarely perfect and usually we aren't willing to spend a trillion $ for perfect anyway. I think that we are in this middle period between understanding that things aren't perfect but expecting perfect anyway.

    Continuous improvement is a powerful business model (is gmail still in beta?) but requires a dialog with your "beta testers" to ACTUALLY FIX THE PROBLEMS. Traditional corporate doesn't allow for continuous improvement outside of a few companies and industries. Even Toyota, as the old expert of the model, can lose its way.

    We want things perfect NOW. Too bad the Wash Post doesn't get it well enough. Or maybe they do but need to sell magazines today? Hmmm, maybe they will support continuous improvement that mediums that (e.g.) the iPad will bring to their own industry... doubt it.

    Full Disclosure: I'm the OP's husband. LOL.

  4. Childhood said...
    March 29, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Well said Fi...

    I mean really... why IS it bad for companies to want to know who can best spread the word in the most efficient way? I love what I do.

    The news writers... not so much... Here's why: Traditional media is losing out on precious advertising dollars. That's why.

    Well... boo hoo. Here's a kleenex. Move on.

  5. Shady Lady said...
    March 29, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    I'm beginning to think that unless it's negative or sensationalistic, it isn't newsworthy. This is why I hate the news.

  6. Kathy said...
    March 31, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    The news is just so biased on everything. Walter Cronkit must be turning over in his grave. :(

  7. prashant said...
    April 10, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    I've never really gotten why all these articles are so negative.
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