Aug 04, 2011

The controversy around the changing face of blogging

Source: Shani Higgins, CEO of Technorati, presented at the recent PR Summit conference.

Technorati CEO Shani Higgins raised a few eyebrows with her comments around pay for post at the recent “PR Summit Conference” in San Francisco.  More bloggers are writing about brands than ever before and the expectation is higher around compensation, she said.

“There is no longer a stigma around paid posts,” according to Higgins as she delivered highlights from Technorati’s annual blogger survey.

It was quite the buzz at my lunch table afterwards and some veteran PR professionals expressed surprise.

“My concern is when brands do this, they’re making bloggers into commercials,” said Jeanne Alford of Alford Communications. “We need to have some framework of what’s acceptable so the information the consumer gets is balanced.”

It comes as more consumers turn to blogs to get the facts.  According to Technorati’s findings, 34% of consumers questioned said they take blogs more seriously as important sources of information.

And brands aggressively reach out to bloggers with a following.  Some 50% of professional bloggers say they’ve been approached by a company to write about their brand according to the survey.

To win blogger favor, many brands now embark on creative tactics such as picking up the cost of registration to key industry conferences for bloggers as ways to turn the writers into “brand partners”.

It is a changing landscape as journalism bleeds into blogging.  “What’s critical is that bloggers continue to build transparency so readers know what the relationship is to the brands they’re writing about,” says Alford.

The majority of bloggers are aware of the FTC’s ruling on disclosure according to Technorati’s findings.  Many bloggers say it’s simply about “compensation for their time.”

 

Overall, more and more bloggers are trying to develop authority and influence.  The task at hand remains creating value for their audience.  And their audience is growing.  Technorati reports in its survey that nearly 40% of consumers say still they will be getting their news and entertainment from blogs than from traditional media in the next five years.

Author Diane Harrigan is an account manager in PR Newswire’s San Francisco office.   She also authors the beautiful “Postcards from SF” blog,, a visual homage to San Francisco, and you can follower her on Twitter @postcardsfromSF .

Additional resources:  Shani Higgins’ PR Summit presentation:  pr summit keynote technorati shiggins 7.26

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