f someone writes about a client’s (or partner’s) programs or offerings, shouldn’t they divulge the relationship?
Here is one example from Romenesko where the “Baltimore Sun drops (G. Jefferson) Price’s column after ethics dispute.” This columnist was writing about a client’s activities and the relationship was not disclosed. The Sun dropped the column.
Now, knowing that, let us consider this. The two examples have similarities with the Sun’s problem.
In both of Rubel’s articles, MySpace and Technorati are referenced in a positive manner. Is there an undisclosed relationship between the Edelman senior VP and MySpace/Technorati?.
On May 22, 2006, Richard Edelman announced that “Edelman will have an exclusive right to offer Technorati’s analytic tools in Chinese, French, German, Italian and Korean, starting with French in July and continuing into early 2007.”
Here is one press release that shows MySpace was, and I believe still is, a client of Edelman.
In the first Rubel AdAge article, the reference was this:
Consider the chatter: Technorati is tracking 40 million blogs and 1.2 billion posts a day. MySpace, a social network unheard of three years ago, is the eighth-biggest site on the Web and growing by 240,000 members a day-that means the population of Buffalo, N.Y., joins MySpace every day, for those keeping score.
In the second Rubel AdAge article, the references were:
At the same time, people are flowing in droves to sites where they can create, share, connect and consume content published by their peers. That same April comScore report found that over the past year traffic to sites such as MySpace, Citysearch, Wikipedia, Blogger and others skyrocketed by at least 200% apiece, while total U.S. Internet audience grew only 4%.
Recently Paramount Pictures and blog search engine Technorati unveiled a conversational advertising campaign to promote Al Gore’s new documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
In both articles, the references to MySpace and Technorati are clearly touted as the sites to watch. They are given positive, if not glowing, endorsements, in my opinion. So, what’s missing? How about something like, “Hey, these two companies are clients.” (Update/clarification: The relationships are, for the record, Myspace as a client and Technorati as a partner/vendor.)
Well, you go read the articles. Show me where the relationship between Rubel/Edelman Worldwide and those two clients is revealed. It isn’t.
The irony is that Rubel’s second article refers to “Picture-in-picture advertising” and marketing. Well, this looks like “promotion in column” without disclosing the relationships marketing. Is this the new “picture-in-picture” marketing?
Another irony is that the articles tout participation in the dialogue and conversation by readers, yet the only opportunity to engage in conversation is this email address – email@example.com.
Rubel writes, “The future is creating ways for consumers to seek out conversations.” and “If you’re not part of the dialogue, then get out of the way.” Well, then offer that conversation aspect on your columns and/or get out of our way.
Look, I like Edelman Worldwide, AdAge, Technorati and MySpace. But, this seems like bad practice, to me.
Rubel also writes, “Buckle up. It’s time to blast off.” I have a suggestion. If you can’t manage to be transparent in your writings, please be quiet. You do more harm than good when your judgement lapses this far off course. Each incident adds to the speculation that social media offers more pitfalls than promises. If you continue to follow this lack of transparency path, after you blast off, you’re likely to land on Uranus.