Corporate Blogging Survey 2005

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December 27, 2005

Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign I

I’ve been researching the Nokia blogger relations campaign and was going to write a long review of their efforts and bloggers. But several of my thoughts on blog posts about the campaign have turned into longer posts. Here’ my take on the Noblizer’s post about the Nokia campaign.

Noblizer writes about the new Nokia blogger relations campaign, in the article, "Nokia phone is off the hook," and critiques the campaign suggesting that the material on the Nokia blog is re-purposed marketing communications information, and that the process of giving free phone creates biased reviews.

Noblizer states, "As It's up to the press to act as a filter and ensure impartiality at all costs, I just hope 'blogger relations' remains a way to purely feed the traditional media with off-diary stories. Because if the public start reading the badly skewed reviews of the phones by wide-eyed bloggers still amazed at their good fortune, we are all doomed."

Noblizer, if the public were not able to distinguish between a credible source of information and another, we would be all doomed, however that's not the case, when someone is unfamiliar with a source of information I'd suggest they will be more skeptical of the information. I would also suggest that the public are fairly savvy, after all aren't the public or bloggers, the people who continued to dig into stories traditional media either does not have time or does not want to research. What about the Trent Lot story, or the case of Jayson Blair at The New York Times?

It occurs to me that traditional media was caught knapping on many aspects of those two stories, so when you say, "its up to the press to act as a filter and ensure impartiality at all costs," I don't think anyone can presume that journalists and editors in traditional media are any more immune from errors and downright lies than a blogger. Really I think you should be arguing for the spirit of responsibility and the search for truth amongst both bloggers and journalists. While I agree with your skepticism about bloggers and even corporate bloggers. Your general tone and posts give me the impression that the reader should always doubt bloggers come what may, and that traditional media are the only people we should trust in reporting the news. I think the reader should doubt both blogger and journalist and not assume that just because someone has an editor they are any more a reliable source of information than a blogger without an editor.

I think Noblizer's concern that bloggers will make biased positive posts about the Nokia telephone in return for a free telephone is a good argument to make. Though as several bloggers commented on the post on the cloggerblog, the people commenting questioned if there is a difference between the Nokia blogger relations campaign and a typical media relations campaign to journalists in the traditional media, where journalists are also sent free telephones. Be you a blogger or journalist its important to mention the source of your information. Many bloggers did just that in citing the Nokia campaign and giving a review of the telephone.

Andy Abramson from Nokia comments on the post, and suggests his company is different from other agencies, that Nokia is attempting to build a blogger relations campaign that works within the industry's best practices. Nobleizer is slightly placated on first appearance, but does not back down from their central premise, that bloggers are not the traditional media, and therefore are not to be trusted in the same way that professional journalists are to be trusted.

I'd suggest that just because a blogger writes about a product or story does not mean that they carry as much credibility as a traditional media journalist, and just because a professional journalist works for a highly respected media outlet does not mean that the journalistic approach and editorial system cannot break down and produce rubbish. I don't think the new blogging revolution is really about credibility be they bloggers or journalists, I think we've seen enough good examples from bloggers and bad examples from journalists to understand that credibility is to be earned not assumed depending upon the source of information. The new media revolution is really about hearing more voices, and allowing more interaction, I think for some in the traditional media establishment who are used to being the sole source of information and leading voice this means big changes, and change can be very frightening to established players. But personally I think having more voices and discussion will help to keep the conversation, public or industry, journalist or blogger, more honest, not less.

Posted by johncass at December 27, 2005 10:41 AM

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A great critique, John. I am, I admit, part of the 'old guard' of journalism. I believe in the concept of the fourth estate, the value of an independent media and upholding journalistic ethics at all costs.

Blogging, in my opinion, is in many aspects a reaction to people's demand for speed over accuracy of the delivery of information. I'm concerned that, in its rush to entice the bloggers into writing about their new stuff, Nokia is going to cause lasting damage to the idea of a trusted media.

Blogging is indeed a way to quickly access 'news'. But as a society we need to keep in mind who we trust for this information, and what we really think of as news.

News has a process, while gossip is just idle talk. Unfortunately, most blogging falls into the latter camp.

Posted by: The Nobleizer at January 3, 2006 5:09 PM


It's interesting that you should mention that you thought that blogging was a reaction to people's need for speed. As many of the corporate blogger's I've spoken with say the biggest reason they started to blog was to get the word out to their audience quickly. See the Backbone Media corporate blogging survey for more details.

I don't think anyone would argue with you on the benefits of having an independent media in a democracy. The fourth estate's role is to critique rather than slander. Though I think you might also agree that even the some traditional journalists tote their own opinions rather than give both sides of the story.

Stephen Baker at Business Week has been writing a series of blog posts about the changing nature of traditional media and journalism. In this new world of communications, what should be the role of journalism? Isn't that the question journalists and bloggers should be working together to answer. I think there is definitely a role for the journalistic approach and editorial process with traditional articles in mainstream media. I also think that there's also a role for the blogging style of writing, its more inclusive and interactive. Surely there's a role for conversation in journalism, in fact I’d argue journalists can use the open nature of blogs to get more ideas for research over time. To be checked over time.

Regarding Nokia I think your critique should not be at the company, it occurs to me that Andy Abramson has been above board in everything he has done. Of course I realize the campaign is from Nokia's perspective and they have a vested interest in getting a good review from bloggers. But the people who should be concerned about their blogging integrity are the bloggers who review the product; I discussed some of these issues in my series of Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign articles following this article.

I also think your right to be concerned about the issue of who we trust for information. Though to some extent I am less concerned as with the advent of search engines its a lot easier to get counter views and arguments on anyone perspective.

I'd like to challenge you to continue the movement for a good sound journalistic approach. Why not continue to blog on examples of why a blog did not meet the criteria for the journalistic approach in a post. Also it would be good to see more posts on the process of newsgathering, from interviews with journalists, editors and journalist professors. If you do that you can provide both an example as well as a critique to the community.


Posted by: John Cass at January 4, 2006 10:35 AM

There is one area here where I believe John trips up. The idea there is some sort of empirical truth that journos or bloggers can find is nonsense. We all come ot situations with a clutch of perceptions and prejudices that are very difficult to offload. When for instance was the last time you met a hack who did NOT have an agenda of one sort or another.

As an aside, in European tech journalism (my background,) terms, what's the difference between someone being given a phone handset that's going to be out of fashion in 6 months and hacks being ferried around the globe in business class, with hot and cold running barmaids in attendance?

Heck, I started off reviewing products in 1992 with the arrival of a couriered pack of a dozen products. I wasn't expected to return them. I've never paid for a copy of any operating system other than those that came with the equipment I bought (usually laptops though I can see the day when laptops become freebies.)

It never made a blind bit of difference to me. Not even when I was given £000s of networking kit in the early days of ethernet and ISDN. We were geeks doing geek stuff. And you know how fickle geeks can be!

Posted by: Dennis Howlett at January 6, 2006 9:27 PM

Your right there is no one truth, but I think that both journalists and bloggers can attempt to get a clearer picture of the facts. Though maybe I reveal my preferences for writing, I like to know as many facts about an issue as possible. That does not come from my association with the search engine industry, but natural curiosity. While many bloggers and columnists are more interested in opinion. Both approaches are great, especially if they serve the purpose of providing relevant content to the reader, or satisfy the writer's need to publish.

It's interesting in this discussion with Noblizer and others, it seems to me that my preferences are for more facts, while I wonder if opinion garners more publicity and traffic. What do you say Dennis? Do you prefer to review just the facts or do you want someone's opinion and tastes? What's the better read in a tech review?

Posted by: John Cass at January 7, 2006 10:50 AM

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