Call it the shoe heard round the world.
Recently, there’s been a bit of a hullabaloo raised online about a Crocs social media guy who had a run-in with a Mommy blogger and blogged about it. Who knew shoes could be so inflammatory?
On the surface it’s a case of a blogger threatening a company with bad press if she doesn’t get free product, in this case, shoes; and the Crocs employee in turn getting up on his high horse and threatening to hurt the blogger’s reputation.
On a very minor scale, it reminds me of the Gates-Crowley imbroglio. Not because race was involved – there was none that I am aware of here – but that it was a power struggle between two different authorities. Here, the blogger thought she had the power of her blog to demand free shoes. Meanwhile, the Crocs social media guy, George Smith Jr, feeling unfairly attacked quickly asserted his power to reduce the blogger to a “nobody.” Can’t you hear the egos battling in the conversation?
It all reminds me of the fact that as the blogosphere continues to expand its influence, we are entering a wild west in terms of behavior and professionalism. Anything goes. Unlike mainstream journalism where there is an implied agreement that both public relations professionals and the media will adhere to certain rules. Certainly, any mainstream reporter would be penalized, if not promptly fired, if he or she bribed a source. Similarly, a company PR representative who threatened to damage a reporter’s reputation would not remain unscathed.
Meanwhile, bloggers, unless they are paid to blog for someone, have no higher authority than themselves and the court of public opinion.
To help you navigate these unchartered waters, here hare some standards for b2b marketers to follow:
Treat bloggers respectfully. But don’t sink to the level of tit for tat – where you bribe bloggers in exchange for a favorable review.
Don’t expect bloggers to act as traditional journalists. Many journalists operate under a code of ethics that among other things forbids their accepting gifts. Bloggers won’t necessarily honor embargoes and other traditional public relations-mainstream media practices..
Listen to bloggers and engage them. Don’t simply ask a blogger to do something for you but first read the blogger and develop a relationship.
Remember the street goes both ways. If at the end of the day, you don’t like what a blogger said, feel free to comment/respond. Unlike traditional media, we all now have megaphones. Just be sure to use yours judiciously.