When brands hire bloggers

Posted on April 28, 2008 
Filed Under Blogs, Social Media

(from Techdirt and WSJ)


“The Wall Street Journal has an article focusing on a blog set up by Miller Brewing Company called Brew Blog. The blog isn’t used as a blog about what’s going on at Miller Brewing. Instead, Miller hired an experienced reporter, James Arndorfer, 37, and told him to just cover the beer industry as if he were a beat reporter.

“In other words, it’s reporting news — and even breaking stories on the competition.

“In fact, it revealed that main rival Anheuser-Busch was planning a new brew called Budweiser American Ale even before A-B was able to make the announcement itself, forcing the trade publications to scramble to cover the scoop.

“This is certainly a recognition of how content is advertising. The blog clearly isn’t ‘advertorial.’ It’s full-on reporting about the industry, in a way that’s interesting and relevant to those in the industry.

” ‘They are trying to aggressively go around the gatekeepers in newsrooms and the trade press,’ says Stephen Quigley, an associate professor of public relations at Boston University. ‘It’s something you couldn’t do five years ago, before the proliferation of blogs.’

“What may be even more interesting, though, is what the article says about journalism. In an age in which journalists are whining that their jobs are disappearing, here’s yet another example of where suddenly there are new types of jobs for journalists appearing every day. But, even more interesting, is a quote at the end of the article highlighted by David Card. It’s from Harry Schuhmacher, the editor and publisher of a fee-based trade publication on the beer industry:

” ‘I tell Miller you’re subsidizing a free publication, and it hurts the trade press,’ he says. ‘But they don’t care.’…Mr. Schuhmacher adds that he writes fewer positive pieces about Miller than he once did because he knows Brew Blog will always publish the same stories.

“Think about this for a bit. People complain that when you have a company-sponsored publication it will inevitably be biased — but the sponsorship of that site is totally open and in the clear.

“The site’s content stands for itself. Yet, at the same time, a supposedly ‘objective’ traditional journalist is admitting that he writes fewer stories about Miller because he’s upset that it’s competing with his own publication.

“From that, it would certainly seem like the Brew Blog is a lot more credible (it’s biases are out in the open), while this fee-based trade pub admits that story choices are sometimes based on personal vendettas.”



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