Committing Blog Sins
I dont want to address the substance of the initial insurance company defense, at least not while I have five claims for my family pending review. But there was a blog sin committed here. The only thing a blog has going for it is credibility. When readers see a corporate blog on health care or anything else to be a good place for insight, news and analysis that is valuable and difficult to find elsewhere, theyll come, read and participate. The corporation will get the benefit and will, over time, develop a group of its customers and prospects to talk with.The sin here was not that Googles blogger expressed her opinion. The sin was that she forgot that the cardinal rule of being a bloggercorporate or otherwiseis to inform and add insight. To the extent that the blog is supposed to be about health advertising, her opinions about the relative effectiveness of one form of advertising over another (for example: "text ads are ultra powerful and animation ads are a waste of money") would be welcomed. As a writer, I can blog about retail technology and offer my opinion about the effectiveness of various database tactics without anyone getting too upset. But if I share my opinion about abortion rights or same sex marriage, I deserve to get slammed. Its not the opinion that is the problem. Its whether that opinion is within the jurisdiction of that blogger. In other words, is it what the audience expects and wants? Im afraid that some people will take the wrong lesson from this incident and think that Turner would have escaped trouble had she taken the opposite view. The other problem with this posting was that it sounded like the blogger was pandering to her readers, with such comments as, "Or, as is often common, the media may use an isolated, heartbreaking, or sensationalist story to paint a picture of health care as a whole. With all the coverage, its a shame no one focuses on the industrys numerous prescription programs, charity services and philanthropy efforts." In a documentary looking at whether Americans are getting medical treatment, the filmmaker was supposed to somehow work in the tax-deductible contributions the insurance companies made? But Im being pulled into the substance of the original comments. I admit it. Im weak. The true point is not that youre the best buddy of the reader. Youre there to inform them and help put, in this case, advertising issues into context. The blogger failed to do that. The reason pandering is a blog sin is that it kills credibility. The point of the post was that insurance companies should buy lots of Google ads to fight the film. Im not sure if I admire the honesty (blogging Chutzpah?) more than I am taken aback by the blatant sales pitch. She clearly wasnt trying to fool anyone, but I think a blog on advertising needs to go out of its way to avoid recommending itself as the solution to anything. Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman has tracked high-tech issues since 1987, has been opinionated long before that and doesnt plan to stop any time soon. He can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com. To read earlier retail technology opinion columns from Evan Schuman, please click here. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.
The moment readers see the blog as a commercial, theyll abandon it and likely not return for quite some time.