Friday morning I heard about the furore over Debbie Weil's simple request for people to comment on a blog she was facilitating - if they felt so inclined.
(Read the message on this blog post)
Storm in a teacup, I thought. Debbie's got a great reputation, and it's a small faux pas that would only offend a few ultra-uptight purists. (In fact, shockingly, I don't even see it as a faux pas).
But it has exploded in a heap of stinking controversy. Allan Jenkins (a great guy who I've met in Second Life) excoriated Weil on his blog, saying:
you'd have to be an obese PR blogger more than ready to shill for no pay
Surely this is misconstruing the whole point of a product blog? It's not about necessary selling the product, but sparking genuine discussion around the subject - at the level that it interests you. It's not shilling, it's talking. Conversing.
Surely that's simple enough? And not deeply offensive.
I think I understand where the objectors come from. They're zealous for the reputation of blogging and social media, and don't want it tarnished by cheap and nasty PR spammy yucky tactics.
But their response would tend to scare me if I were a marketer in a big company, with all the accompanying accountabilities, trying to venture into blogging. Thankfully for GSK it's been Debbie who's taken the heat, but if I were the CMO there - and I came from a traditional marketing background - I'd consider pulling the blog. Too much trouble, not worth it.
However, the pressure to be doing something in social media is so strong, that it's likely they'll continue.
Interesting comment on Maggie Fox's interview with Debbie Weil where Weil says GSK don't care, they're puzzled at what all the fuss is about. "They're well on to the next thing," she says.
Just a kerfuffle in a teacup, so it seems. Here are some of the leaves:
- David Gray's excoriation
- Debbie's response to the furore
- Stowe Boyd doesn't buy Debbie's response
- Don't be so hard on her, says Stuart Bruce
- And online copywriting legend Jeffrey Eisenberg asks Who makes the rules?