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Tempest is To Teapot as Amsterdam is To….


Josh Trevino and Chris Nolan, my colleagues here at Spot-On, are on top of the “Amsterdam 25″ Blogging scandal, but I think they may be overreacting. The arrangement between Amsterdam tourism officials and a select group of bloggers is not so much out of line as was how the agreement was reached.
The question this mini-scandal raises is how do you create a separation between church and state–or advertizing and editorial, rather–in the world of blogs, where one person is the editor, publisher and writer?
Tourism boards fly travel journalists for site visits all the time. It’s the basic economics, Gridskipper writes, noting that, “If anything, the Amsterdam blogger project is going overboard with the transparency thing. Given that the bloggers aren’t asked to actually blog about Amsterdam as part of the deal, what the Dutch are doing is trading the trip for publicity — i.e. the adspace.”
How you create such a separation between advertizing and content on blogs, however, is the important question to answer as blogging as a medium gets taken more seriously by businesses and politicians.
One firewall which seems to work in the Mainstream Media is introducing the public relations firm into the blogosphere. Rather than have the advertizer or ad agency contact bloggers directly, one role Public Relations can play is as the “middle man” which creates a separation between the advertizing and the editorial sides of a blog.
Several P.R. firms, from boutique firms like Witeck Combs to giants like Edelman, now have New Media practices… and just so you know, my former boss and I are starting a compnay next month which will do just that. While advertizers should not be able to “buy” content on blogs, that can reach blog editors through agencies that have existing relationships with bloggers in the same way they’d hire the MWW Group to get a story in the local Newspaper.
Had the folks at hired a Public Relations Agency to do what Henry Copeland did–trade trips for advertizing–or to treat bloggers like they treat traditional travel journalists, we probably would not be talking about the “Amsterdam 25″ now.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 10:19 AM | Permalink

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