Nokia Innovations has an article that tells the story of how Samsung India decided to fly a group of bloggers to IFA in Berlin via their Mobilers programme. Clinton Jeff of UnleashThePhones was one of those bloggers. According to the story, when Samsung sent the invites out they asked if the writers were coming to attend as “a reporter or as a promoter.”
Jeff is reported to have stated that he would be there as a reporter. On getting there, it turned out that Samsung wanted the bloggers to serve as brand ambassadors, and when some of them refused, Samsung threatened to leave them stranded in Berlin, Germany.
The Next Web carries the same story, Here’s how Samsung flew bloggers halfway around the world, then threatened to leave them there.
Be sure to follow the links for the full story, as I have no intention of re-hashing them here. Of course, it stinks to high heavens. But my aim here is to address some of the cow dung (okay, BS) that’s going on out there. The issues that I am raising may not all have a direct bearing on the Samsung/Clinton Jeff incidence, but they are all related.
Interests and Agendas
The first thing that bloggers need to get is that Companies are always acting in their own interests. As such, as a blogger, you need to get your mojo right: your primary job is to act in your own best interest. It is the first law of the jungle, and blogging is part of the human jungle.
Don’t get so carried away with the enthusiast part that all you do is serve someone else’s interests at your own expense. Draw up your own agenda, and be clinical in pursuing it. Don’t worry about scaring or pissing off a few people. There are over 5 billion people on this planet.
One young blogger got it right when she said to me recently: “I’m not here to blog for anyone. I blog for me.” Smart lady, in my opinion. If you are good at what you do, you cannot be ignored for long.
I was invited to lunch by a company once, and the first statement made by the representative was that the forum was called to see what bloggers can do for the company. I found that amusing, because Mobility and other blogs had published materials for same company for years and gotten nothing in return. Of course, we had stopped publishing for free at the time of that meeting.
Don’t forget: whatever you do, you have to look out for yourself, because the other guys are only looking out for themselves.
A Blog; Not a Newspaper
Someone said to me earlier today, “The impression is that same model that works for print will also work for bloggers.” That was so on point. A blog is not necessarily a newspaper. A blogger is not obligated to publish anyone’s “breaking news” or press releases. There is zero obligation, unless what the blogger has set out to run is a news blog.
In addition to income from adverts, newspapers actually earn income from sales. Blogs do not. The business model is not the same. If you are a blogger and not running a news blog, any special materials should attract a fee to get it published on your blog.
Blogging as a Business
Another person said to me, “Most companies still see bloggers as not business-minded. So, blogs have to run like proper businesses to be taken serious.”
Again, on point. Bloggers need to step up their game and become business-like if they hope to earn sustainable income from their blogs. If it costs you money and resources to run your blog, there is no reason why your services, including coverage, should be free.
Companies expecting bloggers to promote their products because they paid for a trip or hosted lunch is BS. Why should I get carried away over prospects of fully-paid trips? I take my own trips anyway, thank you. Sign a cheque if you want product promotion.
If like any other type of business, you incur expenses in the running of your blog, anyone who wants to benefit from your hard work should be ready to pay or bring you some other benefits.
Again, companies often invite bloggers to events like it is a privilege to get an IV. Hello, I don’t know about others, but I’ve got a life, and there are lots of things that I have to set aside or forgo to attend your event. Lets talk business, thanks.
Clear Terms of Engagement
Bloggers need to put down clear terms of engagement. This should cover fees, schedules, activities to be involved in, and all. Some may call it pride. Others may term it arrogance. I call it being business-minded. Insist on clear terms and fees of engagement or no deal. You will thank me later.
I have been blogging for over eight years now and seen some of the trash that companies and businesses throw at bloggers. The Samsung/Clinton Jeff episode reminded me of lots of them. I think that things should change. But it won’t change as long as the bloggers let them go on.
The Samsung/Clinton Jeff incidence sucks to high heavens, though, because the blogger in question appears to have made his position clear upfront, yet Samsung’s reps attempted to arm-twist him into becoming a puppet for the company. How do you fly someone half way across the world, then abandon him like that? Smells like horse manure.