3 posts categorized "Vermont Public Radio"

10/25/2009 Blogging and Transparency

This originally broadcast on Vermont Public Radio, October 23, 2009.

The Federal Trade Commission recently created new rules about endorsing products and that got the blogosphere in a tizzy. Basically the FTC said that if bloggers receive free products from companies, and then blog about those products, they have to let people know about it. The FTC views this as a type of paid endorsement.

A lot of people reacted negatively. For the most part they didn't want any rules at all. And they certainly didn't want more rules than anybody else.

As a medium that prides itself on openness and transparency, though, it was a little odd to see these reactions about making people actually accountable for openness and transparency. That's one of the best things about the online space: sooner or later the truth surfaces. Even if it sometimes has to slog through a lot of noise to get there.

For example, a few years ago Walmart launched a blog "Wal-Marting Across America" featuring a married couple traveling across the U.S. writing about happy Walmarts and happy Walmart employees. Problem was, it turned out that it was all a public relations ploy. The tour came to a screeching halt and Walmart's PR firm turned from blogging to crisis management.

But the reality is that brands now recognize the power that word of mouth plays online. Most of us go online to research everything we buy. We look for personal opinions on things like baby strollers, travel destinations, and cars. So companies decided to see if they could influence the influencers. They sent them free products and asked them to write about them.

Trouble is, when we get something for free, we tend to look at it more favorably. The good bloggers fess up immediately but more than a few don't. Now, the FTC has made it a rule that you HAVE to tell when you get a product for free, or else.

You know, I like this FTC idea so much I'd like to see it in more places. Like when a politician in Washington debates health care or some other issue, I'd like to see them start their speeches with "I've received thousands of dollars from the insurance lobby, but I'd still like to say this about health care." Or how about some of the news "analysts" who show up on lots of talk shows but who actually work for the companies they're talking about.  The only thing we'd need to do is to think up some good punishments!

Or maybe this is just sour grape since I've yet to receive anything for free in return for blogging about something. Companies do ask me to write about them and when I do, I always tell people that they've asked me to do so. In fact sometimes I end up paying for what I write about!

But even then, I still have a line I just won't cross. Like the time I received a request to review  a an, ahem, Flatulence App for the iPhone. I couldn't figure out what would've been worse: paying three-ninety-nine for the app itself, or admitting that someone actually asked me to write about it.
05/08/2009 Social Media Makes One-Way Media Two-Way

That’s a quote of mine from a show on Vermont Public Radio this week. Jane Lindholm’s Vermont Edition talked about Twitter for about half an hour on Tuesday with a variety of people.  I haven’t done live radio in a while but the best part about it was that we were able to use what we talked about, Twitter, to make our broadcast interactive.

One of the points I made about why Twitter and social media are so exciting is that they have the potential to turn one-way, broadcast media two way. Whether its SMS, augmented reality or Twitter connected to outdoor, TV or radio, we have a number of tools to engage people with, well, everything.

So when we talked, we followed the #vpr hash tag and people piped in on what they thought was important. We talked about why we used Twitter and how we thought it helped us. And while we talked:

@jacksonlatka tweeted: a great example of Twitter to stop smoking http://qwitter.tobaccofreeflorida.com/english/instructions/

@sonnycloward tweeted: I’ve actually gotten jobs from his Twitter activities.

@wsenville tweeted: I’ve used Twitter to "attend" two recent conferences; great to get highlights of sessions & can order CDs of best sessions later,

@tombedell Tweeted: For journalists, it's sure a quick way to get research started--do a search, throw out a question, and it's off to the races.

@onthejump wanted to know the optimum number of followers.

While @taylordobbs wanted to know where we thought Twitter’s business was going.

And @vt2000 thanked us for getting her into Twitter (she thinks).

We talked and checked in on TweetDeck and talked some more. While there were only three of us in the studio, and some others who called in, it felt like a much larger discussion, thanks to the social media tool itself, Twitter.

That’s the real power of all this social stuff we’re talking about and it was amazing to be in the middle of it. People on the other side, listening and tweeting, got a kick out of hearing us mention their names from the tweets.

Start thinking about all the ways you can turn your one-way marketing into discussions with these tools. People remember it long after the event or ad itself. Thanks VPR, for a great conversation!

01/29/2009 Vermont Public Radio Commentary

Vpr I’m branching out into radio! A little, anyway.

Today marked my debut on Vermont’s NPR station, VPR as a commentator. I’m starting a series on Digital Life. The first story is about Digital Natives, a.k.a. my kids, and how they get digital, it’s already in their blood.

You can listen to or read the commentary – The New Digital Generation – here.

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