File it under crazy S*&^: Fan Pages for PR Firms! Mom Blogs’ PR Boycott?

by Susan Getgood on July 14, 2009 · 25 comments

in Blogger relations,Blogging,Ethics,Facebook,PR

Should public relations firms have Facebook Fan Pages? What’s the point really?  Do PR firms really have fans, and if they do, should they? Isn’t PR about promoting the client’s interests?

That’s the gist of a conversation thread on Twitter over the past few days. Good friend Geoff Livingston (@GeoffLiving) thinks it is silly for PR firms to have Facebook Fan Pages, in part I imagine (and I don’t want to put words in his mouth, this is my impression of his comments) because it smacks too much of “personal branding,” a concept we both loathe.

I agree, and yet I don’t. Or more accurately, I don’t mind that PR firms are setting up Facebook Fan Pages, as long as they don’t go overboard and start spamming my Facebook Wall with self-serving promotional bullshit.

Facebook Fan Pages are becoming a useful element for a company’s marketing plan, and agencies/consultants need to gain experience with the form. Even if they have clients with Pages, they still need a place to experiment. Client sites are generally not good places for messing around with beta stuff.

So, I’m okay with PR agency fan pages. Happy to “fan” you if asked. As long as you don’t take yourself too seriously and think I want your autograph or something. Because, seriously, I don’t even ask real famous people for autographs.

Fame. Fans. One more brief point about the term fan before I move on to the ridiculous idea of mom blogs “boycotting PR.”

I like the term Fan Page. Not simply because the number of fans shows how popular a brand or company is. I like it because it highlights how the brand should be thinking of its customers. Not simply as consumers. Fans are engaged consumers. They don’t just buy a product, they love the product.

And the brand should love them back. Not take them for granted. Add value beyond the simple transaction. That’s what a Fan Page should be about.

Most are not, or at least I hope, not yet.

Facebook has more than 200 million users.

The brands that get it? That understand that the Fan Page isn’t just a billboard for product announcements? That truly make the effort to engage with the customers?

They are going to have lots and lots of fans.

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

– Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes

Today, mom blog site Mom Dot proposed that mom blogs should boycott PR and marketing offers for a week in August. The rationale has something to do with marketing firms taking advantage of mom bloggers by sending them free products. I think. Or maybe it was that mom bloggers are burnt out from the burden of doing product reviews. Something like that. I think.

Seriously, I am not trying to be mean. I really cannot figure out the reason for the boycott.  If product reviews are too much work, don’t do them. Or do fewer. If you aren’t getting joy from something, stop. If the value isn’t there, don’t do it.

But a PR boycott? As CNET pointed out, this misses the point by more than a country mile.

The FTC is reviewing its guidelines on endorsements and testimonials. Without a doubt, blogs (and other new media) will be included.

This has caused a great deal of buzz around the issue of free products and other blogger compensation, particularly in the parent blogosphere. Latest media outlets, and by no means the last, to cover the story: ABC and the New York Times.

The issue isn’t the reviews. Or the free products. The issue is disclosure.

It’s about ethics. And integrity.

If you are a blogger, it’s about disclosing your relationships with companies that have provided you with free products or compensation so your readers can properly evaluate your recommendations.

If you are a company representative, it’s about reaching out to bloggers with respect. If you are hiring someone to write a document for you, you can read it before publication. Sending a product for review? Absolutely not. Don’t even ask. If you do, you are either scum or a nØØb.

So, I have another suggestion. Instead of polarizing boycotts, teeth gnashing and wailing, let’s all pledge to Blog with Integrity.

All this really requires is that you publish a clear review and ethics policy on your blog. It doesn’t matter what the policy is — your readers will decide that issue. What matters is that you clearly disclose.

This will help you, marketers who want to reach out appropriately and your readers. And, I’m guessing, the FTC will like it too.

In other news, Michael Jackson is still dead.

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{ 6 trackbacks }

Attack of the Facebook Fan Pages » The Buzz Bin
July 15, 2009 at 12:09 am
Web Feet Integrated Marketing » Blog Archive » "Mommy Bloggers" Fight Back?
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Bloggers and PR Blackouts : Bizzia - Business News and Commentary - Finance and Business Tips
July 18, 2009 at 11:30 am
Doug Haslam » Blog Archive » Social Media Top 5: WTF II, What is(n’t) PR, & Mom-Bloggers PR Boycott
July 20, 2009 at 12:28 pm
Blogola and boycotts and burnout, oh my: Announcing the Blog with Integrity pledge | Marketing Roadmaps
July 22, 2009 at 8:39 am
Facebook Fan pages: PR firms communicate with their customers too « ItsAllAbouttheWork
August 11, 2009 at 8:51 pm


1 Motherhood Uncensored July 14, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Agree completely. Michael Jackson is definitely still dead.
.-= Motherhood Uncensored´s last blog ..When kisses were just kisses =-.

2 Maria July 14, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Thank you for commenting on this latest hullabaloo without slinging the label “mommy bloggers” around. Seriously.
.-= Maria´s last blog ..Not going to BlogHer? Have a party in your pants. =-.

3 Julie @ The Mom Slant July 14, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Frankly I can hardly believe this boycott has garnered this level of attention from MarketingVOX and CNET. Although I did enjoy the line about how mommy bloggers are facing a stress level comparable to that of the GM CEO.

Don’t like it? Don’t do it. Problem solved. The bitching has grown beyond tiresome.
.-= Julie @ The Mom Slant´s last blog ..When bad things happen to good neighbors =-.

4 Mom101 July 14, 2009 at 6:40 pm

I’m all about “just say no.”

Never liked Nancy Reagan. But that phrase pretty much works for me and press releases better than it worked for me and drugs.
.-= Mom101´s last blog ..So long, farewell, don’t let the door hit you on the way out you little plastic tools of evil =-.

5 Kristen July 14, 2009 at 6:54 pm

While I think the FTC is full of it (because Lord knows this country needs no more regulation), I am with you. If you don’t disclose your review policy, I usually blow off your review. When I review, I tell you if I got it for free.

I would say, however, that no one jumps up the backside of travel writers who NEVER pay for their trips. Is it different because we all know that they don’t pay? Or do we assume they have journalist integrity?
.-= Kristen´s last blog ..Becoming an old bag =-.

6 Susan Getgood July 14, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Re: travel writers. It’s really all about the policy. My favorite travel site, Budget Travel, clearly says that it accepts no freebies. Other people have different filters.

On my own travel blog, we’ll accept adverts and freebies, but so far, and I’ll bet generally, it will be trips we fund ourselves, not freebies.

7 ParentopiaDevra July 15, 2009 at 12:02 am

Integrity is my hot button. My husband will tell you my motto is “Lie to me? Say good-bye to me.” In my personal life as well as business, I don’t expect perfection, but I do expect honesty. I love it when Judge Judy says “If you always tell the truth, you don’t need a good memory.” Yup, integrity, like a mind, is a terrible thing to waste.
.-= ParentopiaDevra´s last blog ..Pre-BlogHer Meet Up in DC, Join Devra! =-.

8 Chris_Pickard (Christopher Pickard) July 15, 2009 at 12:34 am

Twitter Comment

File it under crazy S*&^: Fan Pages for PR Firms! Mom Blogs’ PR …: Facebook Fan Pages are becoming a u.. [link to post]

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9 tweetingpr (Tweeting PR) July 15, 2009 at 1:22 am

Twitter Comment

File it under crazy S*&^: Fan Pages for PR Firms! Mom Blogs’ PR …: That’s the gist of a conversati.. [link to post]

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10 kim/hormone-colored days July 15, 2009 at 1:53 am

Great, as always!

@Julie, I was struck by that same line. Exaggerate much?
.-= kim/hormone-colored days´s last blog ..Marketing to Moms: Mommybloggers in the news =-.

11 EstrellaBella10 (Nikki Stephan) July 15, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Twitter Comment

RT @RaToTheBec: RT @allenmireles: Fan pages for PR firms? Why yes. Why no. (via @sgetgood) (Excellent-AM) [link to post]

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12 RaToTheBec (Rebecca Neufeld) July 15, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Twitter Comment

RT @allenmireles: Fan pages for PR firms? Why yes. Why no. (via @sgetgood) (Excellent-AM) [link to post]

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13 allenmireles (Allen Mireles) July 15, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Twitter Comment

Fan pages for PR firms? Why yes. Why no. (via @sgetgood) (Excellent-AM) [link to post]

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14 Kami Huyse July 15, 2009 at 3:52 pm

I have to agree on the fan pages, it’s no different than having a blog, if you don’t like it, don’t fan it. But I totally get why Geoff is sick of all of the invites.

Personally I’d like to rant about all of the invites I get to play a ridiculous game or take some tiresome quiz, but I digress…

On the subject of the boycott. I was still trying to get my hands around the implications. It sounded to me that the people organizing it are tired of reading all the promotional posts.

Which leads to the real issue, which is that reviews and other content has to be seen as impartial and non-biased. I don’t think that it is anything a boycott will solve.


15 Susan Getgood July 15, 2009 at 4:02 pm

@Kami – I agree. Tired of reading the promotional posts? Stop.

Of course that’s a bit hard to do if the blogger is the one writing them…

16 Amber R. July 16, 2009 at 4:23 pm

completely, 100% agree with you about the mommy blogger situation. Actually I blogged a very similar opinion to this earlier this morning! It really IS an issue of ethics and transparency.
.-= Amber R.´s last blog ..and the mommy blogger saga continues… =-.

17 Tara @ Feels like home July 16, 2009 at 7:29 pm

I said something very similar on Twitter this week, though certainly not as eloquently as you did. On the internet, as in “real life,” there are people of questionable integrity who like to create controversy where none belongs.

I also think you’re absolutely right that this boils down to blogging with integrity.
.-= Tara @ Feels like home´s last blog ..Swinging: The Rest of the Story =-.

18 Jessica Gottlieb July 21, 2009 at 1:11 am

PR firms have fan pages? Shit, I’m going to make my kids start a fan page for my roasted corn.

Am I the only person who hears the echo?
.-= Jessica Gottlieb´s last blog ..The Jew v. The Wasps =-.

19 Susan Getgood July 21, 2009 at 8:44 am

Jessica, I think far too many people and groups have fan pages than really need them, but it doesn’t bother me. After all, I don’t have to be a fan if I don’t get any value.

So, I am not inclined to single out PR agencies as somehow less deserving of a fan page than any other company. If they add value, great. If they use it for posturing posing and shameless self promotion, I’ll purge ’em from my list.

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