I had the below IM conversation with Nate Mook of Betanews after posting about PR blogging on my work blog. All times are Pacific (-8 GMT):
Joe says: (3:54:02 PM)
I couldn’t resist: http://www.microsoft-watch.com/content/developer/net_35_sp1_changes_your_expression.html
Nate says: (3:57:30 PM)
Nate says: (3:57:31 PM)
Nate says: (3:57:40 PM)
I’ve been thinking the same thing recently
Joe says: (3:57:47 PM)
I’m really bugged about this.
Joe says: (3:57:52 PM)
Ah, good for you. Nate says: (3:57:59 PM)
The big posts are definitely vetted by PR
Nate says: (3:58:13 PM)
Although after Live Mesh I began to wonder if they were written by PR
Nate says: (3:58:41 PM)
The only reason I still give them the benefit of the doubt is because I compared the two
Nate says: (3:58:56 PM)
The actual post that went up for Live Mesh was slightly different than the copy PR sent
Joe says: (3:59:33 PM)
But not much.
Nate says: (3:59:56 PM)
But I suppose I’m not surprised. For big announcements being made on blogs, PR is surely involved
Joe says: (4:01:02 PM)
So what do we do?
Joe says: (4:01:16 PM)
You don’t quote the blogs, someone else will.
Joe says: (4:01:54 PM)
The Michael Arringtons of the world are to happy to mix investing, shilling, advertising and blogging.
Nate says: (4:01:56 PM)
My guess is the Beta 1 release was delayed
Joe says: (4:02:03 PM)
Nate says: (4:02:09 PM)
So the post times are pretty innocuous
Nate says: (4:02:25 PM)
Just someone forgetting to update the date when they got cleared
Nate says: (4:02:35 PM)
However, it’s becoming clear that the blogs are now part of the PR message
Joe says: (4:02:35 PM)
Agreed. But good platform for the bigger issue.
Nate says: (4:02:48 PM)
So I don’t know
Joe says: (4:02:51 PM)
Why did Dare [Obasanjo] stop blogging?
Joe says: (4:02:56 PM)
I keep asking.
Nate says: (4:03:18 PM)
I suppose as long as the employees at Microsoft keep taking credit for the posts, we’ll keep quoting them as needed
Nate says: (4:03:34 PM)
Even if they are ghostwritten
Joe says: (4:03:52 PM)
Dare had one of the most transparent and technical blogs. Well written, with a clear voice. Then he stopped with no reason.
Nate says: (4:03:56 PM)
No other choice, really, except just to ignore them too. But then all you’re left with is not much.
Joe says: (4:04:08 PM)
Nate says: (4:04:19 PM)
I mean, most of the time these guys only post when announcements are made
Nate says: (4:04:34 PM)
But it beats nothing
Nate says: (4:04:46 PM)
It beats a quote in a press release written by someone at WaggEd
Nate says: (4:04:54 PM)
Even if the blog post is vetted or written by someone else on the team
Nate says: (4:05:09 PM)
And you’re right: other people will keep quoting them
Joe says: (4:05:14 PM)
Does it? Because we’re headed down a slippery slope.
Joe says: (4:05:26 PM)
At what point do the PR go away?
Joe says: (4:06:12 PM)
To be replaced by blogs with figureheads of legitimacy and ghostwriters of propaganda.
Nate says: (4:06:23 PM)
It’s already happening
Joe says: (4:06:41 PM)
Which is why this topic is important now.
Nate says: (4:07:14 PM)
That’s why I rarely quote the blog these days, except around something technical or specific
Nate says: (4:07:21 PM)
I’ll just cover it like an announcement coming out of MS PR
Joe says: (4:07:54 PM)
Sad. Sad. But we’re moving in social networking influence. What’s true may become meaningless.
Nate says: (4:08:01 PM)
Microsoft’s blogs are nothing more than just another PR approach
Nate says: (4:08:20 PM)
With blogs by figureheads replacing press releases, written more personably and in more detail
Joe says: (4:08:23 PM)
Then shouldn’t everyone treat me that way?
Nate says: (4:09:55 PM)
Well you’re not owned by Microsoft, so you have a clear voice
Nate says: (4:10:39 PM)
Microsoft has become more tansparent. But that transparency is now managed, so the message doesn’t get screwed up
Nate says: (4:10:44 PM)
from what Microsoft wants
Nate says: (4:11:21 PM)
It’s not like the bloggers really interact with the audience anyway. They write something and that’s it. Most of the time, we don’t even get to speak to the writer
Nate says: (4:11:38 PM)
We won’t be given access to Scott Guthrie, only Brian Goldfarb
Joe says: (4:11:50 PM)
Not us. But Channel 8, 9 or 10.
Nate says: (4:12:28 PM)
So it’s a false transparency and it helps Microsoft. It’s basically Microsoft’s way of “briefing” the community with a managed message beyond a traditional PR
Nate says: (4:12:45 PM)
Is it bad? Probably. Is it going to change? Probably not.
Joe says: (4:12:54 PM)
Right. But it comes at a time of great change in journalism.
Nate says: (4:12:54 PM)
So we just have to work with what we’re given, I guess
Joe says: (4:13:36 PM)
If we don’t steer the ship, the PR currents will sweep away truth in reporting.
Nate says: (4:14:34 PM)
Well you and I and other journalists will keep digging deep, I hope.
Nate says: (4:14:47 PM)
And continue to report on what’s under the surface
Nate says: (4:14:56 PM)
What else can be done?
Joe says: (4:16:31 PM)
We need to unite together. Start by developing a new manifesto for new journalism, starting with disclosure about investments and relationships. All Things Digital does this.
Nate says: (4:18:54 PM)
Nate says: (4:18:58 PM)
Mine is easy: None 🙂
Joe says: (4:19:05 PM)