When PR + Bloggers + Free Press = Insult & Irony


This morning the New York Times ran an article on Heather Armstrong, the successful blogger known as Dooce. It’s not the first time she’s been featured in their publication, or the second, third, fourth, or even fifth. According to Armstrong’s own press page, today’s article marks her eighth appearance in the New York Times.  On one hand: Bully for her! On the other hand: Dear New York Times, Get a new story. Or at least a new spin (with new bloggers) on an old story.

I don’t have much to say about Dooce – I don’t read her, but I also don’t begrudge her the success she’s been savvy enough to achieve.

I also don’t have much to say about today’s article – for an earnest reflection on the piece, I suggest reading Jennifer James’ “[My Thoughts] The New York Times Examines Mom Bloggers’ Earnings and Kids” (wherein Jennifer and her watchful readers call the NYTimes out for changing the title of the article from “Mommy_Bloggest” to “Queen of the Mommy Bloggers”).

Here’s what I do have to say:

Sometime late this morning, while I was dutifully (and reluctantly) working out at the gym, I got an email from Goodman Media about today’s article on Dooce.  It included the “new” article title, full text, and a direct link to the New York Times site. No personal introduction to the email, no indication of exactly what I was supposed to do with this information, nothing.

But it’s no great leap to assume what Goodman Media was hoping for.

Bloggers get these kinds of impersonal, “spray and pray” emails every day from PR companies hoping to get a bite from one willing to spam their loyal readership with a reprinted press release or links to a client’s current campaign. For free. With no benefit to the blogger themselves.

It’s insulting.

Even more insulting? That I would be contacted about THIS article – an article that highlights the ability of one blogger to earn potentially more than $1million a year – and be expected to share it with my readers for free.

Does anyone else see the irony in this?

And does anyone else see why the likelihood of achieving success similar to Heather Armstrong’s (or the success of the very small handful of bloggers like her) is slim to none? How CAN we, as long as firms like Goodman Media keep treating bloggers as…well…free press?

Tell you what, I’m in fact NOT going to link to the New York Times article about the “Queen of Mom Bloggers.” Instead, why don’t I take an oldie but goodie from, say…YESTERDAY…in the Small Business section – an article called “The Problem with Public Relations.” Looks like bloggers aren’t the only ones frustrated here.

*Worth noting: I know a number of PR professionals who are doing it “right.” But they aren’t the ones chapping my hide today.

*Also worth noting: Yes, yes, I *know* I went ahead and gave free press to the NY Times article anyway. But I deemed it a necessary evil in order to make a bigger point.