Inevitable I knew it was


I knew it was only a matter of time before the snakes in my industry started focusing aggressively on bloggers to get their messages out and sell their products. If blogging, as Andrew Sullivan proclaimed, is indeed going to make editors “defunct,” bloggers are a natural target for the flacks.

Last week I actually started writing an article about this topic but got so busy I abandoned it. Well, my rival Glenn Reynolds has beaten me to the punch with a great piece about this insidious practice. It’s just getting started; wherever you have “influencers,” you have PR flacks hawking their wares, whispering in their ears, offering their “help.” Like flies to flypaper.

And blogging has generated an entirely new generation of influencers. And the PR companies are drooling.

Case in point: Reynolds writes, “According to press reports, Dr. Pepper plans to recruit ‘key influence bloggers’ who will ‘spread the word'” about the joys of drinking its new pop, Raging Cow. Reynolds quotes from a Dr. Pepper press release:

Beginning with an initial group of six people in their late teens and early 20s — flown to Dallas with their parents for an induction session — Dr Pepper hopes to develop a “blogging network” to hype Raging Cow and “be part of the ‘in the know’ crowd,” says its brand-marketing honcho Andrew Springate. Those spreading the news via their blogs won’t disclose their flackitude, says Springate, because officially they’re not paid Dr Pepper employees; they only get promo items like hats and T shirts.

I read this, and I feel ashamed of being in the PR business. I want to say to people, echoing the Elephant Man, “I am not a PR person — I am a human being.” Because a lot of people see us as the lowest of the low. Even lower than lawyers. (Go here if you want to know why.) So I urge all bloggers who receive “tips” and “advice” and “pointers” to know their source and be wary of the PR vulture poised to win some free cyberink for his fat-walleted client.

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