Thursday, August 07, 2008

Marketing to Mommy Bloggers: My panties are in a bunch over Wal-Mart

I'm reading: Marketing to Mommy Bloggers: My panties are in a bunch over Wal-MartTweet this!

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be on a panel alongside some very sharp web-savvy women answering questions from a group of brand managers about reaching moms online.

At one point one of the mombloggers mentioned that she's going to be working with Wal-Mart adding content to their new YouTube channel. I'd heard some buzz about this in the momosphere; a couple of my blog friends will be taking part in this. As I understand it, they are being given video cameras and will be vlogging- making and posting personal video segments- on frugal living. They will be not required to plug the sponsor. They will not be required to plug the sponsor's products. They will not be edited. And they will also NOT BE PAID.

I'm sorry, but Wal-Mart you suck! I understand what might motivate a blogger to take such a position- promises of visibility and the bigger, more exciting and better paid projects this gig will, in theory, lead to. But I don't understand why a huge corporation couldn't set aside a measly few thousand dollars to compensate these women for the content they will be producing to enhance the Wal-Mart channel.

Back to the panel. My colleague was explaining the Wal-Mart deal. The last thing I want a group of influential brand managers to think is that mommybloggers can be bought for the price of a video camera and a free trip to Bentonville, Arkansas. My follow-up comment went something like this: Did you see my eyes pop out of my head when she mentioned she was doing this work for free? If bloggers are providing content for you and helping you build your brand you've got to PAY THEM.

I went on to say that I understand that my colleague runs ads on her site and the Wal-Mart gig will supposedly allow for plenty of linking back to her personal blog, which should mean extra ad revenue (that does not come out of Wal-Mart's budget. Oooh, win-win!). And I understand why a blogger might accept such a lame deal, but I still think it's wrong.

Edelman respects mombloggers and pays them for their efforts. I've heard Bridge Worldwide is doing right by the bloggers they've set up at Similac and Luvs. I don't know what PR "genius" is behind the Wal-Mart's new effort, though. (Edited 8/13 to add: not sure if I heard right about that Luvs thing, after all. Just sayin'.)

This is not about jealously. Honestly, I'm just not that into Wal-Mart, anyway. Wait. That's a lie. I despise Wal-Mart. And not just because of all the things I've read about their Big Bad Corporation. I also dislike them because of the way a woman sporting a "customer service expert" badge snarled and snapped at me when I returned a gift in my skeezy local shop a few years back.

So yeah, my panties are in a bunch about all this, but maybe that's okay because guess what? I bought them at Target.

On a related note, my Tweep Mark Salinas posted a query on Twitter on this morning, "Target or Wal-Mart?" As of 10:30 CST, there were 47 Targets, 1 Wal-Mart, and 1 it depends.

What about you? Target or Wal-Mart? Make 'em buy the cow or give the milk away for free?

31 comments:

Donna said...

Hear hear, Kim! I'm tired of big companies getting free content because we bloggers allow it. Great post.

FishyGirl said...

Target all the way. We have both right across the parking lot from each other here.

To Think is to Create said...

I'm with ya--this is totally taking advantage of these writers. It makes me increasingly frustrated when I hear about stuff like this, because it makes it so much harder for the rest of us to get paid what we're worth.

Linsey K / Krolik Legal said...

Did you see the documentary about Walmart - I think its called The High Cost of Low Price? This is not a new thing with Walmart. I agree with you and really believe that women (including mommy bloggers) need to negotiate for what is right. Start-ups and different - asking everyone to be creative and take some risk can make sense in some scenarios. Unfortunately, much of negotiation comes down to bargaining power and if Walmart sees that they have hundreds of mommy bloggers willing to do it for free, why would they negotiate to pay? First, create value content and, then, don't just settle.

Andrea said...

Like you, I'm tired of big companies expecting bloggers of all types to just do their marketing for them. I can understand small companies with low or no advertising budget seeking some friendly press, but for Pete's sake, Wal-Mart isn't in that category. They should know better AND they should be thinking this out more carefully. I do not agree that all press is good press. This kind of cheap/free labor attitude will come back and bite them where it hurts.

As for shopping, I'm kind of meh on both (better than KMart), but prefer Target mostly because it's always cleaner and the customer service people are usually friendlier. These days with the cost of gas I'll drive to whichever one is closer, and with that criteria Target wins.

Kevin said...

as one of the marketers in the room yesterday...I think I did see your eyes pop out of your head. ;) I agree that paying bloggers is perfectly reasonable. some would prefer *not* to be paid because they're worried about the appearance of lack of objectivity. not actual lack of objectivity, just the appearance of it.

so really it comes down to individual relationships imho. btw, bridge worldwide is the agency we partner with on a great number of our sites. respectable, professional, and relationship oriented...they're a good bunch.

Jessica said...

As one of the eleven moms chosen for the Wal-Mart video campaign I hope you'll let me weigh in here. There are lots of different ways companies can reach out to their audience. That is amazing that Luvs, Similac, and Edelman are rewarding Mommy Bloggers the way they are.
Here's the way I see it though. Wal-Mart could have taken a different approach and had a contest for mommy bloggers to compete to be one of the eleven moms with the same set-up as far as compensation (or lack thereof as you've pointed out). For the exposure alone I am sure a number of Mommy Bloggers would have entered, hoping to win. But that wasn't the case here. They hand-picked the moms and asked if we'd like to participate. We all had the choice. Any one of us could have said "No, thank you."
Do I shop regularly at Wal-Mart? No. There's not a store close enough that warrants a regular trip. Does half my family wholeheartedly oppose some of the ways Wal-Mart does business? Yes. Actually, one family member has a bumper sticker saying as much. But I'm a big girl and I make my own decisions and was excited about this opportunity.
Also, I have to say I'm already learning things about Wal-Mart that give me pause (in a good way). Have you read about some of the initiatives they are taking to make their company, their stores, and even their employees more sustainable? I had no idea.

I hear this cow/milk for free conversation a lot. Moms (not just mommy bloggers) are an important consumer demographic (if not the most important). Some of course, through blogs and otherwise, are more influential than others. But, adding value and working for little or no compensation is nothing new. Ask any college student who spends their summer as an intern. Or any aspiring actor or actress who volunteers for community theater in Hollywood hoping for their big break.
Fortunately for me, I have an amazing job as Chief Mom Officer at Wishpot.com (that I get paid for). Now being a Mom has everything to do with the "Mom" in CMO but my 8 years of business development & marketing experience and college degree have something to do it with it too.
I guess my point is this: different people take different routes to achieve their goals. For some, exposure may be more important to them than compensation (and vice versa). But everyone has a choice and for that, I am thankful.

Whirlwind said...

Walmart sucks. I cannot wait until October when Target finally opens and I will have no need whatsoever to ever step foot in a Walmart again.

And whats worse than Walmart? A Walmart under construction so it's more freaking annoying to try to go to than a normal day!

Lylah said...

great post....i vote target. did check out classy mommy's battery video. cute.

came here tweeping.

Amy said...

I think this is an important discussion and agree that we all must take different avenues to achieve our goals. This was a tough decision for me and one that I didn't take lightly.

I work for Kenmore and I get paid well for that job. I am their Home Management Expert for their team and I endorse the Kenmore name and products. I love what I do for them and I am proud of what they do. I am an "expert" for their team and help develop their content. It has been a great relationship with them and a gig that I hope to have for a very long time.

When Wal-Mart approached me, I was not doe-eyed about what they were suggesting because I am a corporate spokesperson and understand the value of what I am worth. I also do things that do not pay me at all. I write for publications, I blog for other people, I appear on our local news- none of those things pays, but it gives me practice for the paid opportunities and growth for my website. I do those things and they help me be better for the paid stuff where I really want to shine.

No papers were signed, no expectations were set, no money exchanged hands. A camera was given and a chance to upload to a page that would be promoted by their company. We will be featured in constant rotation on their website and promoted in their advertisements. Frankly, I couldn't afford advertising with a large corporation so uploading a video now and then seemed like a great and free way to get my name out there to moms who might not even know about blogs.

With no expectations, I look forward to seeing how the opportunity turns out. If it isn't working, I am under no obligation to continue. I am also under no obligation to promote or endorse Wal-Mart products. If I was hired by them, I would have to promote them in the way that they would want me to. I don't think my readers would want to watch me or would still find me as authentic as I can be when I can vlog on my own terms promoting products and services that would truly be beneficial to them.

I want a good relationship with my readers and that trumps any paid or unpaid projects I do. I am proud of the community that I have built and I only hope that this only benefits them and the community that I create on MomAdvice.

Mama Luxe said...

I totally agree Kim. And these bloggers aren't working for free because they want to preserve objectivity in this case (sorry Kevin).

It is one thing on your own blog to say I don't accept payment for reviews. We do not accept payment for reviews on our blog.

But in this case they are producing video content. Does a big newspaper not pay its journalists to protect their integrity?

In my experience, with some exceptions, smaller companies will come in with amazing samples for review, buy ads, sponsor contests, etc. And a lot of larger companies (with notable exceptions) will send their PR people (without giving them the time necessary to actually learn about the bloggers they are pitching) with offers of samples of some $5 cleaning product--and expect us to be grateful for the opportunity.

I think the fear is that the big companies with the big money will go away if we expect compensation for our time, talents, space, etc. But if they aren't actually going to compensate us, now or later, then what's the loss if they take their toys and go elsewhere?

I say we need to be realistic about why they want us and then charge accordingly. If you are truly a talented writer, and they are using your content, you should be compensated for your writing. If you have a knack for evaluating and communicating, they should pay you like a consultant. If it is your audience or Page Rank they are after, then they should pay for that ad space.

Mama Luxe said...

Jessica--I respect your decision and that of any other blogger to do as she wishes with her time and talents.

What concerns me is the attitude of the big corporations.

A community theater isn't getting something for nothing--thus the "community" party.

And I volunteer frequently for worthy causes that could not otherwise afford my services. I really think that is different.

As far as unpaid internships--I think people need to be very careful when doing "free" work that it really is a path to get where they want to go.

In this case, we're talking adults (not students or kids) who aren't necessarily learning a skill or "putting in their dues" and I'm just not sure they'll be compensated in the end. And Walmart, a multi-billion dollar corporation (whether I love them, hate them, or couldn't care less), is getting a lot of free consulting and advertising out of this.

It is the attitude of the big corporations that is getting to me--I'm not here to put down another blogger for doing whatever she feels like doing.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I am another of the 11 Mom's involved in the Walmart project.

First off I want to start out by saying I do not consider myself a "Mommy Blogger"-not because of the title, but because I rarely mention my children & family except in passing, and never talk about parenting, personal issues etc. I am a Personal Finance blogger who concentrates on frugality and thrift. (Ranked 30th in the last top 100 PF bloggers list)

To be honest, at this point I have no problem with the lack of pay. Would I like to earn some money at my "full time hobby"-well yes. At this point, blogging for 2 1/2 years, I don't even run ads. So currently I earn nothing at all and spend lots of time doing it.

If Walmart had actually offered to pay us for these spots, I think I would have had more concerns about the project as a whole-what type of editorial/review power would they have had, would their be future issues with them asking me to recommend something that I don't truly endorse. And if we were being paid, obviously there would have to be some sort of contractual agreement to consider, along with the legal ramifications of pulling out of said agreement if we didn't like the direction the project went in.

At this point Walmart has nothing except our agreement that we will participate. Based on our word we were sent digital cameras, with the promise that the content of our videos remains our own to post where-ever we choose (we can post them at our own site prior to Walmart, and of course create content exclusively for our sites). There wasn't even a promise invoked for how many segments we would actually provide them. I guess if I were a jerk (which I like to think I'm not) I could whip out a couple of crappy vlogs without putting much effort into it, take the camera and run. And they wouldn't be able to do much about it.

As for the publicity, there will be link ins with the printed WalMart fliers, which reach over 85,000 households. I can't think of any other opportunity that would give me a shot at publicity with such a wide range of people.

I was also assured in conversation with Walmart that if they desired to use these clips or film others to present on the in store tv systems, that those would be compensated opportunities, and that other compensated opportunities might come out of this depending on how it develops.

So from my point of view, I'm actually getting a decent deal.

Up until this point no-one has been knocking down my door to buy my content or to have me write for them. Even without the promise of any pay I have intended to continue blogging anyway for the outlet and the satisfaction it gives me. Similarly, I've been acting in community theatre for years and noone has paid me for that either.

I am getting free equipment which will enable me to create better content for my own blog. I would not have purchased myself a digital video camera-I wouldn't have been able to justify the cost. The added bonus is that of course I can use it for personal use as well.

Through this program I am getting exposed to an audience who I would not otherwise be able to reach. Let's face it, right now the audience we all are vying for are those that already read blogs, many of whom are bloggers themselves. Occasionally someone will get highlighted in a print magazine or paper and pick up some "non blog" readers that way. The Walmart fliers are reaching a totally untapped demographic-the average American household who really isn't familiar with blogs. I'll be happy to be one of the 11 moms who introduces them to the concept!

Add to all that there is the possibility of compensation in the future. Sure, I realize that I'm being the hopeful type. But I also believe that I have talent, both writing and performing, and that I have important things to say that will appeal. So I'm willing to chance it.

Finally, I'm not going to just rest on my laurels, I'm going to try to leverage this with my local newspaper into a weekly column (paid of course) on saving money. I think the fact that I've been picked up by Corporate WalMart will have some weight there. At the very least it's a credit to add to my portfolio.

So while I can understand some of your feelings, I don't particularly feel that I am being taken advantage of. I'm more than happy to take part in this program due to the way that it is structured, and I don't feel in any way that it is demeaning or selling out.

Lynnae said...

Hi! I'm also one of the eleven moms, and I thought I'd weigh in with my opinion.

I decided to do this, because I thought it would be great exposure for my blog, and that it would lead to even more opportunities.

My biggest concern in all of this was that my readers would continue to see me as completely honest. By not getting paid, I retain that trust with my readers. I don't think they'd trust me so much, if I were being paid by Wal-mart. There would always be a question as to whether I'm saying something because that's what I feel, or because Wal-mart is paying me to say it.

It seems that there's a little bit of misconception here that Wal-mart has the rights to our content. We moms retain complete control of our content. We can use it on our own sites, share it with Wal-mart, use it somewhere else...we get to decide.

The way I see it, it's not much different than writing a guest post for another blogger. A while back, I wrote a guest post for an "A-list" personal finance blogger. He used my content, and in return, I got a nice link back to my site, and the traffic that came with it. This is the same thing, but on a much greater scale.

Quite frankly, when all is said and done, I think we mom-bloggers got a great deal. We're getting way more exposure than most of us could have ever dreamed of getting, and we really don't have any obligation to Wal-mart at all. No contract. No minimum number of videos. No exclusive content for Wal-mart. We don't even have to mention Wal-mart. All I have to do is keep on blogging and vlogging the way I've always done it.

I honestly don't think I could get that kind of deal anywhere else. And if I do happen to come across a better deal, I'm free to leave the Wal-mart gig anytime.

geekmommy said...

Okay, since you're posting about me, I'll weigh in as well.
It looks like you got some second-hand information and ran with it.

Let's get a few things straight - we're not "blogging about WalMart" - we're working with them to help them to launch their video community on the Web.
We're not blogging or video blogging for *them* for free - we're doing stuff we'd do anyways and getting supported by them.
Is the video camera free? Yes - it comes from Pure Digital, the makers of the Flip Mino. Who are working with us in conjunction with Walmart.
Is there a trip to Bentonville? Yes. That's so a) we moms can all meet each other and b) we can see the corporate culture there for ourselves.

Are we letting them "air our videos for free"? No. If Walmart wants to air the videos - whether on their closed circuit TV or on their site or as part of their advertising - we will be compensated. That's a distribution deal, not a production deal.

Is it helping us to build our own brand? Yes.
None of us are doe-eyed, naive women being taken advantage of by "the big bad evil corporation." We have had much communication about expectations and what will happen.
Most of us have extensive professional backgrounds and we have talked amongst ourselves about what happens as it proceeds.

As for why WalMart isn't just "paying us for content"? Yeah, go back and Google 'WalMart' and 'Edelman' and 'scandal' and you'll come up with coverage over what happened in 2006 when WalMart did foot the bill for blogger coverage.

You can't have it both ways - either they're evil because they paid bloggers for coverage or they're evil because they aren't paying for coverage. But not both.

In the end, part of what Walmart is attempting to do *is* learn to manage their brand online. You can say "I'd rather shop at Target" - but how do you expect them as a company to change that perspective unless they do reach out to the community and start interacting with us?

I'm sorry that you dislike Walmart so much... but please don't misrepresent those of us moms who have opted to collaborate with them on this.
Please don't mistake the fact that we are working *with* them to working *for* them. Any of us has the right to walk away at any point - but so far? We're liking working with each other and the folks we've met at WalMart.

Monica @ Paper Bridges said...

Target all the way. HATE Wal-mart. It's dirty, the sales floor difficult to navigate because too tightly packed with stuff.

And I say to Wal-Mart: show the mommybloggers the money!

monica

Jen said...

I can blog unpaid myself! (wait! I do!)

Eff Wal-Mart.

Just one more reason to keep on avoiding that disgusting, depressing bloated monstrosity.

I would NEVER blog for them, even if they DID pay me.

Kim Moldofsky said...

Sheesh, people have actually been reading my blog! My unpaid blog that does not accept pay for post or run ads. (Though I accept product samples for potential review if they interest me.)

First off, welcome new friends from Bentonville- thanks for stopping by!

As for you Wal-Mart bloggers thanks for explaining a few things-like the fact the you own the content. That's key. I echo Mama Luxe's sentiment: It is the attitude of the big corporations that is getting to me--I'm not here to put down another blogger for doing whatever she feels like doing.

In other words- I think Wal-Mart sucks, but I don't think you do.

That said, we all (we, as in me, too) need to think about how giving our work away or selling it for less than it's worth makes it harder for others to get what they are worth. And I'm not just talking other bloggers, but freelance writers and journalists, too. (Thanks Arianne)

We also need to think carefully about whether we are promoting or diluting our "brands" in the name of exposure. People die from overexposure.

And it's not that I got second-hand info and ran with it. I was sitting inches away from the person who gave a brief description of her new WM role. Did I miss a few details or did she gloss over them as she only was mentioning this on her way to making a different point? I don't know. My brain was stuck: DID SHE JUST SAY WAL-MART WAS NOT PAYING HER?!?

She and I were there as "influential mommybloggers" talking to an "influential group of marketing folks." I sure as hell was not going to let them think that working for a large corporation for free was a concept most bloggers support!

Had this come up in another setting I likely would've mused, as many of my commenters have, "Wow, this is just one more reason to hate Wal-Mart." But it came up, quite innocently in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was not going to let it slip by.

I wish you WM vloggers the best. Seriously. Enjoy your freedom and by all means send me links to the videoclips in which you show how to maximize your CVS bonus dollars. I need to learn more about that. Or how about a vlog about finding getting all of your holidays gifts via freecycle.org, Craigslist or Zwaggle.com? Use your vlogging freedom for the good of the earth as well as the good of your reader's checking accounts.

Remember when Sam Walton was alive and Wal-Mart was all about buying American made goods? Maybe you can use your vlogging influence to bring some of that back, too. I fear that soon we'll all be working for free...if we are lucky enough to have jobs.

Talk amongst yourselves for a while. I'm off to bed. My kid is having surgery tomorrow. Also, now that I've made it clear I won't be home for much of the day, please do not rob my house. Someone already took care of that while we were out watching fireworks on July 4. All the good stuff is gone.

geekmommy said...

Kim:

Thanks for the response. It's a great response - and it makes much more sense than the knee-jerk response some people have had to this.

I'm sorry if I can across as angry & aggressive.
It's just that honestly? All of us had to consider for ourselves the merits vs. the pitfalls of the deal and decide whether to participate.

I do understand the initial reaction you had given the circumstances under which you learned about it. I also know that a panel in front of a bunch of marketing folks at Ad-Tech is probably the *worst possible place* that conversation could've taken place.

Believe me - I understand that the last thing any of us needs is a bunch of marketing folks thinking "yeah!!! If WalMart can get a bunch of naive mommy bloggers to work for free, why not us?" Especially because that's exactly what the folks at WalMart are bending over backwards not to do.

The funny part is, that many of us (not all but a number) don't even really class ourselves as "mommy bloggers." I'm primarily a life-blogger, but my content is mostly tech or social media, with some mom stuff thrown in. But b/c I've got "mommy" in my handle, apparently a lot of folks miss that the "geek" comes first.

We don't define every male blogger that has children as a 'daddy blogger' - but it's kind of common to lump all of us women with kids into one big label when dealing with marketers.

When WalMart first approached me, I thought they had the wrong person - b/c my readers aren't what I thought they wanted. They assured me that my perspective was one of the things they wanted - b/c honestly? We women are all way more complicated than a two-word description.

I guess we need to remember that part of the challenge of this project is that WalMart already has a huge hill to climb to rehab their brand identity. I do hope we can help to do that.
I'm really impressed that they reached out to such a diverse group of moms, to be honest with you. I would've expected the opposite from most marketing efforts - to get a bunch of malleable, naive, gullible women and use them as best they could before they figured it out.

But I think I'm included in an amazing group of women - and that's why I get so defensive when I think maybe someone is talking them down.

I'm sorry because I know I probably came across far more attacking than I intended. I was rushed doing those same kind of Mom/Wife/Woman things I know you can relate to. After all, we've got to live our lives to have anything to blog about! :)

G'night. Pleasant dreams. Again, thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is Kim's DH here, chiming in from my own perspective. I was a journalism major and am a friend to many professional reporters.
Let me lead with an inflammatory statement: bloggers walk a fine line of being scabs. While there is no union or strike going on here, I think you are being viewed as eventual replacement workers.
All of you ladies are wonderful, well-intentioned people, I'm sure. But the powers that run large media organizations (oh, let's use Sam Zell at the Tribune as an example) seek to cut costs by eliminating paid, experienced staff. Blogging supports this business model by offering publishers a lower cost product even though the quality (lack of copy editing, interviews or fact checking, in many cases) isn’t the same as a properly reported story. Yes, I understand the whole point of a blog and a newspaper article are different. But more Americans probably spend more time reading blogs and watching The Daily Show than reading a newspaper. Many (if not most American) consumers, however, don’t care much about quality as long as the dollar price is lower. This is an old argument by now and it’s been stated many times better than I can say it.
But you enjoy blogging even though you do it for free or next-to-free, and nobody forces you to do it, right? (Except me. I demand that Kim blog all the time. Just ask her!)
An analogy is the Japanese auto workers enjoyed their jobs, did a great job building cars and were willing to do it at a lower wage than American workers in the 1980s. Americans happily bought their cars. The Chinese and Indians are doing the same to us now and we happily buy their products because we save money, even though many of us realize that the end result of all this is our neighbors become unemployed, or have jobs without health insurance.
I’m talking here about millions of hard-working, dedicated and talented foreigners who, because their nation has a lower standard of living, have convinced American corporations to outsource much of our economy there. The workers themselves are blameless and, as a result, lead better lives. Just as you all are blameless for promoting your own goals and interests and being willing to accept no (or very little) payment for it. You receive a net benefit from your blogging and your readers enjoy new viewpoints without spending money.
But for both you and foreign factory workers, somebody else ultimately pays for the benefits you receive. This is not a win-win situation. Individually you have little impact on our economy, but as a group, your influence for good (like democratizing publishing) or not so good can be substantial.
Understand the appeal you've created for those who run large companies and the threat you pose to people who have spent their careers honing their craft and climbing the salary ladder. In and of itself, blogging is a harmless, fun endeavor that offers many benefits to the writers and readers. But step back and look at the big picture of where your activities fit in an historical view of labor relations.
You may be thinking, “I’m just a mom, writing in my spare time. I’m not trying to put my neighbors out of a job.” Of course you’re not. And the eleven women blogging for Wal*Mart have no desire to inflict any harm on anybody either. None of us have intentions to harm anybody else. Like Adam Smith said, we all promote our own self interests, and the sum of it all is that American society in general prospers.
What if Smith was wrong?

Single Mom Seeking said...

Kim, I hope the surgery goes smoothly. I didn't know.

Thank you SO much for writing this post! You said it better than I could have.

Every day, I get an email from a different company asking if I'll write an article for them, and they'll link to me, and how good this will be for my numbers, etc.

Yesterday, I wrote back to the top online dating company in the world, and said:
"I will willingly write articles for you -- but not for free."

What I really wanted to say was: If I were a plumber, would you ask me to come and fix your sink, free, just for fun???

Jodi said...

Kim - well written as usual! I don't fault the 11 mommy bloggers for accepting the gig at all, but I do often get frustrated when big companies take advantage.

I hope the surgery went well.

Meagan Francis said...

Kim, you and your DH makes some good points, but I am conflicted about this because in any craft--writing, music, carpentry...heck, even plumbing--there are hobbyists and there are professionals and I believe there's room for both. And within the professional ranks there are many different levels. Couldn't we argue that blogging is the same? Writing for free certainly pre-dates blogging and as a pro writer I don't feel *personally* threatened by bloggers who do it on the cheap because I assume we are pursuing different opportunities. I do think, however, that you're right there are some global affects...for example, I do think that in many ways blogging has diluted and dumbed-down journalism, at least online. Then again, it's still a relatively new medium...I'm confident that this stuff will get ironed out as everybody becomes more savvy. Or, at least, the line between pro and amateur will become less blurry and more obvious. In the meanwhile, however, there are sure to be growing pains.

kristina said...

Wow, great topic and discussion.

I have to say that Kim's DH makes some good points -- and I say that as a former newspaper journalist and employee of Tribune.

I can't wait to read more about this in this comments section.

Great job, Kim.

Oh, and I'm Target all the way.

Kim Moldofsky said...

Here's a link to the Wal-Mart Edelman "scandal" a previous commenter mentioned. It seems the problem was not that they were paid, but rather that the pay and many other details were not disclosed. As I see it, it was not a problem of money, but of transparency. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=49505&Nid=24192&p=161001

PapaBear said...

I think this is a bad move by Wal-Mart against the blogging community as a whole. By having such an influential marketer degrade the activity of vlogging by refusing to pay for it, Wal-Mart sets a bad precident; potential users will be more resistant to pay but more importantly the producers of such commentary will be less likely to develop this medium.

This may or may not hurt Wal-Mart in the short term, but they are leaving a permanent mark on the collective memory that is represented by social media.

Briana said...

I completely understand why any blogger would do it! Free exposure!!! Since many of them have such great blogs, many of the people who visit their sites are going to keep coming back and then could to lead to MORE opportunities for them! Getting your foot in the door always helps!!!

However, I don't like shopping at Wal-mart since I do coupons now. Their coupon policy stinks. Their cashiers/managers are not trained. They are not always the lowest price but they've managed to brainwash the public into thinking they are.
My horrible experience is documented here: http://bargainbriana.com/2008/07/wal-mart-is-on-my-list/

But I don't blame the 11 women for taking this opportunity and running with it for the exposure. I also thought I read they were getting an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas to a Convention...which is compensation of sort. So trip, camera, free exposure....the IRS would consider the first two items taxable compensation! ;)

Musings of a Housewife said...

I understand why these blogger would take this opportunity, and I support them making their own choices. That said, I agree with everything you say about Walmart. And I want to add Huggies to your list of awesome companies who compensate bloggers for representing them. I am working with Huggies right now, and they have been awesome!

Mama Luxe said...

You know, I just wanted to say, after seeing how this campaign has unfolded, I take it back. I think Walmart has treated these moms well and it is a smart marketing move as well as some great content.

Jessica Gottlieb said...

Barneys.

I will blog free for Barneys.

Hil'Lesha said...

I could understand getting paid if it was for ad space, but not for vlogging and getting a free trip. I find it a bit ironic that a person should get paid to talk about frugal living. =)