Bribing Bloggers

PR Newser’s Joe Ciarallo and AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka’s eyebrows were respectively raised when a PR (?) rep for the upcoming ad:tech conference attempted to barter for their editorial coverage.

Here’s a piece of the proposed offer as outlined in an email:

“ad:tech will provide:

* Twitter announcement of your involvement with ad:tech New York to our 6,800+ followers.
* Your choice of: a free pass to the exhibit hall (valued at $35) or 35% off a full conference pass.”

“We ask you provide:

* No less than 3 posts about ad:tech New York on Twitter, Facebook or your blog. Suggested postings: a session you’re interested in, why you like ad:tech, the exhibitors that you want to see or technologies that you are interested in learning about. What you share is up to you-it just needs to be posted by November 1.”

Yikes! What is the world coming to? Have the lines blurred so much that outright bribery for news coverage is accepted in some circles? I recognize that the IAB has come out forcefully against the new FTC rules for bloggers, but I imagine that many bloggers will find the ad: tech enticement, well, sufficiently enticing to take the bait.

Separately, I noticed a tweet today from a mommy-blogging friend in which she waxes pr-poetic
about Vail Resorts.

“Although my family often braves the perennially icy slopes here in the Northeast, nothing compares to the awesome ski terrain in the Rocky Mountains. Vail Resorts run 5 of the top ski resorts- Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckinridge, and Heavenly – each of which has come up with winter plans of exciting innovations and celebrations., tantalized at the massive plans for each mountain it appears Colorado will be the place to be this winter.”

The post was so PR-positive I had to wonder whether this was a pay-for-play gig or perhaps a ticket to an all-expense paid family ski trip. I then noticed the disclosure at the bottom:

I attended a press luncheon at Gramercy Tavern in New York City with the folks from Vail Resorts to learn about all their plans at each resort for the upcoming winter season.

My my, all that adulation in exchange for a free lunch? Well, it was at Gramercy Tavern, Danny Meyer’s tony eatery that earned three New York Times stars when last I checked. Still, she could have asked about the (sobering) prices of this season’s lift tickets to create some balance. Do the FTC’s new blogger rules apply to free lunches?

Update (10/17) – ad:tech’s Mike Flynn offers an apology. (Truth is Mike, ad:tech is a fab event whose speakers/topics alone merit blogger/reporter interest/attendance.

Peter, and all,

Please accept our apologies. We recognize we made a foolish error. You can see our full apology at…tail/apologies/ .


Mike Flynn,
Event Director, ad:tech North America
mike flynn | Homepage | 10.17.09 – 1:44 pm | #