Mommies Call for PR Blackout

The FTC’s focus on editorially compromised bloggers by opportunistic, if not nefarious marketers, (i.e., freebie-givers) is finally getting the mainstream media treatment. The Times yesterday tackled the thorny issue of the commercial courting of influential bloggers [The Flack, April 15]:

“Marketing companies are keen to get their products into the hands of so-called influencers who have loyal online followings because the opinions of such consumers help products stand out amid the clutter, particularly in social media.”

So in spite of the word-of-mouth industry association’s protestations, the FTC is now accepting public comment on its proposed regulations according to The Times:

“A draft of the new rules was posted for public comments this year and the staff is to make a formal recommendation to be presented to the commissioners for a vote, perhaps by early fall. ‘Consumers have a right to know when they’re being pitched a product,’ said Richard Cleland, an assistant director at the Federal Trade Commission.”

Some bloggers, according to PBS MediaShift, welcome the regulatory scrutiny of their paid reviews. Others want to stick it to the marketers altogether. Today we learn of one Mommy blogger community that’s calling for a week-long “PR blackout.” Marketing Vox reports:

Mommy blogger community MomDot has proposed a challenge to mom-bloggers everywhere: to stop promoting the wares of sponsors, PR agents and free-gift-givers — for a week. From August 10-16, the PR Blackout campaign will encourage mom bloggers to go back to basics.

The group wrote:

“We want to see your blog naked, raw,” wrote MomDot. “Talk about your kids, your marriage, your college, your hopes, your dreams, your house and whatever you can come up with for one week.”

Personally, I think these mommies’ wrath is misguided. Sure, PR people have been known to court influential bloggers with test products and hospitality, but me thinks the real blatant church-state line-crossing resides among tried-and-true marketers who’re used to paying for play. Most of the PR peeps I know instinctively know when not to cross that commercial bridge for fear of burning it.