from the gratuity-included? dept
As the online world continues to mature, and often push out previous dead-tree players, reputation is going to be of paramount importance. I recently discussed one aspect of this with regards to some companies that try to pay online reporters and bloggers to include links to their client companies. This type of thing should be viewed as an obviously unethical practice. But perhaps you thought that story was a tad too complicated. Perhaps you'd like this kind of behavior boiled down to its most scummy, dishonest, and greedy base.
Meet Sarah Lockard. Sarah runs the site www.aroundmainline.com, which covers the Philidelphia area. According to their website, this is their mission:
AML is privileged to welcome you to a reliable, socially responsible and culturally rich online magazine that speaks to the Philadelphia region. That's right, we don't believe in wasting paper and your valuable money to bring you the best of Philadelphia's Main Line region, the surrounding areas and vibrant western suburbs. So, we are publishing our magazine digitally respective of the earth's resources and your valuable resources. We consider each and every visitor to AroundMainLine.com a new member of our family and an equal participant in the AML experience.Awww, how cute, Sarah! We're all your family? Does that get us included in this email you sent around to Philidelphia restaurants?
Good Evening!!!Interesting. Now, if I'm reading this correctly, and I can't see how I'm not, if a local Philly food joint that calls itself Bob's Maggots And Stale Waffles is the first to agree to this gifted holiday dinner for your family, they'll be pimped in your digital magazine, blog, and related social media sites to your trusting readers who you consider parts of your family? Congrats, Sarah, that's the most fully distilled bucket of scumbag I've seen to date.
Every Christmas Eve my family enjoys an amazing night dining out and this year I am offering you the exciting opportunity to be our restaurant that hosts us! The host restaurant will receive approximately $1,000 in PR with AML:
1) 2 Facebook posts on AML’s Facebook page promoting the respective restaurant as the restaurant of choice for AML’s family for Christmas Eve
2) 5 instagram photos during the dining experience
3) 2 AML enewsletter ads in Jan and Feb 2014 (reaches over 3,000 unique individuals)
4) listed in our Christmas Eve dining guide published Dec 10th, 2013 on AML.
We are asking for the following in turn: Dinner for 5 drinks and food compensated, we will tip according to the value to the server. This is a VERY innovative and effective way to promote your restaurant on this very competitive evening and reach tens of thousands of local foodies through AML’s channels. Please note this is first come, first serve.
And now that this story is spreading, how valuable is all of that paid-by-food PR fluff and advertising in your online rag going to be now that any member of the public who knows about this wouldn't trust your writing and recommendations any further than they could throw a 600 pound gorilla with an unpleasant disposition? You've zeroed out your credibility for the chance, the chance, at a free meal. You've nuked yourself. One can only hope that next you try to suppress these types of stories, because all I know is that a self-torpedo is a dish best served Streisand.