What Makes Me Want To Post This
Steve Rubel writes, “RSS is starting to attract some attention from those catering to Internet advertisers.” Yes it is. And it is, in part, due to him. He is a PR practitioner and one of his clients deals in RSS. Topix.net. If you look at what his firm does for Topix, you’ll see that he gets them press. Now, he did not get them press in the article he linked to, but he did further the meme, extend the tail, on advertising in RSS – something Topix may wish to pursue down the road.
Does anyone know if Topix is considering using advertising in their RSS feeds. They do have targeted ads from Google on their site. There are also ads from a ticket seller, a subscription news site and Amazon.com. Not the same thing, though. Does Topix want to start putting those, or other, ads in their feeds? Steve Rubel may know. If he does, and the answer is yes, is this a problem? I’m asking.
Rubel is cited by Edelman and Intelliseek as one of the most influential PR bloggers. Rubel has a client that provides RSS services and/or may use advertising in RSS feeds. Steve Rubel is quoted in the article he links to and promotes. He does not note that fact in the post and has done this in earlier posts, too. He has been asked about it more than once and has yet to fully discuss the issue in his blog.
Questions We May Consider
I want to ask Steve Rubel and you, my few readers, these questions. I am doing this through the medium we’re talking about. A blog. Let’s have a conversation.
(1) Should any blogger clarify these relationships in their blog?
(2) Should any blogger try to make sure the relationships are clarified in articles where they are interviewed? (And, I know none of us can control what any reporter writes. We do try to influence it, though. Don’t we?)
(3) Should any blogger answer questions about transparency concerns that are posed as comments in their blog?
Rubel stated, in a previous post addressing Jeremy Pepper’s questions about transparency, that he would start clarifying. Has Rubel been true to his word?
Rubel wrote, “Here’s my two cents: if the article subject focuses on me, my company or my clients, I will say so in the post and file it under “Shamless Promotion.” Otherwise it’s fair game. In this case, I was quoted as a source. And anyone who clicks on the link will see that clearly. Bad Steve for linking to an AP story on corporate blogging. Bad Steve.” So, was the RSS advertising story a possible promotion? The post was only categorized as “Marketing”.
Possible Concerns For PR
The tagline on Rubel’s blog is: “Steve Rubel blogs on how weblogs and citizen journalism are impacting public relations.” We know that he is considered very influential.
I think that transparency in his (or anyone’s) blogging practices may impact a practitioner’s (or a client’s) reputation. It may have an impact on people’s perception of public relations, too.
If Rubel is a leader, does he have a responsibility to maintain this absolute clarity (transparency) in all of his posts? For PR professionals, they will likely all understand his relationships. However, as such a popular blogger, many people that are reading his blog may well not understand that those relationships exist.
This is why I’m wondering why Steve Rubel does not address his perceived transparency lapses more fully in his blog. The question has been raised more than once, by more than one person.
Rubel recently wrote, “I am throwing my support behind the HonorTag system.” One of those tags is “Journalism” and part of that tag’s description states, “I’m fair, thorough, accurate, and open (transparent) about what I do. I operate with integrity.”
Why I Am Writing This
I’d like to hear the response to the transparency question, too. If the question is un-addressed, some may take the silence as the answer. If you endorse something in one post, and fail to do it in another, there may be problems. Can someone ignore answering questions posed on the topic? Sure, I guess so. But, is it wise? Does it help the profession?
For the benefit of my students and all those up and coming PR practitioners out there, I invite Steve Rubel to please talk a little about what responsibility, if any, his status as a popular PR blogger carries with it.
Along the lines of this thread, these questions seem fair to address:
The Questions, Again
Should Rubel (or any blogger) note a relationship in each post where you link to something where you’re quoted? An example might be the simplistic “I was interviewed for this story.”
Should you note that your clients may benefit from your press coverage (thought leadership) in some form or another?
Should bloggers note these relationships in any similar type of post where their clients may benefit from their praise or 3rd party endorsement?
And, for that matter, shouldn’t the NYTimes reporter (Louise Story) have stated the relationships of Steve Rubel to Topix.net in her story?
I Believe These Are Legitimate And Fair Questions
I’m asking. I don’t know how Steve Rubel feels about these issues.
On all of the questions, either way, I hope Steve Rubel will please speak up. I will truly appreciate the opportunity to read his take on these questions.
I do not believe that one can take the Charles Barkley defense on this one.
You can’t have the status and ignore the responsibilities that come with it. Steve Rubel may not think he is a role model, but with continued citations in the press on all things blog and more, he is one – like it or not.
A trackback has been sent to his blog. If it is posted and he responds there or here, we may find out.
Please note: A post just like this has been sitting in my drafts file for some time, now. This is not a “let’s beat up on Steve Rubel” post. He gets enough of that already, I’m sure. It is, however, an honest attempt to get clarification about questions that seem, to me at least, to go unanswered about one of the most influential blogger’s practices. I truly believe these questions should be legitimately considered by all bloggers. I especially want my students to consider them. Steve Rubel is just the obvious blogger to reference because of (a) his visibility and (b) the questions have been asked of him before.