Microworkers – a case of ethics?

July 29, 2010


Cherry Picked recently blogged about a new site, ‘Microworkers’ – “Think of it as Santa’s Little Helpers for odd jobs. Except you’re not Santa, and they’re not doing it for love. Don’t have time to edit a cover letter for that must-have job? Simply become an “employer” and hire someone (a microworker) to do it for you. Can’t seem to attract traffic to your work-of-art blog? Start a campaign and watch your numbers rise. You can even ask workers to product place your latest business venture on discussion forums.”

 I have to admit I was intrigued, we are all looking for ways to earn that little bit of extra money right? So I clicked through to the website, but as I started to read more the first thing that came to mind was surely this isn’t ethical!?

 According to the homepage employers are asking people to blog about their products, post reviews to websites and blogs, become a Facebook fan, follow them on Twitter and the list goes on.

I can understand if businesses are trying to find people to review their products, as long as the reviewers are honest. However there is an ongoing debate about whether paying bloggers to review products is ethical (see my last post on the ethics of food blogging) and asking people to become fans of your brand on social media takes it that one step further!

Personally I believe that it is not the amount of fans or followers you have on Facebook and Twitter it is how many are engaging with your brand and providing valuable feedback and real referrals.

If you are paying someone to become your fan or follower then how likely is it that they are going to be interested in your brand and really engage with it? Is it likely to help you promote your products and/or services? In my view, probably not, it is likely to just make you feel better about yourself, being able to reach those milestones of 100, 200, 1000 etc fans.

So when you are looking to set up your social media strategy or reviewing it, think about what you really want, hundreds or maybe thousands of people who ‘like’ your brand or maybe just a couple of hundred people who really love you brand and are engaging with it?



PR firms: move online or phase out

April 8, 2009

US-based PR practitioner Gaye Carleton mentioned in a blog that “virtual on its own is a mere puff of smoke” and “while at the moment we’re fascinated with all things virtual and with virtual being touted as ‘the future is now,’ I say, ‘Just say no.’”


She goes on to say that the mix of physical – a press clipping, a press kit, a creative promo item – and virtual is fine, but she worries that PR could become an ‘at-risk’ industry.


My perspective on the subject is that the PR industry is at risk only if it does not embrace online communities.


Although there is a myriad of bloggers online with nothing but opinions to express, the key to online PR is to find bloggers, forums, social networking sites and any other platforms relevant to your specific client industries. People read magazines and listen to TV programs that they are interested in. The same applies to blogs, e-zines, e-newsletters and so on. So it is possible to listen (see my previous posting) to only the relevant online conversations and start creating a real dialogue with users.


Online has made the sharing of information, tips and feedback so much more open and PR practitioners just need to grasp these opportunities to get out there with authentic facts and stories about their clients.


So I’m 100 percent behind Timo’s comment to the ‘PR: Physical vs. Virtual’ blog that “Through social media we got the great chance to really put the public back into public relations.”


Obviously, looking at ‘traditional’ PR, there’s nothing like meeting a journalist face-to-face and creating that interpersonal connection with them. It’s definitely that best way to make sure that next time we send them an email, start twittering with them or become their connections on LinkedIn, we will actually mean something to them J.


To give an Australian perspective to this ‘PR: physical vs. virtual’ debate, with the Australian Government announcing this week the creation of a new super fast National Broadband Network, it goes to show that the importance of online and therefore online PR is only going to increase with time.


So my prediction is that PR agencies that are denying the online phenomenon or simply not preparing themselves by up-skilling their staff and adjusting their services to include an online component are simply not going to survive in the long run.


Kim Larochelle