Imagine you’re watching the TV news, and your morning anchors have a couple of iced coffees sitting in front of them. Would you notice them? You might. Perhaps you’d wonder if it was Starbucks or another brand. You might even empathize, because hey, you drink iced coffee, too. What if the beverages were a plant? What if someone paid for them to be on the table? You don’t have to imagine.
Some of you might already be saying “so what?” But this is the news. We have a little filter in our head that says, “We hope the news is as authentic as possible” and “we accept that TV shows and movies have product placement.” Those are two completely different contexts. It’s like one of my favorite sayings, “If I have you over to dinner, but then present you with a check at the end, something is wrong.”
If You Are a Company/Brand
Placing a product into some other form of media isn’t evil, but it takes some consideration. Further, you might work up a quick set of guidelines for disclosure, especially if you’re thinking about placement in some kind of independent media. Entertainment might be an easier place to practice a placement strategy than something intending to be more editorial or newsworthy. Some blogs and other media walk the line between the two.
Also, think about a crisis strategy, in case something goes wrong. In the article I point to above, people weren’t all that pleased once they learned about the product placement. Be ahead of that possibility, and give some thought to an honest response.
If You are Independent Media
Here’s probably where the trickier part is. What do you do if someone wants you to promote their product? How do/should you disclose? What do you do to stay authentic and transparent?
One way is to consider building a disclosures page on your site. I haven’t gone that route yet, but might just, given that I have more opportunity lately to receive things to evaluate for free, and I want to be clear when I’ve had that opportunity.
Another is to just be clear when mentioning the product/service in a post. For example, when I talk or write about Utterz, I throw in that I’m on the advisory board. It’s just as easy to write about a product or a book or a software app you’ve received a free copy of, and takes not much effort.
Do it up front, though. Don’t wait for someone to “expose” you. We, as a people, and as media consumers, are really darned sick and done with people trying to pull the wool over our eyes. I bet you can name about five fake campaigns that rankle you. I know I can. Let’s you and me try not to be another such incident. Fair?
What do you think?
The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.