Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Big Bad Follow-Up

After I uploaded my “Big Bad Blogger” post, I got a comment from Ms. Chuniverse:

“Market Manila also mentioned about his horrible experience with a PR/Media Firm(?) called Mad Crowd Media:

Now, i noticed that in your blog, there is a link to Mad Crowd Media's website, but the site is no longer functioning i guess. Do you know them?

I know you are a media practitioner, and i think you are the right person to ask this, my question is do some media outfit really practice that way?”

* * * * *

Yes, I am part of the Mad Crowd Media, in a sense that I was included in their roster, and I have their logo in my blog. Am I an active member? No.

Several years ago I was approached by them; they asked if I want to be part of a group of bloggers who can be called upon to write blog entries for new products, services and events. I’ll get invited to launches and such, I’ll write about it, and I’ll get paid for my efforts. I thought, why not?

My understanding was that we can write anything that we felt was right for us. So if I had a great time, I can write a glowing blog entry; if I had a negative experience, I can write truthfully about it, but knowing us Filipinos we’d spin it into a “how-to-improve” angle. The payment was for my efforts to attend and write; what I will write about, though, is totally up to me. At least, that’s how I understood the arrangements with MCM.

So I signed up, and I got to place the MCM logo on my blog. I remember being asked to write about something, I don’t remember now, but I did receive a letter very similar to what Market Manila received. I remember the “fee” I would receive was minimal, that’s why I treated it as more of an honorarium. I remember being advised that my payment was ready, and that I could pick it up at the MCM office. I kept postponing passing by for it. Eventually I just forgot all about it.

To this day I’ve not received another invite by MCM to any launch event or opening.

Do I know the people behind MCM? Honestly, no. I do know a couple or so bloggers in the MCM roster. I have yet to personally know of a blogger who was paid specifically by MCM to write a favorable entry.

Did MCM bamboozle bloggers into doing paid endorsements? I cannot say; I never got to talk to the other bloggers about MCM. Do I feel bamboozled? Nope. As I said, they never specifically instructed me to only write a favorable slant for a product. So I still felt that I had the final say on what I was going to post.

In principle, will I agree to be paid for writing a favorable review? Nope, because that would mean I’d become a paid hack. Make me an employee of your company first, then I’ll write the most glowing reviews of our product.

Will I agree to be paid for writing a review, favorable or otherwise? That would mean I’d be treated as a professional critic; and I must first earn the right to be one. I am not a professional critic, nor do I want to be one. Let that be the turf of Gibbs Cadiz and his ilk. I prefer my blog musings to be just mere opinions of an ordinary blogger. That’s why I shy away from accepting paid reviews.

I am not sure what Chuniverse is referring to when he said “media outfit.” Is he referring to Mad Crowd Media? Or ad agencies? Or advertisers (like Nestle and the like)? In Market Manila’s account, it seems clear that the ad agency and the client both did not condone the paid endorsement approach. I can understand that; no agency or client will allow themselves to be publicly known as paying newspaper writers and bloggers for favorable articles. That’s payola, and it’s frowned upon.

But make no mistake: payola does exist. It exists because someone insists on asking for money, and someone condones the giving of money. It exists because someone insists on paying for favorable reviews, and someone accepts such money and writes the favorable reviews. If professional writers and editors accept payola, why can’t bloggers?

Do I know the identity of Big Bad Blogger? I don’t nor do I care to know. My brother’s the foodie in the family, not me. =)


Ms. Chuniverse said...

Enlightened na ako. Thanks McVie. =)

I was actually referring to Mad Crowd Media, The Firm and their like.

I think MM has the right para ma-offend. The way Mad Crowd proposed to Market Manila was done in bad taste.

There are few famous food bloggers lang naman in our country who have a steady following. Hindi kaya Margaux is just making this up to draw the attention to her and her column? Hmmnnn...

Ay naku, kumagat naman ako. Buy ako ng Inquirer this Sunday. hahaha!

karla said...

"if professional writers and editors accept payola, why can't bloggers?"

um, because it's wrong. just because other people do it doesn't make a corrupt practice right.

but it does make me wonder...if a writer turns down the payola, who gets to keep the cash?

was it imelda who said that some people are smarter than others?

joelmcvie said...

@KARLA: But certain bloggers DO accept. That's my point.

When a writer turns down payola, the cash goes back to the one who's paying.

karla said...

point taken. i just wish you're right on the second point.

my friends in mainstream media sometimes complain that they don't get their share. not that they're asking for it. pero meron daw talagang---to use their term---nabubukulan.

btw, is this the same margaux s. who was erap's spokesperson? what's she doing with pdi?