More and more companies are understanding the value of approaching bloggers for product reviews and Nikon appears to be the latest. Word is spreading that Nikon has selected 50 bloggers to send a $1000 camera to in the hopes that they'll both write about using it and post the pictures they've taken with it. It's an interesting idea, but I can't help but wonder if some of the terms of the campaign haven't been tainted my the recent bashing Microsoft received over their own blog marketing plan.
You may recall that Microsoft and it's public relations firm (Edelman) sent out review copies of Windows Vista to some tech bloggers in the hopes of generating some positive online buzz. The problem wasn't that they did this, it was that they sent Vista pre-loaded on a $2000 Acer Laptop and some bloggers failed to disclose that last little tidbit. Thus, to some reading the reviews, it seemed like Microsoft was attempting to buy positive publicity.
Let's be clear though, the issue really wasn't that Microsoft gave away laptops, it was that people didn't disclose the fact. Had Microsoft made it clear that they required full disclosure, they likely would have avoided much of the negative press. That said, the team at Nikon seems to remember that incident crystal clear because they've made two points in their program invite that are designed to avoid those types of criticism.
The details of the program are contained in the letter that Nikon sent out to the selected bloggers.
YES! You made it!
Nikon's "Picture This" program is designed to give you, the blogger, the ability to use the Nikon D80 D-SLR camera in any way you see fit, and we expect that you will work wonders with it. After you complete the following short registration process you'll be all signed up and we'll ship the D80 to the address you've provided. The camera is yours to use as you continue through the program. The only request we have of you is that you please make sure that, if you choose to write about the camera, you make it clear how you got it. We would never ask you to cross any ethical lines, so openness and honesty on all our parts is in everyone's best interest.
The camera is essentially being loaned to you for six months at which point you have three options:
1. Return it to us
2. Re-up for another six month loan period, or
3. Buy the camera at a significantly reduced editorial discount.
Should you opt for #1 or #3, the camera or the purchase price will then be donated to a photography education program that Nikon supports. That's it.
You'll notice that Nikon makes it very clear that they are not giving bloggers the camera...they are simply loaning it. Sure, the reviewer can buy it at a significantly discounted price, but that's still not giving it to them. They've also required that any blogger explain where the camera came from and why, including a pointed sentence about their goal of avoiding any ethical fuzziness.
It's nice to see a company making sure that bloggers know that they expect full disclosure, but quite honestly, I'm a little disappointed in the requirement to return the product. I understand why they did it, but I honestly think that so long as they kept the disclosure requirement in place, they could have let the bloggers keep the camera without risking negative PR. Unfortunately, with this area of marketing still being new to most businesses, it's not surprising that many are taking baby steps across the eggshells to make sure they stay out of trouble.
With that in mind, this type of promotion isn't new to Nikon, they smartly picked out a group of Flickr users last fall for a similar program that Nikon dubbed "Stunning."
BL Ochman was one of the bloggers that will be receiving a camera and she includes part of her email exchange with Tom Biro of MWW Group, the company behind Nikon's blog marketing plan in her blog post about the program.
BL - how will you measure the impact of this blogger outreach?
Biro - There are multiple ways we’d look at "impact" for this program.
Obviously, the reactions in the marketplace, including emails from participants (or those who may opt out), blog / forum postings, as well as how the community at large (beyond the participants) sees the campaign will all be reviewed.
The ability for people to take great pictures will be another impact point, especially if participants are posting their photographs online for others to see.
Lastly, the choices that participants make as the program moves into its next steps – renewal, purchase, or return – and the feedback associated with that will all be valuable to Nikon.
I'll be interested to see how the promotion goes and in whether or not Nikon and MWW Group will make any of the results public.
So what can you take away from this? Well, if you've been ignoring all my posts and articles in the past that suggest that you get moving on this "make friends with bloggers and send them products to review" idea, then you might want to start moving on that. Launching these programs isn't as simple as saying "ok, who wants a free product to review."
You'll need to learn how to identify thought leaders, how to find their blogs, how to dig through their archives to get an idea of their receptiveness to the idea and even how to formulate your offering. These are all things that small businesses should be thinking about and learning now so that when they are ready to enter this new playing field, they already have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of blog marketing.
Copyright © 1998 - 2013 K. Clough, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privacy