Flogging: Is It Smart?

Every week, Copywrite Inc.’s Rich Becker and I discuss a blogging best practice on BlogStraightTalk, a Bumpzee community. This we week we discussed flogging, or fake blogging.

When Wal-Mart did one; they were chastised. When Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes magazine, did one; he was praised as a humorous hero. Enter Ray Hopewood (blog.rayhopewood.com/), a president hopeful who claims to have made Paris Hilton’s ankle bracelet software and wants Americans to live well, at least as well as he does.

Even if you don’t buy his blog, Hopewood is doing better than most bloggers (and some presidential hopefuls) by capturing a positive news story in The New York Times. Just a few months ago, all he had was a mocumentary moment on the Late Show With David Letterman. Given The New York Times story, that alone makes the Ray Hopewood concept better than bust.

But is flogging a good idea? Here are our takeaways…

Rich Becker

  • As a flog, had it been kept up to date, it would work in that the best flogs and characters are up front in their affiliations and agendas. It is positioned in such a manner, and nobody needs to get hurt while making fun of a process that is often stranger than fiction.
  • But… it falls short in that the campaign seems to end as a set up instead of an ongoing promotional activity.
  • In this case, the bog fix could have been easy enough to execute by making the links to the company much more direct (making Hopewood the obvious spokesperson for the company too) and regular updates throughout the life of the campaign, even if we never see another mockumentary.

Geoff Livingston

  • Here’s the deal with Flogs. They’re funny, they’re cute, but they can be extraordinarily dangerous for businesses who engage in them behind a closed façade.
  • Companies must disclose that they are executing a fake blog. Just saying that you are receiving editorial support services on a blog, or are openly poking fun at someone can save an organization a later PR fiasco.
  • And when it’s an open façade like this, it must have some sort of tangential tie back to the company’s value proposition.

BlogStraightTalk publishes every Monday. Join us.

More reading on flogs, etc.:

Attack of the Fake Bloggers (TechCrunch)
Do People Really Want Transparency and Authenticity (Copyblogger)
Ten Reasons Why Ghost Blogs Suck (Vaspers, the Grate)
Fake Caveman Brings Club, Tells All (Buzz Bin)