Sunday spats

9 Apr

Read all about it in The Observer. John Naughton comments on the rough ride apparently given to the Naked Conversations authors on a visit to Amazon. Naughton feels Amazon may live to regret this iconaclasm, but I also feel that their book is fun but flawed. Yet I sincerely regret my thoughtless charge of bias against it.

Bias need not be bad. Public relations may operate as ‘weak propaganda’, but the bias is declared. Some journalists and editors are clearly biased – and their readers love them as a result. The Daily Mail has a clear political and social bias; it’s also a hugely successful newspaper operation. Readers have a choice of newspapers and a spectrum of political and social opinions they can hold.

The next spat is reported by Peter Preston. It involves defections from the high-minded Editorial Intelligence project started by public relations practitioner-professor Julia Hobsbawm. Preston hears the sound of name calling between pots and kettles:

Forget the story of gallant journalists taking on spin doctors in some ultimate battle of good and evil. It is self-serving and self-deluding garbage.

3 Responses to “Sunday spats”

  1. Stephen Newton 10/04/2006 at 2:12 pm #

    John Naughton’s normally spot on but here he’s vague and weak. And I find this frustrating as I’m also trying to convince clients to take blogging seriously, while struggling to produce a strong business case.
    It’s all very well saying the internet will ‘make markets more like conversations again’. But who wants to converse? And who has the time?
    We all interact with a large number of businesses every day. I’m not really interested in talking my energy supply company, breakfast cereal manufacturer, dairy, tea importer, petrol station owner, car park operator and many others who contribute to my day before I reach the office.
    And how representative are those who do wish to talk?

  2. Richard Bailey 10/04/2006 at 5:26 pm #

    You’re right that we have limited time and energy for relationships (every vendor in the Web 1.0 era mistakenly thought an email address gave them permission to develop a relationship with us). But people love to talk when there’s a shared issue – try energy conservation and your energy supply company, for example.

  3. Stephen Newton 11/04/2006 at 11:33 am #

    …and you’re right too. But those who wish to converse are atypical. That means that while the energy supplier should converse openly and honestly they must also remember that those they talk to through blogs, for example, may not represent mainstream opinion. Indeed, they may blog because they feel excluded from the mainstream.
    That means that more traditional market research will still be required, even in a Web 3.0 world. There is also a phenomenon well documented by researchers in the CSR field that people will say they care about certain issues – tick the box if you like – but when faced with a modest price increase, say, they fail to follow through. That industry has has to respond with ever more complex techniques that attempt to simulate the choice environment. They rely less and less on what people actually say. You could coin a phrase; ‘the unreliable consumer’.
    I guess that what I’m saying is that basing your worldview on conversations with those who go out of their way to talk to you is a dangerous game.

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