Indiblogger promoting publicity stunt in the name of “reviews”: using inexperienced “tech” bloggers for free publicity access [Re-Edit]

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14/08/2011 by The Sorcerer


It was said in a forum (not Indian ones) that 90% of the people who do reviews is because to get free hardware (some might find this questionable so we’ll leave that for another day). However when I speak to reviewers and editors in international sites, they have a very laid back system for their personal use except maybe a notebook and a camera.

You could call it mid end gaming system which they will use it for their personal stuff. The stuff which they get “for free” usually ends up in their test bed system because using the newer hardware (maybe not high-end ones unless it’s compared with a high-end product as reference) when they do a review. As far as how I see things, international PRs know that every review source should do the obvious and mention the test bed setup clearly. Reviewers do it so that readers will know which hardware they’re using and PRs give it because their product is listed there.

If you look at reviews in mainstream medias in India, they don’t really do that. So what do they really do???

In 1 corner, a memory manufacturing company asked me “What can I do for them” when we were talking about media samples. I was confused why he was asking that.

In another corner, a gaming clan called ATE made an announcement that they will start their own review site and make others follow them.

In the other corner, we have the media guys sending hordes of emails to countless people to get media samples and tempting casual users to reviewers (No, I am not saying its wrong, but the way they do it is…lol) with a clause that the content from the people will only post on their forum, and that content belongs to the ones who own the forum. Yeah, community power is commercialised for promoting self interests.

And in another corner we have Indiblogger.

Indiblogger is basically like an interactive community of bloggers where people share their ideas and stuff. When I started posting, some other guys started posting reviews as well. My purpose to join there is to try to tap in the general crowd without reducing the quality of the content. Mainstream media guys said that’s not possible because its not possible for “common people” to understand and I wholeheartedly refuse to believe that. To a minor extent, it does work. Its all on the execution. General users are PMing me via Indiblogger and asking about power supplies, surge protectors and tablets so there you go!

Their business model is sort of like PR , except they use free labour i mean bloggers. Its not really that bad, in fact its good. People will blog to get something for free. But now I feel (I emphasize on these words) that Indiblogger should have thought properly before going ahead with it. To understand how this works, I participated in one of the them, but I really didn’t like it. They’re using bloggers as a PR spin doctor.

They also started this thing with a tablet competition where people will talk about its “unique” features. Here’s the thing: No idea was given about the tablet except the paper configuration, and if you compare that config with others (3 of them) are the same hardware except 1 that comes with a keyboard dock. But they wanted bloggers to write about and make “those people” feel good about themselves and in exchange they get access to review hardware.

There’s something called “Paid Reviews”. Basically, a blogger is paid money by the the company who is providing a media sample to them. I know that by common sense (hopefully) people will question about the legit analysis in that content.

Edit: No. Indiblogger doesn’t promote this. I came to know about this when some people who are in one of those blogs with lot of guest bloggers. You pay them and they will blog on such sources with large memberbase. The blog owner is kept out of the loop because he doesn’t know. Still believe guest blogging is the right thing to do?

But Indiblogger is obviously getting money from brands to tempt bloggers to be used this way. Out of 100 bloggers, 1 wins the goodies. 99 free/cheap labour/bloggers. Imagine even 10 of them doing everything they can to promote one thing in a hope to win something in exchange, and out of 10, maybe the readership of about 2 bloggers is retwitted, shared and promoted via reddit, stumbleupon, forums…list goes on.

Reviewing in India is looked down as another source of PR. Its sad and its something manufacturers and people need to avoid. Why manufacturers? If they can praise your product for an incentive, they can even criticise you in exchange for an incentive you could give or worse if its given by a rival company. I am sure few people know such people. Its best that communication with such samples should be avoided, unless you want a good PR session. You shall reap what you sow!

People? Yeah! They are not going to get anything out of it maybe a chance to get something for 40k- but are you really going to sell out your readers for that? You don’t appreciate such acts by the mainstream media and yet you guys do it. Who is the hypocrite now?

We need to build a system an honest system. We need PR to get access and PR need people like reviewers to promote their product: but at end of the day they want to do it for the good of the people and people refer to your content to search for best stuff money can buy. But if people have completely opposite experience, they’ll not only stop to trust the source, but also the company. Readers are smart people (well most of them), especially if their have the genuine intention to buy.

Edit: Nothing against Samsung– or any manufacturers, as long as things are done in a right way. Whatever criticisms I’ve pointed out I’ve taken care that I don’t bully/troll companies or their people.

Just to make another point clear: No, I got nothing personally against with what Indiblogger does. Yes, I strongly believe that Indiblogger must make a conscious effort to discourge using reviews as a source of PR. Reviews are made for 2 reasons (mostly for 1 reason): To keep people informed how good/bad a product is and hence be a neutral entity so that one he and she can recommend something to the readers for a particular price point. Second is so that certain nitpicks can be highlighted by reviewers (provided they know what they’re doing) and hence if possible manufacturers can improve it ASAP or implement it on newer versions/models. That’s how its always worked- until the point a particular media entity is offering publicity service and now Indiblogger seem to be doing it.

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9 thoughts on “Indiblogger promoting publicity stunt in the name of “reviews”: using inexperienced “tech” bloggers for free publicity access [Re-Edit]

  1. Christopher Shaw says:

    Sin0822 is a known paid writer in xs forums for gigabyte. there are couple of people in overclock.net as well. but yes, such cases should be brought in public or else its just not going to work. using forum members and bloggers to do such ways of promotion is very wrong. you should start mentioning company’s name and pr agency’s name- and forum/member’s name. thats how the reviewers work.

    Paid reviews is a common way of promoting, but writers like Veronica Belmont make it a point to label it as “Sponsored articles”. Trying to use naive bloggers in such manner sucks big time. I doubt such business plans of a agency will work for a long time. companies will use bloggers and such agencies because its their job, but if blogger’s name is dragged down the mud then no1 will bother it.

  2. Rajeev mishra says:

    lol. bloggers need to stop having that mentality that they can be reviewers. reviewers use blogs as a medium to update regularly.

  3. subhashchy says:

    Yup. We can see on almost all tech blogs, a review section is there. dunnno when or not it is gonna be cured.

  4. when a small group of people in techenclave are trying to save the perception towards Indian reviewers and the community someone has to come to ruin it. there’s nothing wrong with this contest however the way its put up is in a bad taste. its obvious if they are giving exclusive access it means that they will ask something right about it. not many bloggers know that companies dont you if they give media samples for a brief period. all things said and done, samsung is aggressive in its marketing and yet there is not proof from reputable sources. they are obviously trying their hard to compensate for that.

  5. shantanu says:

    would you be shocked if they say amongst themselves yeh india hai sab chalta hai

    i would not. until that changes nothing will hapen. but yes using the community power is plain sad.

  6. Subham Singh says:

    Just want to say that you have written the truth. Thank you for your post. Genuinely thanking you.

  7. sorcerer showed once again that the cake is a lie 😉 samsung banks on hype as it is. i am not saying thatr the stuff they make is bad but if a company like asus can invite 50 people across the country and flow them return air ticket to mumbai to show the new goodies and make an impression then its strange that samsung cannot do the needful and show how good or bad the tablet is. the tablet is also not different from acer’s offering. a good hands on impression would have worked far more effective then doing all this. even if they do it in the future i doubr they will call you. no1 likes those people who speak the truth and let the public know.

    • shantanu says:

      True that. I laughed when people say that bloggers are new form of journalists. There’s different between bloggers and those who use blogs to put out their article. its not different from when guys started a techsite in geocities and ended up one of the best sources in the world.

  8. […] a continuation of Indiblogger thing I posted when it started, where I objected about the contest solely because of this […]

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