Posted by: Marie | June 22, 2010

(340) Reader Input: For-profit links

Post #340

Solicitation for Reader Input

Over the past few days, I’ve had a curious email exchange with the “Social Media Coordinator” of a website that publishes information about the negative effects of pharmaceuticals. Here are some excerpts from those emails:

Joe: I am the Social Media Coordinator for insertnamehere.com. Lately I have been reaching out to mental health blogs in efforts of getting our link added as a resource. I came across your site and I am impressed by the resources and information you have listed.

Our site’s mission is to provide people with a comprehensive list of medications and associated side effects to help consumers make educated decisions when it comes to taking potentially harmful medications.

If you would be interested in creating consumer and patient awareness by adding our resource link, please let me know. With your help we can keep the public informed about important drug information. Thank you for your time.

Me: I may be willing to put your link on my site . . . can you tell me how your organization is funded?

Joe: Thanks for your response. As per your question, insertnamehere.com is funded by the XYZ Firm. This is because our daily staff consists of a team of writers, editors, physicians and awareness coordinators who work daily to maintain the web site, so they need to get compensated for their hard work. We have no affiliation with any drug or pharmaceutical company and do not promote any drug or medication of any kind. We strive to provide patients and consumers with the most un-biased up to date information on the side effects, recalls and interactions of medications worldwide.

I believe insertnamehere.com would be a valuable addition to your site and its readers. (And he goes on to suggest wording for the link that would highlight their current campaign against a specific drug.)

Let me know if there is anything else I can for you, I look forward to hearing back and seeing the link up. Hope you have a great day :-)

Me: So . . . what motivation does the XYZ Firm have for funding this website?

Joe: The XYZ Firm was very helpful in funding our website because they believed in our mission & cause. We are standalone company running on our own, but needed the funding at first to be able to get started. Let me know if there is anything else you need or if you have any more questions.

Me: I was hoping you would give me a straight answer . . . your website’s [deeply buried] disclaimer page indicates that your organization exists as a marketing tool for the XYZ Firm, which is a law firm.

I do have links to other for-profit organizations on my blog. I have no issue with making money. I do have an issue with dishonesty via omission of the facts.

If your website were more transparent, I would have put it up on my blog because the information you provide is valuable . . . I may have even done a “spotlight” post on your organization. But, I am not willing to support mental health resources that are not transparent about their motivations.

I wish you and yours the best.

Joe: Our web site includes the disclaimer in order to achieve transparency and we make no efforts to hide this fact. As you might be aware, I am simply doing my job as a writer/editor and pursue my duties attempting to create relationships with various organizations/web sites to spread awareness regarding harmful medications. I came across your site and was impressed and felt it relevant to our current campaign. I believe that we embark on an honest and well-needed service to consumers and patients who might not receive information on drugs that are prescribed to them. I had thought I was up front in my explanations to you regarding your questions. Eg; insertnamehere.com is funded by the XYZ Firm (I guess I did not do my best)

If you take a look at our news section, you will see we update it daily with well-researched, un-biased articles that reach an extremely wide audience all over the internet. How else can our organization rightfully compensate its employees who work very hard at their craft?

I think many of your conclusions are a bit miss-leading to the fact we try to attain a high level of much needed education to society; informing the public on the falsehoods and criminal ambitions of the for-profit Pharma-Health care industry. If you will reconsider adding our link I believe it would be a positive addition and service to your site viewers. Thanks and have a great rest of the week.

Was I too tough? (Wait, nevermind . . . I already know the answer to that question, LOL.) How do you (or would you) handle the above types of conversations?

What guidelines do you use in determining which sites to include in your blogrolls? Does the same apply for other types of advertising on your blog? Are all for-profit organizations excluded or do you include some? Do you investigate before including them?

Does this type of inclusion/exclusion show up in other parts of your life such as business associations and friendships? Have you learned how to navigate these negotiations gracefully?

I really want to hear your thoughts!! Please send me your comments!


Responses

  1. I personally would not post this kind of link ever – I’d only blogroll sites I’d found on my own and liked and wanted to recommend. By putting it on my blogroll I’d be endorsing someone just because they asked, not because I sincerely thought they were a good organization or product. I’d have a similar reaction to the sales person’s evasiveness to yours.

    I hate receiving ‘cold calls’ from marketers and never buy, because I find the method intrusive and don’t want to encourage it by making it successful.

    Cheers,
    SDW

    • Hey, SDW –

      I hadn’t thought of the act of not buying from telemarketers as a way to discourage that way of marketing . . . I don’t do it just because I prefer to do my own research and find market leaders . . . but, I like your thought process!

      Great input! Thank you!

      – Marie

  2. When people contact me I investigate their site.

    If I think it is valuable to my readers I may do a post about it or add it to my blogroll.

    I think the currency of the blogosphere is credibility. Without it my blog is nothing. So I’m very wary about writing about or adding to my blogroll.

    I have recently had problems with people offering content. Despite me saying that the stuff should not be just an ad and needs to have value for my readers; I usually get an extended ad.

    I am trying to make money doing what I love – and have no objection to others doing the same. So for-profit stuff is OK by me. However, my ethics include the proposition that ‘health for wealth is immoral’ – my bias is to help people find low/no-cost ways to live healthily and joyfully. This means providing (relatively) free content via my blog (computers and internet accounts cost money) as well as stuff that people need to pay for. So far I haven’t found any lotions, potions or supplements that I want to endorse (though this would probably be lucrative). I am about to become an affiliate of a blogger I have known for a long time (in blogosphere terms) and who has just released a product.

    [This is only an ethical concern for necessities (health, education and so on) – if you are doing a blog about Paris Hilton’s latest underwear you can charge a fortune so far as I’m concerned.]

    I don’t know how gracefully I negotiate this area. Some of the people who’ve contacted me probably have found me rather terse.

    So that’s roughly my approach: Am I willing to put my credibility on the line by backing this? Is it of value to my readers?

    • Hey, Evan –

      It seems you believe your blog reflect you, personally . . . and that you take the quality of your blog, and the content of your blog, personally. That speaks highly of you as a person. (And, it is consistent with what I have come to know about you from our exchanges in the blogosphere.)

      I see great value in your process! Thank you for sharing it!

      – Marie

  3. I think they hire illegals or unemployed people to do this. Consider it spam.

    • I agree, Paul . . . it turned out to be fancy spam. I have two links in my blogroll to sites that refer psychotherapy clients to therapists . . . they provide valuable content as well. Both sites are very up-front about how they earn their keep. I’m cool with that.

      This approach used by this site was very sneaky . . . not good at all!

      Thanks for your input!

      – Marie

  4. I wouldn’t worry about it — it’s your blog, and you have every right to post or not post exactly what you are comfortable with. I wouldn’t have posted the link, unless it was a site I’d come across on my own, which I believed to be valuable.

    Additionally, the writer seems not to be a native English speaker, which makes me think the whole thing is a bit suspect … possibly some type of phishing.

    • Hey, David –

      I actually don’t feel bad about it because he was dishonest . . . I would have felt bad if I felt he was an honest person asking me to advertise something of poor quality or of little relevance. Then, I would have felt bad when I said “no”.

      I noticed the writer’s trouble with the spelling, at least . . . I didn’t think about him being a non-native speaker, I just figured he didn’t know how to use spell check or was too busy to use it, LOL.

      Thanks for the encouraging words!

      – Marie


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