As bloggers, how many times have we asked this question or had the question asked of us: "Are you gonna blog this...?"
Last week I had my yearly meeting with one of my major parts suppliers for the annual new product presentation. During this meeting, I get to see all of the latest and greatest items that will be coming from this supplier--stuff that the public will not be seeing for another year at least (the meeting this week was for 2008 product).
For a bike nerd like me, it's actually pretty exciting. Similar to the past two editions of this meeting, I was given the usual press-type gag order barring me from saying anything about any of the products or other information I saw. This is standard and is the same gag order given to all product managers in the industry, not just me because I'm a blogger. However, due to my reputation within the cycling industry, I really get the "no really, you can't even blog this." I have a great relationship with this particular supplier, so my "reputation" as a blogger is a frequent topic of discussion--both seriously and jokingly.
Today I received a call from a woman from the Portland Development Commission, Jennifer Nolfi. I met Jennifer, during Interbike (our yearly industry tradeshow in the US), along with two other members of a special commission that has been created to draw companies from the cycling industry up to Portland to set up shop permanently. It's an amazing program, too, and should be pretty successful in the end. Nobody else in the US is actively courting the bike industry and Portland is arguably the most cycling friendly city in the US--it's a perfect fit!
Anyway, just a couple weeks ago, a rival tradeshow group that produces tradeshows in Europe, Eurobike, announced a new tradeshow in the US market that is supposed to take place in Portland... the same month as Interbike (and the Canadian tradeshow BTAC and Europe's Eurobike). Not only does this make for a very busy month of September, but it made big news in the US cycling industry.
The news surrounding the new show mentions unnamed "Portland officials" involved in helping to bring the new show to Portland. The problem is, Jennifer wasn't involved with the new show and neither were the two people she was with during Interbike, but they have been linked to it. Jennifer and her associates really enjoyed their visit to Interbike and felt bad that anybody would be able to feel like they were somehow involved with this controversial new tradeshow. It didn't sit well with her.
Since she met with me and is familiar with my blogging background (she was really impressed by my being in the NY Times), she called me to talk about setting the record straight. She read a pair of posts on the topic of the show by me and my co-contributor Donna Tocci on the bicycle industry marketing blog that I created, so she already knew that I was involved in a dialog about the subject. She didn't feel it would be best to come right out and publicly say that she wasn't involved and that it was actually a tourism group that had worked with the rival show organizers. Since she is actively working to bring members of the cycling industry to the city of Portland, she didn't want them thinking she, or anybody else she was working with, was up to something less than honest and transparent.
Still, she wanted to get that information out... so she contacted me.
Does all this rambling have a point? Man, I sure hope so....
The point is, blogging is a very powerful tool. In the span of one week I have had two very different and powerful experiences to back that up; one of "please don't blog this" and one of "please blog this." As bloggers, we can impact our worlds more than we think (and less, too) and as marketers our reach can take on different forms and meanings as well.
There has been a lot of discussion about responsible blogging and marketing, but the bottom line is that sometimes it gets to you in ways you just don't expect.
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