Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Forrester says Sponsored Conversations are OK

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@Tish - it is so good hearing from you! All of my day work is "sponsored", should it be less credible? These are good questions to raise for sure. I don't think we have answers, yet.

@Ed - what I found through experience in living is that very few conversations are not coming from self-interest. Yet people rarely disclose their real motives, don't they? Sometimes even to themselves. You raise a good point - how does one know which part is genuine if one gets paid?

@Bruce - in fact, I found that with anything, even the most minuscule request I have, if I manage to be direct in my communication style and don't dance around it, we all get to the point faster and have an answer. Again, not minimizing or (heavens) rationalizing the issue, just thinking about it.

@Ben - I can tell you are very passionate about the topic. Are you saying that if I posted something about me getting paid to - for example - run a campaign with a South African winery, that would make me less credible as a marketer? I happen to love red wines, am learning a great deal about the European reds, and often give wine as gifts to friends. I was taught about the Church/State division between advertising and PR and while I always ran both throughout my career, I never crossed that line. What you get here is my opinion, some days better researched than others, it depends on how much sleep I want to get/need.

@Wendy - you have no idea of the kind of press releases and pitches and business propositions I get... well, maybe you do. I like the idea of keeping things separate, as I was saying above here with Ben. What you say in closing is really good. I like some facts with my opinions. I've not taken certain jobs because the cultures did not align with my personal value system. Voices with integrity can rarely be bought. That's probably why this conversation intrigues me.

@Jack - and that's fair enough. The interesting part is that people can often be more easily persuaded than bought.

I am not bothered by ads on blogs. I expect it. All I ask is that it be clear when the content is being paid for.

Thanks for the link and thoughtful post Valeria!

I think I am going to start a new page on my blog - a page chronicling all of the sponsored post and sponsored link pitches I have turned down over the years. If I were to give it a *low* ballpark estimate, I think I have probably turned away over $50K in revenue, because they are products or brands I was unwilling to align myself with.

The fact that I am now catching heat for taking a $500 gift card to me is downright laughable. My policy is that I won't take payment for anything unless I would be willing to write about it for free anyway. And that I keep a boundary between sponsored and paid content.

It is completely unjustifiable to judge a blogger's ethics based on what they are paid for, unless you also know how they are unwilling to be bought.

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  • Since 2006, Conversation Agent focuses on business, technology, digital culture, and human behavior. At Conversation Agent LLC, I help organizations and brands that want to build better experiences tell a new story.


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