The Fuss About Marqui Paying Bloggers to Write About The Company

On a whim last week I sent an email to Marqui, curious about their new program in the works to pay a couple dozen webloggers to write about them as a new way of finding clients and generating press. Looking through the information on their website, it seemed interesting. They’d pay $800/month for a weekly writeup about their product with everything being upfront and transparent and no limits on what each weblogger writes about (the good and the bad about the product). The approach sounded interesting, so why not look into it?

I wasn’t really expecting to hear back from them. But the next day I received an email from Marc Canter, one of their advisors who encouraged Marqui to set up the blogger program. He said we should talk over the weekend but then he got busy and I had a funeral to go to. So, fast forward to earlier this week and I get a couple emails sent out to everyone who has been invited to participate. I didn’t really know what was going on since Marc and I hadn’t even talked yet. I sent him a followup and then he called me last night.

Here are a few words that detractors have used about this project: hokey, blatant advertising, fishy approach, blogging ethics, perspective, integrity and not worth the money (which is a subtle way of saying they want more money?). Perhaps for people who rely on bringing a traditional advertising model to the web and weblogs, this is a scary idea. However, I do not get the concern anyone might have over ethics and integrity. I’ve been working and collaborating online since 1993. I’ve never done anything for the money. That might explain why I never made it big during the internet “boom” but that’s a rant for another time. I’m going to participate because I think this is an interesting experience. If a company wants to pay me to ocassionally talk about their products and services, why not? I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been asked to offer my insight and feedback for free. A few months ago someone from Yahoo! Local emailed me after finding my address on the Boston website, asking me to check out their new site and offer feedback because they want (and value) the perspective of bloggers. In my reply, I asked if there was some sort of compensation for offering the assistance. I wasn’t asking for a million dollars; but I think it’s far worse to simply expect something for free every single time instead of at least making some token gesture of thanks for the input. Of course he never wrote back.

I sent an email to Alan, The Head Lemur, last night about all of this. He’s signed up to blog about/for Marqui. I wrote a few blathering sentences, he replied with a very thoughtful response which he’s posted on his website. When I asked him what all the fuss was about, I meant in so far as why are some of the bloggers originally invited to participate now backing away from it.

Stay tuned to see if I turn into a brainwashed Marqui monkey!

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