I’m incredibly grateful to everyone for their support following last week’s unfortunate dealings with Boston.com online marketing. The subsequent comments, tweets, and posts truly reflected the passion that readers and bloggers have for transparency, as well as the beauty and power of social media. I just wish I could thank everyone individually; please accept my virtual hugs and handshakes!
Meanwhile, here is an update on what transpired following my post on Friday. Boston.com’s head of community publishing responded quickly and their marketing team ultimately removed the campaign (as well as the similar campaign we learned was being run to benefit from another mom site). Unfortunately, what followed was not an apology, but a shifting of the onus to me. I was told that the situation would have been resolved quicker had I just contacted them directly.
Similar to the ill-conceived Google marketing campaign, this response seemed – sadly – to completely miss the point.
I just submitted a letter to the editor of The Boston Globe and a letter to the BoMoms editorial staff. In the spirit of full transparency I have included both of these letters below. Please let me know if you see the Globe letter published. And thanks again for your amazing outpouring of support!
Image credit: Media Bistro
Submitted to email@example.com February 23, 2009
[Editor: In the spirit of full transparency, this letter will be posted at BostonMamas.com]
To the Editor:
Last week I discovered – and detailed on my blog – that Boston.com employed a Google Adwords campaign to direct users searching for my domain name (“bostonmamas.com”) to Boston.com’s mom site BoMoms.
This deceitful campaign clearly hit a nerve – with both my readers and the broader social media community – representing a troubling example of a major corporation trying to take advantage of an independent blog. Boston.com did ultimately respond quickly and remove the campaign, but then followed not by issuing an apology, but by shifting the onus to me – telling me that they “would have been able to take care of it quicker” had I contacted them directly. Yes, of course it would have been quicker. And less embarrassing too. Sadly, similar to the ill-conceived Google marketing campaign, this response completely missed the point.
In some marketing circles, the actions of Boston.com may seem like business as usual, but that does not make them ethically acceptable. And in my opinion, no amount of dishonestly earned clicks can counterbalance eroded integrity.
The beauty of online publishing is that it offers a powerful way to create community. Boston.com would do well to address the disrespect shown to its readers and the very community it seeks to be a part of with a round of apologies not just to BostonMamas.com, but to WorkItMom.com (who we discovered also was a victim of the same Adwords campaign), any other impacted sites, and the staffers and freelancers who pour their hearts into the creative content of Boston.com yet ultimately are demeaned by this devious behavior.
Founder & Editor
Submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org February 23, 2009
[BoMoms Editor: Please forward this email to your editorial staff. In the spirit of full transparency, this letter – as well one to The Boston Globe - will be posted at BostonMamas.com]
To the BoMoms Editorial Staff:
I’m writing to follow up on my post regarding Boston.com’s Google Adwords campaign to direct users searching for “bostonmamas.com” to BoMoms. If you haven’t read the post, I hope you will do so rather than simply hear about the situation secondhand. The post makes clear that my issue was with Boston.com’s marketing of BoMoms, not with the BoMoms site itself. I have nothing but well wishes for websites that seek to foster a sense of community and provide useful and entertaining content to readers, and I’m a firm believer that collaboration is key to true online community building. Your former editor Alexandra Hall and I had a very positive conversation about this issue last summer.
As I expressed in the post, Boston.com’s marketing campaign was troubling for a number of reasons, and my readers and the broader social media community responded in turn. You all are among those who deserve an apology from Boston.com marketing and I have written a letter to the editor of The Boston Globe to this effect.
With best wishes,
Founder & Editor