Should blog posts be quoted out of context?

My blog post on Avis has ben quoted by the consultancy behind the company’s new blog – appearing as an endorsement as part of a promotional case study. 

There is a link through to the full comments, so I trust that my more rounded assessment is viewed by some readers – but the immediate impression is misleading.

I don’t think bloggers have to make contact when citing or linking to other bloggers, although pingbacks are useful, which I did receive in this case.  But this isn’t part of a blogging discussion, it is being used for marketing purposes. 

I’ve checked out the other people who are also selectively cited by Web Liquid, and their posts also contain caveats. 

We are familiar with this approach of quotes taken out of context for theatre and other types of review.  But it is old-fashioned press agentry and not in the spirit of new media. 

However, there are links to the full comments and pingbacks were used.  I still don’t feel comfortable with being portrayed as an advocate for the Avis blog.  In particular, I don’t like being part of a marketing initiative for a consultancy I know nothing about. 

In reality the comments in my own and the other blog posts related more to the responsiveness and content of Avis, rather than the design, but neither did we provide fulsome praise of the site either.

I think it would have been better if the guys from Avis (not their web agency) had ventured out into the blogosphere and engaged through discussion on the critical blogs or taken such views on board with a post on their own site. 

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

6 thoughts on “Should blog posts be quoted out of context?”

  1. They obviously regard you as an influential blogger, they would not pick up comments from anyone’s site unless they felt they would make an impact. It shows how we need to be aware of what we write. I don’t mind too much.

  2. Quoting from and linking to your post about the Avis blog was intended not as an apparent endorsement of our work but as a reflection of our respect for your opinion about the blog. Indeed, your comments go beyond that which we quoted on our site, but as the first sentence in your post we felt it was a fair lead-in with a link to the rest of your post. It is in the spirit of new media that we’ve cited bloggers’ thoughts about the Avis blog, attempting to fairly reflect their sentiment and always linking through to their complete posts. The intention was never to take quotes out of context in an effort to mislead. Nevertheless, I appreciate your concern that the quote and link may appear as a endorsement of our work and we’re happy to remove it if you wish.

  3. Thank you Matt for confirming your intention – as the link is there to my full comment, I am happy for it to stand.

    Anything you can also do to get Avis to actually address the views of myself and the other bloggers commenting on their laudable efforts to engage with their customers through new media would also be appreciated.

    As I originally said (as per your quote), there are too few corporates engaged in social media in the UK – as yet, Avis hasn’t grasped the potential if they would really be prepared to get involved in debates and also ensure their colleagues address the issues causing any negative comments from customers.

    Ellee – thanks as ever for seeing the plus side.

  4. Great, then we’ll keep it.

    As for Avis’ blogging effort, the priority at the moment is assisting customers through this new touch point. Unlike most corporate entities Avis have really grasped the importance of this channel and are committed to making it work for the benefit of their customers – that is why the blog exists to begin with, and why we’re particularly proud of the opportunities it creates to address customer queries like these:
    http://www.wetryharder.co.uk/?p=119#comment-71
    http://www.wetryharder.co.uk/?p=121#comment-64

    But your point about engaging bloggers outside of the Avis blog itself is a good one. I can assure you that we and Avis are aware of what’s being said and value the commentary.

  5. Hi Heather,

    You’ve raised some very good points in your post. I can assure you and your bloggers that the blog is not a gimmick but the final development of a 12 months work with Web Liquid and Market Sentinel.

    We’ve noticed that bloggers were discussing our brand quite a lot, and we’ve decided to measure it. The amount of discussions about our locations, and GPS was quite surprising actually! The customer service team has been brilliant in handling customer queries on review and discussion websites such as ciao.co.uk or review centre.

    We probably wouldn’t have launched the blog would the levels of discussion and interest have been small. But I thought that since consumers wanted to discuss our brand and our services, let’s do it on our own turf! The idea is really simple:

    1. we’re changing Avis by creating new services for our customers. In europe we called it our “Inspired change” programme, after we surveyed 13,000 customers. The blog is for me the platform to discuss (i.e. inform, get feedback, answer questions, etc…) these innovations and others to come with our customers. I want an open and honest discussions with them.
    2. Customers have had positive or negative experiences with us. Let’s get their feedback on our blog, and use it to keep improving. That’s the spirit of We Try Harder for me.
    3. When customers have had issues, we contact them directly in the next hour, and then post on the blog (once we did forget to post but we dealt with the issue straight away).

    So there is no Head of Online Corporate Development Strategy Management and New Marketing Development Opportunities (UK & Europe)😉, just a team of passionate people who understood the importance of word of mouth and care about their customers.

    Finally, I’d add that there are very few best practice out there! It’s a big learning process for all of us, don’t you think?

  6. Xavier – thank you for visiting and your commitment to taking on board comments about Avis. It is really encouraging and as you say, with few examples of best practice, it is a learning process.

    I look forward to keeping in touch with your blog and will cite your responsiveness as an example for others to mirror.

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