With the rise of blogging has come blogger relations: the efforts of PR and marketing types to get bloggers, some influential with large audiences, some obscure with niche ones, and everyone else in between, to write about their companies and clients' products.

In many ways there's nothing new to this development.  PR types have always worked, basically their bread and butter, to get print, radio and TV reporters to write about and promote their clients' products.  Reporters from the national newspapers to the city dailies get hit with press releases, product samples, and phone calls.  Getting a favorable story by Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal can launch a new tech product.  A bad review can do the opposite.

And the better PR pros get to know key reporters very well, and know how reporters work and are able to make the reporter's job easier.  But no money changes hands.  There may be lunches, speaking engagements and other honoraria, but no payments.

But now it seems that PR types and marketers are paying bloggers to write favoarble stories about client products.  There's a story(not yet online) in the November issues of Smart Money called "Bloggers" by Anne Kadet highlighting this new (perhaps not, alas) and sordid trend.  There's even a company called PayPerPost.com that as its name implies pays blogger for posts.  Seems about as reputable as paying individuals and companies to fradulently click on search engine ads.  (Yes, this is a real problem.)

Here's my favorite quote from the story: Noramn Miglietta from Turner Sports interactive says that

"paying bloggers to mention an event is no different that buying an ad." 'If it's informative and not misleading, I don't see that as a conflict.'"

Yeah, right. Ask him for a mention or buy an advertisement.  Otherwise the blogger is a paid shill and is being dishonest if he doesn't disclose the 'sponsorship'.  If this goes unchecked bloggers run the risk of being viewed as the social media's equivalent of junk mail and spam.   Caveat Lector.