Alex Casey at The Spinoff had some emails leaked to her which revealed a behind-the-scenes attempt at opinion manipulation via news media. See ‘Mum’s the word’: The online influencers secretly paid to go on 1News
Two prominent online “influencers” appeared in a 1News story about Kmart without having disclosed payments from a PR company acting for the retailer, The Spinoff has learned. News of the secret payment, which came to light in emails leaked to The Spinoff, has prompted TVNZ to remove the story from its online archive and pledge a review of its processes, saying it had on this occasion been “duped”.
… Both [Melissa] Jack and [Maria] Foy have made strong statements about the importance of disclosing commercial relationships with brands they write about. Foy specifically stated this year that she has never been paid by Kmart.
In an email obtained by The Spinoff, an account manager from Undertow Media set out the terms for the appearance. “Kmart is keen to move forward with both Maria and Melissa for tomorrow from 3.45pm to 4.45pm for the One News x Kmart interview opp,” she wrote. “As discussed, each blogger will receive $250 cash payment (as invoiced via The Bloggers Club) and $250 Kmart store credit (provided via gift cards tomorrow onsite) for their involvement in the opportunity and also to repost the One News video link across their socials.”
Oh dear. It reminded me of that time on Media3 when Russell Brown got Cameron Slater to admit pretty much the same thing: Dirty PR — see my post ‘As playful as he is psychotic’. Slater Jnr tried to justify it as him being paid to present his own political opinions. Lol. (Follow that ‘psychotic’ link and listen to the 1′ 30″ audio. It’s priceless.)
This was in 2012, well before Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics (also based on leaked emails) lifted the lid on Slater Jnr, Carrick Graham and Cathy Odgers in the chapters ‘Cash for Comment’ and ‘Chaos and Mayhem Limited’.
Some things seem to not change, really.
I’d never heard of ‘The Bloggers Club‘ until now. I’m not a member, obvs. If this marketing firm is like a clearing house for subterranean payments to “influencers” seeking to monetise their following through deceit like this, as Alex Casey’s story implies, well, bleurgh.
“Mum’s the word on the remuneration.”
Like we need more of that.
Archive copy of Alex Casey’s article ‘Mum’s the word’: The online influencers secretly paid to go on 1News from The Spinoff (PDF 2MB)
I recommend you click through to their site and watch their 7 min video documentary on ‘Influencer’ marketing, also sweetly posted to youtube. Highlight: a likeable man from ‘The Social Club’ talking about the age-old question: ‘What defines a commercial relationship?’ (Hint: apparently “It’s a really grey area at the moment”. Oh really?)