The latest incarnation of this debate in the business blog community revolves around the Def Perception weblog written, ostensibly, by someone named Tosh Bilowski on behalf of Panasonic Corporation. The tag line of the blog reads “Tosh Bilowski focuses on high-def pro video – brought to you by Panasonic.”
So far, the blog community seems to be enjoying some detective work (see for example Amy Gahran’s article Who Is Tosh Bilowski: Corporate Blogs and Authenticity) and engaging in its typical criticism of any corporations trying to do something new with weblogs, at least in my opinion.
But I want to bring this topic to the business blogging crowd because I suggest instead that Panasonic deserves some significant credit for having the courage to try something new and interesting. Yes, a quick Google of “Tosh Bilowski” reveals zero matches, which seems darn curious for someone who is a blogger, but I don’t think that’s really so important. Indeed, for Global PR Blog Week II I wrote an article on this very subject, entitled Fake Blogs: New Marketing Channel or Really Bad Idea?
In that article, I wrote:
“There’s no reason why a fake blog cannot be interesting, amusing and informative, while also having the desirous blog characteristics of credibility and authenticity within the context of the blog itself. Indeed, I don’t even like the pejorative “fake blog”, so let’s call it a “story blog” instead, to emphasize that everything about the weblog, from its premise and entries to the very persona of the author, are part of the fiction, of the story being told.”
I then observe that: “the real reason that story blogs aren’t better and therefore more popular is because it’s just darn hard to produce material week after week as a fictitious character.”
That’s the fundamental problem with the “Tosh Bilowski” weblog effort from Panasonic and its PR agency in my eyes, not that it’s “fake” or that they’ve pretty clearly created a fictional ‘video geek’ to write about their product line, but that it’s just boring and unengaging.
Even when “Tosh” acknowledges that there’s some controversy about the blog (as he does in the entry Oh Brother, Who Art Thou?) he doesn’t link to anyone, doesn’t acknowledge the controversy and doesn’t have anything interesting to say.
So I remain convinced that there’s an opportunity for companies to create “story blogs” that are interesting, compelling and effective at selling their products, but am still waiting to see an example of what this could be and how this could be done well. My kudos to Panasonic for making the attempt to further push the blogging envelope, but they need to find a better agency or blogger to work with. “Tosh” just isn’t going to make any headway in gaining visibility for their product line in the blogosphere.