So the BBC has quoted me. If you think I’m blowing my own trumpet here, you’re right.
The BBC is a big target for PR. If you get a client mention on the BBC, it’s a high point. I worked with the people behind The Box, and while I wasn’t present at the sell-in, it must have been an incredibly exciting time. So I’m slightly excited now. Bear with me, please. I’m just a bit excitable generally.
I didn’t realise the BBC had quoted me until a day later, and in fact I only found out when, on looking for the link address to my post about their viral video, I just typed it quickly into Google instead of browsing to my own blog.
Normally if someone mentions me, I know about it, because it appears on the Feedback section to the left of this page, or I’ll get a notification through the WordPress dashboard. Or, if it’s from a big site, I’ll get a spike in my viewings. If I’d been receiving traffic from the BBC I would expect my page views to go through the roof.
But none of this had happened, which is why it almost passed me by. This puzzled me. Until I realised: whereas they’d quoted me, they hadn’t linked to me.
This is notionally bad netiquette. You really should pass traffic on to people you quote. I try to do that whenever I can. It’s just way you do things. I don’t think this is written down anywhere, but it’s just what you… do.
Was this down to the BBC’s link policy, I wondered? Well I’ve done some searching and it looks like there is a lot of debate over how the BBC uses external links. I guess this is because a link is an endorsement, and the corporation needs to retain its impartiality. Editorial integrity is paramount at the Beeb, to the extent that it refused to show the recent Gaza appeal, even before Sky News made the same decision.
So while, on the one hand, netiquette kind of sort of maybe implies they should link, on the other, by protecting its independence, the BBC protects its integrity and therefore, value as a media organisation. So it’s an interesting situation: while I would dearly love them to have linked to me, in so doing they may lessen the value of having quoted me.
There is, however, one aspect of all this that I do believe it has overlooked: consistency. If a link is endorsement, so is a quote, and I’m not sure the BBC has been consistent in this. At the top of the article there is mention of David Naylor of Search Marketing – that is, blogger name and company name. Further down the page it quotes Ciaran Norris, of Altogether Digital and below that, mentions Emily Bell, director of digital content for the Guardian. A fellow blogger, Rob Brown, contributor to PR Media Blog, is not referred to as ‘of Staniforth‘, for example.
Is this fair? Why should some companies benefit from the exposure, if not the links, while others do not? Link policy good, editorial policy, slightly shaky maybe?