Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Corporate Blog Tracker – Miller Brewing’s “Brew Blog”

In addition to obsessively showcasing best practices among corporate blogs, I felt it’d also be nice to present ever so often, corporate blogging examples culled from recent press coverage as well – stories in all probability you may have missed. This week I’ve a thought-provoking piece on corporate blogging ethics, that touches upon a company using a blog to wreak PR damage upon their competitor. Want to know more?

Read on (after the jump)

1. Miller’s Brewing Blog – For all you do, bud, this blog’s for you (WSJ, If WSJ doesn’t work, try this)

Imagine if Apple had an employee to blog about every move of Microsoft and scoop them on latest news about Microsoft Products. Has that happened? No. But a similar scenario has erupted between brewing giant, Anheuscer Busch and rising star Miller Brewing. For the record: “Anheuser, controls nearly 50 percent of the U.S. beer market, and Miller, less than 20%”. Here are the key points of the corporate blog story from WSJ:

1. A former reporter for Advertising Age, currently runs Brew Blog, a free Web site dedicated to breaking news about beer. Especially news about Anheuser-Busch’s beer.

2. The kicker – Mr. Arndorfer, is a full-time employee of Miller Brewing Co., Anheuser-Busch’s competitor! Here’s the official word on the Brew Blog from the site itself:

3. Users on Miller’s computer network accounted for the most visits of Brew Blog among corporations, with 1,675. Running second: Anheuser, with 1,540 visits.

4. Competitive intelligence gleaned by the Brew Blog allowed Miller to paint Anheuser-Busch as a “follower” in PR/Marketing speak during one of their most recent product releases.

Questions for you:

* Conflict of interest: Despite a tag line  on the Brew Blog page (stating the owners) is it unethical to lampoon your competitor on the blog, while you paint yourself a rosy picture? Ethical or not, I’m not sure but as long as you fully disclose your affiliations, is it alright?

* Would the Brew Blog’s credibility in our eyes be impacted if they only covered positive stories about themselves vs. negative stories as well?

* What’s disconcerting is that the Brew Blog insists

  • it’s not a corporate blog
  • positions itself as an industry blog that provides “beer industry market analysis
  • targets those who “work in the beer industry, or cover it, or just watch it with interest”
  • while unofficially unraveling their competitor’s product intelligence before their competitor can!

And, in addition, they also run ads alongside keyword searches for “Harry Schuhmacher” and “Beer Business Daily” – a bipartisan news site, with an attempt to drives visitors instead to the Brew Blog. hmm…

Ethical? Feel free to leave comments.

Filed under: Business Blogging

7 Responses

  1. It’s not ethical, its actually a huge low blow that underminds the rules. Listen Miller we are all adults here so dont try to fool us with these frickin gimmicks, while you have your dumb lawyers intentionally misinterpret the law so that you can get “get away” with murder all you are really doing is building the awerness around busch. I dont drink at all but I do understand that when doing unethical business your success will either be minimal or short lived, get your mind straight and fly right. Now thats motivation.
    Success via Victoryblogger

    Like

  2. Mario Sundar says:

    @Richard,

    Thanks for your comment.

    The part I’m concerned about is insistence on NOT being called a corporate blog, while openly exposing your competitors’ closely guarded secrets as you pass of the blog as an industry blog. Not cool.

    Like

  3. Dominik says:

    “it’s not a corporate blog”

    well, I wouldn’t say it’s not a corporate Blog just because they say it’s not the official PR/Marketing voice of Miller. A Corporate Blog can (or in some cases should be) an alternative voice of a company (personalized, subjective, bottom-up). But I guess that’s just a problem of point of view ;o)

    Like

  4. Mario Sundar says:

    @dominik,

    It should be called the corporate blog, but it looks like they’re trying to steer clear of that since they’re trying to present it as an independent industry blog. Hence the ethical dilemma!

    Like

  5. Interestingly the BrewBlog now appears to have passed away. Site is shit down…

    Like

  6. oops, typo. Should say Interestingly the BrewBlog now appears to have passed away. Site is shu down… Please moderate.

    Like

  7. […] ethical choices for the company at hand. Just last week, I wrote about Miller Brewing’s pseudo industry blog – Brew blog that purports to be an insider blog, while taking potshots at arch competitor – Anheuser […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s