GORE-TEX Professional

Same Message, Different Approach – “Beware The New Media”

Right before SHOT Show we reposted a story giving advice to an industry who was sure to be inundated during SHOT Show by media, particularly new media, wanting free stuff. My motivation is to support industry by making them more savvy toward the approach.

soldiersystems.net/2014/11/13/ask-ssd-redux-should-i-send-a-gear-sample-to-this-person

New media is a term for bloggers, Instagrammers, FaceBookers, forum goers, YouTubers, Twitterers, etc. Basically, anyone who uses social media platforms as media. Some are better than others.

Firelance Media recently attended SHOT Show as a media member and got a bird’s eye view of the shenanigans. His blog post is an entirely different look at the issue. Make sure you read it.

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Why You Don’t Deserve That Free Product

It’s a refreshing read and something I could never say in my position. The up and comers in the new media would accuse me of using my influence to block them. No matter how I couched such a story, they’d be right. Many of these blogs and YouTube channels are parasites. They know it, Firelance Media knows it, and I know it.

The article is certain to be popular. Everybody loves a big “fuck you” in their stories. It’s also inspiring. Maybe one day I’ll write that article about people who want to be media and work for brands they promote in their stories. That’s a very disturbing trend amongst the new media.

As for industry. Don’t feed the Bears. If you don’t like what these parasitic new media folks do, don’t encourage them. Ask the hard questions and when they give you answers that don’t add up, tell them to take a hike.

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40 Responses to “Same Message, Different Approach – “Beware The New Media””

  1. Strike-Hold says:

    Right on!

    This is another great article on the Firelance Media page too:

    http://firelancemedia.com/worst-thing-saw-shot-show-2015/

  2. Ho Tac says:

    i feel so dirty now…

  3. Andrew says:

    Outstanding article that is sure to hurt many feelings. Good on Firelance.

  4. SpartanDieselTech says:

    Damn good read, and spot on. We didn’t make it to SHOT this year, but the same phenomenon occurred in 2014 and was blatantly obvious.

    The weekend warrior type review crowd (or as the author references, “New Media”) simply muddies the waters of real product review, with no credentials to back their opinions to be taken seriously, and make it harder for newcomers to find valuable information from people whose opinions actually carry weight.

    The “fatty and snowboots” type characters shouldn’t be overpowering the voices of real industry professionals, nor should the manufacturers be buying into it. Three visits to a Texas OCTC rally and a write-up about which holsters pinch your fat rolls between your sidearm and the Olive Garden booth seat do NOT qualify bloggers as a real pro.

    • balais says:

      Thats like all of the AR500 plate testing. So much disinformation and omission of variables during testing.

      It sure made it a major pain in the ass trying to find good information about AR500.

  5. Steve says:

    After reading the article, I’ll agree that there are a few Youtubers that think they’re qualified because they have seen every episode of The Walking Dead and Doomsday Preppers but those guys are easy to spot and it shows in their view counts and number of subscribers. But, on the other hand I don’t need a retired SF dude with 20+ years of service to show me a new product and explain why it’s shit (or isn’t). The average Joe Guns/Gear Youtube reviewer provides just that, an average Joe’s perspective and opinions about something. It’s the viewer or readers job to form his or her own opinions. If I was a business owner I would have no problem letting some random reviewer on YouTube review and maybe keep my product so that the awareness and information about my product gets distributed to literally millions of people for the cost of 1 of my items. So yea, there are some shady folks on YouTube who are in it for self interests but at the end of the day the more people who show your product on blogs or Youtube the more money you make.

    Just one guys thoughts.

  6. SN says:

    Some of these “new media” types will be established media in a few years.

    I buy and use what I review and have not asked for free gear, ever.

    That said, SSD was “new media” when you started.

    • Terry B. says:

      I’m not “in the industry” or part of the “new media” but as someone with a lifelong professional interest in firearms and tactical gear I do think SN has a point.

      Is there some way(s) for the community to help professionalize some of these New Media up and comers while marginalizing those leaches that can’t be rehabilitated?

      After all, new media / social media is not going away and it does provide access to a population that apparently isn’t being reached by more established forums.

      In other words, while some aspects of the new media baby are indeed ugly today…perhaps with some aggressive coaching and mentoring it can become a more attractive asset to the industry tomorrow?

      TLB

      • SSD says:

        I speak with many of these guys. It’s the typical “we can make up the rules as we go along” mentality.

        • Terry B. says:

          I’ve run into that attitude myself from time to time in other situations.

          In any profession newcomers are prone to confuse their personal “enthusiasm with capability” or try to use high energy to mask inexperience.

          Not defending the opportunistic moochers in any way. The quicker they are identified and ostracized by the community the better.

          I just thought it might be wise to give the well meaning but inexperienced a chance to grow and contribute.

          The smart ones will seek out experienced mentors and evolve into old hands themselves eventually.

          The not so smart (most) will eventually get frustrated with the hard work involved and self select out of the trade.

          TLB

      • TV-PressPass says:

        Have them get a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. That’ll help “professionalize.”

    • KP says:

      It’s not the medium, nor the age of the publication, that the article or even, I believe, SSD is against. It’s those who haven’t the savvy or the experience at best, or completely bereft of the requisite scruples at worst, that generate unprofessional and unqualified opinions which paint a false image of a product or service. The article linked describes everything, but I like the SSD approach – push the the industry to be accountable, and to hold their solicitors accountable. It’s up to both the new media figure to present him or herself to a savvy company.

      New media is fine. Trying to get into the bizz for free is not.

    • Friend of SSD says:

      Eric was writing stories for Combat and Survival back in the 90s and then ran a website called Gear Guru. He was never really new at this. He carried many, many years Of experience into what he does. I’d say that’s the problem with the vast majority of bloggers. They don’t have any experience. They don’t have any history. They don’t have a lot of knowledge.

  7. NP says:

    The article was well written, but it seemed the author has a convoluted understanding of how marketing works.

    There is a BIG difference between R&D, T&E, product reviews, advertising, etc. I understand that there may be uneducated, unqualified, and even unscientific people performing these various forms of marketing (by way of blogs, videos, Instagram posts and the like (pun intended)) but that doesn’t mean any of them are ‘wrong’ – It just means companies have to be more diligent in what their desired goal is for sending gear out to any given person. Each type of marketing (and every person conducting each type) will reach a specific demographic and serve its own purpose in the grand scheme of marketing.

    Sure, someone may have zero experience down range… but if he has 10k Instagram followers who are loyal and respect him, a company should have no problem sending out free gear in return for his ‘review’ or ‘digital endorsement’ (with the objective that there will be an outcome of a positive ROI). If that doesn’t make sense to you, look at how Chris Costa has performed for his own brand as well as other brands. (Not to say CC doesn’t have experience or isn’t qualified, the point I’m making is that this is how powerful a person’s influence can be).

    Yes, ‘testers’ can have a false sense of entitlement – but that could be their form of payment (the author states he is payed for various reviews). Yes, companies should be more diligent in who/how they select to receive product – but if the end goal is to get gear to people who need/want it (and also make money), there’s nothing wrong in trading gear for a review or ‘shout-out’. It’s no different than paying $x.xx CPM for digital advertising, $x,xxx.xx for a print ad, or $x,xxx,xxx.xx for a celebrity endorsement/superbowl ad.

    …just my two cents.

    • FNB says:

      You hit the nail on the head. Influencers are another way to market / advertise product. Shoe / soda companies have been doing it for years. Celebrities / popular people sell products. This is a proven fact.

      If some joe-shome on instagram has 30,000 loyal followers I would not hesitate to send him a free bag for posts / review because I know it’ll get me some return.

      • Mayflower says:

        How exactly do you quantify ROI to likes or followers? This year we were approached by a guy who has a Facebook page that has over 100K likes, he stated if we paid him to review our products he would grow our revenue exponentially. One, he didn’t know what our revenue was/is and two what makes anyone think that a kid on Facebook who hits like because a page shows cool SOF pictures and says fuck every other word is going to purchase a set of armor?

        I agree with the article, it is upon business (who don’t have unlimited resources to pass out “free” kit) to vet the requestor.

        • Chris K. says:

          +1, Facebook likes do NOT equal revenue, especially now with new policies on FB towards businesses.

          • FNB says:

            I disagree, I have personally sent out gear to both print and digital magazines not to mention reviewers on the net and have received good returns.

            You should use Google analytics and track where these customers come from. Another thing you can do is create specific coupon codes for their fans.

            Facebook, Instagram amongst other social media = marketing which in turn = sales.

            Don’t think that there are only airsoft kids on social media, thousands if not millions of potential customers throughout Facebook and even Instagram.

            Use your marketing / advertising budgets wisely.

  8. I won’t accept anything for free anymore. It just doesn’t pass my smell test, there is usually an expectation to get something in return and whether I want it to or not I am sure that it effects my independence/objectivity in some way.

  9. Jeremy says:

    Most of the “New Media” I’ve seen on the internet pale in comparison to the traditional gun mags when it comes to shady.

    If Guns & Ammo, etc. can get a free product and call it a legitimate review, you may as well send out samples to every Bubba with a blog.

    • FNB says:

      Same with the NTOA rating and approvals. Magazines, print media amongst others will always be biased since they get paid for advertisements.

      If I run a blog and get paid to advertise logos on my site, it’s not in my best interest to write a bad review about that company.

  10. Iceman says:

    You are comparing apples to whatever here gents. SSD does not post “I tested this” type info. Eric provides info from manufacturers/industry that we realease ourselves to the general public. The previous and current warning are regarding those types that want free stuff in order to provide their own opinion. While those opinions and page views might be valuable to a manufacturer he is urging you to consider the source.

  11. balais says:

    I recall making several comments about “new media” and this new behavior last year and getting lambasted for it. Im glad some other people are figuring out how stupid it is.

    Tough. Not everybody’s opinions are equally valid. That is a disease being perpetuated in our modern society of “everybody’s opinion is valid!” “everybody is equal”. Bull.

  12. Blaine B. says:

    I guess I fall into the “new media” and I do gear reviews on T&E product as well as gear that I’ve purchased. I don’t do a lot of firearm reviews so that article doesn’t specifically apply to me but in general it’s aimed at all bloggers.

    I agree that paying your dues is important and building a following to the point where can provide real justification for a manufacturer to send T&E product is also the right way to go about it. You must have something to offer. I don’t agree that you have to have a military background with five tours in the sandbox to write a firearm review. As a consumer, I enjoy reading those types of reviews but I also value the opinion of knowledgeable civilian shooters. There’s room for both in the industry.

    The biggest issue I see and the primary reason I started my site is that many of the new (and some of the established) bloggers trade gear for positive reviews. Hell, a good portion of the “old media” does it too in exchange for advertising. That practice has grown to the point where consumers don’t know who to trust anymore. And the reviews available via blogs, Youtube, etc. is a minefield of mis-information. Most of the reputable manufacturers I’ve worked with are fine with me writing balanced reviews on their products. They value the feedback.

    I thoroughly enjoy this site but I also find it interesting when there is such swift beat downs delivered in the form of responses by SSD when individuals here comment negatively on products featured on the site. I don’t think those responses are driven by any commercial interest but it does raise the question of bias. I understand in some instances, the comments are very troll-ish and that’s truly annoying, but if you guys are going to beat this particular drum then you should probably re-consider that practice. Or shut down comments all together. Just my two cents.

    • Mayflower says:

      I agree with the majority of what your saying with the exception of terminology. We get asked multiple times a year by bloggers and YouTubers to “T&E” equipment and armor. When I ask them what test protocol they are using and what accredited facility they intend on using I get dead air in return. T&E is not going to the range once and saying you tested the piece of kit to it’s intended function. “Reviewing” a piece of equipment for your (and your readers) uses is a more accurate statement. I frequently read on forums “I won’t use a piece of armor until (insert catchy screen name here) tests it because the manufacturer is just hyping their product”. These “test” often mean going to a range and hanging a plate carrier on a target and shooting it with rounds the armor was not intended to stop then bad mouthing it on the forum.
      We will often send equipment to “reviewers” who state up front this is my intent and this is my audience. It does pay dividends to us to have our products showcased in a market that we might not be reaching or had not initially intended on reaching. But there are pit falls with that as well; when a pocket is designed to carry a hand held SAT antenna and the reviewer doesn’t know or understand (or have ever seen one in person) and states that aspect of the design is bad because it doesn’t fit X widgets it’s inaccurate.
      At the end of the day it’s up to the individual company to do their homework before passing out their marketing dollars.

      • Blaine B. says:

        That’s fair. Of course, T&E means different things depending on the kit. I don’t know how you’d field test armor without putting rounds into it in a controlled environment. So I agree with you given the products you sell. I wouldn’t say an accredited facility and/or a controlled test is required to field test all types of gear.

        • Mayflower says:

          True, but having a plan with a desired end state, control measures etc is a requirement in my mind if conducting “T&E”. We’ve also seen “test” that this pouch/pocket etc doesn’t fit (insert airsoft rifle type here) magazines so “it’s shit”.
          That’s why I won’t send anything to someone that leads off the conversation with T&E. If they ask to “review” it and have decent credentials (not necessarily 20 years SOF) in their field they have a decent chance of receiving an item to review.

        • SSD says:

          As a blogger you don’t test anything. And if you say you do, you don’t understand testing.

          You won’t ever test armor. You don’t have the accreditation to do it. There are very few places that are accredited to test armor. They are paid to do it and their certification is unquestioned.

          Every time I watch some backyard fuckstick “test” armor I pray that the company that made it will take him to court and sue him so hard that his grandkids live in the poorhouse. And yes, I’m completely serious about this. It’s libelous. I’ve seen guys take certified armor and shoot it with a threat it was never designed for and then say that it failed and sucks. I want them to assume some serious liability for their actions.

          I’ll go one further, if a manufacturer uses mil spec materials, you don’t need to test those either. They’ve been built to a known spec.

          Weapon testing? You want to shoot the thousands of rounds under controlled conditions required to adequately create a sample large enough to make any sort of a conclusion? You can’t. Not if you’re a part time blogger with limited resources. And I’ll tell you, not if you’re a full time blogger.

          Testing requires labcoats and scientific method. Labcoats don’t cost much but scientific method does.

          • Blaine B. says:

            Makes sense. I agree terminology is important. We should be precise about how we characterize what we’re doing. I appreciate both of your perspectives. Good stuff guys!

  13. James says:

    eric,

    your influence is huge and i say it rather vast! … i know i would not want you blocking me! They may grow up… but they may not… the later is more likely…

    keep up the great work!

  14. Dylan Caylor says:

    On the other hand respected publications like guns &ammo give rave reviews on guns like the Remington R51(among many other products), which was 100% shit! If I can’t trust the vetted firearm journalist who has been in the industry longer than I’ve been alive,I’ll go with average joe who at least admits he got the product for free/T&E.

  15. Dylan Caylor says:

    Not trying to undermine the credibility of the author or other industry professional but it’s really hard to trust older forms of media when rave reviews for terrible products come from supposedly reputable and respected publications such as guns&ammo or recoil come out, when Timmy is over there on YouTube giving me his honest opinion on a product at least I know his opinions or thoughts are likel on a product that has already been thoroughly tested or reviewed vs.a romance novel about something like the R51 or utas-15 which are both shining examples of dishonesty from the tester/author for the sole purpose of pleasing the magazine/publications sponsors, I guess what I’m saying is don’t bash on “new media” for not being credible when you have “old media” that’s been giving us disinformation and bias for years.

    • SSD says:

      I don’t think anyone here is saying that the “old media” doesn’t have its issues as well. Problem is, 9 times out of 10, Timmy on YouTube is a mouthbreather.

  16. Thomas says:

    awesome read, I didn’t i see this earlier!