News24 Blog Off smells a little off

News24, a local Web-based news service (and a pretty decent one at that) recently held a competition in South Africa called The Great South African Blog-Off.  Doesn’t ring a bell?  I don’t blame you.  While I am sure the people behind the competition thought this would really light a fire under the collective butts of local bloggers, I didn’t even realise it existed until the competition had closed.

Mark Forrester has nicely laid out some of the criticism directed at this misconceived "promotion" which was clearly put together by people who were looking to jump on the blog bandwagon without taking the time to learn about this medium.  They made some pretty fundamental mistakes which really ought not have been made.  As Mark put it:

Its got to be one of the most disorganised competitions ever held in South Africa (this could be a slight exaggeration 🙂 ), the winners were supposed to be announced mid last month. Not a word though. Not a squeal. The South African blogosphere was left guessing whether or not the competition had been aborted.

Rule number 1 in business blogging (ok maybe not number 1, but definitely in the top 10, I’m just emphasing my point): Always respond to comments regarding your product or service, whether they be positive or negative remarks. News24 never replied to one of their many negative criticisms they received on numerous blogs. What did that result in: more negative remarks, and a very poor perception in the blogosphere.

I agree with Mark’s assessment.  A number of bloggers have expressed their disappointment and have directed their criticism at this competition:

  • coda similarly only heard about the competition after it had closed;
  • the Neverness blogger took issue with the fact that nothing seemed to work on the site;
  • in my nes pointed out that "someone in marketing decided to cash in on the hype, so they slapped together a whorish cheap blogging competition aptly named, blog-off" (I like that!); and
  • Aquila also pointed out how this "Great South African" competition "fizzled down to an odd post on the internet".

Bottom line: a Great South African Disappointment when what we really need is some decent exposure for the local blogosphere.  There is great content on South African blogs.

All my criticism notwithstanding, the winners do have some good looking blogs (always good to meet more neighbours in the local blogosphere):

  1. First prize: Kyknoord
  2. Second prize: Peas on Toast
  3. Third prize: The harbinger

Congrats to the winners!

And before I end this off and get back to work, I’d like to leave a suggestion for the News24 people: read "The Cluetrain Manifesto", "Naked Conversations" and "Blog Marketing" (I just bought this and I am certain it will prove to be essential reading) and then attempt the blogging thing again.

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