More Companies Embrace the Slippery Slope of ‘Consulting’

1-Ladies-011209.jpgDan Abrams caused a bit of a stir last month when he announced he was starting the media consulting firm Abrams Research, but lately it’s beginning to look as though he might just be at the forefront of a new trend. First off is a story from AdAge about the formation by NBC of a women’s “panel” comprised of such luminaries as Maria Bartiromo, Meredith Vieira, Tori Spelling, and Susan Lyne who have been brought together to offer “marketing and general business advice to NBC Universal and its clients on how to reach women.”

The group will also blog, write and appear on air for the media company’s women-oriented properties and contribute to a quarterly newsletter, “Power of the Purse,” covering marketing to the demographic and the latest female trends. The panel will convene for the first time Feb. 10. In effect, it could become the most powerful female-focused agency in the country.

The article goes on to note that members will be able to “recuse themselves if necessary to avoid conflicts.” Meanwhile, some folks attending the CES out in Las Vegas (where our own Chris Ariens is at), appear to be taking “consulting” to an extreme.

AdWeek is reporting that Panasonic has gone to some lengths to hire influential bloggers to write about their presence at the show.

Rather than relying on magazines, they are contracting with influential bloggers who bring with them their own powerful distribution networks…And the key differentiator: instead of dictating the content to lead to a sale, brands typically keep their distance to maintain credibility.

The catch: Panasonic has no say on what their guests post, according to Greg Verdino, chief strategy officer at Crayon. “There’s not a direct quid pro quo,” said Verdino, who also blogged and Twittered about CES for Panasonic. “When you give people equipment and they love it, just like any other consumer they’ll evangelize it. We’re not looking for them to hit message points and in effect shill.”

It’s a slippery slope, for sure. And one wonders how long a program like this can last considering the speed with which the mainstream media is transitioning online. Or maybe this is the future, time will tell, no doubt.