Time Out New York dating columnist, “lifecaster” and girl about town Julia Allison is now a featured blogger for IZEA, the social media company that pays bloggers to post about products or services. The practice is controversial and the debate around it has been consistently evolving over recent months.
PRNewser interviewed the company’s founder and CEO Ted Murphy at this year’s South By Southwest conference.
One of the main tenets of the company’s service is based around disclosure, before a blogger posts about any product or service. And so far there haven’t been any incidents, as far as we know. Until now.
…Allison has started working hard for one of its [IZEA] featured clients, Sea World, which is inviting bloggers to a press junket this week. Today on her NonSociety blog, Allison gushed about her upcoming trip to the marine park with no fewer than five exclamation marks. On Twitter she was a bit more restrained, with just one “!” (the microblogging service limits users to 140 characters, after all).
Neither of those posts included any disclosure of Allison’s relationship to Izea or Sea World – even though such disclosure is required by Izea.
Allison went on to disclose, and a rather thorough and candid IM exchange between her and Gawker’s Ryan Tate is outlined in the post. We contacted Ted Murphy, who stood by a comment he also left on the Gawker post: “This is our first engagement of any type with Julia. I believe she made an honest mistake.” He also stressed that SeaWorld isn’t paying any of the bloggers but rather giving them, “airfare and hotel, the same as their mainstream media counterparts.” However, Allison is being paid by IZEA. Said Murphy, “Julia has been hired by IZEA (not SeaWorld) outside of this event to provide consulting services. She will be working with me to share her insight and ideas on a variety of social media and marketing topics.”