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The gun industry, media, blogs and press

Some interesting goings on in that little world. Some background: a post on who should be credentialed and lamenting the going of print magazines. Some more stuff has popped up that I found interesting. The trouble with blogs:

Bloggers are really good at ‘negative’ advertising and exercising that kind of power, but they have yet to master the ‘positive’ advertising in a meaningful way with the result being the industry doesn’t want to alienate bloggers in any way, shape or form, but a good number of the manufacturers and print journalism (because they are frequently, if not constantly, being approached by ‘bloggers’ wanting to become print writers) really, really wish they would just go away.

This is indeed true. Ask Zumbo or HS Precision. The online community can stir up an epic shit storm in about 2 hours that results in firings, boycotts, and everything else. But there’s not a lot of positive or atta boys that come from blogs that get much attention. Sure, I do the occasional review or good job to some company doing right but that doesn’t generate as much buzz as finger wagging.

And, more recently, allegations that American Rifleman says they don’t do negative reviews. And allegations that NSSF, at Glock’s demand, rescinded the press credentials for a reporter who wrote a less than flattering book about the company. Blogs can bring the negative.

But how can the positive have a similar effect? Or can it? Do people just prefer the muckraking and not focus on the good things reported? Will sensationalism continue to rule the day?

Interesting time for gun media all around.

25 Responses to “The gun industry, media, blogs and press”

  1. RobertM Says:

    It’s more important to me to know what the downsides of a particular thing I’m going to buy may be than to have someone tell me how the Taurus Judge is the perfect self defense tool that will blast an attacker away like the handheld shotgun it is. Yes, Michael Bane, a .410 round to the face will probably destroy an attackers eyes, but I like the effect of a 230 gr. JHP to the face a lot better.

  2. Alan Says:

    Part of the problem is the ad centric viewpoint.

    Most blogs aren’t about ads and don’t have to worry about pissing off the advertisers like the dead tree magazines do. Interestingly, the blogs that ARE about the ads usually suck as much as the magazines do.

    And there is a WHOLE lot more suck out there in the world than there is positive.

  3. Bubblehead Les Says:

    Well, if it wasn’t for the Bloggers “Negative” reporting, I might have bought one of those Umarex POS .22 LR pistols as a Trainer. But since the Blogosphere has shown too many cases where the break after a few hundred rounds, no matter what the Style, I won’t be spending my money with them.

    But there’s a LOT of Full Page 4 Color Ads from the Major Gun Manufacturers talking about how Great they are in the Dead Tree publications.

    Sorry, but do you think the Dead Tree Press is willing to bite the hand that feeds them?

  4. Robb Allen Says:

    Odd. Someone sent me a holster to review the other day. After my writeup, he got quite a bit more interest in his work.

    Maybe I should called the holster a piece of shit? Would that have been closer to being a blogger?

    I have 0 ads on my blog now. I *know* I could pull in some coin by adding a few, but I kind of like not having to watch what I say. I enjoy the occasional review and love helping out when I can and from what I’ve heard, a good review by me (or most any of the gun bloggers) results in increased sales.

    Granted, a good bitch about something that gets legs and repeated around our little corner of the world can be pretty damned devastating as well.

    Man what to do? I guess I’ll just keep blogging for myself as I’ve always done and not worry too much about it.

  5. Leatherwing Says:

    Blogs provide balance. Whether it’s guns, electronics, or Hollywood entertainment, most magazines only tell you the perfect case scenario for a given product and try not to offend the advertisers. Blogs have less to lose by offending, and therefore are free to tell their more honest opinions.
    They’re like Consumer Reports (the good ones are).

    I’d much prefer you, Tam, or Jay to tell me about a product you’ve been carrying for months, rather than what a reporter thinks after one range trip or booth exam.

  6. SGB Says:

    1. Dead tree publishing is worried. They still rake in good money so blogs aren’t a threat in the short term but long term the dynamic is changing.

    2. While I didn’t like the book by Paul Barrett if he was denied press credentials due to pressure from Glock, that’s about as low as they can go. He is a member of the press, he has a right to publish his work and he doesn’t have to be complimentary of Glock. What they did was create the perception that they have a lot to hide.

  7. Mike M. Says:

    I think bloggers tend to gravitate to the negative. On the other hand, there’s a lot of negative to gravitate to.

    And some of the gun makers are more concerned with covering up problems with their products than correcting them.

  8. DaddyBear Says:

    When I do a review, I try to talk about both positives and negatives. I haven’t found anything so bad that I couldn’t find something positive to say and I’ve never had something so perfect that I couldn’t point out a weakness in it.

    Honestly, if a review is way too nice to a manufacturer or way too harshly negative about a product, I don’t give them much weight in making a decision.

    That being said, my reviews of “The Muppets” and “The Smurfs” were spot on. I want those four hours of my life back.

  9. Bob S. Says:

    How is the focus on the negative any different from the news media?

    I watch a couple of news broadcasts a day; it is a rare event to see any positive only stories.

    I read several mainstream news sites a day; same story.

    The phenomenon is well known in most every industry around — “One AwSH$T wipes Ten Attaboys”.

    Bloggers are no different; most people don’t remember the attaboys so most people don’t remember bloggers talking about them.

    And that is the last aspect; most bloggers talk about local attaboys. Look at how many positive stories about an IDPA match or a gun range or a gun store going above and beyond. Can you name any of those locations?

    But everyone knows Zumbo or HS Precision because they are nationally known.

  10. D2k Says:

    I think blogs actually do a great deal of positive advertising for companies.
    As the bloggers are often also involved in whatever they blog about and when they buy a product and find that they love it they mention it fairly often.
    If they have some sort of customer service experience they will often blog about it and if it’s a good one I think that does a lot for a company’s image as it is an actual experience and not an advertisement.
    While these things are not direct simple positive statements I think they have more value though I’m sure they are more difficult for the companies to measure, which may be part of the problem.

  11. DirtCrashr Says:

    Attaboys are links. I checked-out the “executive” 160-lumen flashlight you mentioned and it looked interesting – links provide follow-through.
    DeadTree can’t do that with just the paper they charge-for in column inches or ads, they need an electronic version to do actual links. Some are coming around but not everyone has an Android (or Google following you wherever you go)…
    Meanwhile I read blogs to get an idea about gun-products and attitudes and behaviors and how-to’s and teaching and training – and the trainer-guy with three guns is just ridiculous and mockery is easy.
    Blogging is just word-of-mouth writ large and electronically speeded-up, so the “Players” have to pay more attention to customer-service and follow-through.

  12. Reese Says:

    All of the gun rags carry the same positives. “The firearm was reliable” and “It’s more accurate than I am.” It is said that we are living in the “Golden Age of Firearm Manufacturing,” so those recycled phrases are to be expected because most modern firearms are reliable and accurate.

    Since bloggers are able to respond to news more quickly than print media, bloggers get into the culture of the industry and of each specific company.

    “But who’s controlling the message?” I wouldn’t say the message is controled as much as it is created. The larger gun community is creating the message. Caleb at GunNuts Media describes it as gun culture 2.0.

    The smart gun companies will respond to the market. As CCW laws continue to expand, the market changes. New shooters get introduced to the gun world. Gun owners change their preference for carry guns as they become more experienced with daily ccw. For example, when the AWB expired, companies responded to market demand for full-capacity magazines. After a few years the market changed and gun buyers began demanding small, thin, light weight carry pieces. Is a Ruger LC9 practical or easy to shoot in any of Todd G.’s drills at Pistol-Training.com? No. But the market demands these small pistols. Those of us who have been doing the gun thing long enough know that, in a few years, the market will demand firearms with a bit more weight and capacity, as the pendulum continues to swing.

    The great news for gun owners is that, as the debates continue to rage for sacred cow vs. sacred cow, each gun owner can find the gun that will fit their needs in the caliber that they want. And each sacred cow will be “reliable” and “more accurate” than the shooter.

    Bloggers have their place becuase they hold the industry to a certain standard: the market standard.

  13. Weer'd Beard Says:

    I see this as the argument that Fox News is “So Conservative”, yet really they swing left all the time…they’re just not AS LEFT as MSNBC and the other MSM shills.

    There is plenty of positive stuff out there, Just ask Dragon Leatherworks or The Holster Site or even Bison Armory.

    I think the issue is like Alan says, We’re not slaves to the advertisers so we feel free to say something sucks when it does, and I think people like that. Certainly when American Rifleman says such-and-such new Para gun is the berries, I wonder how much their hands are tied…but when the Gunbloggers mention their Custom Gunblog Guns were having their finishes fall off and their triggers breaking I know they’re telling the truth (and as well as when they talk about the high round counts of said guns).

    So I think its more an issue of Balance not as much pure negative.

  14. Frank W. James Says:

    I think the immediate impact of ‘blogging’ on the dead tree gun press is acknowledged and so much part of the landscape that even the dead tree gun press has come to accept its presence and learned how to survive in te present economic model.

    The problem is we are a ‘capitalistic’ society and as such most people like to be paid for their ‘work’. Bloggers, by in large, aren’t. There are exceptions of course, but those that are receiving income from their ‘blogging’ are little different in editorial outlook than the dead tree media everyone is complaining about.

    Regardless of the number of people ACTUALLY watching the hunting/gun/outdoor television shows on various cable and satalite television shows its pretty apparent to all with experience in the dead tree media that the EXCESS advertising dollars from the gun manufacturers are moving in a big way to television.

    Could that be due to the ‘beating’ the gun manufacturers regularly receive, on average, from bloggers in general?

    The bottom line is blogging requires little to no financial investment, no actual knowledge of the product being discussed, nor any experience in terms of firearms training, journalism or even common sense. Therefore it’s easy to do. That statement is not judgemental, neither good nor bad, its just a fact.

    Yet, many gun bloggers are providing what many view as the “TRUTH”, but many are also searching for a way to make money, or at the very least, some small income off their activity. (And in fairness, you CAN publish the “TRUTH” and still receive advertising in a capitalistic society.)

    For the vast majority of gun bloggers seeking some form of income, the real “TRUTH” is….it ain’t going to happen. It’s no more likely than a gardener giving away free food is going to feed the world.

    Additionally, if a power struggle should ever develop between gun bloggers and the manufacturers over ‘control’ of information output you can be reassured MONEY will work to marginalize, in any way it can, those who throw stones and don’t have their facts straight…

    All The Best,
    Frank W. James

    All The Best,
    Frank W. James

  15. Free-range Oyster Says:

    “Blogging is just word-of-mouth writ large and electronically speeded-up, so the “Players” have to pay more attention to customer-service and follow-through.”

    There is nothing in (smart) business as coveted or feared as word-of-mouth. There are many companies that operate on nothing but that for advertising. Sometime that may be because they can based on the quality of their service, product, or both. Why spend money on advertising when people will do it for you for free (or close to it). Other times it may be because they are a small/new company and can’t afford conventional advertising methods. Either wait, it is more common on a local level, but I know of more than one national company that relies on it, and I expect that to become more common as the influence of the blogosphere and the intertubes in general increase.

  16. JFM Says:

    Well one ‘positive’ comming off this site was for L.A. Police Gear. After your review of their day pack I bought one and everything in your review was true. This is the real power of blogs.

  17. SGB Says:

    Most gun magazine writers don’t have journalist credentials. They are merely shills who are paid to write long advertisements and who hold back the community of gun owners because they see it as their domain. They are tiresome. Whether by blog, blog or phone the day of the magazine writer holding the reins is over.

  18. ExurbanKevin Says:

    The reason there’s not as much positive spin as negative spin is easy: Gun companies have yet to try Evangelist Marketing as part of their ad buy. The first one to do that well will, quite literally, win the Internet.

  19. Grayson Says:

    Heh.

    Sacred cows make the tastiest burgers.

  20. Frank W. James Says:

    Kevin: “Evangelist Marketing” sounds right, but what is it? How do you do it?

    You’re correct the first one to accomplish that will have an impact equal to Gates or Jobs and it won’t just be with the firearms industry either…

    All The Best,
    Frank W. James

  21. ExurbanKevin Says:

    Well, speaking of Steve Jobs, Apple is FANTASTIC at it. Guy Kawasaki basically invented the genre with his “EvangeList” when he was at Apple.

    http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/01/the_art_of_evan.html

    You do it by either a) learning from those who do it or b) hiring savvy internet marketing types like myself to do it for you. 🙂

  22. Frank W. James Says:

    Kevin: In the firearms field what you’re talking about has already been done; it’s called GLOCK!…

    All The Best,
    Frank W. James

  23. SGB Says:

    Glock isn’t in to Evangelist marketing. If they were their impact would be even larger than it is now. If Guy Kawasaki was spreading the word about Glock everyone else could close up shop and go home.

  24. Laughingdog Says:

    “But how can the positive have a similar effect? Or can it? ”

    Well, whenever we finally see a positive that is of equal, but opposite value, to the shitstorms stirred up by Zumbo and HS Precision, we’ll have an answer to that.

  25. John Richardson Says:

    While I could believe that it might happen, I’ve heard other things that lead me to believe that the Barrett being excluded from the SHOT Show at the behest of Glock might not be true.

    Tommy Nelson of the GunDudes podcast (http://www.gundudes.com/Home_Page_ETY8.html) had an interview with Paul Barrett from the SHOT Show. It starts at the 19:00 mark of their Day 4 SHOT Show Micro-Cast. The background noise leads me to believe it was from the floor of the show. If he doesn’t have credentials, then how is he on the floor of the SHOT Show?

    I’m not saying whether he was excluded or not but there are things out there that cast some doubt on his side of the story.

    http://hw.libsyn.com/p/5/c/3/5c3c9191062aef25/Shot_Day_4.mp3?sid=44d818b2659bfffcfd5eccc013f1af5d&l_sid=18569&l_eid=&l_mid=2873281&expiration=1327702490&hwt=971df3e1a4cac241f16b0f45cc0616ec