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Wine

Getting a Read on What Jeff Lefevere Thinks, and it’s Quite Extraordinary

If you’re like I am, you might enjoy an intro something like Ella Fitzgerald’s, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” when it comes to where all of this social media and networking stuff is going. I’m sure of one thing, though, if you don’t get on this wave of the future, you’re surely gonna miss a really great ride.

I enjoy talking to the younger generation who are living on Twitter, Facebook, and blogging  their lives away. Although I’m doing it all, too, they’re way ahead of me. I can keep up, though, because I’ve raised a few of my own from that generation, and I love how they’re all developing and thinking. I believe it’s the mom/educator in me, now enjoying being educated from their perspective.

God knows I had to teach this generation enough as we went along, so to now hear what they’re thinking – as shaped by my generation – is very enlightening and stimulating.

My buddy Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast, just wrote on his blog,

I was talking with my friend, Jo Diaz, the other day. (She writes the Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz wine blog.) Jo is a visionary when it comes to blogging, social media and that fabled nexus where the wine industry meets the Internet. Jo, who runs the Diaz Communications P.R. firm with her husband, Jose, has thought more deeply about the future of blogs than anyone I know. During our conversation, she told me she now thinks that the way for a blog to make money is to attract corporate sponsorships.”

Honestly, I’ve got to turn this vision back to the  original source, Jeff Lefevere. It came from the following conversation with Jeff, and then Steve and I had a subsequent chat. I didn’t make it clear enough to Steve (my bad) that it didn’t start with me, it began with Jeff Lefevere. I was just an early adopter, and I’m happy to take credit for falling into that “early adopter” category, but I wasn’t the innovative thinker that time, just spreading the word because it made such sense.

Jeff Lefevere of Good Grape and I had an earlier Email going back-and-forth. He’s a brilliant source, and he’s shaping the future of wine writing through blogging. So, to have the luxury of a dialogue with him was very special. He’s allowing me to share.

We were discussing the future of blogs as becoming monetized; and for Jeff, it’s not simply about making a living. His deep moral code really comes into play, first and foremost, and that will have him succeeding.

Jeff:  This whole blog monetization (and ethics because you can’t separate the two) is really interesting. I’m not sure what to make of it, and I know other blog niches don’t have it figured out yet, either.

While others may not, I do believe that having a unified, generally accepted code of conduct is a good place to start. Somebody called it (might have been Heimoff) a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” I endorse that.

Jeff was right. It was Steve Heimoff who raised the question of ethical standards that bloggers should follow. Personally, I just do what I know is right, living by the Golden Rule, but I can see where others might want to draw a more emphatic line in the sand. That will work for those who didn’t have their mothers saying over-and-over again, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” My mother was the mistress of clichés. Interestingly, they’ve all served me really well in life, despite how tritely they’re viewed by others.

[Q]  Why do you think having a unified, generally accepted code of conduct is a good place to start?”

[A]  The reason I do is because I think the notion of blogging from a journalistic perspective is an impaired way to look at it. A blog isn’t balanced news, it’s op-ed. On top of that, if you look at Gary Vaynerchuk as an example, he has created a “platform.” I talked to a book agent about his $1M dollar book deal and the reason he got that was because of his built-in audience, pure and simple. His name and moxie can sell books. It’s not because he [sic. has a unique talent to] write, which he has said he cannot. So, 10 books will be ghost written. On a much bigger level, Oprah has a platform. What Vaynerchuk says can sell stuff. Oprah, even more so. More and more bloggers will be leading their own “platforms” and the question isn’t ethics proper, it’s integrity and a moral compass.

[Q] How do you feel about new bloggers coming on line daily?

[A]  I’m glad I’m not starting a blog right now, because I think we’re getting into the maturation phase right now — as you suggest change is happening in nanoseconds. I think the implication, and you can see the trends with Facebook Fan Pages and Facebook Connect, is that bloggers will develop into super influencers, but it won’t be with journalism as the guiding light, it will be a disclosure policy. Put a different way, Peyton Manning, the Quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts has a ton of endorsements. He makes like $20M a year in endorsements. I can see a time not too far away where bloggers won’t be crying about no advertising, they’ll be jealous because one person got a Wines of Chile endorsement and another did not.

[Q]  Who’ an influencer for you?

[A]  You should really start reading a social media blogger named Chris Brogan. chrisbrogan.com. This guy really understands where the markets are moving and he freely shares his thoughts. He sees bloggers moving into two different content paradigms — a blogger posts editorial and a blogger posts, essentially, advertorials in an endorsement model. Another book called Tribe: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin, who elaborates on this concept. It’s a thin read once you get the concept, so buy it used off Amazon.com.

I agree with both of them. Those that undertake this with the longview and not a supplemental $1000 check will ultimately retain and grow the respect of their readership.

[Q] What do you think of Murhpy Goode’s on-line request for proposal for their upcoming social media network job at  averygoodejob.com?

[A]  Murphy-Goode is an extreme, employment oriented form of this, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they could deploy five annual endorsement content sponsorships at $12K per so somebody doesn’t have to move and leave their life, and these people would blog and Twitter about MG coming from the place of an armed enthusiast. They post it on their site, perhaps intermingled with their regular posts, perhaps separate, and MG takes the RSS feed and republishes on their site.

Anyways, that’s my $0.02 cents.

Like you, I’m watching this as a curious observer, trying to hold onto my very high daily integrity compass, and seeing where this goes.

We’ve entered a time of what I’m beginning to call an “electronics communications revolution.” Where it’s headed is anyone’s guess, because one cannot predict where the tornado is going to put us all down, once the spinning finally stops. What we do all recognize is, however, that we’re spinning wildly, and change is gonna shake our communications world as we know it.

People like Jeff are helping to reshape the future, and they’re the ones to watch… as well as asking them questions to get a current read as we go along. The insight’s necessary.

Another fine thinker that I enjoy is Robert G. Picard (The Media Business site), one of the world’s leading academic experts on media economics and management, and government communications policies. He’ll really get your thinking juices flowing, and I love that he once worked at Harvard… The city that my great grandfather, the Reverend William Blackstone, discovered. Go Red Sox!!!

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