There was an interesting article in the Financial Times recently which we found to be very encouraging but at the same time somewhat perplexing. The article is entitled “The blogosphere: Internet panders to watch geeks’ obsessions” and it was absolutely fantastic to see our very talented colleagues Ben Clymer, Ariel Adams and Robert-Jan Broer mentioned personally within the context of the piece. The subject matter centered on the role and importance of forums and blogs within the luxury watch industry, highlighting the fact that these outlets have become indispensable mediums through which to disseminate information to larger audiences online.
However, it seems that the key underlying criticism of these on-line editorials remains largely unchanged in the eyes of the major players in the industry: they are not written or edited by professional journalists, and therefore content quality remains an issue. The Financial Times spoke with Jerome Lambert of Jaeger-LeCoultre about this very topic, and it is clear that his personal experience with the on-line community indicates that there is still some ways to go:
“…there is a downside, and that lies with the fact that bloggers are usually not professional journalists and are therefore inclined to make mistakes, give wrong information and sometimes write about things from odd angles that are not especially beneficial – and once an incorrect statement is made or a mistake perpetuated then, even if it is subsequently corrected, the damage is done.”
His points are well founded and to a degree are indicative of the general blogosphere, however, by the same token many see this as adding authenticity to the publication. It is important to note here though that not all bloggers are completely oblivious of this fact. For example within the same article Ariel Adams seems to acknowledge that he doesn’t always get it right in terms of finishing:
“I admit there are occasions when it is a matter of quantity over quality and I have received various complaints about typographical and grammatical errors, but, generally, the comments are positive…”
Fair enough, he is only human after all.
However, he is also one of the most prolific, influential watch writers on the internet producing a consistently high volume of original content for a number of different publications in the on-line sphere. The question then for us is this: what is the luxury watch industry doing to help him become a better writer? And for that matter, what is the industry doing to help any of these bloggers become better writers?
This is not a criticism of the industry by any means, rather it is an open invitation to a discussion. How can we, as watch writers, work with you to better achieve both of our aims? It seems that Mr Lambert indeed believes this is possible, saying:
“More and more forums have professional journalists working for them and are becoming more like the traditional written press in terms of accuracy. Within the next decade, I think we will see blogs evolve in the same direction. Like it or not, they are now well and truly part of our reality.”
But will this just happen organically? So far the majority of the large brands have been incredibly reluctant to show any form of support to these blogs through the form of sponsorship or advertising, so how do they anticipate these publications will somehow be able to pay for professional journalists? Again, this is not a criticism, but an attempt to get people thinking about these issues so that they can be resolved quickly and effectively.
The Final Word
The challenges in addressing this issue will be many and varied, in large part because blogs are so highly prized by consumers for their perceived independence. Thus, advertising dollars from the big brands may not be the best solution as this could potentially tarnish these well won reputations. However, surely there are other options such as scholarships or grants, more open and direct channels of communication and a real commitment to working together, not just sending out impersonal press releases and then expecting perfectly tailored content in return.
If we can achieve this then surely everyone will benefit, right?