Jason Calacanis calls for AOL to suspend ads on blogs

Jason Calacanis, who sold his company to AOL a month ago, gives his new company pointed advice on how to address an customer uproar over advertisements
Stephen Baker

Jason Calacanis, who sold his Weblogs Inc. to AOL last month, takes a look at the uproar we've been covering surrounding the banner ads on AOL's blog journals. It's an interesting post, a blogger trying as gently and politely as possible to tell his new company how to deal with angry bloggers.

His key point:

What we did wrong: The main issues: a) the advertisements were added without user permission (just like the AIM buddies last week!) b) the adverisements were added without warning, and c) when the issue boiled up we had the PR department give the following canned statement:

“The decision to implement banner advertising on AOL Journals is consistent with our business and advertising practices.”

Now that was bad--really bad. We sound like we're freakin' robots, and bloggers do not want to talk to robots. They want to speak with a human being, preferably one who is also a blogger!

He continues:

From what I can see, and I've only been here a month, we've got some work to do at AOL in terms of talking with our customer base. Frankly, most companies do so I'm not surprised at all. Adopting transparency is like getting pushed into an ice cold lake--it sucks at first, but after five minutes it's invigorating.

He adds some thoughts about changing corporate PR:

Public relations has changed in a big way over the past two years. Sure, you still need a PR department, but the most important thing is to have your executives and product managers blogging authentically with your customers. Doing so will make the AOL's PR department operate so much quicker and effectivly. As such, I'm trying to get a handle on who's blogging at AOL and encourage more folks to blog.
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