How The Kristin Lesney-Ruiz Plagiarism Scandal Should Cause Brands To Choose Bloggers Based On Content, Not Traffic
Last week, while I was firmly ensconced in my graphic designing-got-to-finish-this-website-now-oh-shit-the-car-died-on-the-freeway-and-the-tow-company-charged-us-three-times-for-the-fee bubble, something curious happened in the mom blog world — a blogger, Kristin Lesney-Ruiz, who has had multiple complaints and police reports about her and her husband’s shady, and possibly criminal, online activities but still manages to make money and get scads of free shit from major brands — was found to have plagiarized another very popular and well-loved blogger. Actually, it was two well-known bloggers.
And she made money off the stolen content.
But this revelation came after Lesney-Ruiz and her husband had used social media to force Ignite Social Media/Chrysler to disqualify yet another mom blogger from a contest they were running for breaking the voting rules of said competition — rules Lesney-Ruiz herself reportedly disregarded in her quest to win a trip for four to New York City. She ultimately lost that contest.
Ain’t that about a bitch?
With impeccable timing to boot!
Here I was wracking my brain every day trying to come up with coherent, original content so that someone would finally pay me for my brilliance when all I had to do was steal a few lines, post it and call it my own? And I’d get paid for that? And it would be relatively effortless? And I would get cool, expensive, free items like appliances? And full rides to blog conferences? And free vacations? For my whole family?
I’ve been doing it all wrong the last almost four years! And clearly wasting far too much energy trying to be my authentic self.
I always end up doing things the hard way, damn it.
I realize that social media and blogs are still relatively new territory for big brands to advertise with and confusing to many of those stuffed shirts residing high atop Ivory Tower Hill, but they all need to buy a deck of clues here. Large corporations only see their bottom line and want the biggest bang for their advertising bucks. That is sensible business. However, when dealing with what are essentially self-published, online magazines to utilize for marketing their products, they really need to vet the owners far more carefully to avoid more situations like the Lesney-Ruiz fiasco. And choose the social media companies they contract to find the blogs used more prudently.
You see, content, those seminal words that flow out of your head to your fingers and on to the virtual page — the thoughts that make your blog uniquely yours — is no longer king. Traffic, as in tons of it that shows up on a stat screen PR folk can see, is king. No one cares if that traffic is organic or artificially inflated by giveaways, Stumble Upon groups or link sharing schemes. They want numbers. Big numbers.
High traffic statistics give brands the false sense that their products will be seen by the greatest number of eyes possible with very little monetary output on their part. That’s good business, baby. So what if they have to give the blogger an iPad, all-expense paid trip or some appliances? In the whole scheme of things, that’s chump change to them. And unlike traditional print media, website posts are online and searchable for damn near infinity as opposed to the one to thirty day lifespan of a newspaper or magazine ad.
Blog promotions are cheap; Pay for it once and it’s there until the site owner closes their blog down. Google is a brand’s best friend in this digital age. And bloggers inadvertently help them save huge amounts on advertising. But major companies make themselves appear stupid by allowing their PR firms to utilize bloggers with horribly written and, as we found with Lesney-Ruiz, stolen content, for the sake of saving a buck.
If any of you have read Kristin Lesney-Ruiz’s “apology” posts, you should immediately ask yourself why this woman was being paid to write anything. Those articles are so fraught with errors that I actually got a headache from trying to straighten out the sentences in my mind. I don’t suggest any of you try that at home — it’s just not worth it. Yet she obtained profitable writing jobs, paid advertisements, products to review, free trips and appliances — seemingly without the ability to write anything resembling a meaningful thought on her own — from well-known brands because of the amount of traffic her site receives.
Hence, the literary theft.
I’m sorry, but if the chosen author cannot string two sentences together to form even one logical thought, why would any large, established company want her or him to represent them? Is traffic so damn important that correctly written words and sentences mean nothing? I can understand if the site owner has a learning disability or cognitive issues, but for someone like Lesney-Ruiz to be chosen over a good blogger who can spell, use proper sentence structure, syntax, grammar and has original content simply because of unnaturally augmented traffic numbers boggles my mind!
This makes sense only to a PR firm. And those that pay them to find bloggers like Lesney-Ruiz. I, for one, would not want my organization’s reputation sullied by using an unethical person to promote my products. But I don’t make those decisions. Yet.
Kristin Lesney-Ruiz asserts that her age (27), childhood trauma (being a foster child), a difficult pregnancy, complete ignorance of the definition of plagiarism, only having a G.E.D. — even though she is a perpetual college student — and admiration of the real author caused her to commit copyright infringement for profit. I think she did it knowingly and is only apologizing for being caught, not for the actual theft. Kristin and her husband are now crying about being bullied over this revelation.
Really? Bullying? Because people are outraged over your blatant plagiarism?
I guess righteous indignation is only allowable for them because they sure make big stinks when things don’t go their way. But should someone else disagree with either of them or call them out on anything they’ve done wrong, it’s deemed bullying. Dissenting opinions or opinions not sanctioned by Del and Kristin Lesney-Ruiz are, in their view, evil, hurtful and the kind of bullying that makes people take their own lives.
They’ve even gone so far as to make a DCMA complaint against humorist Avitable for his parody graphic of Lesney-Ruiz’s mommy blog. Oh yes, yes they did. They are claiming plagiarism. I think the proper term for that behavior is unmitigated gall. As in they, the Ruiz’s, have the gall to cry victim over an obvious PARODY. Let’s not forget the bullying that’s going on here.
C’mon, grow a fucking pair! You reap what you sow, honey. And the two of them have sown a lot of hate and bullying their damn selves via social media, particularly Twitter — against major brands as well as fellow bloggers. What goes around, comes around. And when it comes back to you, it’s in spades.
The two of them, and others like them, give good bloggers a bad name and only strengthen what mainstream media has said for years: bloggers are a bunch of unethical, low-educated hacks. And ‘mommy bloggers’ are the worst of them.
Thanks for that, guys.
Companies that want to use us bloggers as cheap advertising need to investigate who they are giving endorsements to more thoroughly. They also need to stop picking the same ones over and over because they have been dazzled by numbers on a statistics page. Know the author and their audience first. Read their posts. Make sure that it doesn’t hurt your brain to try to read any of them. If they don’t, those brands will be the ones with egg on their faces when their internet darling is outed for being a fraud. Wouldn’t they rather have someone with integrity representing their products rather than a blog owner who has a questionable background?
I know I would.
But again, I’m not in charge.
Category: The Free Range Stupid