When A Blogger Gets In Bed With PR
Ever wonder what happens when a blogger gets in bed with Vegas PR? This.
Geotagged inside the SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, this is SLS Las Vegas social media PR employee Maria Roncal (left) and VitalVegas.com blogger Scott Roeben (making the "selfie face") They're a cute couple, aren't they? I love your dress, Maria.
I do have a question, though.
When SLS Las Vegas finally lifts their press embargo on information culled during pre-opening playdate staycations, will Scott will express journalistic credibility and tell the bad along with the good, throwing the dice on the very real possibility of an embargo of punanny? Or will he reveal his conflict of interest and refrain from writing about SLS altogether? Or will he do his bidding as an agent of public relations and write glowing profiles with enthusiastic promotional language.
To clarify, the choices are: A) exhibit journalist credibility and tell the truth while admitting a conflict of interest B) reveal conflict of interest and refrain from reviewing altogether or C) do bidding as PR agent and write an effusively positive review with little or no mention of his serious conflict of interest.
I'm going to go with choice C - do bidding as a PR agent - something he does every day in his job working in Public Relations for the Fremont Street Experience.
Fremont Street Experience represents 9 casinos (The Plaza, Vegas Club, Fremont, Main Street Station, The California, Binions, Four Queens, The D and The Golden Gate), but doesn't represent neighbors Downtown Grand or El Cortez, writing about any of these nine of these casinos is a conflict of interest. Due to his relationship with Maria, writing about SLS Las Vegas is also a conflict of interest. We can add to the conflict of interest list all of Caesars Entertainment's nine Las Vegas casinos (Rio, Planet Hollywood, Paris, Ballys, Cromwell, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Quad/Linq, Harrah's) as he worked in PR for Caesars Entertainment for about a decade. This narrows the field of conflict free properties to (as far as I know) - all MGM Resorts properties (Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, MGM Grand, NYNY, Monte Carlo, Aria, Bellagio) Venetian/Palazzo, Treasure Island, Wynn/Encore, Stratosphere, Hooters, Casino Royale, Tropicana, Westgate, The Cosmopolitan, Plams, Orleans, Hard Rock, Gold Coast and maybe Riviera (until Derek buys the rest of it).
To recap: conflicts = 20, no conflicts = 24.
To his credit, Scott mentions a few of these conflicts somewhere beyond the one click chasm that separates the hundreds of interest conflicted articles he's published and the uncharted wasteland known as an "About" page. Who reads the "About" page anyway?
Maybe Scott will realize that his interests are conflicted, I do wish that for him. I find it doubtful, as a recent remedial lesson on journalistic integrity offered to him on Facebook by his hero FiveHundy fell upon incapable ears, attached to a post where Scott railed against the power of casino PR departments. No, I'm not joking.
"But seriously Chuck? He's so funny and nice in the Five Hundy Facebook group!" Yes, he is... this isn't personal. I've had PR people I never met before give me a hug and a kiss saying "it is so great to see you again!" Scott himself was all smiles and participatory on opening night at VIMFP last year, mingling and taking photos. Then, minutes later, he rebroadcasted girlfriend Maria's social media insult of VIMFP being a "circle jerk" sending metric tons of steam to erupt from Tim Hundy and Admiral Hillegas' ears. I wasn't surprised by the sentiment, but wondered about Scott's motivation. Who pisses on a birthday cake?
So, when you read VitalVegas' rave reviews about SLS (or anything for that matter) I hope that you'll keep in mind that the author's greased fingers are literally in the pocket of SLS public relations, and everybody's.
You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
- "Gotta Serve Somebody" by Bob Dylan
There is grace and class in admitting - and acting accordingly - when a conflict of interest arises. It proves that your love of the craft of news gathering is more important than your love of the intoxicating feeling that public acceptance and reaction gives in return (a conscious heroin!) It also proves that your stewardship of the trust your readers place in you as part of the unspoken, unsigned journalistic contract is indeed the "somebody" that you serve, not yourself.
Lessons liked yet unlearned.
Oh and nice rip-off of Roger Thomas collection furniture.
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