Monday, June 18, 2007

you can't say anything bad about the peterson companies, but . . .

UPDATE: Marc Fisher from the Post interviews the photographer.

Two weeks ago, a few of us in the "Silver Spring Blogging Collective" were asked by the Peterson Companies - who own the Downtown Silver Spring "complex" - to post an ad for their Silver Spring Swings summer concert series, held in Silver Plaza. In February, we'd all gladly put up press releases for the Silver Spring Restaurant Week (also sponsored by Peterson). But after four months of being ignored (not having e-mails replied to, and the like), some of my fellow bloggers wondered if compensation was due.

I called Stacy Horan, Peterson's Marketing Manager, to ask what she could do for us. "I'm sorry, I didn't think we should pay you for posting this on your blog," Horan said. "Does it take a long time to post? I just figured it would be a nice thing to do - sending this out to you - seeing as you're a 'community bulletin board'."

MORE AFTER THE JUMP . . .

While I was disappointed by her indifference to what we as bloggers do, I came to realize it's just reflective of the Peterson Companies' general attitude towards their public, which is: if you're not making us a profit, go away. Sure, that's understandable for a developer of shopping malls, but when those malls are marketed as mini-downtowns - complete with the civic life of a city - you begin to wonder how people could be given such short shrift.

What I'm talking about is the local resident who last week reported being accosted by security on Ellsworth Drive for taking pictures. Ellsworth - or at least the block between Fenton and Georgia - is owned by Peterson, but I think being open to other, public streets, it is a de facto public space. Nonetheless, when Hans Riemer ran for County Council last year, he wasn't allowed to hand out campaign literature. (Or, at least, he wasn't supposed to.)

And, of course, younger patrons aren't welcome in the semi-public realm. Many other so-called "lifestyle centers" throughout the country are requiring anyone under 18 to be chaperoned by a parent or guardian. A lifestyle center outside of Phoenix says its chaperone policy enables them to "provide a safe, comfortable, fun environment for ALL of our guest[s]," nevermind the inconvenienced adults or embarassed teens that may result. I can't help but wonder if Downtown Silver Spring - whose popularity with teenagers is cited as a "drawback" to the area by Washingtonian Magazine - could follow suit.

Ten years ago, Silver Springers came out in full force to make sure we didn't get a mall downtown, and looking at the half-naked kids playing in the fountain in Silver Plaza, it's easy to think we succeeded. But Peterson can only profit by keeping us under control - through nosy rent-a-cops, opportunistic marketers, and whatever else they can scrape together.

This is our Downtown. But how do we tell that to the people who hold the title?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why are you looking at half naked kids?

Anonymous said...

I think its funny that you are complaining about being compensated. Obviously, you have time to post things about other events going on in Silver Spring. Do you ask them for compensation? If you remember, Silver Spring wasn't the hottest place to be a few years ago. If it wasn't for the developers all the Silver Spring blogs would have nothing to talk about.

Anonymous said...

Why would you expect to be compensated for posting press releases? I don't understand. Are there other items on your blog that have been paid for by an outside entity, and if so, which ones? They should clearly be labeled as paid promotions if that is the case.

Thayer Avenue said...

I can see posting the text of the schedule for the concerts and such, but the flyer itself might be another matter. Retailers (and other organizations) have paid to be sponsors of the event and have their logos on the flyers, and posting the piece in its entirity would be a promotion - albeit implicit - of groups that have given Peterson Companies money for said sponsorships.

And to reiterate JUTP's theory, their apparent lack of cooperation in matters of photography in publicly-funded areas is enough of a "Man (with a capital "M") trying to bring us down" issue to reduce efforts of compliance on the part of the SS Blogging Collective.

Sure, it might seem petty, but there you have it. Deal with it. This is not about monetary compensation. It's about commercial interests that shouldn't be promoted within a community forum. And if you want to be taken seriously, don't post anonymously.

Jimmy said...

When I read your post and came to the word "compensation" I was not thinking financial compensation, I was thinking "you help us out, and we'll work with you on other subjects and we'll build a relationship with you." I have had no direct dealings with Peterson, as southsilverspring.org doesn't typically deal with issues outside of our immediate community. I have, however, heard from many people of how Peterson is very uncooperative with local residents, businesses, and organizations. They seem more concerned with their own immediate financial success than the success of the community which financially supports them.

Anonymous said...

I thought "compensation" might be as simple as someone from Peterson returing a freaking phone call!

The nerve of those people to complain about you not giving their company free publicity.

Anonymous said...

I think its unreasonable for you to ask for compensation for a community event advertisement. You regularly advertise and push developments that have not even been approved. Are you getting money from the developers too? Are you doing this for money?

Merujo said...

Why do I have this weird feeling that at least one of your anonymous commenters might work for the commercial venture in question?

This reminds me of something that happened after I attended a "blogger summit" at the Washington Post. Strangely, a week later, I started getting e-mails from an NYC-based marketing company, working for the post, trying to convince me to create blog entries to advertise events connected to the Post. That was a bad idea on their part. I blogged, but about the tackiness of a commercial venture like the Post trying to get free advertising out of me.

NexLvlDad said...

Petersen must've found your blog analytics favorable so there should've been compensation. Petersen's P&L statement isn't measured in good intentions.