A month or so ago, a representative from Ogilvy Public Relations contacted me via Twitter and asked if I would like to spend a weekend at the Harrah’s New Orleans casino/hotel free of charge, as a guest of Harrah’s. I said yes.
The purpose of the weekend is to show me (and several other Houston bloggers and social media “influencers”) all the great things that Harrah’s NOLA has to offer. The idea, of course, is that we will communicate our experiences to our blog readers and Twitter followers so that Harrah’s may get more visitors (and business) from the Houston market.
In exchange for flying me to NOLA, putting me up in their hotel, and wining and dining me (all free of charge), Harrah’s has asked for nothing in return. Only that I have a good time. Of course there is the implication that I should tweet and blog about my experience, preferably positive things. But at least so far, no one from Ogilvy or Harrah’s has explicitly asked for this.
Which I appreciate. Ogilvy is a very sharp oufit; I’ve known about their social media blog, 360 Digital Influence, for some time now. In addition to their own Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics, they have made it clear that we must adhere to the FTC Guidelines for Endorsements (PDF) and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Ethics Code.
I also admire the Harrah’s brand. The last three times I have been to Las Vegas I have stayed at the Rio or Bally’s. As part of agreeing to the free weekend, I asked that they provide me information about Harrah’s involvement in the NOLA community and recovery from Katrina. The information they sent me about their community involvement is impressive. I hope to hear more over the weekend.
So, in the spirit of full disclosure: Harrah’s New Orleans is flying me to NOLA, putting me up in their hotel, and wining and dining me at no charge. They have asked for nothing in return. During this trip I will be tweeting and blogging about my experiences (objectively, in my opinion). I hope my followers/readers will find my experiences in NOLA entertaining or at least informative.