I didn’t know the name “Paul Helinski” until yesterday, until just about every other gun blogger on the Internet took offense to his comments on the SHOT show blog.
I think your link explains your argument Tony. But if you had to deal with it from not just our perspective, but also the manufacturers’ perspectives, you would understand that between the organizations out there in the market place blatantly lying about their readership (ahum), and the hundreds of people who call the manufacturers every month to get T&E guns, I think that NSSF as the industry organization could do a lot more to qualify the media list to those who have actually built something that people read. Even the print mags have been marginalized by the “bloggers,” many of whom, when you look at their stats on Compete.com, have only a few thousand people every month, if that. I have no problem with letting people *trying* to build something into SHOT, but they should not be allowed into Range Day, and they should not carry the same press credentials as those of us who have put the work and the years in to actually build something. NSSF themselves put together some of the highest quality videos for youtube in the firearms world. They have made a deal with our competitors that I’m sure has cost them a lot to broadcast those videos to hundreds of thousands of people. They know the dedication, money, and time it takes to build quality editorial and find a way to get it to the people. They should use that experience to set a standard.
I have some sympathy for Helinski’s position that it can be difficult for manufacturers to know what their return on investment might be for agreeing to provide testing & evaluation (T&E) guns and equipment for bloggers. If I spent a good chunk of change developing a new product, I’d hope that the product I provide for review would give me the best return on investment possible.
But Helinski’s statement didn’t stop with that. He struck an unwarranted adversarial tone and advocated restricting SHOT to a much more selective group of journalists that meet certain “standards” that were never pinned down. The argument itself is not entirely without merit. It’s about the allocation of resources to assure the best return on investment.
But Heliniski made the huge mistake of turning on gun bloggers, in a gun blog, and in a decidedly combative and ignorant way in succeeding comments. He clearly doesn’t understand the very medium (the internet) on which his company (GunsAmerica) depends upon for it’s existence as an online retailer, nor the trap he was setting for himself or the brand he represents.
There’s a special place in Interweb Hell for the ignorant and arrogant, and Paul Helinski managed to destroy whatever little goodwill his company may have had with the gun blogosphere with careless, heated words. He raised an interesting and valid question about the power and reach of the gun blogosphere and just as quickly, he put himself in the position of becoming a real world case study testing the very reach he questioned.
Single-handedly, he has demolished GunsAmerica’s reputation with many gun bloggers. Whether this exchange and bad blood translates to an economic object lesson will be something both gun bloggers and the industry itself should watch with keen interest.