Required reading, but allow me to just underline a couple of particularly meaningful paragraphs:
Clearly a balance scale exists where integrity and paid buzz are on opposite sides. So the real question is, how do you leverage the laws of perception management in your favor? One way to do so is through traditional public relations.
Identify target bloggers and work genuinely with them on developing a meaningful story that helps and informs their community. Bloggers will write about products and brands they really care about. You don’t have to pay them to do that. It comes naturally.
This is not to say that there is no place whatsoever for paid endorsements on the Web. Obviously paid endorsements work when the platform for conveying paid messages is understood and accepted. Celebrities have effectively pushed products in commercials without tarnishing their brand for decades. Essentially, the difference is the forums and networks in which these paid messages appear and the fact that the celebrities are usually aboveboard about the fact that they are endorsements.
Nothing wrong in shilling for that new phone, provided your readers know…