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Eric Hall

Motorcycle MFGs Buy Positive Reviews

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This insightful video by Ryan of FortNine was just pointed out to me by @GeoMoto (on FB because he loves Mark Zuckerberg more than me) and it's the sad truth.

But I celebrate this because this is what makes a forum like XLADV stand out; it's that we have "dirt cred" and are not the paid press.

There's also quite a bit of change afoot as the OEMs are seeing the slow death spiral of print and online media and beginning to reach out more to the grass roots online influencers (who still have credibility).

That's not to say there isn't still a lot of good moto journalism out there.  There most certainly is.

Honda's been VERY helpful with loaning press bikes but that's it.  BETA reached out to offer me a rally bike for Baja Rally but then reneged.  Ural reached out and offered a press bike then when I said "sure" they couldn't be bothered to respond.  KTM, BMW, Yamaha, Suzuki, Ducati (met their CEO; fantastic guy) still haven't offered anything.  But give it time ;) 

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Well content is always key to more traffic and growth.  We continue to grow and have done quite well.  We have a few ad clients and attend just about every regional event as press (IMS, LAB2V, HU California, ADVRally, Taste of Dakar, AIMExpo, bike launches, etc...).

Our social media is the strongest in ADV as we're number 1 on Instagram with about 84k followers; about 10k on FB.  Our hashtag xladv has a count of 127k and is that's a third of the hashtag advrider which I think says a lot.  Media is more and more segmented so the fact our brand spans an online community as well as social media works well for us.

We have new events like Mojave and we're adding value to our Nov Ken Mooty event and continue to do well with High Sierra.  @Ben Wood and I were talking about a PNW rally and @Rogers and I were just talking about a Lost Coast ride so I hope we can do more regional stuff outside of SoCal.

FB jumped the shark about a year ago and the user growth and time spent online is way down and with the economy picking up we're hopeful of seeing a new crop of noobs discover us.

So I think we'll just keep doing what we're doing, keep asking to attend these things and get press bikes and be patient.  In many cases these things don't happen at all until you actually meet someone face to face and they're like "oh right, I know who you are now" and then they're more comfortable with including you.

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I also wanted to cover kind of the flip side of what Ryan's talking about in his video.  Sure, there's a lot of good press out there to be found but I do think there's still honest and respectable journalism to be found.  It's also not free to do all this and if a company can offset the costs to attend a press launch given the pr and exposure they're going to get in return then that's just how these things work.  There's a market for insights in our industry (thankfully) and people have pursued those opportunities to provide it.

Jimmy Lewis's review (first impression really) of the CRF450L was seen to be "negative" but if you read it again you'll see he does have quite a few nice things to say about it.  He's not fawning over the bike and pretending it could give the 500 EXC a run for its money.  Jimmy's credentials are rock-solid and he's made a name for himself, especially with DirtBikeTest, for calling it like he sees it.

I've seen Rob Dabney of ADVPulse give a lot of honest reviews too.  So while we may suspect many of these reviews are all "happy talk," the reader has in fact already judged the quality of the reporting and decided to continue buying/reading that publication.

Even though this is not my main gig, it does cost quite a bit of money to host this site and support it ongoing, not to mention all the time I've spent cultivating the social media, writing reviews, doing interviews, attending events, etc...  Just the other day a new helmet company (Jarvish X) invited me to SF to spend a day reviewing their new helmet with some cool heads up display and camera functionality.  They can't pay for my trip or hotel so the fact is I'm just not able to do it.  They may provide me later a helmet to demo on my own time though.  They're willing to do that because they value it as an equal exchange of value; they get my opinions and reach/exposure and I get some cool content and maybe a new lid to play with.

As grateful as I was to get to test Honda's Africa Twin press bike last year, I put a ton of time into that and just on Instagram alone got them something like 625k impressions just on Instagram which is a value to them of at least $7k if they were to buy it.

Another angle on this I wanted to mention is that it's not really hard to find good things to say about a product as there are some really decent products out there.  Take tires for example... I'd never run a Heidenau K60 at something like the Baja Rally and then trash it because you have to use a product considering what it's designed for.  A trip up to Alaska and back would be more appropriate.  Or in this review I did on Vee Rubber's adv tire, it wasn't hard to say good things about it (great traction, sound-reducing sipes, good clean out) even though I did only give it 4 stars due to longevity.  It's a great tire for like a BDR but not three BDR's.  Same with soft luggage; there's a lot of good stuff out there from Giant Loop, Wolfman, Mosko Moto, AltRider, etc... and quite easy to explain how they all work best & difficult sometimes to find any issues at all.

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On 9/22/2018 at 11:57 AM, Eric Hall said:

 

You've hit the nail on the head. I've seen far to often the same exact things both you a Ryan mentioned. That's the main reason why I started my blog. The good thing about having a full time job that's not related to motorcycling is I can tell the consumer what I actually like or don't like about the product and not worry if they (The brand) ever speak to me again. Thankfully a large percentage of the gear I've written about has been from companies that do the homework first.

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