Everyone Else is Talking About GunsAmerica’s Paul Helinski, So I Guess I Will Too

Apparently, I am late to this party. Just before SHOT Show, Paul Helinski, who appears to be the blogger for GunsAmerica, made some comments on a post regarding internet media at the official NSSF blog that didn’t sit too well with the firearm blogging community. You can read about it here, here, and here.

The takeaway is that Mr. Helinski sees himself as “real internet media,” and looks down on those who he feels are not. He even goes so far as to suggest that gun bloggers with small audiences should not be allowed in the press room or to Media Day at the Range duing SHOT Show. He also complained about having to wait in line behind people who were taking video at Media Day with their cell phones.

While I agree that the gaggle of people at Media Day wasn’t conducive to easily testing some of the firearms that were available, the manner in which Mr. Helinski chose to express his opinions was rather unprofessional. He also – either out of ignorance or a willful twisting of the facts – states that GunsAmerica’s compete.com rankings, showing over 1 million unique visitors per month, are an indication of how serious a media professional he is, and how seriously his blog should be taken. My blog, for comparison, has about 6,000 unique visitors per month.

There are several ironic factors regarding this issue that I will discuss in no particular order.

– First, people using cell phones to take video on Media Day.
A friend of mine’s boyfriend is a professional cinematographer; that is, he shoots major motion pictures with video cameras that price out in the five figure range and above. He was taking video of her shooting a pistol on Media Day with an iPhone 4S, and I don’t think it was because he didn’t love her enough to use a “real camera.” His qualifications and experience far exceed whoever GunsAmerica had running their expensive video camera. I’ll take experience over equipment any day.

– Second, segregating “real media” from “small-time bloggers.”
I don’t want to give the impression that this post is just sour grapes – that I’m jealous of the size of his blog, and I feel intimidated by it. This is for two reasons. Number one, as I told several people at SHOT, my blog is small, and I like it that way. Not many people read it, but the people that do are polite, educated, and professional. I’d like to keep it that way. Number two, my blog ranks higher in search engines than the GunsAmerica blog, and so does practically every other gun blog in existence.

OpenSiteExplorer says that the GunsAmerica blog Page Authority (on a scale of 0-100, how well search engines rank sites based on a lot of things, but mostly the quality of their content and how many people link to that site) is 31; VuurwapenBlog is 44. Guns and Ammo Magazine’s online site is 41.

Mr. Helinski would like us to look at the root domain – gunsamerica.com – and their Page Authority is 54. Impressive, no doubt, until you realize that Gunbroker’s is 61. GearScout, the official Military Times blog that I wrote for during SHOT, has a Page Authority of 72. I was unable to find a firearms-related blog that had a lower Page Authority than the Guns America blog.

– Third, their social media presence is weak. Their blog has no Facebook page. The official GunsAmerica Facebook page has 5,000 fans, ten times as many as my blog, but the GunsAmerica root domain has 200 times as many unique visitors per month as my blog. Not very impressive, from a ratio standpoint. Also, how far has not using cell phone cameras gotten them on YouTube? I have three times as many YouTube subscribers as the GunsAmerica blog, and I consider myself to be very small potatoes on YouTube.

– Fourth, his comments on bloggers who recently created blogs and “installed wordpress” just to get in to Media Day are especially ironic, given that his blog came into existence just three months before SHOT 2011, and he is using an off-the-shelf WordPress theme (I am too, but I won’t hold it against anyone else for doing so, with the exception of this example). Despite his claims of “15 years of hard work,” the GunsAmerica blog has only been in existence since October of 2010.

If we were to use Mr. Helinski’s own criteria for judging whether or not a blogger should be allowed in to Media Day or enter the press room, he certainly should not have been admitted to those events for SHOT 2011, and the result of that might be that he wouldn’t have been allowed to attend Media Day 2012 either.

There was a kernel of truth inside the rotten fruit of his statements, but the poor expression of his opinion has clouded the issue. In fact, he’s prevented a serious discussion of whether or not Media Day had too many attendees, choosing to focus attention on himself and his own “achievements” instead.

Mr. Helinski is right in suggesting that quality content will rise to the top regardless of adversity. Given the big name writers, corporate backing, and expensive equipment used to create GunsAmerica blog content – the dismal performance of his blog can only mean that the quality of his content is not strong enough to stand on its own merits.

35 thoughts on “Everyone Else is Talking About GunsAmerica’s Paul Helinski, So I Guess I Will Too”

  1. Well I believe Paul Helinski is more than just a blogger for GunsAmerica. The registration information for the domain lists him as the registrant, as well as the billing, technical, and administrative contact. Regardless, who is Paul Helinski exactly and who is he to ride around on his high horse? Am I the only one who finds an online auction site/store starting a blog and turning into some “media outlet” to be kind of strange to begin with? It’d be like if eBay started a blog reporting on the products they sold. What are his credentials that make him such the esteemed journalist? I don’t know who it is in the GunsAmerica SHOT Show 2012 videos on YouTube but they did a horrible job at interviewing people. Every interview I saw felt rushed and full of “Uhuh” “Okay” “Yeah” “Okay” “Uhuh” responses. Just ironic how poor the interviewing quality was from such a prestigious media outlet.

  2. It seems as if you have correctly defined many words in your discussion i.e. hypocritical, pretentious, and vainglorious to name a few. The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks.

  3. Those that Mr Helinski calls small-time bloggers are really a defining characteristic of the “blogosphere” and the internet in general: independent journalists accessing the reading public from almost any location and doing so very inexpensively. This ability is driving the big “paradigm shift” away from the traditional journalism industry. This is a good thing because it allows anyone who has something to say to reach and audience. He might fail to hold his audience and he might succeed, but he does so based on his own merits and not due to the trappings of the big media organizations. Also, someone who might disagree with the big corporate distributors of media can still make himself heard. If Mr Helinski has a problem with these things maybe he should apply for a job at MSNBC and see how far he gets.

  4. I have been a tech guy far longer than a firearms guy, and I have seen similar frustration in the tech world over the increasing amount of media (because of so many bloggers) at tradeshows like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). But there is one thing about this Paul Helinski situation that strikes me as a little different. Frustration of this type in the tech world has mostly been from journalist who write for more conventional forms of media – magazines, newspapers, television – who look down on blogs as ‘not real journalism.’ Although I disagree with that, I at least understand where they are coming from – the big boys looking down upon the little guys – I get it. However given the fact that Paul Helinski is himself running a blog (a fairly new, and fairly small blog at that) I can’t wrap my head around the fact he is criticizing any bloggers.

  5. Andrew, you nailed it.

    This type of distraction is a straw man. You’re right, and I hope others (big and small) stand with you.

    Stand tall, brother.

  6. Another excellent post. This is why I read your blog and watch your videos. You always have insightful and smart commentary.

  7. Paul really put his foot in his mouth on this one. The funny thing is, this might have gotten the GunsAmerica blog a lot more publicity than their previous marketing efforts! From one small potato to another, keep up the great work Andrew.

  8. I was not aware that gunsamerica.com even had a blog and definitely was not aware of this Mr. Helinski before this post. I consider myself a “gun guy” and read several firearm related blogs daily, with Vuurwapenblog at the top of the list and this guy has never crossed my radar before. Surprising, if he is such an internet presence. Sounds like he is jealous to me.

    Having glanced at the gunsamerica blog just now, I can say without reservation that it does not compare favorably with the quality of content that you provide here on Vuurwapenblog and I will probably not be a regular reader of his “popular” blog.

    1. The web has resulted in a massive fragmentation of audiences, resulting in an exponentially larger number of sources. It’s similar to what happened to network TV ratings with the introduction of cable television in the 80’s and 90’s. I can understand his frustration about media day being crowded, but he needs to realize that the vast majority of people there do have eyeballs on what they write. I didn’t even know gunsamerica had a blog and I’ve only been to their site a couple times to check prices.

  9. I’d just like to share my appreciation for this blog. Content and commentary top notch. The community here is exactly what you said it is, “polite, educated, and professional.” So my thanks also goes to everyone here.

  10. I get better, in depth, up to date info reading your blog and others than I do from any of the major firearms media sources. I had never heard of the GunsAmerica blog before this post today.

    I see a lot more direct end user experience on blogs than in traditional media; the people posting on blogs are more likely to actually use products in depth.

  11. Before the blog gunsamerica used a forum software for their articles and they have had their own video player since like shot show 2007. He shoots at my gun club, and they don’t do facebook because it is a waste of time he said. They have added more than 10,000 fans to other people’s facebook, like hornady, stag, surefire. You spent all this time writing this and you have no idea what you are talking about. Ask the gun companies who had gunsamerica articles written so far during shot. They have tens of thousands of clicks from them, and they aren’t even done yet. How many articles did you put out for shot show? All of the people who wrote about him combined probably don’t have as much coverage as gunsamerica. You should do your homework before spouting off.

  12. I follow this blog via Google Reader and seldom need to come hit your site directly. I read just about everything you write and watch most of the videos, but I don’t move your web site stats up since I use a feed reader. I don’t subscribe to your YouTube channel either since most of it (I assume) gets posted to your blog too.

    And just for the record, your blog has 467 Google Reader subscribers and the Guns America blog has 166. The only other gun blog I have time to follow is The Firearm Blog, and they have 5,247 subscribers.

  13. GunsAmerica on the whole never appealed to me. I can’t really point to “why”. Now, I care even less about the site much less the blog.

    Vuurwapen Blog: I read and enjoy every post regardless of whether or not I agree–you make me think.

    At the end of the day, that’s what the blogosphere is all about. IMHO

  14. I don’t have a whole lot of time, so I will make it brief. I’ve been reading this blog pretty much since I purchased my first pistol just about a year point five ago, and have always been impressed with the insight and class with which the material was presented. Not to knock other sites, but I’ve yet to find one that matches. This particular article, I feel, is a prime example of “the high road.” I registered just now for this very reason, but perhaps should have done so long before. Please keep up the fantastic work, Andrew.

  15. back when I was getting published in periodicals, I was getting paid $150 per page. It usually took a year to fourteen months from when I first submitted an article to it actually getting published. Yes, I can see where the traditional gun writers would get their tits in a wringer over these new fangled internet blog “journalists”. What’s that saying? Too many chefs spoil the broth. You guys on the internet are chipping away at my income and market share. On the other hand….competition is good for the consumer. You get a better product at a cheaper price (hey, it’s free anyway here on the cyber webs), so the only way to be competitive is to be a better more discerning NON-BIASED reviewer of a product. Too many traditional gun writers are just so fool of poop and they come across as shills or fan-boi’s for X widget.

  16. Well for being “small potatoes” apparently you are doing something right. I’ve never even heard of mr. Helinski or the GunsAmerica blog. In fact I make an effort to skip over GunsAmerica info when it comes up in a firearm search because of their requirement to register just to view an enlarged photo on their site.

    In contrast, I regularly view this blog and associated videos. In fact it is the only blog I regularly view. Keep up the superior work.

  17. a guy who sells on gunsamerica tells me helinski is the original owner of gunsamerica and is bipolar or nuts and puts his foot in his mouth all the time. knowing what i now know about him and how he does his business i suspect it is a wonder he is successful at anything he touches. according to my guy he has nearly run the company in to the ground more than once due to bad decisions. heard he went nuts and went on a spending spree and fired all his employees a few years ago then had to beg them to get them to come back and ended up hiring a cheap marketing firm to fix what he screwed up. that’s what i was told but i can not say how much of it is true other than he is the owner makes bad decisions which you can see just be using the web site. all i can say is the site was horrible for years then along 2007 or about then it got better, i know because that is when i bought my shotgun and the web site was okay for a few year after that , bought a few more guns from the same guy after that but over the years the web site took a dive and you never know what you are going to find every week something different on gunsamerica and its as buggy as a nyc flop apartment. yep looks like the web site is bipolar too

    1. Now I know why he is so rude, bipolar should not be an excuse for his behavior I am only hoping that he screws up again and again so people will finally realize he has no business in the gun world.

  18. I seriously hope this guys rep never dies… he is a moron. Just because you have a web site and a few lookers does not make you a CEO of anything…… I sometimes wonder if he actually knows the meaning of the words before he uses them… idot

  19. Paul Helinski (owner of GunsAmerica) is a member of the TRIBE, or “the chosen people”, however you wanna call it. So he thinks he stands above others and he sees it as his right to rule over the destinies of the mortals beneath him. 🙂

    With this said, his website could be partly a scam for sure. He’s all about THE MONEY.

    The address that can be found on http://whois.domaintools.com/gunsamerica.com is the one of his attorney.

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