Working on both sides of the blogger relations’ equation full-time for the past year or so has really been an eye opener as far as the challenges facing bloggers, brands and the agencies that represent the latter.
Over the past few months in particular, I’ve been exposed to a few situations where the concept of paid reviews and/or pay-to-post has been the subject of discussion. It’s something that I grapple with frequently and when it comes to how I govern my own blog and my relationships with agencies, brands and retailers, I’ve drawn a clear line as far where my comfort level and leanings lie.
Several posts have been written by bloggers and PR pros alike with regard to earned vs. paid media. Are mommy bloggers undervalued? Should bloggers write about your client for free? What should PR consultants expect from bloggers and what’s a reasonable “ask”? What happens to your integrity when you blog for money and what are you providing in return? These questions represent just some of the issues swirling through my head. I’m not going to answer these now because I’m still trying to figure it all out. It’s not as black and white as you may think. The way I see it, there’s still a lot of grey.
“I’d love to hear your thoughts on the best way to manage reviews… the more voices, the greater chance we have of finding a workable solution for everyone.”
So, here’s my position when it comes to managing reviews…
Many of the products (tools, websites, etc.) I’ve reviewed and will continue to review are based on my own personal discovery and usage. They are not a result of anyone reaching out and/or introducing them to me because I am a blogger.
Sometimes I review products as a result of a company asking me to try a specific product. In most cases, these companies will send me products to try, and in most cases, keep. These products are usually cosmetics, books, food or event invitations. Often I ignore* or turn down requests for reviews. I never feel obligated to do one just because someone has asked – even if that person is a friend.
I will only review products if no strings are attached and I do my best to provide objective, honest and fair reviews. I never feel obligated to write a review even if I receive a product for free. So, if a product isn’t doing it for me, I may not write about it at all.
Any blog posts that refers to a product, service, business, event, etc. that I’ve been introduced to as a result of some form of blogger outreach (including clients of my employer) are clearly disclosed on a post-by-post basis.
Earlier this year, I was asked to review a product in exchange for money. I refused because I felt my integrity would be put on the line and my opinions would become less valuable. My reputation is important to me. Although it doesn’t pay the bills, my reputation is a valuable commodity that can’t be bought or easily replaced if lost.
People who write guest posts or regular columns are governed by the same policy when it comes to content published on Bargainista.
I do not object to advertising or sponsored content so long as it’s clearly labeled as such. I have received modest payment for three sponsored event listing posts since I began blogging in 2006.
So there you have it – my thoughts on managing reviews. I look forward to your comments.
*Actually, when anyone contacts me using the correct email address for Bargainista, they’ll receive an auto-response email, so I’m not ignoring them completely.