20th Aug2012

Do PRs and Brands undervalue bloggers?

by crapmamma
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Imagine taking your car to a mechanic for a service and asking them to do it for free just so you can be sure they do a ‘proper job’ of it. Or what about asking your accountant to prepare your tax return ‘just for love’ to ensure they get you the best possible return back this year.

Sound ridiculous?

Of course it does.

And yet day after day bloggers receive dozens of pitches and queries in their inbox asking the exact same thing.

Dear blogger,

Please review my product, research what I’m about, spend hours tapping out, editing and promoting a creative post about me and my product (and be sure to include links back to my website) – oh and just so I know you’re going to be 100% honest about it, I’d like you to do all that for free.

Oh by the way, as an added bonus you’ll get to keep my product that you (whilst you may have genuinely enjoyed using/consuming at the time) can add to the perpetual pile of useless shit you’ve reviewed over the years that you no longer use and can’t exchange for things that you really need like groceries or a nice pair of nickers!!

I used to be empathetic to the concern that brands and PRs had about blogger authenticity if they were doing paid reviews but now I just think it’s a cop-out.

If being paid for a service means that it won’t be conducted authentically then why are plain-old general members of the public paid on average between $50 to $150 for market research to provide their ‘honest opinion’ on various brands, services and topics?

With that in mind, knocking on a blogger’s inbox door and asking them to not only review but then promote that brand/product through their own personal audience whom they’ve painstakingly nurtured and do it all for nothing all seems a little…..well……tight-arseish!

Considering those brands, products and PR companies are being paid for their time, services and products (and most if not all of them have an allocated advertising budget) then why shouldn’t a blogger be appropriately compensated for providing them a service?

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Bloggers invest huge amounts of time, effort and emotion into their blog. Researching, writing, editing and promoting every single post. Maintaining their blog, communicating with and engaging their readers. They often pain over Twitter ‘unfollows’ and Facebook ‘unlikes’, wondering what they could have done to prevent it.

Bloggers have that uncanny ability to use social media to connect and network with others. They have that ability to interact in a way that ensures that their blog voice has maximum reach. They have an invaluable resource of eyes and ears of every single one of their readers who often hang off their every word.

Bloggers aren’t just writers, they are social media moguls. Experts in their fields with an often extensive and captive audience at their fingertips.

Funnily enough, many brands and PRs are cleverly aware of the power of the blogger voice which is why our inboxes are clogged with pitches. It is actually the blogger herself (or himself) that often doesn’t yet understand the value of her ‘wares’.

And it’s not just all about high volume traffic and having thousands of followers (although that helps). Yes traffic stats and follower numbers are all important to determine a blogger’s ‘reach’; how many people that will actually hear a blogger’s written voice. But don’t disregard the smaller bloggers who have high reader interaction and engagement. This too wields a certain level of power because this determines how many people will actually listen to them.

Another analogy – if after reading our advertisement a person knocks on our front door and asks us to rent a room, expects us to cook and clean for them all whilst maintaining the upkeep and usual day-to-day running of our household would we expect payment from them?

Isn’t doing a review similar? Swap the house for the blog and the ‘spare-room boarder’ for the brand….…….you get the picture.

I don’t think doing a few sponsored posts or reviews here and there is going to maintain a blogger in any level of caviar and champagne lifestyle, but it’s certainly nice to receive some remuneration for a task that one has been specifically commissioned to complete.

As far as I’m concerned unless you’re a new or emerging business, a charity, a WAHM (or something similar) this whole ‘honesty only comes for free’ argument doesn’t wash anymore.


What do you think? Does a paid blogger product review lack integrity? Do you think some PRs and brands undervalue bloggers?

15 Responses to “Do PRs and Brands undervalue bloggers?”

  • Love this! I’ve been harping on about bloggers being paid, even before it was cool. The whole “we don’t pay for reviews” is crap. That review is a sponsored post because the Brand receives links back to their website and social media platforms. Why would I jeopardise my readership by doing a dodgy review. My readers trust me to give my 100% honest opinion, whether it is paid or not.
    Tina ~ Tina Gray {dot} Me recently posted..{blogging} What’s a rate card?My Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Tina and you’ve got it in one- why would you jeopardize your readers’ trust by writing unauthentic crap about something you don’t like. We’ve got to give our readers more credit than that hey!

  • Up to this point I haven’t minded doing reviews in exchange for product (but then I’m small fry) but I’m belatedly starting to realise the time + effort isn’t worth the trade off. Love your analogies. x
    Nee Say recently posted..{Monday’s Minutia} Hurry Hurry! Alternatively titled: Hopeless MotherMy Profile

    • Like I mentioned née, small fry or not, if they’re knocking on your door and they want you to do something then it’s Ol to expect something in return. You rates not be as much as some of the bigger bloggers, but you can still charge an appropriate rate for what you’re doing.

  • I’m with you. I’ve changed my mind about doing stuff for free, for all of the reasons you have outlined so well. I’m not expecting a huge amount of money but I do expect to be paid my worth.

    • Absolutely Lisa, I think we all start out being chuffed that we’ve even been approached. But when you’ve done quite a few reviews and realise how much work is involved you also start to realise that it’s not quite worth it (unless you particularly wanted that product) without proper payment for our time, effort and online real estate.

  • Unless it is something I love and want, I wouldn’t work for free. It is a lot of work to write a post about something you are not passionate about and it takes a lot to run competitions and organise winners and prizes ect, there needs to a price on this time. A great post Jacqui!
    Eleise recently posted..I did it!! I ran 14km for Illawarra KidsMy Profile

    • You’re right, it is a lot of work to write a review Eleise. Many of us blog because we have a passion for writing and it can often be difficult finding that level of passion in a product we only feel ‘so-so’ about.

    • I agree that bloggers buy’ into PRs and would sgguest this is a symptom of the blogging mindset. Most bloggers are strongly motivated by the felt community aspects of the medium and, while there are those of us who also pay the bills through it, we remain part of and energized by the people we work with.Those with a purely financial motivation in contacting bloggers should take heed of your advice and build relationship as well a business deals.

  • Great post. I haven’t yet been asked to do many reviews. And if I am, unless they are directly relevant to my site and message, and reflect my views, I’m not interested. I’m fortunate to get paid for my writing in other ways, so for me, my blog is a place of integrity and I want to use it to nurture a particular view of the world…I didn’t realise people don’t actually get paid to do reviews! That is terrible, and yes, tight-arsish! x
    Zanni, Heart Mama recently posted..Woman warriorMy Profile

    • It seems that once the flood gates of PR emails are opened Zanni they never seem to let up. And yes you really have to filter what works for you and your blog to ensure you maintain blog integrity. Thanks for stopping by :-)

  • Sing it, sista….!

    The more of us take this stance, the more likely the way we are treated is to change.

    What scares me though, is that for every blogger that says “Enough!”, there are five or ten who will do it for free, because they don’t know any better.

    The message needs to get out and be heard.
    Dorothy @ Singular Insanity recently posted..Ecostore Giveaway Winner!My Profile

  • I love the way you think. Yes, ‘free stuff’ doesn’t pay for new knickers, school shoes, or groceries. Another blogger pointed out to me that we own valuable pieces of internet real estate and shouldn’t give it away.

  • Hi, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this article.
    It was helpful. Keep on posting!
    how to get a real estate license in minnesota recently posted..how to get a real estate license in minnesotaMy Profile

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