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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blogging Brouhaha

Remember when I posted about this issue just a few weeks back? The reason why I wrote that post was because I was appalled by the amounts I was hearing from my friend. It was anywhere from Php50,000 to Php100,000 per event, to Php 1,000,000 for a "blogging package". No kidding.

Today, the internet was abuzz with everyone's two cents about this, thanks to a veiled "expose" in PDI. Now, this blogging brouhaha didn't really come as a surprise to me.  Because these things really do happen, and there really are bloggers and agencies who do such things. If the article is to be totally believed, what is most appalling above all is that things have reached a level of extortion. At this point, we can't really draw a conclusion since we are just hearing one side of the story, but it makes sense to be aware of what's happening - just so we all learn from this, both as bloggers and blog readers.

At one end of the spectrum, Marketman preaches against all forms of monetizing blogs.

My stance leans towards the points that Chuvaness raised here.

I said it before, and I'll say it again. There is nothing wrong from earning from a hobby.  But  money or perks shouldn't be the prime motivation for starting a blog. All the successful bloggers I know started their blogs out of a passion for whatever it is they blog about, and in sharing their discoveries. When companies discovered the power of blogs and agencies came into the picture, the dynamics changed and offers of compensation and freebies came knocking.

As bloggers, it is ultimately up to us to entertain such offers. You can go the way of Marketman and absolutely refuse. You can be a "palamunin" and accept anything and everything that comes your way, attend all the events, even the opening of an envelop. Or you can be practical, choose the middle ground and just deal with offers that make sense to you.

Now if you fall into the latter category, and offers for sponsorship, blog ads, product reviews, etc. present themselves, you may want to follow these personal guidelines I have set for myself :

- Don't be a sell out and blog or publish ads about anything and everything. You can say "No!", you know. Edit and choose the products, brands and labels you want to be affiliated  or associated with. Think of yourself as a brand. Would you want to be associated with just about anyone? Personally, I only blog about things I myself use, like, or am interested in, or as favors to friends. When I come across something that I think you guys would want to know, then I blog about it too. Bottom line, blog only if it means something to you or your readers.

- Don't go around expecting freebies and invites because you are a "blogger". Don't walk around with a sense of entitlement. I've heard of stories where bloggers ask for special treatment because they have a "blog". Nye. In the greater scheme of things, we are just bloggers. Sure, we have this little space in the internet where we say what we want and get some positive feedback, but we are not the almighty power. Have some perspective. 

- When you do get something, then be gracious. Don't be a diva and say, "Why just this? The other company gave me this, etc". Sadly, I hear that these things happen a lot, because of said sense of entitlement I suppose. Look, whatever you get, be grateful, always. If you don't get anything, hey, it doesn't mean you are less of a blogger. Do not measure your worth by the number of freebies you get.

- When companies come knocking, make sure that you still exercise editorial control over what comes out in your blog. You don't say something positive even if the product is less than ideal, just so they deal with you again.  Be honest and sincere. Say what you think, and if there's a point that needs to be raised, then say it. At the end of the day, it is your credibility and integrity at stake here. I would like to think people are smart enough to see through a paid post, or a post where a blogger raves about a product because she was provided a free sample (and of course she wants more free samples to come her way).  Honestly, intelligent readers find these sort of things a turn off. 

I suppose there will come a time when the dust will settle and people will simply gravitate towards the blogs they can trust and relate to. I hope blog readers reach a point where they see through the razzle and dazzle of bloggers who pose like a pro, get freebies and attend events. Really it's not all that. The way I see it, companies who value their reputation and the bloggers who are truly passionate about what they do make the effort to build relationships - with their readers, with the companies they deal with, and with their fellow bloggers.

No doubt, there is much to be learned from this whole experience. We all stand to benefit from this outrage. If we are smart about this and police our selves if not our ranks, then everyone comes out a winner - the bloggers keep their integrity, companies build real relationships with their customers, agencies operate without any suspicion of  malice and dirty dealings, the end consumers are presented with unbiased information from where they can form their own opinions.

I would like to end this post with a clip from a WWD.com article entitled Marketing's New Rage: Brands Sponsoring Influential Bloggers, which I think should be considered in the way companies and agencies  approach blogging and bloggers:

David Lipman of the Lipman agency, whose many fashion clients include Diane von Furstenberg, David Yurman, Burberry, BCBG, Lord & Taylor and St. John, prefers to work with bloggers as editorial outlets rather than as advertising ones. “We’re in a multimedia world, and you need to communicate on all cylinders,” he said. “I think the best way of working with a blogger is to get them deep into a brand [and] let them understand the brand and what the brand is doing that moment.”

Most of the time, he is not a fan of sponsorships, advertorials, product placement or giving away merchandise in exchange for coverage. “I find that disingenuous,” he said. “It loses integrity. I think that’s the whole point of the Internet — the freedom of it, the genuineness of it. It’s believable, it’s real, and that’s the best way to go about it. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Otherwise, if you force feed it like that, and you pay for it — bloggers have to make a living — but if you pay for it, it becomes an advertorial. Advertorials are the lowest form of advertising.”

3 comments:

Mom-Friday said...

Those amounts are ridiculous! That's the fee for producing and organizing the event itself, not just inviting media/bloggers.
I too follow the same guidelines as yours and hopefully others also do the same thing.

ocmominmanila.com said...

I think the brouhaha has died down after a day =) I admire how some bloggers are able to resist the temptation of accepting cash for paid posts.

Didn't this start with PR agencies way before bloggers came about, though? I would remember working with PR agencies on retainer and they would ask for cash to give to their print contacts to write about your products. The amounts would also be really high but spread across different writers, not just one. It disappointed me then and I could not bear to support such a corrupt system. Besides, I didn't have much budget. Haha.

I think clients should have integrity also not to agree to pay anyone and make it seem like honest good reviews. Paying the PR agency is like a buffer because you turn a blind eye to the corruption happening after that.

If your product is good though, then you don't need to bribe people to like it.

Ok, ang haba ng comment ko!!

Anonymous said...

Bloggers should include a disclosure in every product review if they were provided a sample and by whom.

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