PR & Product Review Policy
But I didn’t want to do reviews. I just wanted to write and try to make people smile. I wanted my focus to remain on humor and I worried that reviews would muddy the waters.
When you forge relationships with companies and PR representatives, there’s an inherent bond that forms. Sometimes that bond is shallow and self-serving on both sides, but it’s still there.
I believe that companies and PR agencies dole out free products to bloggers in the hope of seeing shmoopy love posts in return. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is. They won’t demand it, but it’s hard to argue that this isn’t the intent.
Word of Mouth Quandary
It’s widely accepted that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective methods of promotion. If companies can get you to talk favorably about their products or services to your circle of influence, they stand to gain a level of credibility that can’t be achieved through traditional advertising.
This is the concept that greases the wheels of review blogging. Rather than wait for word-of-mouth to naturally wind its way through the progression of neighbor sharing with neighbor, companies place their products in the hands of those with a large and responsive circle of influence in the hopes of hitching their wagon to that person’s credibility.
Do I think it’s wrong? Absolutely not.
Do I think bloggers who do reviews are “on the take”? Absolutely not.
But I do think word-of-mouth marketing has splintered. There is unsolicited word-of-mouth promotion whereby opinions are shared naturally and then there is paid word-of-mouth promotion whereby there is a pitch and a motive to share a discovery. Whether this “payment” is in the form of cash or goods, it’s clear that value is exchanged.
Understand that I don’t see anything wrong with this arrangement from an ethical standpoint if the reviews are honest and relationships are disclosed. Reviews take time, a lot of time, and a blog’s real estate is valuable. Add in the value of a blogger’s influential reach and I absolutely think that review bloggers should be compensated. When you consider the costs of customer acquisition, I actually think most review bloggers are grossly underpaid.
Will You EVER DO Reviews?
It depends. I won’t review anything and everything because it’s not an interest of mine. I’m not a review or giveaway blogger. I just write when compelled. I have no real agenda beyond trying to make people smile, think, or engage.
If a product comes my way that I think lends itself to humor or a rewarding experience, I’d probably be down with it. I’m not riding some soapbox forbidding reviews, but I’m also not soliciting for them. I could care less if I’m ever approached. And if I am, it’ll have to interest me and the post’s focus will absolutely be written to make people laugh and not showcase the product. I have no loyalty to brands, I have loyalty to my readers.
Some, not all, but some review bloggers blog out of a desire for swag. Many even openly admit that they blog solely for the freebies. Others specifically pitch companies they like because they want to score specific products.
“Why buy it if I can get it for free,” one blogger remarked. Whether or not you find this practice abhorrent, you have to respect that level of honesty. Surprisingly, companies don’t even care about this admission. If the blogger has reach, the blogger has value.
I’ll fully admit that I’ve seen firsthand just how easy it is to get entranced by swag. When I first started blogging, I was offered a number of toys by a company interested in having me do a review. I eagerly accepted and my kids thought I had the coolest job on the planet. It’s when my 8-year old asked when he was getting more free toys that I took a step back.
I didn’t like the obligation that came with the acceptance. While many have told me that I’m not obligated to write anything outside of what I truly believe, I can’t help but feel that I’d be indirectly influenced by the relationship, the hope for future opportunities, and the expectations of those who entrusted me with their brand.
Thus my change in policy.
Let me repeat the fact that I have absolutely nothing against those who do reviews. Quite honestly, I don’t know how they find the time and patience to do them, but I do know that they just aren’t for me.
Will I ever do them? Rarely. In fact, I think I’ve only done two if you count the recent Kia post. I can’t promise I’ll NEVER do one ever again, but what I can promise is that when I do write about a company, product, service, or brand, you can absolutely be assured that it’ll be unsolicited and unpaid.
When it comes to reviews, my criteria is simple:
– I will never regurgitate a press release and I’m not interested in being told what to write.
– I won’t be obligated to write. It has to be a natural interest.
– It has to be able to be molded into something funny or interesting
Meet that criteria, and I’d probably entertain it. But it’s not something I pursue or obsess over. While I’ve done two reviews in the years since starting this blog, I have turned down well more than 200.
So, will I ever do reviews? Yes. Will they ever dominate my blog? Absolutely not. Like I said, it’s just not my thing…unless it’s cool, relative, and I can spot some comedic appeal.
With that, I now return you to my regularly scheduled goofiness. Serious talk gives me a headache.