When will PR professionals stop treating bloggers like whores? When we stop acting them, I guess.
I opened up a PR Daily article on how to work with bloggers, and saw this cartoon:
Yeah, yeah, it was a joke. I get it. But as I read the article itself, I saw that although it was titled "6 questions to ask before working with a blogger," it was only looking at how you can run a contest or giveaway off someone's blog.
If that cartoon hadn't topped the whole thing off, I'd have probably just shrugged, said, "Not for me," and not given it another thought. But that cartoon really drove home for me the huge disrespect PR professionals have for bloggers, and how easily they think they can buy us.
And you know what? They're right; they can. Not a single day goes by that I don't hear from mainstream PR agents offering me money to insert links into some of my old posts. Sometimes I hear from 5 of them a day. I get offered free crap and yes, gift cards, to write about something, or let someone do a guest post, or to run a giveaway on my blog.
Paid link placement is unethical. Writing a review in exchange for consideration is unethical, even if it's disclosed and even if it's a negative review. Letting someone pay you in money, swag, or even intangibles like access to post to your blog is unethical.
And while running a giveaway of products isn't unethical, it does make you look cheap and buyable to the PR hacks who are pitching these ideas to you.
Is your integrity as a blogger really worth a $20 gift card or some crappy swag?
Maybe if we stop saying "yes" to this kind of thing, they'll stop trying to buy us. Just a thought.
And PR folks? I work both sides of the PR/blogger divide (although my PR work is all for non-profits, and all I ever want from bloggers is for them to consider writing about the cause or event I'm representing), and I know a lot of you are honest and care about ethics. Try to make your less-enlightened colleagues realize that pitching paid blog links and doling out gift cards makes your profession look bad, too.