If you are a blogger, chances are at some point you’ve been contacted by a PR rep, asking you to pitch some product or service to your readers.

“Here are some images,” they say, “and here is a link to more information, quotes from the author/director/creator, and look what somemagazineyouhaven’theardof said about it!” Then it comes..”We hope you will spread the word to your readers about this amazing random product, and please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help you promote it!”

Why do they send these things? At the core of it, bloggers are influencers. We put pen to paper(so to speak) about everything we love and hate, and other people read them. Sometimes lots of people. And those people tell other people. Bloggers are a PR company’s dream in the age of people putting down their tv remotes and instead turning to blogs, networking sites, and other forms of social media.

Like most bloggers, I don’t mind telling others when I have found a great new product or site. I also don’t mind companies suggesting products to me. What I have a hard time with is the idea that bloggers don’t need to be compensated in any way for their time and effort.

This concept was driven home to me when I received a pitch from NewMoonGirls.com asking me to check out their business, which promotes a website and a magazine for pre-teen girls. Having a daughter in their target age, I was interested, and replied back, stating that while I generally charged for a full review, in this case I liked the product enough I would be willing to give them a bit of positive promotion in exchange for a 2 year subscription to their girls’ magazine(A $40 total if I remember right.) I get a nice gift for my daughter, and they get the benefit of the eyes and ears of my readership, some of whom might be interested themselves. Win-win. I do deals like this fairly often, and most people are happy to do so. Those that don’t just don’t reply, and that’s ok too.

What surprised me was when I got an answer like this-

Hi Sara –

Thanks for your e-mail and interest in New Moon Girls.  I’m so glad you liked the site!  While we appreciate your kind offer to feature us on your blogs, it is our policy not to offer compensation for reviews.

We do have an affiliate program and would be delighted to work with you in that way to help generate revenue for your site.  If you’d like to learn more about participating in that, please let me know.   

I do hope that you will let me know if I might be of assistance to you as a resource for a guest blog, interview, or anything else.  Thanks again for your interest in New Moon Girls.

Sincerely, 

(Name removed to protect the not-so-innocent)

Let’s recap, shall we?

Thanks for your e-mail and interest in New Moon Girls.  I’m so glad you liked the site!  While we appreciate your kind offer to feature us on your blogs, (Kind offer? Did you not contact me asking for just that? )

it is our policy not to offer compensation for reviews. = We expect you to make us money, not the other way around.

We do have an affiliate program and would be delighted to work with you in that way to help generate revenue for your site.  If you’d like to learn more about participating in that, please let me know. Ok, we’ll throw you a tiny scrap, but in general, we still want you to make us money for pretty much nothing.

I do hope that you will let me know if I might be of assistance to you as a resource for a guest blog, interview, or anything else.  Thanks again for your interest in New Moon Girls.  One last shot at trying to get you to work for us for nothing, and let me make it sound like you contacted us, because really, we are doing you the favor here.

What got me here was not the rejection, but the attitude surrounding it. No “I’m sorry, but…”, just the matter of fact-ness that they expect this done for free, and continued to pitch me after stating this. Truly friends, these people have bigger balls than I do.

The lesson to take away from this is that when you come to a blogger’s house(their site), act like the guest you are. Appreciate your host and the hospitality they are giving you through space on their site, and don’t promote the attitude that they should just be grateful you have barged into their inbox uninvited.

Even when you can’t give us what we deserve, we might still offer you tea and cookies if you can remember the manners your mama taught you about how to act in someone else’s home.

17 Comments on Hi, Please Bend Over For Us! (Btw, It’s Not Our Policy to Use Lube.)

  1. feefifoto
    October 24, 2008 at 2:13 pm (9 years ago)

    Since I write a blog to promote my personalized gift web site, I’ve received more than one offer to promote someone else’s photo gift site. If they can take the time to sign their names, why can’t they take the time to note that my promoting them might just constitute a teensy weensy conflict of interest?

    Reply
  2. @Debz
    October 24, 2008 at 2:25 pm (9 years ago)

    Well said! It’s absolutely insane. It’s not like you were even asking for cold hard cash!

    Reply
  3. Angela at mommy bytes
    October 24, 2008 at 2:50 pm (9 years ago)

    Amen!! I get tons of these emails every day (including one from NewMoonGirls), and I have gotten really good at scanning towards the bottom to see if they are giving something in return. If not, it’s almost a guaranteed delete. Who do these people think they are? Why on earth do they think bloggers will blog about something if they just ask politely and give nothing in return? If you want me to review a product, give me the product. If you want me to review a website, at least promise a link back. Geesh! Our time and readership is worth something!

    Reply
  4. mimipz5wjj
    October 24, 2008 at 7:01 pm (9 years ago)

    Amen! and well said… I don’t get contacted often, but I hear ya!

    Reply
  5. Mommy Cracked
    October 24, 2008 at 7:44 pm (9 years ago)

    It’s not even like you asked for an unreasonable compensation for your time, either.

    Reply
  6. feener
    October 24, 2008 at 9:52 pm (9 years ago)

    they sent to me to. i saw the site and as soon as i saw pay for a subscribtion i left the site.

    Reply
  7. Sunshine
    October 25, 2008 at 2:20 pm (9 years ago)

    I get about half a dozen offers a day (which I don’t know if that is a little or a lot) and I delete 99% of them.
    The bulk of my reviews I receive some form of compensation. Otherwise it is just not worth my time to do “advertising” for free. The only time I do reviews and don’t get compensated is if it is a product myself or my kids are really going to like having a ton and that’s compensation enough.

    But, seriously, the kahunas some of these people have. I had one lady email me probably ten times about spreading the word about a website. She was fricking stalking me I swear, she’d start her followup emails with “you’ve probably been too busy to answer my emails about this great opportunity”.

    Uhhhhhhh, no, I’ve been deleting those emails, sister.

    There should be a guide for PR people that want to be truly effective in utilizing bloggers for promoting their products or services.

    Reply
  8. Amy@UWM
    October 25, 2008 at 6:19 pm (9 years ago)

    Ooops. Didn’t see this post when I mentioned New Moon in my last comment. I really didn’t even bother to deal with New Moon from a review perspective (I don’t do reviews on my site). But I did look into the site because I thought my daughter might like it.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the whole quid pro quo thing for reviews. In mainstream media, journalists who do reviews don’t get paid and they only get free stuff to experience the product (New Moon has stuff on their site to see already). I have a hard time understanding why it works differently in the online world.

    BTW, swear I have no affiliation with New Moon.

    Reply
  9. Kate
    October 27, 2008 at 10:16 am (9 years ago)

    I agree with Amy@UWM. You expected these people to give you something that was unrelated to the product they were asking you to review. If you had asked for a free trial of the website, that’s another story.
    These people probably thought you were asking to be compensated for positive coverage– it certainly seemed that way to me from your post. As Amy said, that’s not the way it works in journalism, and there is no reason why it should be any different in the blogosphere.
    I hate to break it to you, but by making such a big stink about the fact that these people refused to give you what you want, you just made yourself look greedy and petulant.

    Reply
  10. Sara
    October 27, 2008 at 11:49 am (9 years ago)

    Kate, I have to strongly disagree here. Pushing their magazine IS part of the site, so it was in no way ‘unrelated’, especially when the magazine was mentioned in the contact email. Unrelated would be ‘Yes, I’ll check out your site if you will run across the street to Starbucks and deliver me a caramel apple cider.’ THAT would be unrelated. The PR person contacting me was from the company’s media department, this was not a third party. Requests such as these get turned down or ignored fairly often, it was the attitude behind it that prompted the post.

    As far as your comment about being compensated for positive coverage, wrong again. I mentioned right away that I liked the product, what I asked compensation for was the benefit that comes to that company by my covering it on my blog- the benefit of my traffic, pagerank, and leverage they will get in the search engines.

    Finally, your comment about ‘journalists’ and their compensation intrigues me. Since when do personal bloggers qualify as journalists? And of the few journalists that do actually do reviews, in addition to receiving a salary, it is fairly common for them to be allowed to keep the products they are writing about. So as you say, “As Amy said, that’s not the way it works in journalism, and there is no reason why it should be any different in the blogosphere.”

    The fact of it is you perpetuate the attitude that bloggers should do this service not only for free, but paying for it themselves by using their bandwidth and hosting(some of us pay for that!). For what? None of us are that hard up for things to write about that we need to donate our time and effort to advertising agencies for free. Most of us will if we truly love the product, but in general we’d like to get a *little* something back for our time and effort.

    Then again since you yourself work in advertising, I’m not surprised to see what you wrote, I’m just thankful most in advertising and PR are not so dismissive of the people they expect to work for them without pay.

    Reply
  11. Marta
    October 27, 2008 at 12:31 pm (9 years ago)

    I only saw this blog because I recently heard about New Moon Girls and I am researching them. Everything that I have seen so far is really good. Nancy, the founder, has been tirelessly publishing this magazine for years and I think it is a great service for girls. I also greatly respect the work of bloggers like yourself and I agree you should get compensated for your work. But getting paid to review would actually make you biased wouldn’t it? Why didn’t you take their offer to become an affiliate?

    Reply
  12. Kate
    October 27, 2008 at 12:41 pm (9 years ago)

    Sara,

    Yes, I do work in advertising. But I am also a blogger. (I assume you knew that by researching my email address, given that I didn’t write “I work in advertising” in my comment). I also have dealt with incompetent flackery in the past, and I have called them out on it in a public forum, so your perception of me as a defender of Big Ad and Big PR companies is misguided.

    You misconstrued the meaning of my comment– I do not think that bloggers should have to write posts to selflessly benefit companies that pitch them. Getting to keep what you review is totally fair– I have been given things to review in the past, and I kept them without feeling guilty. However, you said yourself that you “generally charge for a full review”, and that is what I have a problem with. I believe strongly that paying for coverage taints objectivity. As a reader, how do I know whether you really like iCarly if you are being paid to write about it?

    As for the blogging/journalism issue, I wasn’t saying that personal bloggers are the same as journalists in all respects. Obviously, a personal blog and a magazine are two completely different things. However, I personally feel that if you are reviewing a product for a group of readers/consumers, whether it is on a blog or in a magazine, money should not come into play. Yes, professional critics receive a salary, but they are not being paid by the people whose products they are covering.

    It is your prerogative to request payment for coverage. However, if I were a reader who valued your opinions, I might have second thoughts about how genuine they were if I knew you were being paid to write them.

    Reply
  13. Paul
    October 27, 2008 at 2:24 pm (9 years ago)

    Kate: I seriously laughed out loud when I read your comment. You may work in advertising but c’mon, you know sod all about bloggers even though you are one.

    First off most bloggers are smart. They’re not idiots and they know when an author is writing glowing reviews for a product that they don’t believe in.

    It’s a very easily recognizable pattern and Sara would not have build up her readership if they didn’t trust her.

    Secondly, Sara discloses all her reviews and paid posts on the post itself. If a company isn’t willing to agree to disclosure she doesn’t write a review, it’s that simple.

    But Saras ethics aside, this is the kicker of a statement that had me clenching my gut in laughter:

    Yes, professional critics receive a salary, but they are not being paid by the people whose products they are covering.

    So who does pay them? Think about it for a second? The company they work for? Why are they writing the review?

    They trade on the value of their opinion. If readers trust their opinions then they provide a valuable service which they get paid for by the company who employs them. Where does the company get its money to pay the critic? From the readers who purchase their product or who listen enough to provide them with enough volume to be able to sell advertising space, that’s who!

    At the end of the day, it’s the readers who need to be served by reviewers and critics alike and it’s always the readers who ultimately pay, either with cash or with attention.

    Betray that trust and the money dries up!

    People who do paid reviews and disclose them are exactly the same as critics and journalists in that respect; it’s just that they are the ones negotiating the price in order to pay their own salary.

    These people, those who disclose, are held to a much higher level of trust, because not only do they inform their readers that the following content is a paid review but when they give negative comments in a paid review it stands as testament to the reviewers integrity.

    Trust is why Sara has such a strong and loyal readership.

    Trust is what you do not have considering you came here, slapped Sara down without disclosing the fact that you yourself work in the advertising industry and would appear to have the “get something for nothing” attitude which New Moon Girls has very close at heart.

    What motivation is there for a blogger to write a descent lengthy review for a service (or anything) if there is no compensation?

    Okay, sometimes we will write about something “really great”, or bad just to protect our readers or to save them the pain we have encountered, but for products that we’ve never heard of?

    What is the motivation to go check it out, research it, plan the review, type it, proof it, assemble images etc? Where is the motivation to invest the kind of time necessary?

    And its not just the writing, but the investment of time required just to check out a service and research it in order to build an opinion?

    When you are being asked by a company you’ve never heard of to invest this kind of time and effort why shouldn’t you be entitled to some form of compensation?

    As I see it there are 3 kinds of companies out there when it comes to getting reviews.

    1. The companies who pay for reviews but demand they are positive and not disclosed. Fortunately most of the people who do those kind of reviews have very little to no readership as readers very quickly spot a shill!

    2. The companies who leech off of bloggers. That would be the companies who have the same attitude as you do about bloggers being paid. The companies who expect you to give up your time, energy, screen real estate and expose you readers to their product for zero compensation and don’t have the balls to put their product on the line for a real test. Much like company type number 1 but with tighter clenched assholes.

    3. Companies who are not afraid to compensate bloggers for their efforts and who are will to accept that paying for a review may not be a positive experience for them. These are the companies that get it! These are the companies that are willing to put their nuts in the drawer and risk that you will slam it shut.

    These companies understand that if you compensate a blogger for their time and effort you will generally get a better and more well rounded review which will not only be better accepted by their readers but will also serve to promote the company as one who is willing to accept the criticism as well as the praise, as a company who doesn’t have and “the sun shines out of our collective asshole” attitude.

    Companies know that bloggers like Sara carry a lot of weight and can influence a lot of people to purchase their products. That’s why they engage them and attempt to get them to write reviews for nothing.

    This entire, we’re doing you a favor by giving you information about or product is bullshit at best! It’s simply a matter of, let see who we can get to do our promotional work for us and see how little we can get away with spending!

    Reply
  14. Devilish Southern Belle
    November 3, 2008 at 2:10 am (9 years ago)

    Geez. That’s as bad as the chick who pestered me via email AND Google chat about a free or discounted theme for my site in exchange for advertising/promoting some game company. Hello, I do all my own designs. There is NOTHING in this for me. I finally told her that I did my own designs and she just said “Okay, fine.” and never spoke to me again. Not that I wanted her to, but the whole thing seemed so unprofessional and fishy.

    Reply

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