A RANT ABOUT DISRESPECTFUL BRANDS FROM AN IRRITATED BLOGGER

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I’M pretty miffed today.

In fact make that very. Why?

Well because I’m getting sick to the back teeth of receiving emails from brands who are offering me the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ to ‘work’ for them and spend my time and use my talents and experience on promoting them. For FREE.

Yes FREE.

Who works for free? Do you? Does your partner? Would you like your children to have the privilege of ‘working for free’ when they’re older?

Nope, didn’t thing so. Gosh imagine if we all worked for free. How would we feed ourselves, clothe our children etc? Money may not be the root to all happiness but it is the root to existing in this world and managing to live.

So why is is then that certain brands (and I would like to state right now that most brands are brilliant to work with) think that this is ok?

Why do some brands think bloggers should publicise them and their products for nothing. And I mean absolutely NOTHING in return.

No payment, no product, not even a cup of a tea and a slice of cake. Nada. Zip. Nothing.

Beggars belief doesn’t it?

Not only is it foolish for brands to expect bloggers to snap their hands off at such an amazing offer (*said sarcastically*) but it’s also downright disrespectful, cheeky and well, bloody rude.

“Ooooooh you want me to advertise you to my readers and provide you with promotion and back links that will help to boost your SEO for NOTHING! Brilliant! Well then, where do I sign up?”, said no self respecting, successful blogger ever.

Lots of people blog so I’m sure many of you will be identifying with this right now and probably getting a little het up about it too, but for those who don’t blog, let me tell you this. Blogging is hard work.

Seriously. It may not seem like it, but it really is.

Yes it’s fun, yes it’s wonderful and can also be very glamorous. And yes some of us lucky ones get to make decent money from what we do, get invited to fabulous events and receive some lovely gifts. But creating a blog that people love and want to visit on a regular basis is not easy.

Running and maintaining a successful blog takes a huge amount of time, patience, dedication and a hell of a lot of work. And if you don’t believe me, just ask any well known blogger.

I work on my blog every single day. Do I mind? No, not in the slightest. Because I love it and it’s my passion, as well as becoming a money earner.

However, what I do mind – and not just for me, but for all bloggers out there – is when people try to take advantage of us. When some silly brands waste our time, clog up our inboxes and disrespect our talent and work.

It makes my blood boil.

As someone with a journalistic background, this attitude of non payment for writers and creative folk, is unfortunately too prevalent in our society and world at large.

And quite frankly, it stinks.

People should be treated with respect and people’s talents and expertise should always be paid what they are worth.

I have in the past recommended brands on my blog and will continue to do so, for free, on occasion if I see fit. It goes without saying that if I love a company, an item of clothing for example or a particular campaign and think my readers will too then of course I will happily share it. That is my choice.

However what I won’t do is shout out about a brand who – excuse my French – takes the p**s.

So brands and PRs who keep sending these emails, please listen up. I know you have little budget. I know you are under pressure to create magic with your PR and receive excellent media coverage, but please for the love of all bloggers everywhere, stop and think about what you are doing.

Like with anything to do with life,  you only ever get what you put IN and talking from experience, the best blogger / brand collaborations happen when both sides are happy, getting something in return from each other, working together and singing from the same hymn sheet.

That’s when the PR magic really happens.

So think creatively, stop offering us offensive and ridiculous ‘opportunities’ that require us to give everything and you nothing and think about how you can build quality long lasting relationships with quality bloggers.

Because I tell you this, if you don’t, your brand and reputation will suffer.

Blogging may be a relatively new game in the world of media but it’s a big and ever changing game (that’s getting bigger everyday) made for serious players. Yes you may find some bloggers who will take you up on your ‘incredible offer’ perhaps because they’re new to the blogging world and inexperienced, but trust me when I tell you that this will not get you the exposure or recognition that you are after.

If you want to showcase and promote your brand properly and successfully, you need to take working with bloggers much more seriously. And you need to show us the respect that we are due.

Because even though you may not take us and our blogs seriously, WE, dear foolish brands, most definitely do (and so do our thousands of readers).

——-

Phew, that feels good to get that off my chest! What do you think bloggers? Am I spot on with this or do you think I’m being unfair? And brands, what do you think? I’d love to hear all your thoughts.

With love,

Kate

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P.S A big shout out to all the amazing brands and PRs who work brilliantly with bloggers and are a joy to collaborate with. Obviously this is never in a million years aimed at you X

 

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49 Discussions on
“A RANT ABOUT DISRESPECTFUL BRANDS FROM AN IRRITATED BLOGGER”
  • I absolutely agree with you! I as a new blogger have been approached 7 times now. That’s in the last month. Honestly I would rather just write for myself than to make money for a company and receive nothing in return.

  • Excellent rant Kate! I couldn’t agree with you more. We bloggers work bloody hard at what we do, and well. It’s an insult to ask bloggers to work for free, as if our gratitude is the only payment that is necessary. I too have mentioned products I like on my blog, and as you say it’s my choice. The PRs who do this kind of thing give my profession a bad name because it’s lazy and underhand – just the kind of perception we are trying hard to dismiss as comms folk. We get these offers because we are ‘influencers’ as they say – so we should get the respect that comes with such a compliment. Don’t get me started on the brands that send me offers of baby products to review! Phew, essay rant over! xxx

    • Good point Leigh, it’s as much about respect and I would add common courtesy as it is anything else! As for the brands that offer you baby products, my goodness me, as I’ve said before it’s damn right appalling. You do well to keep your cool xxx

  • Urgh not good, I can relate although a lot of my business is repeat and new ones really understand the value of us bloggers. I still get odd silly email that gets quickly gets binned although I have on several occassions replied back that I’m a pro-blogger with my media kit (I don’t include fees there as I negotiate one to one) and they’ve hired me so worth doing that.

    I really think as you said, most brands and PR’s are wise to the fact bloggers are influential, powerful and utterly brilliant (the majority of us anyway) and the rest will have to catch up soon if they know what’s good for them! Fab post as always x

    • Thanks for reiterating Vicki that not all brands are like this. Like you, I work with some incredible brands and PRs and wouldn’t swap them for the world. It’s just the ones who waste our time that get my goat. Let’s hope they catch up soon! :) x

  • Totally spot on Kate, and appreciate also the points Vicki made above in her comment. I am totally bamboozled by the approach of some PRs who email time and time again and offer little or nothing in return. To be honest, I also feel that offering product of minimal value is almost as disrespectful – I was offered the amazing “opportunity” to be able to review and whoop-dee-Doo keep the magazine I was being asked to review. Wowee, that equates to them thinking a £2.99 mag equals my time and skill as a writer, to say nothing of the value of the link or connection to my readers. And then those PRs who don’t bother to read the blog and ask you to review product that has nothing to do with your blog – my recent fave, drill bits anyone? Mmm, perfect for a style and parenting blog! I do think that a lot of brands have much to learn about blogging as it is relatively new in media channel terms (versus traditional media), but it is also up to us as a collective to teach and inform them – bloggers who accept paltry items or zilch to be able to write about a brand only diminish our group worth. And the more we all sing from the same hymn sheet, the more brands and PRs will join in and catch onto the tune! Hear hear for all those comms people who do get it though! Xxx

  • This is so funny! I just finished reading an email that was exactly this. Starts with the usual we “love your blog”…blah..blah..blah…ends with the “we think you would fit perfectly with our brand and would love to offer YOU the opportunity to promote US”. So what do I get for my time?!

    I hate receiving emails when it becomes clear they haven’t actually read my blog. It is just another blanket email that they have sent and just added my name too, totally impersonal.

  • Brilliant post Katie. I have had a few of these e-mails in my blogging career, and these days just hit “delete”, not worth my time. As you say, who works for free? Why should we? On the other hand also agree most brands/PRs appreciate what we bloggers do, luckily!

  • Quite. I sometimes reply angrily. But that’s a waste of my time. I think there is a change happening though as I do get more paid offers than I used to. I think PR agencies are realising we won’t work for free. The more bloggers that say so, the more they will get the gist!

    Well said.

    Xx

    • Exactly Rachel. The more we refuse to work for free, the more chance ALL brands (not just the incredible ones) will start to see the light. X

  • Yes! you are so right and thank you for writing this up. I find it so frustrating – especially as the general advice I picked up from places like Britmums is to reply to every email you get. But when half are wanting to work for free (or for a tube of something I could buy for less than a £2 – this happened, I sent my media pack and got an email back saying much bigger bloggers were promoting them for free. Thank you so kindly!) it gets time-consuming!
    You should deff link this up to #AllAboutYou love!! Rants are our favs ;) xxx

    • Oh my word! Blimey. Yes, just be grateful Hannah that they’ve even contacted you! Shocking! ;-) Will def link it up next week x

  • Totally agree! It’s the same with artists and photograpehers. people think , because you love what you do, you’ll do it for free. I am very new to the bloggingworld and I intent to do it as a hobby but it is Indeed a lot of work, a lot craft goes in to it. so, yes, bloggers should Indeed stick together on this, do not give away your work for free!

    • Exactly. Happens to so many creative people – myself as a freelancer also – but the more that we take a stand, the better it is for everyone!

  • Couldn’t agree more. It’s disrespectful and insulting to think that we’re just dying to sign up to do stuff for free. Worse still are those PRs who think it’s clever to send out a blanket email over and over again, often getting my name/my blog’s name wrong where they’ve forgotten to copy and paste properly. Because nothing says how important you are to someone than receiving the same spam email three times …

  • Spot. On. I never understand why they think for one second that we should work for free. What is in it for us? Half of those that approach me are unknowns so why would I even want to work with them anyway?? I hope at least one of them stumble across this- if not then we should all send a link the next time they email!

  • Brilliant post hun and one I entirely agree with. I am sick of PRs for v large companies saying they haven’t got a budget, yeah right?! Well don’t expect us to work for £0 and a packet of polo’s! Sometimes not even the polos….. x #BrillBlogPosts

    • Haha! It’s ridiculous isn’t it. Not all bad as we know, in fact some brands really are wonderful but others…my have they got a lot to learn! X

  • Agree with everything you’ve said. It can be very frustrating. Unfortunately though, whilst some bloggers continue to accept these “amazing free opportunities”, PRs and brands will always expect that bloggers should do it for free. I think the mentality is that “if this blogger doesn’t, then someone else will”. There needs to be a big change across all bloggers so that the offer of “a share of your blog post on social media by a company” is laughed at rather than accepted by 1 or 2 bloggers, which will hopefully make PRs and brands stand up and realise they can’t take advantage.

  • Hey Katie, I found this post via #BrilliantBlogPosts… Yes, this is such an important issue for us bloggers – I think half the problem is there is so much to consider when finding a solution… having worked firstly as a fashion journo, then a PR / Marketeer and most recently as a blogger, I really can see things from all angles…

    As a blogger I get incredibly frustrated by the number of PRs who approach with ‘ great opportunities’ that at best mean you end up with a product you might actually want (which ISN’T payment in my book) and at worst amount to you spending time and effort promoting their product in return for absolutely nothing – often with the expectation that you’ll attend a blogger focused event… (not a press day, which is a different matter, but an event tailored to generate blogger content, which although sometimes fabulous, still take up precious time).

    ‘Free Products” … it’s not for free, it’s so you can write about it and promote it for the brand. Of course, with journalists, many of the products they write about are samples that they call in for review and then return to the press office. It’s a bit more difficult for a PR agency to manage that with bloggers.

    And then there are bloggers who are really happy and excited to be receiving product for ‘free’. The thing for bloggers is to work out just how ‘free’ that product is in terms of what you are having to do with it, both time wise and how much the coverage you give it on your blog is worth.

    So, moving onto the PR side of things… it’s a minefield for them. First off, take our parenting lifestyle sector alone, there are 1000s of blogs out there. And there’s no single reliable way of weighing up which blogs to target.

    Yes, you can look at traffic figs, but then like niche magazines, blog can have a small but very loyal audience, which can at times be worth much more than a big blog with high traffic.

    And also there’s so many different reasons why each of us blog – pro, hobby, sideline, family diary, don’t really know… !! So it’s hard to label bloggers with the same label.

    What PRs / brands need educating on is the realities of running a blog and that, unlike journalists, who are being paid for their time by the publication they are working for, no-one is paying a blogger for their time, unless the brand itself pays the blogger or they are making great money from affiliate links / display advertising.

    I guess the ideal solution for bloggers is that, with the exception of PRs sending out press releases in the hope of securing pure editorial coverage, brands pay bloggers for collaborating with them. The big issue here is of course budget… and who has the budget…

    “But we don’t have budget” – The oft heard PR lament… the simple truth is that the PR department probably doesn’t have budget to pay for coverage… PR is about being given money to create a PR campaign that will generate EDITORIAL coverage for a brand… Editorial coverage is coverage that isn’t paid for, it’s (supposedly, if you cancel out the press trips / lunches / gifts / advertising deals that sway editorial content) the journalist’s genuine thoughts about a product or service.

    So, either PRs working with bloggers need to educate their bosses / clients that blogger outreach needs budget to cover paying bloggers or brands need to move blogger outreach to a different part of the marketing department.

    BTW – I also don’t think it helps when some of the blogging networks are paid to put brands in touch with bloggers, so that the brands can offer bloggers unpaid ‘opportunities’. It’s great for the network – they’ve got their payment – it’s great for the brand, if they get coverage – but what about for the blogger?

    In return for expecting PRs / brands to wise-up, us bloggers need to perhaps think about how we represent ourselves to brands. If we want to earn money from our blogs by working with brands, we need to make sure that the blog is run professionally, that we have a media kit that gives a genuine overview of what the blogger and the blog can offer a brand and that we get our business heads on when dealing with brands. That way a brand can be really sure of what they are getting for their investment in collaborating with a blogger.

    I think that a few of us should get together and have a Google Hangout on this subject… it’s well worth discussing, because something needs to change, blogging isn’t going to go away, coverage on the right blogs is hugely valuable to brands, but until us bloggers can unite and help brands to understand how best to work with us, many bloggers will continue to be either taken advantage of / or annoyed by ridiculous ‘opportunities’ clogging up their inboxes.

  • Well said! It really surprises me when PRs pull the “no budget” line. Right, so the massive brand you’re working for could afford to pay you, but have nothing left for the person who is actually going to advertise for them?? Grrrrrr! Blood boiling, isn’t it? Unfortunately these few, p**s taking PRs know they will find someone to do it for free, regardless of how much exposure the product/service actually gets at the end. Baffles me….

  • Im a Huffington Post blogger and even though we don’t get money for it, we do get a big audience that is already there for us. I have been getting good work from it, my blog is very different and I treat it as an column as I don’t do blogging for a living. I write and post wherever i feel like it and i just write about specific content which is not suitable for brands or for selling products , but out of it i got paid freelance work which has been helpful so i would say, you have to balance sometimes . Pro bloggers or people with a lot of following can afford binning those emails but if you are starting up, then maybe it is a good way to start. I make films and believe me, a lot of times we work for the love of it.

  • From the novice blogger point of view, i think your post is brilliant. Its only fair that the PR company give the blogger something for the work they will put in. Even if its only the product to test and keep,something is better than nothing.

    Thanks for sharing :) xx

  • Love your post, also ALL the comments! Such a wealth of experience and opinions.
    Personally I think the only thing that’s even cheekier than PRs wanting it for free, is advertisers wanting it for ‘free’ or very close to nothing! And they think you’re going to post their advert ALL over your page and posts!! And they don’t tell you the ‘nothing’ they’re planning on paying you until you’ve invested in responding to multiple emails!

    What about PRs that want to give you one, and want to give you one to give away… What’s the general opinion on that one?

  • Good rant :)

    My “favourite” PR request came on the back of my old blog – I was asked to try their product (online thing), write a blog post of it, and then they would interview me and I’d get featured on their blog/website. So essentially they wanted me to advertise them, as well as provide them content on their own website for the pleasure. Gee, thanks but no thanks. The cheek I thought!

  • I couldn’t agree more. I am so busy these days that such emails often just get deleted now. I used to reply and would then get sucked into a never ending chain of debating emails so I just don’t bother any more. With 4 kids (one of which is newborn) and work to contend with on top of everything else, there is NO WAY I can work for free!! x

  • To be honest, I think you’re pretty spot on. I’m very new to this blogging lark, started in August but I’m so proud of what I have achieved in just that time. Anyhoo, I was contacted to do a post that would basically not in any way shape or form fit in with what I normally write about and I politely declined or I said I would do it in a few months when my circumstances are going to change and they were nooooo happy :/ . Our blogs are our little corner, our space and you’re completely right in everything you mention! Thanks – bet you felt better afterwards :)

  • Spot on! Vicki is right that not all PRs/brands are like this and most do value the contribution we make to their marketing campaigns. I work with some amazing brands who get this right every time.

    However there are a lot of amateurs out there who think they can get something for nothing (like my recent experience with a freelancer who refused to pay even once the work was done…grrrrr). In my opinion it’s a common courtesy to use my name correctly and more importantly how can they possibly know if my blog is right for their campaign if they haven’t taken the time to read it?

  • This post really resonates with me… I’ve been a designer and art director for the last 20 years and freelanced for the last 8. It’s incredible how many times I’ve been asked to create a logo — or other time consuming piece of artwork — for free.

    Sometimes it’s my friends… and sometimes (depending on how much I love them) I oblige… but occasionally I have been asked by companies — or start up businesses — to create something free gratis. And it makes me LIVID!!!

    Creating a clever piece of copy or a beautiful logo is really time consuming; even for someone that’s great at their job. But maybe creative services look easy to the uneducated? Maybe if you’re really good at your job, you MAKE it look easy??

    I don’t know… but, as you say, who works for free?? I find it really condescending to even be asked — particularly when I’m made to feel like the bad guy for saying ‘no’!

    Fortunately, my little blog — even though I’ve been writing it for over two years — has never been the target of such requests. Bloody good job too! Any more freebie requests and I think I’d self combust!!! X

  • Katie as you know I’m with you all the way on this as I’ve written several posts on the same subject. It’s very disheartening to hear that so many bloggers are still getting such insulting offers, but here’s something ( for you and anyone who may be reading all the comments!):

    After writing my posts I decided to offer brands/PRs two very clear ways of working with me when offering a product for review. (If I get an offer of featuring them with shares on their social media, I politely suggest they get a blogger outreach budget as I can’t see how that would benefit anyone but themselves).

    1. I’ll accept a product for review without a fee – it’s up to me as and when to feature it on my blog. My timescale, my choice of links in the post, etc.
    2. I’ll accept a product for review but they can pay a fee for a guaranteed review post. They are NOT paying for the review itself – they are paying for the admin involved, a quick turnaround, quality photos, shares on social media and permission to use my photos on their website or blog for their own promotional use. The actual opinion is mine and 100% honest.

    Since telling brands/PRs about my policy, I’ve either been given products without a fee being paid (and enjoyed the absence of pressure to get a post published) or they’ve been willing to pay a fee and got a damn good lot of exposure out of it! One brand even came back to me about six weeks later to ask for another review as they were so pleased with the first one. And it’s not always big brands who are willing to pay. I’ve found it’s generally the smaller brands that have a budget and will pay but the bigger brands generally don’t… funny that.

    So bloggers, PLEASE think about how much you are worth and don’t think that you have to accept every offer sent your way. Be selective, and always reply politely – you never know when that person may have another offer that IS worth your while, or may go to work for another brand that does have a budget, so don’t burn your bridges!

    Thanks Katie for a really well written and honest post. Up the #fairpayforbloggers campaign!!

    Catherine x

  • Katie this is such an interesting post and the comments especially useful. I find this particularly difficult with food posts. I am approached all the time to be sent food items in return for using them in a post. The items may cost anywhere between £1 and hundreds of pounds, but most are below £10. So they want me to create, plan, shop for, buy ingredients for, test, make, photograph, edit, write up and post a recipe which in total probably takes me 5 hours, for £10? It. Makes. My. BLOOD. BOIL. The difficulty is, whilst people still say yes, brands will continue to think that it’s acceptable won’t they?

    The comments by Luci above re blogger networks also hit home. I have to say, I find it utterly insulting that networks that ‘champion’ bloggers, still pass on (being paid to do so) ‘offers’ of things like a blog post in return for a bag of crisps.. There’s something very wrong with the fact that they are indirectly educating people that working for a bag of crisps is standard. Ridiculous..

  • Ah yes, I’ve been getting them too.

    “Oh you would be such a good fit with your great taste and style blablablabla.”

    Sometimes they do offer you “our social media team will pick their favorites and share them.” That’s great. You want me to invest my time and my social leverage for a chance that maybe you can be arsed to give me some exposure in return. Amazing! Can I order two of that?

    I can absolutely see the point in politely replying anyway and I’ve never been rude to them, but I have a hard time even wanting to reply. I am really torn on that. The idea of stating up front your policies is great, I’ve adopted something similar, even if I am too small (yet) to draw much attention.

  • Wait, are they asking you to buy the product as well as promote it? So they aren’t even providing you with a PR sample? If so, that is crazy. I haven’t come across this kind of thing – as a relatively new blogger I don’t really work with brands and my blog is just a hobby – but still I am shocked. Imagine if you asked them to do their job for free! Do you still reply to them? I get review requests that I don’t want to take and I always feel bad turning them down but I suppose it’s polite- even if they have ignored the review policy and basic PR etiquette!

  • I have the same blooming big brand email me sometimes twice a week to do something for a pack of wipes! Oh it drives me mad! I also had a man ask me to do something for free and then was so rude to me. I just have a polite email I copy and paste and send back now to hush them ups. Bah! x

  • This was an amazing read. I have worked in creative industries for most of my working life. I know how it feels to be told that this and that is a “five minute job”. I am photographer (besides blogging) and I constantly hear that being one is something that everyone with a camera can do. No one realises how much time it takes to promote the business, accounting, editing and more. Creatives should get paid for the job! You perfectly described it above. Love your blog!

  • As a much smaller, much newer blogger – I get this all the time. My numbers are much smaller than some power bloggers but my readers are loyal. So what on earth makes these cheeky people think I will willingly spam my lovely readers with something I don’t believe in?!
    Well said and I love this post #sundaystars

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