I reprised my role as the social media expert for the Newsplex today, commenting on air about the FTC’s plans to regulate bloggers who accept compensation (in cash or products) in exchange for reviews or information on their blogs. I’ve not made this practice a large part of this blog but have reviewed products I purchased and liked, resulting in the receipt of products to give away to readers. I have been offered products to review, but have not often taken advantage. I’ve never been offered anything seriously cool (like a car or a trip to Europe). I am pitched by PR people from agencies or from companies themselves several times daily and receive offers for free giveaways or products to review regularly. I believe my experience to be common amongst bloggers, particularly those of us identified as “mom bloggers.” The thinking, of course, is that we moms make the majority of household buying decisions.
When I blogged as a journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I was a compensated freelance writer, just as a columnist would be. I wrote about shopping and therefore showed up on the distribution lists of PR firms representing cosmetics, clothing, skincare products and the like. In this role, I was given LOTS of stuff to try and to write about. IF I felt like it.
I have never seen a conditional pitch. I think that people are smart enough to take product reviews with a grain of salt. I agree that bloggers as well as journalists should be transparent about the receipt of goods or compensation HOWEVER, it’s not the bloggers that need be regulated; it’s the companies.
For example, if it were to come to light that companies were making conditional requirements of online content and essentially buying positive blog posts about their products, then, it would be the company’s ethics and practices that should be called into question. Product review bloggers are just trying to make a living.
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