Monday, May 5, 2008

Bribing Bloggers

With traditional media there are rules. You cannot bribe a journalist. There are laws against that sort of thing. Bloggers do not have these kinds of rules. Should we as public relations professionals rejoice at the new possibility of offering gifts in exchange for favorable blog posts?

I read two interesting blog posts recently about the topic. In a recent post Chris Brogan wrote "If you want us to write about your software app or your new gizmo, give a few away." Many of his twitter friends appeared to agree.

However, another post by Jason Falls presented a different view point.

"Shwag, in fact, normally gets you outed and made fun of," wrote Falls. "They want to know you understand who they are, what interests their blog serves and then what their audience is interested in." The comments appear to agree with his post.

Clearly there seems to be some disagreement about whether or not bribing bloggers will work. I am inclined to agree with both Brogan and Falls. I have no issue with a company giving free stuff to a celebrity in order to get the media coverage of the celebrity wearing or using a product. Bloggers are the same way. They are individuals and have the right to accept money or stuff for their endorsement. However, if bloggers continue this practice, and the products are not actually worthy of their endorsement they will ultimately lose credibility.

I also agree with Falls that giving bloggers free stuff does not usually work. While I do not see any real moral implications with bribing bloggers, I believe that making personal, genuine connections with bloggers is more effective. Ultimately, this is what Brogan is advocating as well.


Matt said...

On one hand, companies giving prizes in order to elicit favorable reviews sounds ethically dishonest and ought to be prevented. But on the other hand, a blogger isn't bound to write something nice simply because he got a wristband or a poster. It breaks down to the ethics of individual bloggers, and readers must make their own judgments as to whether a blogger is credible or if he/she is simply out to get free stuff.

Jason Falls said...

Great post, Hannah. Schwag isn't always bad. Just schwag with the intent of breaking the ice and opening the door to coverage is. If you connect with me about your product or service, tell me why it's relevant to my audience and then say, "Wanna try it out?" I'm going to say "yes." If you say, "Got some extra T-shirts ... what size do you wear," I'll say "tent ... bring it on." If you just send me a cell phone and say, "Here's something we'd like you to review on your blog," you'll be lucky if I don't throw it in the river. Connect with me, then schwag is fine.

Good back and forth here. Thanks for mentioning me.