This post was inspired by an email I received recently. It was the first real bigger brand that wanted to work with me that wasn't an Amazon seller trying to get me to buy something. I was so excited. But what they proposed for me to write was basically a copy and paste of their ad.
That is not something I do here on ZGW. I refuse to post something that is not mostly written by me. They also didn't mention anything about the compensation of any kind. So I wasn't even going to reply. But it was the first semi-well-known brand that wanted to work with me.
I decided to email back a few post concepts, one that was a storytime based around the product and one where they could send me the product and after experiencing the products and taking photos I could send them back.
This particular company is an eyewear company that sends out pairs for free for you to try on. Then you pick one, pay and they send the rest back. So I thought maybe that would work for them.
I also asked at the end "what is the budget for this post?" I put a lot of time and hard work into all my posts. I don't want to use my time to write a post for a company for free when I can spend that time writing one of my regularly scheduled posts.
These are the emails that I received and sent back. I removed the company name, the PR person's name, and all the details they told me because I don't want them to sue me for "releasing product info" or something stupid.
I stand by what I said. "I can not do posts without compensation. I work very hard to put a lot of time and effort into each and every post on my blog. Writing this post would take time away from writing my regularly scheduled posts. I also work very hard to build my social media presence. Blogger's put in so much hard work and I feel that it is unreasonable to ask for any promotional post from them without any sort of compensation, such as a free product, payment, social media promotion, etc. For many bloggers, their blog is their job. Companies expecting to not have to give compensation for so much work is not ok."
If a blogger wants to or are able to do a piece for free that is great but no blogger should have to do a piece for free. You are putting in hard work and using your time to create a blog post that is ultimately an ad for the brand. Why do that for free?
I would consider doing a piece for free if it was a brand I truly loved. A free post can open a PR relationship between you and that brand but any brand worth working with would mostly offer to at least retweet your post. Retweeting you is free from them and gives you exposure. Which is great sometimes but doesn't pay the bills. That's why I'd only do free/retweet work for brands I truly love and would already be writing about.
The brand that emailed me yesterday was looking for a free ad. Not even a sidebar ad they wanted me to write the ad for them and post it on my blog. "Sponsored" content should never be just an ad. You should add your thoughts and views. An ad on your sidebar or social media is one but a full post that is just an ad isn't ok.
Brands expect bloggers to do free ads and promotion because, sadly for the mass majority of the world, online content creating isn't seen as a real job. Most people think it takes a short amount of time and that it can never be anything more than a hobby.
That isn't the truth. I spent 3 hours just today editing photos for one post. Bloggers put their heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into their work and most brands still think they can manipulate them into doing free promo.
I put my foot down today. I refused to work for free. If you do spon for free that is ok, I'm not judging bloggers who do. I'm saying that if you don't want to work with brands for free you don't have to. Stand your ground and ask for compensation. Many brands will offer a product or payment, unlike this brand did with me.
This brand refused to compensate me for my time in any way. Even most companies at least offer social media shares. That's what has me a little mad. Social shares are free and they wouldn't even offer that.
I've worked with an indie brand, SPI Cosmetics. I had a lovely interaction with them and they sent me free brushes to review. This was a bigger and more known brand and they didn't offer anything.
A lot of brands think that blogger promotion is 100% free. I, as nicely and professional as I could, gave that PR person a bit of a lecture. I doubt it will affect how they approach bloggers in the future but this interaction gave me more confidence when asking for compensation.
If you want compensation for a blog post, ask them what the budget is or if they offer products in exchange for posts. Don't be afraid to ask! If you want compensation don't do that post for free! How do you think the "Big" bloggers get paid? Do you think companies throw money at them?
This was my first experience with a bigger brand. I'm upset it didn't work out but I'm not an ad blog nor do I work for free. I tried to pitch a way to meet in the middle but they were a bit blunt and seemed to get a little pissy once I mentioned budget. It's probably for the best. After this back and forth I don't think I would have liked working with them.
Have you had any bad experiences with PR?
My normal sign off doesn't free right tonight so I'll just say thanks to reading about my run-in with bad PR and I'll see you all tomorrow for your regularly scheduled Blogmas.
Photo Credit: Photo taken by me with a Canon EOS Rebel T5 with an 18-55mm lens and edited by me in Photoshop. **This post was not sponsored** (Obviously)