I try not to get too ranty on the internet. In fact, I usually steer clear of it. My goal is to try to be positive (with occasional snark thrown in) and on this site, in particular, to educate. So I’m going to pass this off as educational, especially if you’re in PR.
As you know from my Pitch of the Week series, I take PR pitches seriously. I read them, think about them, and ultimately decide if they are a good fit for me and my blog. And when I accept a pitch, I try to make sure the expectations are very clear.
Sometimes there are contracts and W-9s exchanged. Other times, it’s a friendly email from a company or PR rep asking if I might be interested in reviewing something. With a few quick notes back and forth, my home address is given and product is sent my way.
When I agree to do a sponsored post, I usually am given code to embed in my post and given a writing prompt. There is a contract and my obligations are clearly spelled out, as is compensation, expectations, and deadlines. I usually do my best to meet all of the above. I think I’ve missed one or two deadlines ever and then I apologized profusely. (If you don’t take deadlines seriously, you should.)
I have a job to do and I do it. I’d love to get feedback on my posts from the clients or even the agencies that contracted me but it’s not essential. It would just be a nice-to-have to help me improve my style of writing for those types of posts.
Other times, I’ve received a product or service from a company in the hopes that I would be compelled to write a review about it. Yes, compelled. Because you aren’t required to review a product once you’ve received it. However, in order to avoid that situation, I suggest not accepting a product or service that you wouldn’t want to review in the first place. And if you’ve received something that was much lower than your expectations, it’s still a good idea to write a review about exactly that.
I’m pretty selective about what I pick and choose and generally looking forward to writing about the product. I will admit that in the past I’ve spent way too much time on a product review. I’ll do a whole photo shoot or create a video in an effort to get creative and make it fun and interesting for my readers. I also work hard keep my voice consistent so that if you like my writing, you’ll at least like the style of writing in my review, even if the product isn’t your thing. All in all, I think I do a pretty good job. And then I promote it.
Once I’ve completed a review, I usually do a few things:
- Email the PR or brand rep with the link to the post (I’ll often give them a heads up of when I am going to post as well)
- Tweet the link using the brand/product’s Twitter ID, if applicable
- Post the link to my personal Facebook profile
- Post the link to my blog’s Facebook page with a link to the brand/product’s Facebook page
Here’s where I get a little peeved. In general, the products I receive aren’t worth anywhere near what I would consider my hourly rate for freelancing. That’s okay. I accepted the product and chose to review it. What I really want when it’s all said and done is feedback and a little reciprocity.
- Please tell me if you liked my video. Please tell me if you thought my writing was creative. Please tell me if I’ve misstated something. Please comment on my post and join in the comment conversation. But please, tell me something. Give me feedback. And at the very least, a thank you would be nice. We’re not journalists. We don’t get paid. We’ll take what we can get.
- Please share. I’m using my audience, my circle of influence, and giving you the spotlight. I’m introducing you to my Facebook fans and friends, my Twitter followers, and my readers. Please tell your circle that I’m talking about you. Put it on your Facebook page. Tweet it to your followers. Retweet my links. Do something.
Now, I know my views aren’t representative of all bloggers out there. Some bloggers don’t want brands to promote their work. Perhaps it makes them feel a little too commercial. I think writing reviews is somewhat commercial in and of itself. It’s definitely a choice but one that should hopefully be mutually beneficial.
That wasn’t so bad, was it? What are your thoughts on this?