This is going to be a rant – you’ve been warned. On several occasions since I educated myself on sponsorship law last year I’ve had issues with PR companies trying to get around disclosures and in many cases pulling out of working with me because I insist on including them. A handful of times they will wait until the post is written and published to take exception which REALLY ticks me off as my side is done by this point and because I wouldn’t break this law they think they can refuse to pay me – I don’t think so. Yesterday one such instance occurred and the company was representing a well known, national brand.. they told me that said brand was adamant that no disclosure be made and that it was absolutely not them but the ‘client’ who had the problem. There are multiple reasons why a company may feel this way but they usually pull the line of ‘Google penalises both bloggers for using a keyword such as paid or sponsored’ – this is not the case at all. There’s a great post here if you’d like to learn more about what Google are actually doing and how it may affect you.
It wouldn’t take a genius or much detective work to figure out who I am referring to however I’m yet to hear back from the brand directly so until I do I don’t want to defame them. Regardless the PR company is happy to skirt the law and encourage bloggers to be less than honest with their readers and that’s just not right. What’s worse is that I’ve found bloggers whose opinion I previously held in high regard who have not disclosed this (and on closer inspection multiple others) compensation in their own post for this campaign. There’s no wonder people are suspicious of bloggers and their glowing reviews. If you read 2 posts on the exact same topic promoting the exact same thing and one reads sponsored and the other doesn’t.. are you going to want to keep reading that blog? Some people have an issue with paid posts full stop and I obviously have a weighted perspective because I do earn money myself that way but it absolutely HAS to be made transparent – I personally draw the line at being paid for a positive review but while not entirely ethical (in my opinion) that’s still perfectly legal according to the unfair trading act SO LONG AS IT’S DISCLOSED!! .Maybe you don’t care about the law but you have to care about your readers because without them there would be no sponsorship to disclose!
I’m irritated that brands are still doing this but if all bloggers followed the law they’d have to fall in line along with us and if ‘heavyweight’ bloggers (who could definitely afford to turn down the odd offer) are being less than scrupulous while lesser read folk are sticking to their principles nothing will change. I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on this – from both sides!