Paying bloggers – right or wrong?

The results of the PR Week online poll will no doubt cause much hand-wringing in the industry and, particularly, amongst the social media chattering classes.

In answer to the question, "Should brands/PROs be able to pay bloggers for coverage?" 63% of people said "yes".

It's the right answer. Of course they should be allowed to. In the same way that brands and PROs are able to pay traditional media for coverage. We call them advertorials. The crucial point is that advertorials are always marked as such and, therefore, their impartiality, influence and trustworthiness is diminished. The same should be the case for bloggers. Where they've been paid to write something, they should say so. We can all then take what they write with an enormous pinch of salt.

Perhaps it's a lesson in writing a useful survey question?

3 thoughts on “Paying bloggers – right or wrong?”

  1. I think it’s great that this debate has been brought into the open, even if the question’s phrasing could have been handled a little better.

    Where Lolly’s original post that kick started this is spot on, is where she says: “I am very much pro-incentivising bloggers for their time but favour product-based incentives, thus giving bloggers the opportunity to experience the brand/product in question first-hand.”

    How otherwise can a blogger retain their credibility? If an agency wants to advertise on a blog, why not by a banner ad and stay well clear of this potential minefield?

  2. Quite agree Matt. As with many things in the world of Web 2.0, things haven’t changed very much.

    For instance, I’ve never recommended that a client runs an advertorial. If you want to advertise, advertise. If you want some credible editorial, then come up with a story strong enough to interest a journalist.

    And to Lolly’s point, review programmes have been run since…well, since products were first produced. There’s nothing wrong with putting kit in the hands of journalists and bloggers, if there’s no expectation other than a frank and honest view.

  3. You’re right to point out this isn’t rocket science. If you pay, and it’s obvious you’ve paid, for any sort of coverage, whether it’s an advertorial or one of those awful glossy ‘specials’ that PR Wank does, where WOW you get a full page profile on yourself and your company but DOH there is a full page add on the opposite page. To me that’s advertorial.

    Someone said to me once there is no such thing as an influential blogger, because as soon as they become influential, they are journalists. There’s something in that. Once money is changing hands, you’ve crossed over to the dark side. Or is that the light side?

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