This week PR Daily posed an important question: Should brands pay for blog mentions?
Before the requisite “this is a complicated issue that will affect different parties differently and we want to avoid making overgeneralizations” statement, we’ll give you the short answer: no.
Don’t get mad before you read the qualifiers: well over 50% of the public turns to editorial sites for info on products, so if a prominent blogger truly enjoys/approves of your client’s product, any related content is PR gold. But you already knew that.
Here’s the rub: As readers and writers of blogs, we can tell you that if you are a blogger who consumers turn to for “unbiased” insights, they will begin to question your credibility the minute they discover that you were paid to promote something even if you’ve made that relationship clear to everyone who visits your site (which you’re legally required to do anyway).
No, bloggers aren’t held to such strict standards of objectivity as traditional journalists. But paid endorsements can never be 100% “sincere,” so their value is limited. The conflict of interest between blogger and patron ensures this fact.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to get bloggers to promote your client, but there are some big caveats: