I recently got an email from a major retail chain asking if I would write about a special sale going on at all of their stores nationwide. In return, they would give me a $25 gift card to their chain that I could give away to a reader of my blog.
(I am purposely not naming the retailer, because I firmly believe they did nothing wrong by asking me a simple question.)
First, I was surprised that they had someone reading my blog, which does not attract an audience that I think matches the chain’s target customer base.
Second, I wondered what readers of the blog would think about having sponsored entries. Would accepting these gifts compromise the integrity of the blog?
So I posed the question to the TwitterSphere, with various responses:
“I would think the compromise would only occur if they were giving YOU the prizes to post glowing things about them.”
“depends on who they are and what they are offering to you. As long as you let them know up front you’ll be honest, then no.”
“I don’t think it compromises the integrity of the blog, unless you are biased in your writing because of the give aways.”
“no, as long as you disclose properly”
“Yes … I think it does.”
“Not if it is something you’d favorably talk about on your own. Its when bloggers misconstrue info to keep retailer happy.”
“I think yes. It’s treading down a dangerous path.”
Thanks to everyone who responded! You can see varying opinions from people I very much respect. This is not a light issue.
Here is my take: I will not run “sponsored” posts. I will not blog about anything I don’t want to blog about. If I ever do giveaways, it will be from things I acquire and wish to share (or junk I want to get rid of!). I try my hardest to disclose which topics are related to current and former clients and will continue to do that.
Most importantly, I want to maintain a high level of integrity in this forum, even if the subject matter may be light (yeah, we’ve discussed WWE, American Idol and my DVR listings). I find that impossible to do if I receive benefits from retailers.
Caveat: If a company sends me a product to review–and it is something I would want to review anyway…plus it doesn’t conflict or compete with one of my clients–I would consider it.
So what do you think? Does accepting prizes hurt the integrity of a blog? Very interested to hear your thoughts!
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