At the recent BlogHer conference, a small time blogger approached a representative from the shoe company Crocs. Apparently she didn't get her gift bag with free Crocs in it when she arrived. So, without hesitation she approached the Crocs rep and told him he really should give her a pair of free shoes or she'd write something nasty about him and or the company on her blog. You read that right, she was so caught up in self importance she was willing to sell her soul for a plastic pair of crap shoes.
How often is this repeated across America? How many times do bloggers demand free stuff in order to write a positive review or become what those in the PR industry refer to as 'influencers'? In our opinion once is too often.
Some mombloggers do take free products in return for posts on the products but with one important caveat. As pointed out in the New York Times, and BusinessWeek, if they get something that they don't like or simply doesn't work well, they simply don't write about it. Instead of being intellectually honest and reporting out what eats, sucks or blows, they simply don't give the product any bad press. Why would they? The free swag gravytrain may have it's limits. Too many bad reviews or snarky comments on one companies products and company X is onto the next influencer. Hence the huge credibility gap with those who do blog and take ANY free stuff in exchange for posts. Another big issue here is many of those getting free stuff in exchange for blog posts don't disclose that they are getting the stuff for free. This is an abhorrant breakdown in morals. When someone gives you something in exchange for press, you disclose it.
So citizens, going forward if you see a site raving about the latest and greatest don't be afraid to ask questions or leave a comment asking if that reviewer took something for free for the post. You have every right to know how much influence the influencers are under. It's one reason you'll never ever never see ads here. If Johnny wants to say something nice about say Murray's Cheese he can without the taint of being on their gravytrain or getting special discounts when he goes there. He'll always tell you the truth as he's not bought and paid for like so many blogs nowadays.