Integrity in the blogosphere takes time to build. Honesty in the blogosphere leads to integrity. Transparency in the blogosphere leads to honesty. Transparency will not make your blog successful overnight, but not being transparent can break it within moments.
When you are approached by a PR, it is very easy to take what they offer, be it a product review or a day out, and to write a post about it in glowing terms, and to think nothing of not saying that you were asked to write about said product or event, by the PR.
This is in effect, kidding your readers. If you write a product review, it may influence your readers to go out and purchase that product. If you purposely write a positive review because you want to receive further freebies from the PR, but the product is rubbish, you are essentially lying to your readers. Of course, only you will know this, unless later on it emerges that you were approached by that PR.
How could this happen?
Your name may appear on a report or list produced by the PR that is shared in the public domain – if your readers are to come across your name on a list of successfully contacted bloggers, they may immediately question your motives for writing such a glowing post and, for want of a better word, revolt.
Your integrity will be down the drain, your blog will lose readers and your approach to blogging will be shot to pieces.
So to prevent this happening, always disclose that you were approached by a PR, even mention their name and the company they work for. This alerts your readers to the fact that your post is going to be written for a particular brand, and that the content you’ve produce has been affected, one way or another, because of this.
There is nothing wrong with writing about a product or event that you’ve been asked to by a PR, because they hope you will write positively about it, as long as you disclose that you were contacted. I’ve always done this, I always will do, and I think that the majority of bloggers do follow this convention.
I was prompted to write this post after being approached by Mauricio Samayoa on behalf of Magners, who are currently running a music event in London. Knowing full well that I like the odd beverage and good music, Mauricio got in touch (remember the PR rules: know your audience!) and has invited me to see the Super Furry Animals at Somerset House. Not only was his outreach conducted in the right way, the content Magners are putting out there is bloggable – which with my blogger hat on, is the perfect way to engage.
With my PR hat on, it’s great that a brand has seen the social media light and are going about it in the right way, and of course I’ve learnt from the experience of seeing how other PRs are conducting their outreach. Not because I want to use, copy and steal that method, but because it’s great to see this style of outreach being conducted in the right manner – with transparency, honesty and integrity.