Thursday, September 17, 2009

The ethics of blagging

We get a lot of emails from PRs telling us about various new products, everything from mascara to software and a lot else in between. I'm an ex-PR - I racked up 13 long years in the business before coming to Dubai and realising that I enjoy a life of laziness far more than a life of ass-kissing - so I know most of the tricks.

I know that it's often a numbers game and any blog with a 'parenting' tag is suitable prey. I know that bloggers are the new hot target for numerous brands; I wrote plenty of proposals in my former life on how to engage bloggers in an effort to gain a foothold in the credibility mountain. I even have a small amount of sympathy for those PRs forced to peddle rubbish; everyone has to eat, after all.

Most of the emails we delete, especially the press releases spinning stuff with no relevance to what we do (guys, please read our blog before trying to flog us washing powder or teen clothing), but there is the odd one that makes us pause.

Up to now we have refused to endorse anything we haven't stumbled across ourselves, nothing on our blog has been PR-generated. But are we right to take this stance? Is sitting up there on our moral high-ground actually depriving us of material? Should we be taking advantage of the PR machine by sifting through the muck and pulling out diamonds that we wouldn't normally come across if left to our own devices?

But there's no such thing as a free lunch. How compromised would we be if we take a PR review freebie and then truly hate it? How would it affect our neutrality? Would you, our readers, want us to give you our opinion on new products coming on to the market? Would you accept our promise to be 100% transparent?

We'd love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment or email us offblog at Thanks.


Anonymous said...

If your honest about getting something for free and say what you really think about it then its fine. it would be wrong to say you like something just because you got it as a gift from a company. Blogs should always be honest and stay true to themselves.

Anonymous said...

As long as you promise to be totally honest and objective we don't mind. x

Anonymous said...

You cannot take the free gift with one hand and write unbiased PR with the other. We are not made like that. We are hugely influenced by everything that happens to us. Keep your hands clean and you will never doubt your own opinion.

YLM said...

We would never say we like something just because we got it for free. I like to think that because I worked in PR for so long I know the tricks and so am unlikely to fall for any of it - plus MM is a journo by trade so we have both sides of the coin covered!

If we do go ahead and agree to review appropriate products we would inform the PR involved from the outset that we would be 100% honest in our review and if they have a problem with that then they'd be welcome to rescind their offer.

We'd also want to pass on the freebies to our readers if possible, offering products we've looked at up as prizes on the blog.

But part of me thinks it probably isn't worth the hassle. Any more comments on this are very welcome.