The blogger blaggers are coming, and they're demanding free nappies. Also folding prams and toys to review. Not only that, they just might be ruining the blogging landscape for the rest of us.
That's the fear at least. The subject of mum bloggers soliciting free things to review has become a hot topic - not just that they're out there trolling for goods, but the fact that they're reviewing things at all.
"Doesn't sending them freebies taint the process and turn the resulting blog posts into advertorial?", people ask at every digital event I've spoken at (cue hand-wringing). The answer, of course, is yes. At least sometimes. We've all seen blogs that feature hot-off-the-press-release text with a lame product shot and absolutely no insight whatsoever.
Yet, the other answer as to whether freebies taint blog reviews is no.
Parent bloggers can be a discriminating bunch. What we see at BritMums, the UK's 3,000-strong blogger network, is that reviews are part of the creative mix - specially curated to attract and keep their readers. These mums and dads have started blogging as a way to express themselves and be part of a tribe.
They want to speak their minds about childrearing and primetime TV and some of the masses of products in their lives as a result of being a parent. And while a few parrot PR pitches, most don't feel the need to pull their punches. The good ones blog with integrity and are transparent in their commercial dealings and on their blogs.
Yet misconceptions about blogger reviewers abound. Such as, unlike journalist counterparts, bloggers can be unduly influenced by PRs. (Anyone who thinks journalists don't receive product for free or that, say, special luxury watch sections are driven by deep editorial need hasn't spent much time at a magazine or newspaper.)
Some bloggers fear their grabby brethren will tar all with the same brush. But savvy PRs know the difference between a valuable blogger and one who's just out for swag.
Some say the grabbies are going to turn marketing folks off blogs in general. Sure...if they don't care about harnessing the power of the internet. As online influencers go, the power of bloggers is only growing - they have in effect their own publishing networks, reaching across blogs, Twitter, Facebook and beyond.
There's always a struggle to maintain quality, ethics, standards, no matter the medium. Let's just make sure the discussion about bloggers doesn't coagulate around whether a few people are making unseemly bids for free stuff. We all have much bigger fish to fry.
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