Many thanks to Paul Bradshaw for posting this piece about PR firms using bloggers to push marketing campaigns on the sly. Calling fellow bloggers: Did you know that you could be required by the Office of Fair Trading to declare whether any of your content is paid-for?
As I mentioned recently, PRs regularly approach me with paid-for link and posting deals. I’m repelled by them, for the same reasons as Paul.
But I know there’s lots of it going on. There are whole sites purporting to be ‘genuine’ blogs written by amateur enthusiasts that are in reality fronts for undeclared PR campaigns, or which have been set up by marketing companies solely to boost SEO rankings for certain keywords.
Further down the ‘corruption’ scale, amateur bloggers are taking money here and there in return for undisclosed content deals. They must be: I wouldn’t be getting these constant offers if nobody ever took them up.
This is blogging’s dirty little not-so-secret… and there’s some of it in gardening.
You may or may not care about this. I don’t – at least as far as the money itself is concerned. Folks have got to live. If you need the money, take it. Good on you.
But please don’t take it without disclosing what you’ve done for it. Every secret paid-for post, link or review erodes trust in ALL bloggers, ALL writers. Every opinion, every ‘recommendation’, every ‘fact’, every SEO-optimised headline, every URL itself becomes suspect.
Hey, it’s obviously too late for such a naïve plea. I realise that. I’m also aware that this post won’t be universally popular. Nobody likes an ivory tower crusader.
But here’s the thing: The world is not a better place if everything you read, everywhere, is bollocks. In fact, it becomes a better or worse place in direct proportion to every lie that is or isn’t told.
Think about that when PRs dangle baubles before you.
PS Right on cue, I got an offer by email today of money in return for ‘guest posts’ and/or ‘bespoke content’ provided by ‘our highly experienced content writers’. It seems unlikely that anyone would make that offer today – of all days – if they actually read these pages.
But just to test, here’s my reply to the offer: Bidding for sole advertiser status on soilman.net hasn’t officially started, Mr P.G, but I would be happy to write you down for an opening bid of $1 million. I’ll accept payment in US dollars, sterling or major human body organs.
PPS You really DON’T want to place your clients’ ads on this site, Mr P.G. I am habitually dark, cynical, moany, curmudgeonly, negative, profane and a prize pain in the arse. This makes my site a lousy vehicle for any brand.