Well, it has been a busy couple of days on the blogosphere. Kicked off by this post Â by Sian atÂ Mummy Tips, swiftly followed by Mummy From The Heart, asking if she is a blagger and the journalist’s view from Joanne Mallon.
Sian noted that increasingly the service Response Source, which is used by PR companies to find journalists and bloggers interested in writing about their clients’ products, has been overrun by bloggers looking for products to review. Particularly “Mummybloggers” are giving bloggers a bad name, by badgering PR companies with emails sometimes several times a day. Sian has decided not to use Response Source since there are so many bloggers “on the blag”. I am left wondering what RS must be making of all this. Presumably they are not too happy with the developments.
Obviously this has set off a chain reaction of bloggers hotly defending themselves and their ilk, checking their review to normal post quota, and a fair bit of huffing and puffing.
To be honest, it is no surprise to anyone who has been blogging for a while. Have a look at any of the blogging platforms that offer networking and advice to parenting bloggers – whether Netmums, Mumsnet, Britmums – when you scan the blogs on these sites, there are a lot of reviews. Sometimes I will click on a blog that sounds interesting, only to click away immediately it becomes apparent that the blog consists of review after review after review. Or offering the chance to win an item, with very little content other than advertising.
I don’t mind a review or two, but if I am really honest I don’t often read them (although I did read Joanne’s Wii review this week and bought the game recommended by her). Â Actually, when I think about it, Joanne’s Playmobil review was the post that led me to her blog. If you are going to write a review, try doing one as well-written, well-researched and as amusing as those that Joanne writes.
What is worrying is that there seems to be a trend of people starting blogs purely to write reviews and most of them are neither well-written nor amusing. My pet hate is a post that seems strange, and when you get to the end of the post there is a clumsy link to a product. I have seen one recently for an insurance company and it was so obvious that the blogger did not really think much of the company but had been paid to write the post.
With only a slight bit of jealousy, I will admit that I have never been asked to review a product. I do sometimes look enviously at bloggers such as Mummy From The Heart who admits that she receives “well over 50 emails a week” offering a product to review. No idea what makes me uninteresting to PR folk, perhaps my living abroad, or that I am not a typical Mummyblogger with young children or babies. Or because I have never gone looking for a review opportunity.
But seriously, can you blame bloggers for doing reviews when they are getting 50 emails a week offering free stuff? Particularly when many Mummybloggers are stay at home mums with a) time to blog and review and b) perhaps only one full time wage coming into the family. Can we blame bloggers for taking what is being offered?
There is a fair bit of co-dependency between bloggers and PR companies. Bloggers are sponsored by companies when they wish to go to a blogging conference (I have sadly not found a company willing to fly me over from Geneva to London for a conference) and in return mention the company on their blogs. I recall reading about a conference a while back where the bloggers were given bags and bags of goodies from companies hoping for a favourable write up.
Do take a moment to read the comments on Sian’s blog as there is a great debate going on, with companies and PR professionals adding their views. I was particularly interested in the comment the owner of a brand that targets the parenting market. They wrote that they are constantlyÂ inundatedÂ with freebie requests. Interestingly, when they did approach a blogger to ask her to do a review, they were surprised at the result:
Given that she is one of the biggest names in mummy blogging, I was stunned by how low the click-through rate was. The ROI was a tiny percentage of that from Adwords or other established marketing techniques.
Of course it is difficult to measure the success of a review, as the reader may not click straight through to Amazon and buy the item, and the review is another way of building brand awareness for the company. Still, it is something to be considered. As long as the brands and their PR feel that their product is benefiting from the reviews, they will continue to offer products to bloggers. If there is the feeling that it does not bring enough increased revenue, then the issue may well resolve itself.
What do you think?
Have you ever bought something because it was reviewed favourably on a blog? If yes, did you look for a blog that reviewed the product as you were interested in buying this product or did you discover the product when reading a blog that you subscribe to?
Do you put more faith in the review being truly independent and honest if the blogger did not receive the item free from the company?