Home > Contemplations > Blogging, Events, And Swag. What Is The Responsibility Of The Blogger?

Blogging, Events, And Swag. What Is The Responsibility Of The Blogger?

Dan Levy blogging at laptop keyboard...OK technically this is a posed picture but that IS my hand and that IS my laptop from where I blog.

I have mentioned more than once how I love being a blogger and standing up on my digital soap box talking about things that strike my fancy every day of every week. I have also mentioned how often times this results in me receiving invites to events or receiving things from companies/brands to try out. However, while I appreciate each and every invitation I get and I love getting free stuff from brands/companies to try out (this is also known as ‘swag’) I have always maintained my honesty and integrity here on this blog and have been completely open about things with my blog readers. This is, in my opinion and in the opinions of readers who I have communicated with, part of what makes my blog, my posts, and my writing style attractive.

A couple of weeks back, actually it was on the day I went to the Ex, I read a tweet from Spiro aka @mandylor of ItsAllStyleToMe.com. I am going to quote it to you directly and post a screenshot of it but, for full disclosure’s sake, here is a link to it. The tweet read: “PR firms make sure bloggers provide verifiable web stats, twitter, FB accounts. Demand a post within 72 hours fashion show/event. #blogs.

At first I agreed with Spiro when I read his tweet and I retweeted it. However, upon further reflection since then – the tweet was tweeted on August 24th around 3PM – and I came to realize that while I think Spiro is a good guy I don’t 100% agree with him. Why is this? Well, while I agree that PR Firms should be more than entitled to check with bloggers/online personalities for their stats to ensure that the PR company’s client is getting value for inviting people to the event or sending them swag at the same time who is to say that the event/product will be worth writing about?

As an example, I was recently invited to an event for the launch of a new product. I went to the event and while it was an OK event there was nothing there that wowed me. The product was not, as far as I could see, being demonstrated live at the event and it was a product that was being launched on one popular mobile platform but not two of the other, also very popular, mobile platforms the devices I was carrying with me at the time ran on. This meant that I couldn’t use the product for myself once I got home, I couldn’t see the product in action, and there was nothing particularly uber-cool about the event itself. What exactly was I to write? I don’t want to bore my readers by regurgitating the press release. I value the attention my readers pay to my blog and don’t want to pay lip service to a brand because I now owe them for inviting me to something. If this means I get invited to less stuff and/or receive less stuff than other bloggers/online personalities/media then so be it. I am content with knowing that I am always bringing my readers something that wowed me and which I think all y’all will find cool or interesting too.

Demand a post within 72 hours fashion show/event. #blogs

Also, the word ‘demand’ is a bit rough in my books. It costs more than a few drinks for you to be able to demand something from me, I’m not that type of guy! 😉 But in all seriousness, if you want me to write a sponsored blog post I can write a sponsored blog post but be aware that it will be very, very clear to everyone who reads my blog post that it is sponsored. I don’t mean I will change my writing style or I will not try as hard, what I mean is that I will put disclaimers – just like you see in magazines when they have huge articles in the “Special Advertising Section” – to let my audience know that I am being compensated for writing about this. It is, in of itself a question of  whether or not a blogger should even do a sponsored post. As of yet, I have never done one, but I have been giving it thought and I think the answer is too complex to be a yes or no thing.

At the end of the day, I have, as I said above and numerous times in the past, always tried to be honest and open with my readers as much as I can. There are, of course, certain things I don’t talk about in my personal life but that is because it is my personal life and there has to be limits. But, what I do talk about, I talk about fully and openly as much as I can and that is what you are going to get from me. If you want to ‘demand’ a post within a certain amount of time you better do your jobs because I am going to demand a caliber of event that makes me WANT to post about it. This last part isn’t just coming from me by the way, I have spoken with friends who work in PR and marketing and they totally agree with me.

One last thing – as many of you who follow me on Twitter know my name is Dan and I am a Twitter addict. Even if don’t write about an event afterward you best believe I will be using whatever hashtag you give me to tweet about the event when I am there. It is also likely that I am going to tweet about it with or without a hashtag and check-in to the location on Foursquare (which I usually set to post to Twitter, Facebook, and BBM). I am trying to think of a way to say this without sounding like a douche but because I am a Twitter addict I am having conversations with people pretty much all day every day. Although I am DEFINITELY NOT a celeb and I am just a regular guy when/if I talk about an event on Twitter there is a decent chance someone is going to engage with me about it. Doesn’t that count for something too? I sure think it does.

Lastly, usually when I go to an event it almost invariably takes a heck of a lot longer than 72 hours for the event photographer and the company’s web team – all who  are being paid money – to put up pictures on the company’s website or Facebook page. How can you ask bloggers to do something for free in a shorter amount of time than you yourselves are accepting from people you are paying to do a job? To me that just doesn’t make any sense.

What do you, my readers, think? Is this 1,100+ word post just me wasting kilobytes and making your eyes bleed? Or do you agree that I am correct in disagreeing with Spiro’s tweet? Let me know.

  1. September 10, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I agree 100%. I used to feel obligated to accept every PR offer and write about everything I went to. There was one event that I blogged about only in photos two years ago, little to no text, because I didn’t get to fully experience the event (a fundraising dinner with a theme) to comment positively about it and the PR company was terrible at the event, making me never want to work with them again. I don’t actually remember if I ever posted about this one or only drafted a post. Last spring I went to an event that didn’t fit my ideology or my blog. I tweeted about it a ton while I was there, including photos and retweets, and started a blog post about it but it’s still sitting in my drafts. Why did I accept the invitation? Curiosity. I enjoyed the event but it was more suitable for mommy-bloggers. I sat with people from the PR company and had good conversation. I hope to work with them again.

    Recently I had the founder/editor of an online food and drink magazine tell me not to feel obligated to write about every event that I attend. It was a relief. I do think that sometimes it’s about the contacts/networking.

    If you want me to write about an event within a certain time frame, especially three days, pay me (not that the PR people should pay, but you know what I mean). I’m blogging for free, for myself, on a web space that I paid for (hosting) and a domain name that I bought. I’m not complaining, but I think it’s harder to be diligent when it’s your own blog because there’s less incentive. Having a day job, volunteer work, other blogging events/social life (those two are often the same) fill up a lot of my time. Without someone (i.e. a boss, client) to be accountable too, it’s easy to push write-ups aside. I set my own deadlines. I’d love to write things up on a short time frame but it takes me a lot time to write blog posts (comments too*) & I still sometimes feel self-conscious about my writing (leads to procrastination and posts sitting as drafts).

    If I’m asked for stats I provide them. I’m rarely asked. I do understand why I would be though. I’ve been nudged, weeks after a product test, to write the post because they had to submit stats to their client. I was fine with that nudge and wrote the post. I realize that maybe I’m adding to the “blogger” vs. “media” divide when I say that and maybe I *should* be more diligent and stricter with myself in order to be taken seriously as media.

    Part of me wants to follow my comments about 72 hours by saying that I’m doing them a favour (providing coverage) and not the other way around, but a bigger part of me does feel like they’re doing me a favour. I sincerely appreciate the invitations and freebies. I don’t accept all of them anymore, but I’ve gotten to have some amazing experiences because I blog and tweet. I always say thank you. I have mentioned PR companies by name on my blog when they’ve been awesome (my Hockley Valley tour last fall, for example). Before I left Beer Fest I thanked Marian for a great few days and for the invitation. I’ve run into her since and chatted. As a blogger I can develop personal relationships.

    I just learned a lot about myself while typing this answer and I’ve decided that I need to write things up more quickly, though not necessarily 72 hours.

    *A half hour for this one.

    • September 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      Thank you SO MUCH Andrea!

      I am so glad to hear that I am not alone on this and I am so very happy to hear some feedback. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  2. September 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Great blog Dan and you know, as does Spiro, that I agree. If my events are good enough then they should be worthy of a blog post or a tweet – but as a CM, as an advertiser, as a marketer and as a blogger myself I will never demand a blog post. Simple. As. That.

    • September 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm

      Thank you Shannon! I am glad my friend mentioned above wasn’t the only person who is an advertiser/marketer/CM who feels this way.

      Like I said above while I understand 1,000,000% wanting to know numbers and stats for site hits, FB connections, and Twitter followers which I think is completely legitimate (although even with those last two the raw numbers can be VERY deceiving) I don’t agree with the right to demand anything…unless it is a sponsored post and that is completely different.

  3. September 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Dan: I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I too get invites to special events and at times am offered product to try. I never blog, tweet or facebook about it unless I love it and recommend it.

    In my line of work I have found myself in a place of influence and people expect truth from me. I give praise where praise is due and if I am silent it’s a pretty good guess the product, event, service didn’t deliver in my opinion.

    Recently I was asked to give a testimonial for someone’s service. I declined because I could not in good consciousness give kudos. They weren’t very happy about it.

    But hey if I like the product/service/event you’ll hear about it, somehow, someway.

    I have found in the blogging world that there are many who will say good things just for the sake of SWAG and party invites.

    I’m not one of them and so happy to hear you aren’t either.

    Great post Dan! And I mean that 🙂

  4. September 12, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Great post, Dan.
    I’m in an interesting spot (kind of like Shannon) since I both blog and uh…publicly relate.
    If I like something, I’m happy to talk about it, be it online or in person. If I don’t like something and I think other people would benefit from knowing it sucks, I’ll talk about it, too.
    I’ve seen two extremes lately with blogger outreach. One PR company sent me a box of product after I interacted with their brand online, just to thank me for getting in touch. Good PR. Another company sent a follow-up that passive-aggressively mentioned that they hadn’t seen me post about a media kit they sent my way. Bad PR.

    At the end of the day, if a blogger is happy they will share. If they’re not happy, you should be *glad* they’re not sharing. “Influence” goes both ways – I’d rather them stay quiet than demand a post go up.

  5. September 13, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I only write about stuff I like. Regardless of free stuff/swag/party invites. I never feel guilty.

    • September 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      Great to know I’m not alone on this!

  1. September 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm
  2. September 15, 2011 at 11:18 am
  3. January 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm

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