Do you accept products for review on your blog? Do you think it is a bad practice?
The last couple of days I have had some interesting conversations with bloggers about what they should do when approached for product reviews, and also from bloggers wondering why they are overlooked by companies.
My conversations on the matter started when I wrote about the subject of approaching bloggers from the marketers perspective and linked to Chris Brogans “Is Your Blog for Rent” post.
In twitter direct messages and emails I got some immediate feedback. The reactions subsequently ranged from:
- Free review items are bribes
- This is damaging trust in all blogs
- Google will ban you
- It’s all good providing you provide clear disclosure
- No disclosure necessary, how is it different from print and TV?
- Where do I get me some of these freebies!?
Personally I think if you disclose how you came by the product and do not promise anything over and above trying it out, then everything is fine. I have been sent loads of stuff to review and most times I do review it on the most relevant blog I write on, but some products that I really like I might mention several times. This isn’t because I got it for free but because I really do like it. In fact the products I have mentioned the most (Macbook and Nokia N95) I paid for myself!
My reputation matters a lot to me, and I won’t risk it just for a free book or whatever. Accepting a product to review is not the same as promising to give a good review, nor is it a promise of any review whatsoever, but you should make that clear.
A fair review should not draw any attention from Google. It’s not a “paid” link, especially as many review items have to be returned. I think if they go to such extremes then they will finally have lost what little remaining trust they have with webmasters, but would probably have to rely on other webmasters snitching to do it anyway.
So how do you get products to review? It helps if you have subscribers, reach or traffic, preferably all three. I write on quite a few high traffic blogs across everything from business, tech and blogging to photography, so it’s a little easier for me to get noticed. If companies are not approaching you then you need to approach them, but do your research. You will find their PR company is much more savvy and aware of bloggers than the company itself a lot of the time, but you would be surprised how many smart marketing people there are in even the most buttoned down companies. The best contacts are through twitter or friends of friends.
Even when you get the correct person and you have tons to offer, it doesn’t always work out. I asked the PR company for a particular popular small video camera for a review item when I was off to Chicago, they were eager until they found out I was based in the UK … even though I have tens of thousands of US-based readers combined. Sometimes you have to think “their loss” and move on. As it happens I was very happy with my n95 video performance ;)
Over to you, what do you think about bloggers being sent items for review? Would you do it or do you prefer to buy your review products? Please share in the comments …