It is often assumed as bloggers that we are not part of the media and therefore not subject to the codes of practise. Its become a recent trend for brands to ask bloggers to not disclose when a post is sponsored, as to them it seems like a most authentic piece and more like a review. It's easy to accept this because we all have to eat, but not only are you lying to your viewers but you are breaking theAdvertising Standards Agency's Code (specifically The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing). It states that if you are paid to write about a product or service then you must make it clear that it is advertising. Not doing so means that you are in direct violation of the code and could face your blog being deleted or search engines deleting any terms related to your website.
Anyway why am I posting this? Because before Christmas, I and a couple of other midlevel bloggers were approached by a company who offered a unique blogger/brand experience we were told that "it is not about a sponsored post, guest post, giveaway or product review. Instead it is an exclusively designed new concept of a blog post." My response, along with the others it turns out was "so what is it?" I asked the brand representative this and was told that I would be paid to write a post that only included one link to their brand but also many other similar brands, also I was not permitted to disclose to my followers that I was paid for this post. Basically this was a sponsored post but they wanted me to lie and pretend that this was authentic and all my own work, I was actually told that I would enjoy writing this!
Of course this immediately felt wrong to me, I did not feel comfortable lying to my readers and did some research into not disclosing sponsored posts, which is when I found the above. I sent a quote from the ASA blog post Blurring Advertising And Blogs to the Brand marketer which stated "a blogger who is given money to promote a product or service has to ensure readers are aware they’re being advertised to." I expected that to deter them but they persisted that this was not a sponsored post even though, y'know I would be sponsored to mention them. They even mentioned my Christmas playlist post trying to liken sharing my favourite songs to talking about their sector because I'§m sharing the things I like. The only difference is I was deceiving anyone in my original post and I actually was sharing something I liked! My favourite line that I had to share with you all is this.
"Please grab a hot cup of coffee, think about it one more time & let me know what you decide. This is a fun project & energy saving is a real hot issue these days. This might become your next viral hit !
Buzz me back."
I spoke to a few other bloggers who had similar experiences with PR's trying to tell them that it was fine to not disclose that a post is sponsored. Cat was one of them who agreed to feature in this post. It was a different brand, but once again they wrongly stated that these things are not a problem at all. My particular favourite (for want of a better expression) is the following:
"No follow links without disclosures are not problematic. Please don't give up on this- everything is ready to go. Lets complete what we intended to start. :)"
Like myself, Cat also has experience in elements of PR and social media so I find it so insulting that some PRs and brands think we are nothing more than stupid bloggers who don't understand media law or even right from wrong. I am done with being treat like I know nothing about media. I am done with brands thinking I will sell myself out for a payday. And I am especially done with being treat like a stupid blogger. Bloggers are not stupid, we know a lot about what we do and we work hard to maintain successful blog and following.
It is important for fellow bloggers to know their rights, I'd advise you all read the aforementioned blog post and all links within it.