Pay the Piper

Filed Under: Life

Can you trust what someone says if that someone is sponsored?

You hear a lot of talk around the Internet about transparency. [That’s just a fancy word for honesty.] If you’re affiliated with a company then you’re supposed to disclose that affiliation. Some expect you to say how much you’re paid. [That won’t happen here since it’s frankly none of your business.] People feel that they need to know about those affiliations so that they can make an informed decision. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But the “industry standard” is full disclosure.

Full disclosure is a two-way street.

Julie ran into a lack of disclosure on the part of a PR agency representing Pepperidge Farm and their Goldfish brand. Actually, I think that she and others ran into a full-blown case of lying.

The firm screwed up because they had the potential to harness a very lucrative evangelist-the consumer who already buys your product and is willing to talk/blog about it. And when I say that they screwed up, basically I’m saying  they inadvertently caused a shit storm on Twitter and blogs alike. Oops.

With BlogHer ’09 just a few short months away, many people [including me] are looking for sponsors. Erika wrote two great questions:

Is everyone going to be handing out their sponsor’s business cards instead of their own? Will everyone be wearing corporate T shirts?

It’s all about reciprocity [I’ve loved that word since I heard Fiona Apple sing about it years ago.] and Erika expressed something that I don’t think many people who are begging for sponsorships have considered-you will eventually have to pay the piper. If you’re looking for a company to sponsor you then you need to know what they want in return [because they’re going to want something] and you need to know your value and what you’re wanting.

A marketing match made in heaven would be to find a product that you love anyway and then to get that manufacturer to sponsor you. It’s kind of like having the good fortune to do what you were going to do anyway-rave about a product that you love-but get paid for it at the same time.

It’s all about honesty. It’s about finding a sponsor who has a product that you love anyway. If part of your agreement is that you have to write about alcohol on your blog because Absolut is sponsoring you [SWEET!] and you’re a recovering alcoholic then that might ring just a bit false to your readers. Not to mention [though I will] the fact that you’re more likely to give the company their money’s worth if you actually like their product.

One final thought.

I mentioned knowing your worth. I’m not talking about your self worth as a person or your worth as a mother/father. I’m talking your dollar worth. Consider your “reach”. Are you on Twitter? How many followers do you have? Does your site have a large readership that you can show on paper? Do you have family in the mafia? Don’t sell youself short.

One final, final thought.

I’m looking for sponsors for the trip to Chicago for BlogHer ’09. If you want to just give Tucker a job then we can forget this whole sponsorship thing right now. [Or, you could hire him AND sponsor me. I’m flexible like that.] My interests include reading, breastfeeding [not so much an interest as a necessity] baby wearing, eating, Sailor Jerry Rum and all things geek. 🙂


  1. Trust you and Erika to cut through the BS and get to the heart of the matter.

    FTR, I don’t think the PR agency was purposefully dishonest. Misleading, in a misguided effort to spark interest, and yet very unsure of what they wanted.

    I really do hope to see you at BlogHer09.

    mothergoosemouses last blog post..Something fishy this way comes

  2. I really do wonder what the sponsorees will be asked to do in return for free airfare / hotel / reg fees and so on. I’m completely serious when I envision individually branded bloggers at the conference with logo-embroidered polo shirts or clipboards with sponsor bumper stickers on them and handing out imprinted pens.

    I’m less serious when my mind wanders and I think of them as tiny nascar cars painted up with logos and such, but hey… maybe temporary tattoos? You never know.

    Erika Jurneys last blog post..Blogging jobs for makers, artists, crafters, curators, and collectors

  3. Oh, I think you have a very valid point. “Free” stuff is great except that it’s never free. When I was younger and got an allowance, I was still expected to do something in exchange for that cash. My own mother wouldn’t let me get something for nothing. 😥

    Obama did the temporary tattoo thing and it seemed to work for him. 😉

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