Who can you trust?

November 29th, 2009

I have been thinking about this topic for a while, but a post over on Jamie Goode’s blog has inspired me to write a little something.

I get fairly numerous emails from a variety companies asking me to post about their products.  I generally ignore these emails.  More recently some have come with financial incentives – and last week I too received an email from a viral marketing company asking me to post a series of three videos from Douwe Egberts in return for money.  At the time I didn’t know how much but it turns out it is £50.

£50 – not a huge amount of money.  Easy cash or the destruction of any credibility?  Could you get away with it with full disclosure? Blogs cost money to run if you are hosting your own, the temptation is of course there.  It seems that invite went out to food bloggers too – interesting to see how many (or how few!) have disclosed that they are getting paid.

I hope I have been sufficiently clear in the past with disclosure with things I have not paid for – the ExtractMojo for example, though a freebie doesn’t guarantee a good review either.   If I have time I am happy to review things, but if someone asks I would rather give an honest opinion because the short term gain is easily outweighed by the long term relationship with a community.

The food blogging community is ahead of the coffee one (it is bigger, has a larger audience and a wider range of focus) and it is starting to see more and more issues with conflicts of interest, and non-disclosure souring reader trust.  There was an interesting LA Times article recently on the way food manufacturers (two words that shouldn’t really be next to each other) are interacting with blogging mothers.

We’re probably a little way away from Lavazza whisking Chris Tacy off to the factory, wining and dining Tonx or David Walsh in return for some nice press (though they did send Gwilym and I this year’s calendar which was genuinely very nice of them, thank you) – but if coffee blogging survives twitter then it suddenly doesn’t seem that ludicrous.

On a side note I’m becoming increasingly annoyed by the number of Press Releases I get sent for US companies, with US only special offers.  In the past I’ve just tried to ignore it, but doing that is hardly going to inspire a change in their practices.  However you can’t help but wonder about the skills of a public relations company whose efforts only sour my relationship with their client.

Thoughts?

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