Hi. I’m about to overstep my boundaries. You might want to back away slowly because I don’t usually do this and I might get blood on you.
Okay, I’m pissed. Legitimately, ridiculously, slightly irrationally pissed.
A few minutes ago I got a pitch from a company who wanted me to write a review for their cereal on my blog. And they would pay me. In cereal. Two boxes of cereal, specifically. Except that the cereal wouldn’t actually go to me. It would be used as a giveaway. To promote their cereal. On my blog. Because as a blogger I’m so desperate for material that I will happily regurgitate any commercial bullshit that anyone puts in front of me. Apparently.
I’m really struggling with writing this because I fully believe that people should be able to write whatever they want but if you as a blogger are accepting a box of cereal as payment for helping to grow a commercial ad campaign then you are undervaluing us all. Companies have advertising budgets and some of those companies spend that money on bloggers. And those companies should be applauded for helping to grow our community and for giving bloggers the same respect that you would give to any other profession. Other companies give their advertising budgets to PR firms who are paid quite well to get bloggers and other outlets to advertise the product in exchange for cereal. I can almost guarantee you that none of the PR people who contact you are working for cereal. In fact, let’s explore that scenario…
Cereal company: Hi! We need a large, professional PR campaign so we’d like you to contact everyone on your mailing list with a pitch about our product, where you can buy it, and also convince them to write all about it on their personal blogs. For cereal. And we’ll pay you! In cereal.
PR Company: What the fuck..?
Cereal company: But you can’t eat the cereal. You have to give it away to someone else.
PR company: Right. Is this a joke?
Cereal company: No! It’s real! You get two boxes of cereal!
PR Company: Um…we don’t work for cereal. We all have mortgages. And…desk payments.
Cereal company: The cereal is worth FIVE DOLLARS!
PR company: Is there something wrong with you? Because we’d like to tell you to fuck off but we’re afraid to because we think you might be mentally unbalanced.
Cereal company: YOU CAN BUY THIS CEREAL AT SAFEWAY!!!
PR Company: Never contact us again.
Look, I’m not saying that there aren’t good PR companies out there or that if you review products you’re a bad blogger or that writing about a product that you honestly love is bad. It’s great, in fact. Write about what you love. Write about who you are. Write things that are worthy of you and of your audience. Because your voice is worth more than a goddamn box of cereal.
And don’t let anyone ever tell you any different.
UPDATED: To answer your questions, yes, this was a totally serious proposal. And no, it wasn’t even for Cap’n Crunch. It was for some obscure, made-from-applesauce, marshmallow-less crap WITH NO PRIZES IN IT.
I might have actually considered doing it for Cap’n Crunch. But not because I eat cereal. Because I support our Navy.
Comment of the day: I got one of these the other day. They want to send me two bags of candy which I would then in turn send to other people. Which just seems like a huge waste of postage. I am letting them send me the candy. And then I’m going to eat it. ~ Abi