Bloggers asked to sell their souls to Capital One
Blogs are power. As the world's population consumes more comment and opinion online, choosing to align themselves with digital voices, popular blogs now have as much sway, if not more than printed publications.
Unfortunately, the rules that attempt to keep newspapers and magazines honest, are nowhere to be found on the internet.
For example, there are rules to keep offline advertising and editorial separate and distinct, because selling messages shouldn't be presented as factual, neutral information. That's why so much money is spent on PR that generates "news" stories, regardless of the true facts - it isn't cheap, but compared to the price of an advertising campaign, it's a bargain and potentially more powerful - will be find more meaning and value in editorial.
Because those rules don't apply to blogs, you don't have to bother with all that spin and bullshit - and so PR companies simply try bribing bloggers to write about a company. And many will be successful - lots of eyeballs reading your posts doesn't necessarily translate into a steady income, so plenty of bloggers take what they can get. Some of it is done so poorly that it's easy to spot, other times it's not immediately obvious.
Bitterwallet receives around a dozen emails from PR people, all suggesting we write about their product in return for favours, usually hard cash. Here's one we received yesterday afternoon from a PR company called The 7th Chamber - they're really keen for us to do it, because they're already chasing us for an answer;
I was wondering if someone from your Editorial team could get back to me re-writing a piece for us? We’re working on a campaign for Capital One (around personal finance) and we’re looking for 8 prominent Finance blogs to write a short piece on either of these topics:
- How will credit be managed in the future?
- Which audiences will most need better information on credit during this economic downturn?
We’re not looking for something that would shamelessly plug Capital One in every sentence, all we would ask it that you link through to their site and mention the campaign they’re running at the moment. We’re looking for something subtle and I’m sure that suits all parties.
Please check out the YouTube channel that we created for Capital One, the campaign is genuinely interesting to consumers (hence the massive views on YT) so we’re confident that your audience will find it engaging and relevant.
We have around £350 per article.
Please let me know asap if this is something that you would be interested in working on.
"We’re looking for something subtle and I’m sure that suits all parties" - or to put it another way: "We know misleading the reader into believing this is the point of view of somebody they trust won't go down well, so just take the money and keep it on the QT, yeah?"
So let's have a think about this - the blogger wins, because they're better off; The 7th Chamber wins because they're paid handsomely by Capital One; Capital One wins because they've exposed their products on a blog that consumers choose to read and are loyal to. The only people to lose are the consumers - a trusted source of information is corrupted and they're unduly influenced into making a financial decision. PR isn't always about bullshit, but in this case it's secret bullshit in a mask and cape.