Nick over on his new ClickInfluence blog has a post up about Sending Gifts to Influencers
Sending gifts to bloggers, in the hope they’ll write about them may seem a potentially dangerous move. If it backfired it could certainly cause some nasty negative PR, but provided some caution, and a good helping of common sense is employed, I can’t find a reason not to like it.
It’s an interesting topic. I remember being on the other side of the issue, the agencies I worked at regularly would be charged with getting products into peoples hands. Getting reviews is an important part of PR. Having people sample a product is important in overcoming resistance and for generating word of mouth. In many cases a brilliant product just needs to be used to become a success, either personally or by someone you trust. Bloggers are incredibly influential because they are very much part of the communities they speak to so companies of course are going to target them with free items.
As Microsoft learned this has to be done with some delicacy but I think it is a win-win-win when done right. The company gets exposure and feedback, the blogger gets to try some cool new product and write about it, the audience gets to learn about the product and if it is any good.
I’m always shocked when I see people writing that they think bloggers are some how above this sort of thing, as if bloggers are more pure than traditional journalists. My answer to that is “get over yourself”, nobody is asking for anything underhand (or at least they shouldn’t be). Providing everything is on the level it has real value to all concerned. Disclosure and honesty is all it takes. “These people sent me ____ to try it out and tell you what I think”. When it becomes stuffed envelopes with non-consecutive large-denomination bills obviously it becomes a worry. Or maybe just becomes more like traditional journalism, ha.
I think most bloggers would care more about their audience than selling out for freebies. Those that would be tempted don’t deserve an audience so probably won’t last very long anyway.