You can imagine that I get a lot of emails asking for products to be featured on my blog. Which is great, of course. But there are ways and ways to ask. I’m always happy to get press releases and information, and even the odd phone call to see if I’m interested in featuring a particular product. To be honest, a phone call is even better; it shows me that the PR or brand in question has really thought of a reason why it is a relevant product for me to blog about and we can discuss accordingly. Sometimes I just outright say no, because it’s not right for my blog, or I don’t like the product. When you aren’t dictated to by advertisers, you have the luxury of making this choice. Other times, where I probably wouldn’t really have even looked twice at a product, having the relevancy pointed out really can change my mind. One or two PRs who I completely trust – and have the enlightened view of not loving absolutely everything their client churns out – almost always get their products mentioned simply because if they say it’s a good product, I believe them and I’ll give it a go. It’s totally not helpful when PR’s love absolutely everything because it means they can’t filter anything to suit me and I can’t rely on what they’re saying. 
But, that’s not my bug-bear at the moment. What really is getting on my nerves, because I’m being literally bombarded with them, is contacts from Social Media Agencies with ‘video content’ and embeddable links, written content or *gasp* a free product all to entice and educate my readers. I don’t think so. I’ve changed my mind from back in the day where I wouldn’t accept a sponsored post, but I haven’t changed my principles. If I don’t like the product, I’m not going to post about it under any circumstances, paid or otherwise. But Social Media Agencies who take a nice fat fee from a brand with the promise that they’ll get the product seen across X number of blogs have totally lost touch with the reality of blogging today. 
There are commercial opportunities for bloggers and it is up to the individual blogger to decide whether sponsored posts are for them or not. I just don’t really like this naïve assumption that in exchange for a toothbrush, say, I’d be thrilled to upload a video of myself or post on it in some way. For a toothbrush? But, in order to get the toothbrush, I need to commit to a video or post. Erm, no. No and no. And nor, for the record do I want to do a link exchange with someone with significantly less traffic than me because ‘they’re trying to get the word out about their product’ and while I’m on it, I don’t care that they’ve got a new competition on their Facebook page that they really, really think my readers would love. I’m not a free billboard. Really, I am fed up with being treated as a place to park products – that’s not what a blog is and blogs, or ‘weblogs, on line diaries, places to write what you really think and feel etc etc’, aren’t all about the placements. It’s time both SMAs and PRs stopped thinking of us as easy targets for coverage. But, it has to be said that bloggers need to have some rules, too, in order for that message to filter through. You don’t have to write about something just because it was free and you don’t have jump through hoops so someone else gets paid. But if you want to, that’s a whole other thing and entirely your choice. 
The bottom line of it – and speaking completely honestly now – is that I will almost never consider using any of the links, competitions or products that come to me via this method of contact simply because of the unfair nature of ‘no budget’ for the blogger but plenty for the SMA. 
This one will run and run I think; it calls into question blog ethics, SMAs vs PR and ultimately the very bigger picture is that people need jobs.. SMA is as good as any other. But, it’s so much in the HOW you do it and not in the WHY.

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.