Brands are contacting bloggers more and more these days, asking us to write about their newest product or latest contest. PR companies are inundating our mailboxes with their requests for book reviews, product samplings, event exposure and even asking us to create projects or try a recipe. Most of the time it’s easy to decide how to respond, but what happens when that situation stumps you?
While it might be easy to reply to some pitches simply letting them know you don’t blog for free, not all are so cut and dry. Sometimes you have to step out of your blogger persona and look in from the outside.
Heidi from Honey Bear Lane recently asked “So if a big name company invites you to a ‘special event’ that also happens to be for Habit for Humanity, and encourages you to blog about it but doesn’t offer any compensation, how would you feel? Would you want to go to the event? Would you blog about it?”
Ask yourself, is this a cause that I’m passionate about? Is it something I would enjoy doing? If Heidi has a soft spot for the Habitat for Humanity cause and thinks she would enjoy herself at the event, then it’s a win/win for both sides. If she attends the event and enjoys herself, I say blog it! Chances are her readers will probably enjoy it too. Sometimes you’ll just know if it’s the right fit for you.
If you still aren’t sure and you don’t feel the answer is that cut and dry, here are some questions to ponder before confirming your invitation:
1) Does the event host expect anything in return? A blog post or social media mention? More often than not, the person inviting you hopes you will write about the event, but generally it’s not a requirement. They hope the buzz and excitement that is generated from the event itself will inspire you to write a post. Just find out up front if it’s expected of you.
2) Is there compensation, monetary or otherwise? If there isn’t a budget for paying for sponsored posts, find out what else is being offered. Some campaigns include door prizes, swag bags, or some other take away. Occasionally, depending on the event, there may be something available to your readers as well. Value doesn’t always fall in the form of a check and sometimes the prizes available have significant retail value.
3) How will the event be marketed? Most likely the pitch email will include links to the event’s social media pages. Visit and see how many “likes” they have on Facebook or how many Twitter followers they have. Ask how the company plans to promote the event and through which social media channels. Don’t be shy, find out if they will be mentioning you directly as a participant and be sure they know your twitter handle and Facebook fan page url.
4) What will it cost you to attend? Most likely there won’t be an entrance fee, but there are still costs involved any time you attend an event. How far will you have to travel to get there? What about parking, tolls, and gas? If it’s an all day event, will they be providing lunch, or will that tab fall on you? Many bloggers have children, so daycare costs may come in to play here as well.
Now it’s time to weigh the good against the bad and decide if this is the right event for you. If there’s no monetary compensation, but your blog url and fan page will be shared on their Facebook page with half a million fans, that alone can be worth your time. If the event requires that you drive 45 miles one way, get a babysitter, and sacrifice time during working hours, that might raise some financial concerns. Don’t ever be afraid to ask yourself “What’s in it for me?”
The last question you should ask is “Do I feel good about this?”
If you feel good about doing it, then do it. Remember, it’s your blog. If you feel that the personal satisfaction you gain from working with a cause you care about is compensation enough, then that’s all that matters. Your readers will appreciate the sincerity of your post and you will feel good about helping a cause that you believe in. See? Win/win.
Do you have a question you would like Amanda to address? Contact us here and put “Ask Amanda” in the subject.