I recently received the following email:
That’s the full email in its entirety. And there is so much wrong with this approach that it’s hard to know where to start. This is why:
- The message title is misleading. Upon receiving the email, my initial reaction was “cool, someone would like to pay me for writing a post for their website”. Upon reading the first line, however, it’s apparent that someone’s after what’s termed a ‘sponsored post’. Which means they want to pay me for giving up space on my own blog to them. Oh…
- “For your editing and publishing I would be more than happy to compensate you a little.” Could you be much more patronising? So you’re trying to wrap up the fact that you basically want to buy advertorial as if you’re paying me for my time. On my own blog. Right?
- Even if I were interested (it will never happen…ever), there’s no information on what ‘compensation’ we’re talking about. £10? £50? £100? £100,000?
- There’s no context. At all. At no point does the email attempt to communicate what this article might be about other than it’s a “tech article”. What sort of tech’s that then? Mobile? Contract manufacturing? Mechanical toilet flusher?
- “You would have complete control of the article if you wish to edit it any way.” Really? On my own blog? Wow! That is SO generous. Thank you, thank you. Douche…
- I have no idea whatsoever who Anna Kay Hicks is, where she’s from or what her agenda is. She could be the CEO of a global tech company or a 15 year old schoolgirl. But I’ll never know as she’s included no information and I’m certainly not going to waste my time trying to find out.
Why Sponsored Blog Posts Suck
On the face of it, this email is little more than spam. I’d assume it’s from an SEO professional (I use the word professional in its loosest possible sense) looking to buy backlinks for whoever her poor, unfortunate client is. What it does do, however, is highlight a bigger issue that’s been doing the rounds recently: that of sponsored posts.
Google has very clear guidelines about paid links, designating that such should be identified and tagged as no-follow. Break this rule and you risk being blackmarked as Google does not like search results being manipulated. Which is fair enough. But some PRs see buying posts (and thus links) from bloggers as standard practice. And, to be quite frank, it sucks.
Sponsored posts go against everything that social communications and blogger relations are about. It’s a lazy, ineffective, short-term activity that has nothing whatsoever to do with relationship building and mutual respect. But it’s not just PR and SEO consultants who are to blame – if bloggers didn’t accept sponsored posts, it wouldn’t happen. It works both ways and I wholeheartedly wish that bloggers would just tell people to sod off every single time they’re approached in this manner. Or, better still, blog about it! Name and shame!
As for PRs, well if you’re not smart enough or can’t be arsed to invest the time and effort into doing blogger outreach properly, then you really shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.