Why I Disagree with Jason Calacanis about Blogger Junkets and Pay Per Post
Our keynoter Jason Calacanis told me today that if a blogger has to have a conversation with herself about the ethics of taking a product for free and then writing about it, or going on a blogger junket and writing about it, she has already lost the battle in terms of her credibility.
I vehemently disagree. Things are rarely that black and white, and I think there’s room to develop best practices surrounding pay-per-post.
Obviously, lack of disclosure is not an option. If someone pays you or gives you something for free, you have to say that. If there’s a black and white rule surrounding this, that’s the one.
#1: Is this product potentially harmful?
One of our sponsors is Plymouth Gin. They make alcohol. Alcohol has ruined some people’s lives because they are alcoholics. If you drink, do so in moderation. I think the folks at Plymouth would absolutely agree with that.
That said, Plymouth makes a damn fine gin. I’m not an alcoholic, and I’m not allergic to alcohol. I can and do enjoy a good drink. During our dinner last night, the gin expert had us taste three brands of gin in a blind test. I liked the Plymouth best, and far better than I expected I would, even before I knew it was the brand that was sponsoring us. I am genuinely a fan of Plymouth gin. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t say so.
Which brings me to…
#2: Can you genuinely say something
positive at least constructive about this product?
If you can’t say something
nice constructive/positive about someone’s product and be telling the truth, then don’t engage with the people evangelizing that product. Just don’t do it.
If I’m talking positively about something, money or not, it’s because I mean it.
#3: Do my readers care about this product?
If I blog about high-end lingerie and someone approaches me and asks me to talk about how much I love Plymouth Gin, I might do it because there’s some overlap between the luxury of fine underoos and the luxury of fine gin. But if someone wants me to talk about stock car racing, I’ll say no. My audience cares more about stockings than stock cars.
That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’m really really tired right now, and I’m sure there are more guidelines I haven’t considered. Feel free to bring stuff up in the comments.