Like many bloggers I regularly receive emails from companies asking me to review their product or service. If it’s a product or service I believe in and is something we would use or do as a family, or if I think it will be of interest to our readers, I usually say yes – whether it’s a £2 bottle of bubble bath or a £350 pushchair.
The usual arrangement is that we receive that product or service in exchange for taking the time to test it and write about it, and everyone is happy. But lately I have been receiving more and more emails from companies who want the product back afterwards – basically, they want me to write about it for free.
Here is a prime example: this week I received an email from a leading kitchen equipment brand – who shall remain nameless – in which the PR raved about how much they loved my blog and a how it would be a perfect fit for their brand. They’re right, I thought, given we genuinely use that brand at home and it features in the background of many photos, it would.
They asked if I would like to review one of their products – yes, I thought, I really would.
They then went on to invite me to choose an item from a rather lengthy list – oh goody, I thought, I love emails like this.
But then came the sting in the tail: ‘We would be very happy to loan you one of these items to review’.
So not only were they asking me to spend time putting the product through its paces, write about it, take and edit photos of the experience and then upload it all onto my blog, they were asking me to send the product back to them at the end of it: in essence, spend three to four hours working for them for free.
I am usually so outraged when I receive such emails that I don’t respond: I have to earn a living and I have a growing family to feed – why on earth would I promote a multi-national, multi-million pound company on the blog I created from nothing and have spent years cultivating, resulting in a very loyal following whose opinions I respect, for free?
So I’ve decided it’s time to start pointing this out (but only after the red mist has dissipated, to avoid ranting). Here’s what I wrote to the kitchen equipment brand, and how to say no politely:
1. Thank them for getting in touch and their kind words about your blog.
2. Agree their brand would indeed be a perfect fit for your audience.
3. Say you would normally expect to receive some form of compensation, often the product itself, in exchange for spending XX amount of hours of your time writing about and editing pictures of their product which you are endorsing to a captive audience of XX followers on your blog. You could also point out your social media following too.
4. Say you would be happy to write a review (unless you’re still too incensed) in return for the product or service.
5. Say you look forward to hearing from them soon.
That said, at the time of writing I haven’t heard back from the kitchen equipment brand. I’ll keep you posted on progress, but don’t hold your breath…