To Bribe or Not to Bribe…that is the Question

I recently got the chance to tackle an important topic on ABC News’ “Real Moms Get Real” with JuJu Chang. As someone who frequently bribes (ie. incentivizes) her children to get dressed and load and unload the dishwasher, I try not to cross the line by making every request a bribe.
What makes things more difficult is when you dangle technology in front of your kids’ faces to keep them quiet when you’re in need of a break or occupied when your in the car and their driving you to the point of insanity.

During the segment, host JuJu Chang confessed her technological bribery sins and I raised my hand admitting I too, have resorted to monetary gifts to my kids for performing menial tasks around the house. Also on hand was psychologist and author Sherry Turkle who warned of the dangers of bribing our kids with technology. Turkle is the author of the new best seller, Alone Together. Take a look…
Bribing vs. Rewarding
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Bribing vs. Incentives – Part II

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Bloggers, Brands and Compensation: That is the Question?

As a publicist, I have been watching the fallout over the latest blogger brouhaha involving the founder of Mommy Networks – a former HR representative who decided to try her hand at “PR” by providing gift cards to bloggers to post, tweet or “Like” positive reviews relating to Toyota. Within a matter of hours, the blogger was called out by the social media community as well as Toyota, which confirmed the company had no relationship with her.
After readily admitting she had no experience in public relations, the blogosphere heaved a collective sigh of relief and then took the woman to task for tainting the perception of bloggers as potential shills for major brands (the woman shuttered her site within 24 hours of the debacle). While there are plenty of PR firms that engage bloggers in a meaningful way to become brand advocates for their clients, there are certain practices that as a publicist, I don’t feel comfortable pursuing.
In my opinion, I do not believe that bloggers should be paid to review products. I’d like to add that the Role Mommy Writer’s Network does compensate bloggers. However, the posts that are sent to our members include excerpts from books, information about contest opportunities and advertorials relating to a topic that might interest their readers. All compensated posts clearly state that the content is sponsored by our network.
While we do compensate bloggers to syndicate content or adapt an article from our site for their readers, we do not believe that blogger reviews should be compensated. A payment for a review post can potentially taint the perspective of the writer. And if the blogger decides to slam the product after reviewing it, then the project is a bust in the eyes of a client and the PR firm can then find themselves in hot water.
While there are plenty of influential blog sites that review products for free (including Role Mommy), publicists should continue to pitch reviews for products and services just as they would a traditional media outlet. If a blogger responds that they will consider reviewing the product if you compensate them, you should consider another path to reach their readers – perhaps through advertising on their blog or compensating them to write a post that is sponsored by the brand but does not include a review of their product. It is possible to get your message across in a meaningful way without having a blogger become a shill for your products or services.
With marketers honing in on PR by compensating bloggers to post reviews, the role of the public relations professional has become completely marginalized – unless you are able to set aside a budget to compensate bloggers for their time. How can you expect a blogger to review your product if they are being paid to do so by one of your competitors? What I do advocate to clients is to offer creative content (print or video) that a blogger might be more interested in utilizing or adapting for their readers. Or, compensate a blogger to share their personal experience in a post that is sponsored by the brand. Tell a story, don’t wax poetic about how amazing your new front loading washer is. Authenticity is the name of the game.
Nevertheless, just as I would never set foot into a dentist’s office and claim I know how to perform a root canal, the same holds true for marketers or former HR reps who believe they are now doing PR by compensating bloggers to review products. I wish we could go back to the days where advertisers and PR executives knew which side of the fence they were supposed to stand on, but sadly, we can’t. As a result, as this space continues to evolve, as writers, we should strive to provide quality content on our sites without compromising our ethics.