I like clarity. I like people who do what they say. I like transparency, to know where I stand, to have honesty, directness. Basically I like things crystal clear.

This is why I was hugely disappointed recently when a company I was working with on an outreach campaign, wanted me to ‘hide’ the fact that a post I had done for them was sponsored.

Here is the post I did: https://jugglemum.com/2012/06/time-with-mum/. You can see that there is a disclosure at the bottom, saying that the post is a ‘featured post on behalf of’ as this was the only disclosure they would approve, but initially my post had the title “Sponsored: Time With Mum” and then another disclosure at the end saying “This is a sponsored post on behalf of…”

I prefer to put ‘sponsored’ in the title of the post because some readers may not choose to read the post if they know it is sponsored, so this way they have a clear choice. Personally I think they would enjoy my post, regardless of whether it contains sponsored content because I ALWAYS put something of ‘me’ within the story. I never re-produce press releases or allow myself to be a mouthpiece for a company, I say what I believe or true stories that have happened to me and even if a post has to contain certain words, linking to a URL, I structure the post in such a way that the essentials are included, but in a natural way in the context of the story I wish to tell. I would have thought that this itself would have a higher value to the sponsoring company, even if I make it clear to my readers at the outset that the post contains sponsored content. I know I prefer to read that a post is sponsored on other blogs at the start – it usually won’t stop me reading the post, but I like to know. This is why I treat my readers with the way I wish to be treated.

I took the decision to amend the original post from my preferred way to ‘their way’ so I could get paid. I’d already done the work, adhered to every point on their checklist, done the post in a timely manner, the post had been published and readers had already seen my post, so really they had already had the benefit of visibility amongst my readers, and I wanted them to hold up their end of the bargain, and cough up the moolah. I wanted them to do what they say they would do- just as i had done everything I said I would. This negotiation wasn’t a direct one- there was a broker in the middle who put me in touch with the company in the first place, and I feel for her that she had to be caught in the middle between them insisting that the post should not say the word ‘sponsored’ and me who wanted full disclosure.

The company did pay up once I amended the post to remove the references to ‘sponsored’ and I had already decided that I would ‘out’ the original post, making it clear for my readers that ‘Time With Mum’ was sponsored. The company that insisted on me ‘hiding’ the disclosure was More Digital and they had this to say in their email to the broker:
“As More Digital only work with contextual, natural adverts, I would appreciate it if Nadine did not directly state that our advert is ‘Sponsored’? We have found that a more discreet form of advertising is more successful than overt brand messages. I hope you understand.”

So bloggers beware- you now know who the culprit is and can decide whether you wish to work with them on future campaigns. I have to say however that all companies are NOT like this. Since the ‘Time With Mum’ post I have done another sponsored post with Unruly Media who have been brilliant. They do want you to put ‘sponsored’ in the title of the post and at the end. In fact they have even created a set of clarity guidelines for online publishers which you can read here: http://wiki.unrulymedia.com/display/publisher/Sponsored+Editorial+Requirements+for+Publishers

When I told Unruly about my recent bad experience with another company they sent me this in an email:
“We’re really proud of our transparency policies. :) Sorry to hear you had a bad experience; that’s really not good that they asked you to not disclose the post at sponsored as the FTC can fine up to $11,000 for this!”

After the Unruly work, which is this post by the way, I have said that I like the way they work and would definitely work with them again, these guys are good eggs.

If any companies out there want a blogger to work with who is fast, honest, accurate and knows about marketing, get in touch, but if you want me to hide a sponsored post, to be your mouthpiece, want to dictate what I write or have me to chase you to get paid like a dog chasing a bone, don’t bother. I can do without the hassle.

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5 Responses to This Is NOT A Sponsored Post, Just To Be Clear

  1. Good for you Nadine. The approach seems counter productive; once bloggers start to ‘sell out’ by non disclosure and start writing like advertisers surely it devalues their content and their impact on readers is lost anyway?

  2. Mavis Farrar says:

    Well said Nadine. Honesty is the best policy.

  3. Nadine says:

    Hi Ladies
    Thanks for your comments- I appreciate them.
    Sarah, you are absolutely right, there is no point me writing my blog like a piece of advertising because what makes it readable in the first place is that it is a blog and therefore personal!
    If they only cared about getting the text link to their website to help their SEO, surely what was written around that link would be irrelevant anyway- they still get the link so what is the problem? I don’t get why they took this stance, but at least I feel I have a clean slate with the readers who come back every time I post and read it!!

    • Standing up to the corporate machine – love it! (Though don’t think you’ll be getting any more sponsorship from them now!)

  4. Nadine says:

    That’s not a problem- thankfully I’ve worked with two other companies since this one who are more ‘my style’! Plus I’m sure there are loads more out there too!!


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