Some may say if you were paid you would be obligated to give a positive review and yet that happens anyway as a freebie often appears to make many bloggers biased. But while you may have a £50 face cream to keep that you would never have bought yourself you still need an alternative income as you can't use that tested product to buy food or pay the rent.
Finding a way to gain a benefit for nothing is blagging. It could be chatting up the doorman to get into a nightclub or fluttering your eyelashes at a barman to get a free drink. It's also all those blog reviews that are undeclared as a review of something received for free from a hotel stay to a toy rattle. Freebies with no disclaimer start to raise questions about the integrity of the blogger and whether you should trust their opinion on anything if they can be wooed by a free pair of socks. However snuggly and fluffy those socks may be.
In 2011, Bernice Saltzer of Sorted PR, a small agency in the north of England, decided to post a spoof blagging blogger request on PR enquiry site 'Response Source'. Daryl Willcox of DWPub wrote a blog post to justify his decision to publish the spoof and it caused outrage within the mummy blogging community. Here is just an excerpt from the request:
"We are thinking of setting up our "Owt For Nowt" blog and would like you to send us lots of lovely and expensive gifts which we might - or might not - write about... Basically we just want nice things for free..."
"What you must remember though is these products don't cost to produce what we pay in the supermarket or online. They cost a fraction of that."
Is that a justification for blagging freebies to review? This blogger started asking herself:
"How now should I know I can trust reviews that people write?"
Without wasting too much time on the endless comments I found this gem on another mummy blog:
"There's no such thing as a blagger when it comes to mummy blogging. Are the mums in question asking for something for nothing? No! And I think that is the point, companies don't have to send out products for bloggers to review but they do because they get a review out of it-usually a bloody thorough one too."
And the less defensive:
"PRs aren't doing bloggers a favour. They send out stuff because they believe there is something in it for them. You give them something they want in return for some stuff. Surely that's a symbiotic relationship."
This blogger's response to Sorted PR was refreshingly honest:
"... as bloggers, we're not paid. We do this for fun, for interest, to keep ourselves active, and to have a voice. Why should I host advertising or write posts for nothing?"
Which brings us back to where we started. There's a budget to give out the freebies to bloggers but they won't be compensated for their efforts. Bloggers need to weigh up the enjoyment and benefit of the freebie to them and whether it justifies their time reviewing and writing-up. The fact the company supplying the freebies has a budget to employ a PR firm to give out the goodies is simply the way of the world, it seems.