Is your answer automatically yes? Are you quick to say “no!”? What thought comes to mind when you hear the words (or read them for that matter) “Mommy Bloggers”? Is it positive? Does it make you cringe? Do you really not care one way or the other?
I’ve been hearing those two words a lot lately… both in the press and online… Mommy Bloggers – get free stuff and make lots of money… The truth behind the Mommy Blogger reviews… Mommy Bloggers this and Mommy Bloggers that. I’m getting a little sick of it, because it sounds (to me at least) like the press is really trying to get rid of moms who blog… or specifically mom bloggers who do product reviews. But if that’s the case, then why do they have to lump all mom bloggers into one category? There are so many different types of mom bloggers… there are the “Die Hard Reviewers” – you know the ones who do nothing but post one review/giveaway after the next… the “eh I’ll do reviews, but I’ll write about family as well” bloggers – those that will post a review/giveaway as they see fit but it’s not their main focus (I feel I fall into this category)… the “Family Mommies” – ones who do nothing but gush and write about family… the “Escapists” – ones who use their blog as a place to retreat from daily life through wit and humor… and the list goes on and on.
The reason why there has been so much talk about Mommy Bloggers lately is because there are some out there that feel mom reviewers are writing honest reviews and don’t disclose well enough
1) how the product being reviewed was acquired
2) whether a post was “sponsored” or not (meaning the reviewer was paid to write it) and
3) whether the ads on the site are paid ads or not.
Now I don’t know about you, but whenever I read a review… whether it be on a blog or in a magazine, I assume that the item being reviewed was given to that person by the manufacturer – without the reviewer having to pay for it (and yes this was my belief even before starting to do reviews myself). The only times I don’t feel this is the case, is when either the reviewer states that they bought the item themselves or if the review is on something like Amazon.com. As for ads… of course I believe that the blogger got paid to place the ad on thier blog… isn’t that one of the things that ads are about – companies pay to show their logo and have a link to their site?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a gullible person (tell me a story that’s believable and make it sound real and you’ve probably got me hooked), but I’m not naive. So it bothers me a little when I hear on a news segment that people (specifically moms) who are reading the reviews on a “Mommy Blogger” blog didn’t know that the product was provided for by the company who makes it (or the PR firm or whomever)… or even that companies paid to have their ads displayed. Not to be mean, but do these women also believe that magazines just run ads for fun and not for profit? Do they believe that the product being reviewed in the magazine they are reading was bought and paid for by the magazine editors? I’m sure this may sometimes be the case… just the same as I’m sure that there are some reviews that bloggers write where the product wasn’t sponsored but bought and paid for with their own cash (or in the case of my Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull review it was rented on Netflix – which we pay for ourselves). But in the case of the “Die Hard Reviewers“, if they were buying all of the products themselves, they would have to be loaded! I mean they are reviewing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of goods each month.
Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not blaming those moms for not knowing whether or not a product was sponsored or the ad space paid for. In fact, I agree and think it’s great to have a thorough disclosure on the blog if you are doing reviews or if you have designated paid ad spaces. I have one on my blog – see. I also sincerely believe that honesty is the best policy and that if you are not fully open and honest well then… shame on you and hopefully it will come back to bite you in the butt at some point. My beef is this… if bloggers have to be so open and honest (which once again they should be) then why don’t other websites… magazines… or even TV programs have to be. Why do news programs feel the need to have a blogger disclose just how much they are earning from their blog, when they don’t expect the same transparency from a publication or TV segment? Do you know how much your local CBS or NBC gets paid to air a commercial? Do you know how much a full page ad costs in your favorite parenting or lifestyle magazine? Do you know which products they got for free and which were paid for? I’m sure if you do some digging you can find out, but that’s just it… you have to do some digging.
Do I think it’s right to write a favorable review just because the item was given to the reviewer for free? No – absolutely not. Does everyone out in the Interwebs feel the same as I do? I’m sure many do, but there are some that don’t. So why should a few bad seeds (or bloggers) ruin it for the rest of us. The term “Mommy Blogger” should not leave a bad aftertaste in my mouth or anyone elses for that matter. I should not have to feel hesitant to write about something while wondering… do I need to disclose that I’ve owned this for 12 years or not? I’m an honest person who can’t tell a lie or keep a secret to save her life (ok so I can keep secrets under certain conditions… but it’s so very, very hard!), so if that’s the case and I try to do everything right, then why do I feel so strongly about this? Because this whole FTC disclosure issue is aimed at mom bloggers… not dad bloggers, not geek or techie review bloggers… no they are pointing the finger specifically at the moms… and I think that is just wrong.
So… if the FTC gets the transparency that they are seeking, then what? Will actors – both on and off screen start wearing badges with a list of “donated” items that they’re currently wearing? Will we see texts at the bottom of the TV screen whenever someone drinks a Coke or Pepsi product, letting us know that it was sponsored? I think that is going a little too far, but what’s fair is fair right? And if bloggers are expected to list over and over again what was sponsored then why shouldn’t others?
To cut a long rant short, my thoughts are these… to those reading reviews, I agree it should be disclosed somewhere on the blog whether or not the reviewer gets compensated for the review – whether it be by keeping the reviewed item, receiving cash or some other method. But… to continue posting and re-posting and reiterating how a product was gotten gets old and lengthy, so 1 disclosure should be enough. As for the review itself… all it takes is a little common sense… if it sounds to good to be true, then it probably was… Google the item and read another review. As I said before, unfortunately sometimes you run across reviewers who feel they must give glowing reviews to all products they got for free – sad but true.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you review and does it affect you? When you’re reading a review is it important for you to know how the product was acquired?