Ana and I both weigh in on the subject of Brand Relationships and Bloggers in this post.
Phyrra: Brands and Bloggers have an interesting relationship. Brands, in general, want bloggers to talk about their products to raise brand awareness. Most brands appreciate honest reviews which give feedback on the positive and negative points of their producs, which help the brand to grow and improve their products. I have made some wonderful relationships with brands over the years and I really appreciate the give and take.
Some brands really understand how to have a mutually beneficial relationship with bloggers. When a blogger reviews their product, they share the review on their Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. I’ve seen brands pinning pictures of bloggers’ reviews on Pinterest, too. The brands benefit by the reviews being seen by new fans and the bloggers benefit by exposure to new readers.
Other brands seem to be missing out on that. They are not communicative with bloggers. A blogger may send the brand a link to their review and then hear nothing. When you check that brand’s facebook page, you’ll only see sales mentioned, nothing about reviews or the product ‘out in the wild,’ which is what a lot of readers want to see.
There have been some big brands making big mistakes recently. The biggest mistake I can think of right now is what China Glaze did to Kelly of Vampy Varnish. To sum that up (though you can read the whole post here), a contractor working for China Glaze contacted Kelly to use her pictures of China Glaze products on the Shopping Channel and ShopNBC. These pictures helped sell a ton of polish for thse shopping channels. All Kelly asked for was credit on air and on the website. She received neither. This isn’t the first time that this has happened with China Glaze. China Glaze isn’t the first brand, either. There have been issues with Sinful, and several others. It seems we hear a lot these days about companies taking bloggers’ photos without permission and using them for profit, with no credit or compensation to the blogger.
Still other brands take that a step further and rather than have a mutually beneficial relationship or a neutral one, brazenly want to take advantage of bloggers from the get-go. I recently had a brand ask me to sign a contract that stated:
This wasn’t for a video. This was simply for the right to receive product samples to review. They were not offering compensation of any sort for the work or future work. Would a brand try to do this with a magazine? I don’t think so. This is, plain and simple, trying to take advantage of bloggers. To me, this is appalling. Even worse, I’m sure there are bloggers who have already agreed to these terms without blinking an eye.
Bloggers, you are worth more than this! Don’t give away your content for free! It’s sometimes hard to do, but stop selling yourself short. You are worth more than you ask. My friend Nicki recently said that women statistically ask for 25-40% less than market value when we ask to be paid. So when you’re asked, keep that in mind. I know it’s hard to ask to be paid, but if a brand is asking to use your photos, they have value. You have value. You are talent.
JediAna: I agree that the terms above are ridiculous, particularly for press samples that would ordinarily be submitted for the chance – not guarantee – of an honest review. I’ve lately seen bloggers getting contracts from companies that essentially want to pay them to model the product to their audience, and then use the content however they like forever, royalty-free. But trying to claim ownership and the right to sub-license anything ever done using the offered product is ridiculous, and, to me, shows no respect at all for the original content bloggers create.
Bloggers deserve to get something from the content they create and offer free without giving up all rights to it, readers should be able to find out about new things they might like without being deceived, and companies can benefit greatly from the exposure that blogs can provide as well as getting valuable feedback. It can be an incredibly positive relationship for all involved, like Phyrra said, provided one party isn’t trying to take advantage of another.
It’s a shame to see this kind of thing becoming more common. I can’t think of a bigger insult to bloggers and their valuable contributions than a company showing complete disregard for the blogger’s opinion whilst simultaneously trying to hijack their audience.
Like Phyrra has pointed out, it can be incredibly difficult to place value on our own work sometimes, but bloggers create a lot of fantastic content and it deserves to be valued. Don’t sell yourselves short!