Friday, July 06, 2007

My Thoughts on Blogging Integrity

Last week, after posting about my experience getting fitted for a bra, I received an e-mail from someone expressing interest in advertising their company on Faking Good Breeding. I do take advertising (a girl's gotta pay the bills somehow) but I was pretty shocked by this guy's request.

"Could you write a post about us, or place a link to our site in a post, like you did for the Town Shop?"

At first I didn't fully understand what he meant, because no one had paid me to visit and write about the Town Shop or to include a link to their store in a post. The story occurred as I described it: my bras didn't fit, I did a Google search for Manhattan lingerie stores and after reading and comparing reviews, I decided to try the Town Shop. I was pleased with my experience and thought the story was worth sharing on the blog, so I wrote a post, and in the interest of helping others find the store, I linked to their website. Simple as that.

The kind of "pay per post" advertising that this company requested is certainly not new, but it's something that I will never, ever do. Since there's a small chance that some readers might believe that I was doing that, I feel like I should write a post explaining my policy on how I deal with advertisers and PR firms.

Overall, I believe very strongly in integrity in my blogging. I view my blog as an extension of myself, and I want my posts to reflect the reality of my life (as I see it) as best I can. Obviously, I'm not doing journalistic reporting, and there are choices I have to make every day about what details to include or exclude from a story. Sometimes quotes or descriptions of people are slightly altered to improve the story as well as to keep the post from going on too long. My goal is to keep the depiction as true as possible, while also making it easy and entertaining to read.

If you read a number of beauty or fashion blogs, you probably notice that many people will be talking about the same product or brand at once. Usually that's because a PR firm is trying to promote a product or line and offers to send samples to interested beauty/fashion bloggers.

Sometimes bloggers will acknowledge that they were given samples for free, others review them as they would any product they buy on their own. I don't believe that I'm any "softer" on products that I've been given for free, but I always state in my review that I was sent the product, just in the interest of full disclosure. I'm perfectly comfortable writing a scathing review of a product I've gotten free, and like with all my product reviews, my decision to review is based on whether I feel very strongly about the product (positive or negative) and whether I think I'd have something interesting to say about it. I haven't written many reviews about products I've received for free for this reason- I'm just not going to write a review about something unless I really like it or really don't like it.

Brands - Longtime readers might notice that I'm not writing about beauty products as much as I used to, and it's because my current job involves working with a beauty brand. I'm not invested enough in the job and my relationship with this brand to not want to talk about any beauty products at all, but I've made a decision that it would be a conflict of interest to discuss any products by this brand. If I ended up getting a job with a beauty or fashion brand, I would have to make some tough decisions about whether there'd be a conflict of interest in reviewing and discussing that category at all. Luckily, I'm not at that point.

Advertising - I do allow advertising on the site, but only certain kinds. I have no problem with banner ads, Google ads and sponsored sidebar links, as long as they're not advertising a product or company that conflicts with my own beliefs (I wouldn't allow advertising of diet pills, for instance). I do not allow paid posts, paid links in posts or anything that affects the posts themselves, or prevents me from being 100% honest in my writing.

It's extremely important to me that you (all of my readers) can trust that I totally stand behind anything that's on the site, that the opinions and recommendations I give are uninfluenced by a company or individual with their own agenda. I write every post imagining that I'm speaking to friends, and while there are obviously some adjustments that need to be made when you're putting yourself out there on the internet, I believe the truth can and should still come through. I have too much respect for my readers to set my standards any lower.

If you've got any questions about my blogging policies, feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer.


Robin said...

Although I think your explanation is most likely, I also wanted to mention that sometimes something is mentioned many times becaue other bloggers see a post and then go out to try something (I did this with a pair of shoes I saw reviewed on another blog).

Also, I used me sephora card this past weekend. Fancy dancy eyelash curler, bare essentials eyeliner (sparkly dark chocolate) and eyeshadow/liner (gold)

Robin said...

My, I mean my sephora card. And, thank you!

ambika said...

Funny, I just dealt with this. Never realized providing my email on my site would lead to so many pay for post offers but ah well.

Meg said...

(Meg @ All About Appearances)

I guess I'm not big enough to attract advertisers just yet (though I'm signed up with Google and Amazon), but my policy is pretty much the same as Meg's. While I don't have a problem with free samples, I do believe in full disclosure. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried/read everything that I recommend or review and haven't been paid a dime to do so.

Anonymous said...

this is really refreshing to hear. thanks!!

The non-blonde said...

I get offers like that on a nearly daily basis. In many cases (when they are unbelievably outragous) I stopped even emailing them back a polite "no, thank you". I'm not even doing google ads at the moment because I can't yet curb my control freak tendencies, and everything on my blog is all about me and what I think of stuff.
There are so many beauty blog out there right now, not all of them operate at the same standard. Kudos to you for making your policy clear.

Anonymous said...

I always wonder about that, whenever I read beauty reviews. It's not very different from beauty magazines, though - those editors get swamped with freebies and there must be some overlap between favorable reviews and current advertising, though perhaps nothing so unsubtle as what bloggers get hit with. Viral marketing is a strange new world.

Icy said...

I like that you have a policy and it's pubished. Best way to go.