Do I look like an idiot? Or: #DearPR...

>> Thursday, 5 July 2012

Dear PR,

let me start by saying that today has not been the least stress-free day I've ever known.  It's not your fault that I'm crawling, bloodied but unbowed, towards the end of Week 3 of my sons' 10 week summer holiday, that our compound now resembles nothing so much as a ghost town without a single other child for them to play with, or that they spent this morning squabbling and fighting in the back of the car both ways during a trip to the supermarket that took four hours from the moment we left the house to the moment we returned. Not your fault; I know that.

Neither is it your fault that I lost it with the Boys only half a mile from home, pulled over and gave them a good talking to, insisting in a completely over the top 'shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted' manner on complete silence for the remaining 5 minutes of the drive.

I also can't blame you for the fact that Moscow's current heatwave has brought the mosquitoes out in high numbers, forcing me to sit here at my desk armed with some heavy-duty Raid to squirt hopelessly at the little blighters as they feast on my shins - again.

And of course it has nothing at all to do with you that right now my hormones are playing havoc with my emotions; possibly if I had received your email this time next week my response would be a little less... shouty.

OK.  None of those things are your fault.

Now let's get onto what is.

Specifically, this:

'Please no not mark the article as 'sponsored' or 'paid for' - if you have a policy on your website to declare third party content, please mark this as a 'Guest Post'"* or "Featured Article".'

I know, Dear PR, that I look but a smidgen of my true age (that's what my bathroom mirror tells me before I put my contact lenses in, anyway).  But do you think I was (expletive deleted) born yesterday?  You are asking me for what is labelled in my rate card as a 'Sponsored' post.  'Sponsored' as in a clear sign that the post has been 'paid for'.  It will be paid for however it's labelled; you know that, I know that.  And bearing in mind that I don't carry "Guest Posts", and have never run a "Featured Article", I strongly suspect that 'The Potty Diaries' readers - who, given their choice of blog are obviously a pretty smart bunch - would be able to work out that it has been paid for too, if I used either of those labels.

May I refer you, in fact, to an excellent post on this very subject from Tots 100What you are asking me to do - albeit in a small way, but you're asking it all the same - is to break the law.  

The Tots 100 post says; '... the OFT guidelines state that online promotional activity, just like any other promotional activity, must clearly identify when promotions and editorial comment have been paid for, so that consumers are not misled. (if you didn’t know, you can see the OFT guidelines as they relate to bloggers right here)**

So yes, I said 'no thank you' to your kind offer.  The money you were offering would have been very handy, I have to admit, but see that badge on the sidebar?  The one that says 'Brit Mums Blog With Integrity'?

I've moved it further up to make it more visible - in the hope I don't have to deal with this type of nonsense in the future.


Tell me, other bloggers and any PR's who may have read this far; am I a naive idiot?  Or simply a principled blogger?  And what would you have done?

* the triple apostrophe is the PR's own, by the way.

** please click on the link to the original Tots 100 article for the link to the OFT guidelines.


Tim Atkinson 5 July 2012 at 20:25  

No, PM, you're a naive idiot. I'd have taken the money and posted anyway...

No, seriously, my policy is simple and although I hate labelling posts in any way (I write what I write whether they pay me or not, and plenty of the product posts I write are neither 'sponsored' - in the sense of being paid for - nor paid for in kind) I think honesty is vitally important.

And what they were asking you to do was dishonest.

MummyTravels 6 July 2012 at 10:22  

Completely agree - it drives me mad when PRs try to persuade me sponsored content doesn't need to be declared (or other variations, like it actually being a guest post and not needing to be declared/paid). How stupid do I look (no need to answer that...)?

Melissa 6 July 2012 at 11:08  

Do PR people actually ask that? (jaw on floor) I feel a letter to PR Week coming on....

Pippa W 6 July 2012 at 12:50  

That's you being shouty and rude? Jeepers I'd better get myself seen to!

nappy valley girl 6 July 2012 at 13:49  

I've had emails that say that before. But they don't annoy me as much as the ones who want to write an (unpaid) 'guest post' for my blog. Why on earth do PRs think we're going to carry unpaid content from someone else on a personal blog just because they asked? No-one else in publishing would do!

Potty Mummy 6 July 2012 at 14:17  

Tim, well obviously, Daily Fail bater that you are, you would have taken the money...

MT, as stupid as I do, apparently! (So we're in good company)

Melissa, seriously - I quoted verbatim. Send me a copy of the letter to PR when it goes, would you - would love to read your - as a pr - take on this!

Pippa, there was an 'expletive deleted' in there, wasn't there. Gosh golly woman, what do you want from me?

NVG, I find those equally irritating but at least that one is above-board, I suppose.

Iota 6 July 2012 at 15:04  

'Guest post' = you've invited someone to write a post. 'Featured article' = hm... not sure what that does mean, actually, but I would know that it meant that you had received some kind of remuneration for it.

But I'm not surprised it annoyed you. I mean, what they're saying is "please promote our product/services, and pretend that there hasn't been any business transaction involved but that you're inspired from the depths of your own heart". Duh.

Laura - Chez Mummy 10 July 2012 at 07:33  

As a PR professional myself this is extremely bad practice not to mention illegal. My first thought though was that this might not be a typical PR exec but rather a Digital Marketing exec who is after 'follow' links for their client. Whoever it was though it's still naughty and good on you for turning them down

Laura - Chez Mummy 10 July 2012 at 07:34  

As a PR professional myself this is extremely bad practice not to mention illegal. My first thought though was that this might not be a typical PR exec but rather a Digital Marketing exec who is after 'follow' links for their client. Whoever it was though it's still naughty and good on you for turning them down

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