Adventures in Product Placement

This morning I don’t have an awful lot to talk about.  I wound up watching two movies last night and don’t much feel like talking about either, so instead I am going to tell you a story of something that has been happening over the last week and some change.  Having a website as long as I have had mine means that you are ultimately going to run into a bunch of people who want something from you.  I get a regular stream if emails wanting to do paid product placement on my blog and I have written about this before.  I’ve gotten better at just instantly blocking an email address when I can tell someone is fishing for a paid placement, or in the case of the linked article that I just promote their site out of the goodness of my heart.  Side note…  this is a thing I do regularly but for things I enjoy/believe in or for people who I just generally think are awesome and that others should experience their content.

Recently I got an email from a manufacturer of a gaming specific product that wanted to talk to me about doing a review of said product.  Okay so right off the bat it passes a couple of my tests…  1) I am willing to review products and 2) it has to be something that I am interested in and that I think my readers might be interested in.  They also talk a bit about wanting to start a business relationship that could benefit my users which is always cool if I could provide discounts or something of the sort.  They did mention wanting to place a banner in my sidebar with a link, but that wasn’t an immediate no since if there was a decent discount code attached to it I would probably do that to offer it up easily to my folks.  I sat on this for about a week mulling over whether or not I should contact them back and whether or not it would be a good thing in the long run.

Almost exactly seven days to the date I responded back with an email talking about my terms for doing product reviews.  I talk about how I am willing to look at their product but I am not willing to promise a positive review and that I am only willing to link to their product if it is in fact something I believe in.  I talk about how the only way I am willing to have any form of a permanent side bar link is if they provide a discount code for my readers.  What I did promise is that I would give an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the product and share that content with my readers and social media followers.  Having been through this before I fully expected them to just simply not want to do business with me at this point but I sent the email anyways.

After just stating that I would not agree to any terms ahead of reviewing the product I got back a laundry list of things in response…  completely ignoring anything I said in the previous email.  Here is what they wanted from me…

  • One written review with at least two dofollow backlinks and me to insert a number of specific keywords they requested
  • One video review of the product (I don’t even do these ever)
  • One post on twitter or other social media to promote the posts tagging them
  • Banner placement in my sidebar
  • Signing a contract stating I agree to all of this
  • The product would not ship until the banner had appeared in the sidebar
  • The discount code was some sort of a profit sharing thing…  which is not something I want.  I don’t want to profit from my readers.

Basically I stated that I would agree to none of that in my first response email, yet they rolled in and still threw it out there.  I responded back with the following email.

I apologize if I gave the impression from my last response that I would be willing to accept these terms. I realize as a manufacturer that you would love to have some assurances, but I am simply not willing to give you any. I’ve built my site on integrity and only passing things on to my readers that I completely believe in. That way when they know I am suggesting a controller or a computer accessory it is because I myself either am currently using it or have used it in the past and thought it was a great product. So I am not willing to sign a contract of any form with you or anyone else. I am also not willing to agree to any of your review terms, because I am not wiling to agree to that sort of thing ahead of reviewing the product. Nor will I agree to how much I will or will not promote your product, because again I have never experienced said product. Lastly I do not do video production at all so that one is completely off the radar from the sort of audience I have.

In the past I have simply not responded to requests for me to promote something on my sites. I have no interest in profit sharing, and the only reason why I was interested in some sort of a discount code was that if I chose to promote your product on my site that I would love for my readers to get some benefit from it. All of that said I am not willing to agree to any sort of promotion until I have seen and experienced your product to develop my honest opinion of it. I realize this is not the way you prefer to do business but this is the only way I am willing to do so. I also reserve the right to talk to my readers about my readers about what it is like to work with <INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE>.

I have a genuine relationship with my readers and followers and they know that I am not doing it to promote myself or to profit from them. As a result I only support products that completely believe in and without seeing your product there is no way I could feel comfortable agreeing to any of these terms.

I fully expect to never hear back again from the rep of said manufacturer.  I am not naming any names because hell they may shock me and respond with “okay, where do we ship it?” but I sincerely doubt it.   The truth is the product was in a range of products that I have never been able to suggest to folks because I have not had a great experience with any of them.  I would have loved to have had one that I could honestly support and suggest because it comes up pretty regularly in my timelines.  In video game reviews I have encountered plenty of folks willing to accept these terms, but in product reviews so far everyone has wanted some form of assurance that I am just unwilling to offer.  It frustrates me because I had hope that this one would be different and by the way the originally approached me it seem that way.  However they immediately went back to the same nonsense I have dealt with before, which is a massive disappointment.

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