More Bloggers Using PR Services to Solicit Free Stuff


We all know that Help A Reporter Out and Profnet are great tools for PR pros and that product reviews by prominent bloggers are great for clients.

But what about those social media entrepreneurs who use the service to explicitly request free stuff? And how does this square with pay-for-play ethical boundaries?

After the jump, a couple of examples from bloggers who, frankly, don’t have a whole hell of a lot of leverage to make such requests.

5. PRODUCTS: Back-to-School Products — xxxxxxxx
I would love to review and host a giveaway for your back-to-school product. I have five children attending school (elementary to college), so anything applies: school supplies, clothing, backpacks, electronics. I have 16,000 fans on Facebook, 12,000 followers on Twitter, 3,500 followers on Pinterest and am still working on my Instagram. Contact me if you have any questions. The blog has more than 7,000 unique monthly visitors and complies with the FTC blogger guidelines. There are no fees to feature a product, but I do request a full-size sample for review.     Contact: xxxxxxxxxxx
Submitted By: xxxxxxxxxxx
Organization: xxxxxxxxxxx
Need leads by: Sep 02, 2014 10:00 PM CST(America/Chicago)

So there’s no fee to be paid, but she’ll need that full-size sample.

Here’s an even more flagrant example sent to us by an anonymous tipster with a client in the gift card industry:

2. PRODUCTS: Back-to-School Guide — xxxxxxxxxxx
Well it is that time of year! School will be in session soon and I am looking to share your awesome products with my readers. I am looking to do product reviews and possibly do a giveaway. I have a great following and am always looking for new products to share with them. Anything is open for discussion, from clothing to supplies to electronics and everything in between. I look forward to hearing from you. My blog has 162,867 unique visitors per month and does comply with the FTC guidelines. There are no fees for reviews.     Contact: xxxxxxxxxxx
Submitted By: xxxxxxxxxxx
Organization: xxxxxxxxxxx
Need leads by: Sep 14, 2014 11:00 PM CST(America/Chicago)
Organization URL: xxxxxxxxxxx
Email xxxxxxxxxxx

Now note her response:

Thank you so much for reaching out to me! I would love to work with you. I think your site is fantastic! Unfortunately, I can not work for free! And receiving a card that has no value will not do anything for me. When you do get a budget, please feel free to reach out to me because I would love to work with you. Thank you for your time!

That’s…explicit. Our questions: how is sending products for reviews not pay-for-play? Is this practice more common than we thought? Should we just abandon all contrary pretenses?