Where I talk about disclosing paid stories on your blog and social media and how to deal with brands sending gifts and freebies without a contractual obligation. Blogging is a lot of fun because you get to meet the people who run some of the world’s most amazing brands, you get to hang out with tons of people who are smarter than you are – there’s so much to learn! And then there’s the challenges that come with it. One of those being “free stuff”.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all the free stuff that brands send to me depending on their latest campaign or the latest festive season in India etc. But many times neither party – PR Agency, Brand and Blogger – is clear on how to deal with this. There have been so many times clothing brands have sent stuff that doesn’t fit, because guess what? They didn’t bother to ask for my size before sending in a trunk-load of clothes.
There’s also been gifts that I probably would never buy in real life because I can’t see myself spending Rs. 35,000 on a woven paper hat. It’s a beautiful hat undoubtedly and it is totally my style but I can think of many different ways to spend that money in a way that would satisfy me more.
During the festive season the number of times my doorbell rings is not funny. “Madam, this is from X brand.” when the person making the delivery works at the same office but more often it is, “Madam their office is near Mahamaya.” Security guards don’t let people in without my approval in most cases and when the delivery is unannounced and from someone I don’t know, a security guard has to trudge down to my door to make sure it’s all good.
Since most agencies and brands are not sure why they’re sending freebies to random people they think are important, as a blogger, it falls on you to decide your terms and present them. When someone sends me free products, I almost always take a mobile phone photo and post it on my social media channels. Not always though – because of the ill-fitting clothes for example and the damaged goods that get sent or the cookies that arrive as cookie dust. I am also trying to cut out sugar from my life and while I’ll usually take a photo and post it, the sweet stuff usually immediately gets binned because I don’t even want to inflict sugar on the people I know.
That’s the thing with gifts that show up unannounced – there’s no contractual obligation and you can do whatever you want with them. But the funniest bit is when people from PR agencies then call up to ask when they’re going to see a blog post about the free products. I’ve taken to responding with a, “Er. Never?” Please discuss these things BEFORE sending free stuff, not after.
The other end of the spectrum is the brand / agency that identifies a blogger who does work very relevant for their brand, researched their social media a little to figure out what that bloggers like, what they write about, what their preferences are and then they send a gift accordingly. Guess what? If it is something I love and use daily, it WILL show up multiple times in my social media feed. It might also show up in a blog post. But this is a gamble and it’s always better to consider a professional engagement anyway.
( On The Naina Redhu Experience, I talk more about things related to photography, blogging, the industry, social media etc. I’m doing these videos regularly now – every Wednesday 0900 hours Indian Standard Time on my YouTube Channel : youtube.com/nainaredhu )