“A PR person contacted me, representing a large cookware store. ‘If they could do anything for me…let them know.’ I told them I was testing bread cookbooks and could use a scale. If they could work somemagic on that end…great!
“The response I got was a link to their entire kitchen scale inventory and was told ‘pick one.’ I did. They sent it. I haven’t received it yet, but in an e-mail with the UPS tracking code I was told, ‘Once you have finished testing, can you please send it back to the corporate office?’ (address included)
“I’m astonished! When I questioned it, they said it was a ‘media loan’ and ‘The normal procedure is to loan the product, media tests it and then returns it.’ This was never made clear in the initial e-mails.”
I didn’t understand why she was astonished until later, when she said this same company has sent her free product in the past. This time, however, a public relations (PR) person approached her. Usually PR people deal with the media and are the ones to handle a review. The blogger was not doing a review. She sent the scale back, unopened.
What are the takeaway lessons here? The main one for me is that bloggers can get confused. They are offered and sent lots of freebies. Should they take them? I say no, because I think bloggers are no different from journalists. To remain objective, people who write aren’t supposed to take free product and expensive meals.
There’s an exception, of course. Reviewers (those who critique, whether in print or online) can take free books because it’s accepted to do so. As for other review items, reviewers are supposed to return them, especially if the company says so or the products have value, such as kitchen appliances. Sometimes, however, the company says reviewers can keep things.
Is this confusing?
I’ve discussed freebies and how to deal with them in the past, so let’s not rehash. Mostly I would like to know: Are you confused? If you’re a blogger, is it hard to differentiate between freebies and review product? Are you asked to return things or told to keep them?