It came to my attention recently about the line from MARVEL’s new movie: Spider-Man: Homecoming. The original blog post I read by Christa Thompson titled Behind This Door is a Blogger Who Is Feeling an Epic MARVEL Sized Burn struck me at a time that I recently wrote a thesis called: Why Bloggers Should be Paid for Working with Brands. Now, I will disclaimer that the movement that started (#Behindthisdoor) does not revolve around bloggers expecting MARVEL to pay them for press junkets. I’ve already been round on Twitter about that one. Her blog post hit a core that affects many bloggers, the question of why bloggers should be valued.
I have yet to see the new Spider-Man movie, but I am aware of the end line that stated,
Behind this door lies a room full of reporters, real ones, not bloggers.” – Tony Stark
It may seem like “no big deal” that this line was in the movie. After all, it is Tony Stark. There are many bloggers who have worked with Disney and MARVEL on press junkets. A marketing tool to get the word out about upcoming films. You might disagree that bloggers are press, but in all reality why would Disney take the time and money to create these events if they didn’t value that market? I have personally not attended a press junket, but I have heard the work that goes into one.
Why Bloggers Should Be Valued
That is what leads me to why bloggers should be valued. You’ll read in my thesis what exactly goes into the time of a blogger. Tourism Richmond CEO Tracy Lakeman is quoted in my paper about the cost of the campaign. That the exposure their company received far outweighed what they paid the blogger they worked with. The value outweighed the pay. Something I think that the bloggers who attend MARVEL press junkets understand. No, they are not monetarily paid, however; there is a relationship between the brand and the blogger that I believe has been tainted by this one-liner.
It would be similar, in any job, if someone took time to complete a heavy project that they loved only to be told it was worthless. I suppose this could be a reality, but is that what MARVEL is trying to convey? Having networked with people who work in higher places within Walt Disney Studios, I highly doubt it. Conferences and events, like these, have changed lives. It made me change my major.
I can see why bloggers are upset! A large industry is instilling that bloggers are not of any value. This carried heavy weight with a slap in the face.
I’ve been told plenty of times that I need to get a “real job”. It has made divides in my family. While everyone has a right to their opinion, I think there needs to be more respect for a blogger. When you watch the news and tweet your thoughts, does that news agency tweet back? Is there “real talk” between you and that journalist? When a blogger gives their thoughts, they are raw, they are real. They aren’t bound by contract that they cannot express their political or religious views. You are hearing from someone who is passionate about their views, their likes, their dislikes.
I will share a copy of my thesis below because I feel like it came at a time that a reminder was needed. While this movement goes far beyond “pay”, my thesis is trying to point out the value of a blogger. Why it IS a real job. Why bloggers SHOULD be VALUED for what they do. I do not ever expect anyone to understand the ins and outs of my job, but I do demand respect for it. I’ll admit that I still love Marvel, I still will work with Disney. We all make mistakes. I don’t think this campaign is some way to call for a boycott as I have seen assumed on Twitter. However, this campaign is a great reminder to choose words wisely.
“Why Bloggers Should be Paid for Working with Brands”
English 123 – Persuasive Essay
Why Bloggers Should be Paid for Working with Brands
The topic of my essay is why bloggers should be paid for working with brands. Bloggers should be paid for the campaigns they participate in with brands for product and service marketing. Bloggers are of high value to brands by improving the reach of advertisement. Bloggers have presence on various social media platforms that readers follow. By sharing honest thoughts and implications of how a brand benefits a blogger’s life, an audience can relate to the product or service better. A ‘real person’ is behind it.
Bloggers should be paid because of the value that they bring to advertisement for brands to a further audience. In The growing appetite for paid bloggers – Globe & Mail (Toronto, Canada), Tourism Richmond CEO Tracy Lakeman mentions that the campaign she worked on with Lindsay Anderson (blogger) exceeded all expectations. Lakeman quotes:
“This has been, without a doubt, the most successful campaign we have done since I have been here in the last nine-and-a-half years,” Ms. Lakeman said Monday. “You talk about how much it costs us – you’ve got Lindsay’s salary, part of her living expenses, the cost of the food – that’s nothing compared to the exposure we’ve received” (Woo, 2017).
This brand’s testimony of what working with a blogger did for that business is a firsthand example of the value that a blogger brings to the table. Lakeman notes what they paid Lindsay far outweighed what they got out of her exposing the company to her readers. If a brand can easily state that they basically “underpaid” the blogger they worked with, it is clear that bloggers should not only be paid but be paid what any marketing department might be for running an advertisement. Clearly Lakeman has worked with several agencies or persons in the past for marketing campaigns as she notes the nine-and-a-half years that she has been doing this. She found her work with Lindsay the most valuable.
Bloggers are required to claim that their posts are being sponsored across all platforms per FTC regulations. Honest advertising is important. It brings further integrity value to a blogger and reader relationship. Considering bloggers must follow FTC regulations just as any other media source, why wouldn’t they be viewed as the same?
A blogger is often a soul proprietorship. There isn’t any overhead, a design team behind photos or an editor. The blogger is wearing all hats in their business. FTC regulations are of great importance to a blogger because if they are not honestly and correctly advertising during a paid campaign, they are the only one held responsible. This could mean loss of personal assists and credibility.
Aldi mummy blogger now gets paid to promote brand – The Age (Melbourne, Australia) discusses about the need for being upfront with an audience that a blogger is being paid. This article further explains FTC requirements (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission being the equivalent to our FTC). Australian Competition and Consumer Commission advises bloggers to be “transparent about commercial relationships” and to include a prominent explanation of any such deal (Hatch, 2015). A blogger must note to their audience about payment. This can be done in hashtags in a social share and/or a disclaimer at the top of a post. The blogger must be clear in their disclaimer, and it is required to be the first thing a reader would see. In social shares, a disclaimer must be prior to any links that are shared of an article. Some changes to regulations have even state that “AD” must be at the front of a sentence. This is to ensure that the reader understands that the blogger was paid for this review. An honest review is not only about having integrity with readers, it is about holding the blogger accountable.
It is becoming more obvious how much value a blogger is to a brand. Brittaney Kiefer PR Week (US) quotes a PR agency about working with bloggers:
“It’s about providing a remarkable experience in working with bloggers and building relationships,” said Gemma Craven, EVP and New Yorkgroup director of Social@Ogilvy” (Kiefer, 2012).
There are a vast amount of PR agencies now that offer campaigns with bloggers and brands. They work as a third party to introduce a blogger to a brand. A blogger submits a pitch via the PR agency, who in turn sends the pitch to the brand. If the pitch matches the demographic and type of marketing that the brand wants, there might be a match. In these pitches, a certain amount of payment is discussed. PR agency examples are Social Fabric, Muse, Ahalogy, TapInfluence, Gen.Video and several others. It makes sense with growth of PR agencies, specific to bringing together blogs and brands, that value of paying a blogger to advertise is more apparent.
Some might argue that bloggers being paid for a review to market a brand might make the advertisement and testimony lose credibility. Making the value of a blogger seem less because they are simply advertising a brand to get paid. While not all bloggers might care about the integrity of their relationship with their audience, many view their blogs as a business and value that creditably with their readers. A part of blogging is keeping numbers up. This includes page views, social platforms, etc. If readership is lost, so is revenue. Every time a reader comes to a blogger’s site that has paid ads, they are paid a small percentage via places like Google AdSense. You might be familiar with this when you visit a site and see ads on the sidebar. There is also a great value in having a good reputation with readers. Readers continue to share what they learn. This creates reach for the blogger. The more a post is shared, the more eyes are on the brand. Integrity of a blogger to readership goes far beyond the post itself. To be honest, bloggers who do posts simply for payment are quickly sniffed out by both their peers and brands alike. When a blogger can gain a relationship with a brand for continued work, there is a successful network.
The most important points are that from brands and agencies that have proof of how much value a blogger is. Especially the statement from Tourism Richmond CEO Tracy Lakeman. She puts into perspective just how much work a blogger puts into what they do and the payout is nothing close to what the brand receives in revenue from a campaign. Like I mentioned before, most bloggers do this single handed. Sometimes on top of being a work-at-home mom, having another outside job or simply just everyday life events. The thought of a blogger not needing to be paid I believe is a huge misunderstanding to what goes into a blogger’s work.
Photographers, for example, are often thought to be ‘over paid’. People tend to forget what goes into photography. Gas to drive to the location, taking time to shoot, the contacts with their subjects, editing, equipment use, office supplies, etc. People who might not work in a position where these things are normally discussed in a business might not get the larger picture. The same goes for bloggers. Bloggers have to have skills. Photography, design, editing, writing, videography, marketing, speaking, bookkeeping, the list goes on. Most of these skills revolve around working with a brand on a campaign. Good photography is a requirement in many campaigns. If a blogger doesn’t have the tools or skills to create great photos to market the brand, they may not be hired. All of these skills are valuable to a brand because they are not paying a larger agency to do it for them. They have a one-on-one relationship with the blogger for faster communication and passionate work.
Bloggers should be paid because having a working relationship with a brand is a very real job that takes time, effort and honest work. I mentioned the many skills that a blogger needs to achieve a successful post for a brand. Plus the various social media skills needed to attract an audience. I can bet that some of your favorite companies are on just about every social platform available. Social media advertisement is the norm these days. Bloggers are a large impact in this. 32% of Millennial Moms say they buy in-store only after doing research online (Bailey, Maria, pg. 136.). That is a large portion of buyers. People trust people. Brands recognize that bloggers have an impact on a buyer’s decision. With that, a blogger should be paid for that. They are essentially a spokesperson for that brand.
In conclusion, I urge people to have a new perspective on the value of bloggers. I believe by placing value on this industry there might be an easier outlook of why a blogger should be paid. If we read a review of a blogger and trust it enough to purchase an item, there has been a relationship of very real marketing. Similar to if we were to watch a television commercial for a local restaurant and suddenly make plans for dinner there. The stretch isn’t far at all; if at all.
A blogger carries a very real title in media. They are a media source and outlet. With the work, value and trusted relationship they bring to brands, proper payment and recognition is warranted. Blogging is a growing market and should be valued just as much as the value they bring to a brand.
Bailey, Maria T. Millennial moms: 202 facts marketers need to know to build brands and drive sales. Deadwood, OR: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, 2015. Print.
Hatch, Patrick. “The Mum Who Gets Paid by Aldi for Being the Supermarket’s Biggest Fan.” Canberra Times. N.p., 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 30 June 2017.
Kiefer, Brittaney. “Agencies Stress Disclosure When Paying Bloggers.” PR Week. N.p., 8 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 June 2017.
Woo, Andrea. “Metro Vancouver’s Growing Appetite for Paid Bloggers.” The Globe and Mail. VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail, 04 June 2013. Web. 30 June 2017.