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Sponsored Posts vs. Reviews (or Earned Media vs. Paid Media)

When you get more than three mom bloggers in a room together, it’s only a matter of time before making a living at blogging comes up. This means we chat about sponsored posts, ads on blogs, freelance writing you name it, we have done it to earn money.

So naturally this issue came up again at the Type-A Conference, along with the standard confusion about the differences between reviews and sponsored posts. The terms “earned media” and “paid media” came up again as well as the fact that both bloggers AND brands share some confusion over these two ideas when it comes to sharing about products on blogs.

So let’s review, shall we?

One point to bring up: bloggers ARE media. I’m not saying we’re all journalists not at all but we ARE media outlets. It’s important to know that marketing and public relations professionals view us as media. Of course, unlike most media outlets, we do not have an editor, nor do we get paid a salary. Traditional media does and this lack of salary is naturally a contributing issue to why many bloggers prefer sponsored posts to reviews.

Earned Media is unpaid. This means reviews, published press releases, and organic posts about products you use that you write without any input from the brand itself.

Paid Media is, well, PAID. This includes sponsored posts, paid giveaways, etc.

Points to remember about Earned Media:

• You do not need to include links or codes to a company that they’ve requested (you can do it to be kind, but they cannot require it in earned media).

• You are absolutely allowed to publish a negative review.

• A brand or company cannot “require” you to pull a post they don’t like.

Points to remember about Paid Media:

• You must disclose that you’ve been paid.

• A brand may ask you to include several outbound links that are follow (as in, not no-follow). Be sure to clarify this before agreeing to the post.

• A brand can ask you to remove the post, but they cannot ask for the money to be returned.

Something that confuses many people are things like events; if I’m given passes to a local amusement park and end up sharing about my day on my blog, that’s earned media (even though I was given free passes). But if a company flies me to their location, puts me up in a hotel, feeds me and pays me a stipend to blog about it? That’s paid but mostly because the post is paid for.

Confused yet?

Well, we ALL are. Social media has changed the game. This excellent Mashable article breaks it down to some extent, but for additional reference you can review the Public Relations Society of America’s Ethics guide for Social Media, and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s ethics page.

 

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