Mostly Everything

What I have written, I have written

The following events take place within the last six months.

A public relations agency called me up after I posted a review of their client’s product x. The account executive was a little careful with the words coming out of her mouth and she was asking if I could “improve on what I wrote.” I stopped dead on my tracks (actually I didn’t really stop because I remember clearly that I was on an escalator at Rockwell) and asked her,

“What do you mean by … improve?”

It may be true that bloggers are now being tapped by PR agencies to test consumer products and services. Because of the nature of our content management system, we can edit our entries anytime. But I highly doubt that bloggers are becoming tools of PR. I think it is quite the opposite. Yesterday, I gave a short presentation to marketing and communications students at the PR Rocks Conference sponsored by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines. I told them that bloggers, though they may not be journalists are passionate individuals who hang on to their credibility. They, I would like to believe, do not sell out.

Out of politeness and still bearing the shock of not knowing what to say, I told this person, “Let me see what I can do…”

I texted her immediately after putting the phone down and told her that I was greatly disturbed by that request. She understood deeply as I have been in touch with this person since my editor / writer days at Hinge-Inquirer – as the request was truly odd. I read my review once more and it was no different in style to the dozens of reviews I have written since 2003. I am always fair and want to give products a fighting chance in the market. I didn’t see why I had to “improve” on it. What I have written, I have written.

Take everything away from me, but please don’t take away my credibility. I understand that the PR fellow was just doing her job but it is also our duty to educate remind PR practitioners that we need to set criteria. Sometimes they get too engrossed in their work. 🙂

On bad products
I have a personal opinion about REALLY bad products – I never review products that don’t make sense to consumers (VERY iffy market / VERY sub par features / VERY horrendous pricing scheme) because I know that such types of products will die a natural death. Giving a bad product a bad review is like kicking someone when he’s already down. In the case of this scenario I just outlined, the product was not bad. I gave a fair perspective on the strengths and weaknesses.

So what is the purpose of this post? Because of this incident, I would like to reveal the 8th characteristic of Blog and Soul (only 7 are posted), something which I never really wanted to talk about because I felt that it was unnecessary. The 8th pointer of the Blog and Soul Movement is to protect bloggers from sacrificing their credibility to PR. This does not happen intentionally, but I tell you that it does happen. I have dealt with several PR and ad agencies in the past – Ogilvy, GMCI, Strategic Edge, Bridges, Dominguez, Stratworks, etc and know that they are all composed of very good and upright people whom I respect and love. But we, as bloggers, must always be on guard just in case. Just in case.

The last thing you want to happen is to realize that you’ve sold out without knowing it.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

10 replies on “What I have written, I have written”

It is indeed disturbing to get such a request because in the first place that’s the point of having a review right? As a brand/product manager, one should be ready to accept both positive and negative points raised about one’s product/s. These things should be taken constructively 😉

Duh. If there are negative reviews about their products then improve them. Don’t waste time asking people to improve their reviews just to favor the company instead do your homework and improve your product.

I would not review/write a blog entry on a bad product. Strange, am wondering how else you can improve on your review. That will really sound insincere on your part to do so.

The problem is that the local PR agency can’t do much about improving the product. Improving the image of a possibly bad product, would be the principal’s orders.

Hi Jayvee,

I guess I’d call it the gray area…
it’s hard to pinpoint the line between a blogger and a writer/editor/PR person. That person might have thought he’s still talking the ‘old’ you.

Very sad.

Kudos for not giving in to the pressure! ;)However, actions should still depend on the arrangement between blogger and PR company.

My knee-jerk reaction was “screw the PR company. Stick it to the man! They shouldn’t tell you what to put.”

But when I thought about it some more, I had other ideas. If the PR company is paying you to make the review, then they’re going to expect a favorable review. This means you’re a hired gun to make their product look good.

If maybe they just provided the gadget for you to review (and you’ll give it back), then I guess you should keep what you’ve written.

I really can’t speak for any blogger or PR company because I’ve never been in such a setup. But to be fair, I think iIt really all boils down to the parties’ arrangement.

So far I haven’t been contacted to “edit” or “improve” on any product reviews. I just wasn’t contacted, period, after I e-mailed them the URL of the article. I was delicate on my review but I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down for the certain product. Like my CE said, (CJ 🙂 ), it’s better to be honest. Which I always am in my niche blogs. Or in life for that matter.

Good point. 😉 I’d like to add that the brains of some PR people work differently. They sometimes don’t want the word “advertorial” to appear and try to make it look like a bona fide review or something.

I’ve encountered this kind of guerrilla tactic before. 😛

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