Question for you, Dave: A company reached out to me re: sponsored post type of posts … offering a decent fee in return. They submitted their first post to me. It’s solid, but it’s written as if I wrote it. Even mentions my daughter to further make it sound like it’s me.
I called them on it. They said they would remove that. But they don’t want the terms “guest post’ or ‘sponsored post’ associated with the article. Unethical right?
That’s a really interesting situation, actually, because sponsored posts are one of the most common ways that bloggers make a few dollars off the popularity of their site. So that’s good. But from an ethical perspective, I think this all revolves around your view of your readership. To wit: do you see yourself as having a relationship with the people who read your blog, or are you really all about maximizing your revenue and don’t much care about the “unwashed masses”?
I try to take the proverbial high road whenever I get into a dilemma of this nature and I would say that ethically if it’s not you, and not your voice, somewhere you should inform the reader of that fact. It’s only respectful of their time and attention.
On the other hand, if it’s $500 versus a disclaimer, well, then you’ll have to decide.
Sometimes the lure of making money can outweigh the ethics of a situation too, which is a bit sad, but hey, economic reality can be an ugly thing, and being able to feed your daughter might just outweigh being an upstanding citizen and letting hundreds of dollars slip through your fingers.
I definitely err on the side of disclosure, everything else being equal.
The sticking point to me is that they submitted the article masquerading as you. This means that when someone reads it they’re likely to think that you wrote it. But you didn’t. And that’s dishonest and certainly reflects poorly on your brand. Worse, what if the ideas they convey in the article aren’t in perfect alignment with your own? You certainly don’t want to tacitly endorse that as your words if they aren’t.
Perhaps the solution is as simple as to have them scrub the personally identifying content and introduce the article as “Here’s a guest piece that I thought was worth sharing…” or similar. Easy enough and it still accomplishes their goals for the campaign.
Good luck with this one. And readers, how would you handle this situation?