If you were at evo’11 you probably heard about the “Working With Brands” panel and the seismic reaction to Evan Miller’s comment about Aveda and their “stand” against paying bloggers. I’m a little late weighing in, but you can get some more insight from other posts earlier this summer: Star Tribune, Bucks2Blog, Loralee’s Looney Tunes, just to name a few. Here’s my list of results for “Aveda’s Stand Against Paying Bloggers“.
I thought it was odd (as did a few other bloggers in the audience) as we had literally just been paid to work on a campaign with Aveda. They were actually great to work with.
As you can imagine, uttering the words he did in a room full of bloggers isn’t the recipe for a quiet, calm, afternoon. He brought on the storm. Because I’ve worked with Aveda before I wanted to get a follow up quote from Evan (without all of the noise).
For as long as Aveda has worked with bloggers in a PR capacity it has not compensated with cash payments – this is as it pertains to posts like product reviews or one-off brand specials. However, we have provided bloggers compensation in the form of Aveda.com gift cards, product and salon/spa services for this type of relationship.
For programs like the Summer Solutions local market events, which are more extensive brand campaigns, Aveda’s Digital Marketing team has and may continue to compensate via monetary payment.
When talking to evo attendees about best practices for working with brands, I probably could’ve been more explicit in saying when/how we provide in-kind vs. monetary compensation. Some have asked, “Why talk about compensation in a room full of bloggers?” Since it’s something Aveda has always practiced, and other brands seem to follow suit for product review-type/one-off blog posts, I felt it apropos to mention that bloggers shouldn’t always expect monetary compensation from a brand, although some type of compensation can be requested. Some brands do it, some don’t.
I agree – I think the way he laid it out in the panel did not work for anyone. Social media is powerful in part because of instant reactivity. And that was certainly brought to light in that panel. But if I’m looking at how Aveda operations, it seems their message is that they are not going to pay for reviews and that they look at campaigns differently from reviews. So bloggers, if Aveda is who you want to work with, track your digital assets and up-sell them into something bigger than a review. Done.
The bigger question that Evan brought up is: Why talk about compensation? Because we should. Because it comes with lots of other loopholes and issues that need to be addressed in this space, and because bloggers need to have this conversation just as much as brands do.
At the end of the day if a brand is engaging a blogger in a business relationship, a brand should in most instances be paying for that. If a blogger is entering into a business relationship they should have the tools and know how to behave as one would in a business relationship. There are no hard and fast rules as to what it should be and there is sure to be some negotiating along the way. Ultimately we keep trying to reinvent the wheel to figure out how this whole compensation thing works, but the same basic business principles that apply to everything else in business apply here. If goods or services are exchanged there is most likely a value on those goods or services. In most business relationships you will document those goods and services with a contract and exchange invoices and payment based on an agreed upon value. If someone decides to work for free and doesn’t have an agreement in place then there is little recourse.
Bloggers simply need to show up in business mode to enter into a business transaction. You don’t have to say YES to everything. You should be saying NO to quite a bit. The biggest problem that I see is that bloggers often overlook the obvious: You never get what you don’t ask for.