An interesting assignment popped up recently on Blogdash, a website that connects bloggers with folks who need them.
On October 28 — and again on November 1 — I received a pitch from an organization that wanted me to post a 100-500 word article about their “charity” on OurFoodNews. The assignment specified that I include at least one photo and a link to their landing page (both of which I would do anyway).
Sniff, Sniff: Yuk!
The payment offer of $60 was silly, but the topic fit OurFoodNews, so I thought maybe I could do some good. Upon further inspection, though, this particular pitch began to take on a bad odor.
• For one thing, the “link” I was required to include took the reader directly to a video appeal for money. I mean it started playing as soon as I hit the link and I couldn’t turn it off.
• Second, in independent research, I was unable to verify any of the “information” in the press release. For example, when I went to the website, I found a board of directors list. Despite considerable online research, I was unable to verify anything about the reputation, history, profession, or standing of anyone on the board, including the president, who appeared to have no “history” at all.
• One article about the group was published at Examiner.com, so I telephoned the gal who wrote the piece. She couldn’t genuinely vouch for the organization, since she had simply spewed their press release. Two more articles on Grapevine, a local news outlet, appeared to be paid content and featured the same appeal for money.
• Despite citing a social media director on staff, the organization and board members had no LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook presence. Any Facebook links that I suspected might relate to the people in the group magnified my concern that this is, indeed, a con game.
Do It Anyway
Here’s the surprise: This unsavory group—unfortunately—is onto something. I do recommend that legitimate organizations turn to bloggers in their industry as a way to build website traffic. Here’s why:
1. Legitimate bloggers write because they’re passionate and/or knowledgeable about the topic. A few may be “for sale,” but bloggers also know garbage on their blog creates trash. Few of us blogging for a living want to risk that.
2. All bloggers need content. I didn’t know anything about this organization and now I do. Granted, what I know stinks, but at least the experience led to this TDN article.
3. If this had been a legitimate cause germane to my blog, I would have posted.
4. Like most serious bloggers, I did some independent research so that my story wouldn’t be a press release regurgitation. Bottom line: If you’re a scam or a con, a careful blogger won’t take the bait.
The ultimate kernel of this story is that bloggers will help you if …
• your content fits their blog;
• you ask the blogger to help and tell them why;
• you provide background info and interview opportunities;
• you’re legit;
• you approach them personally, via email, on a good day.