How to Deal with a PR Nightmare

I've been lucky enough to work with a fantastic selection of PR execs and brands in my time, from McDonalds and Nicholsons Pubs to Ladbrokes and Panasonic, and I have even more collaborative content in the pipeline! I'm a passionate believer that bloggers should be paid for their hard work. However, recently I've been bombarded with a whole load of nonsense emails from brands, PRs, and SEO specialists who have some quite unreasonable requirements for the bloggers that they work with. Take a peek at the email below that I received from a PR. I've highlighted just three of the issues with this email: a do-follow link, non-disclosure, and poor payment, and now, I'm going to show you how to respond (in a classy and professional manner!) to all three of these nightmarish requests. Shall we get started?

how to respond to bad blogger PR emails


Why is a paid do-follow link a problem?

I covered this thorny issue not long ago in a specially dedicated post. Rather than rehash the whole debate here, I recommend you head over to that post if you're unsure about the issues involved. Read it here: The Do-Follow Link Debate: Where do you Stand?

If asked to write a post with a do-follow link, how should you respond?

I receive these kinds of requests frequently! Very often, I've found that the PRs who ask for do-follow links are just trying their luck and will still want to pay you to write a post with a no-follow link if you show that you're aware of the rules. This is my standard response, which you're welcome to take inspiration from:

"Thank you for getting in touch about this interesting opportunity. I'd definitely like to feature your products on my blog, but I do not accept do-follow links. The reason for this is that using such links in a promotional post is against Google's guidelines. If my blog is found using do-follow links for this type of content, my blog can be penalised, meaning that its domain authority and position in Google's search results will suffer. Understandably, this is not something that I am willing to risk. If you would be happy for me to use a no-follow link, in accordance with Google's guidelines, I would be delighted to work with you."

Include this link to Google's guidelines to show that you've done your research!

Why is non-disclosure a problem?

As well as being completely unethical, not disclosing your sponsored content is a breach of the 2008 Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Act. In addition, the UK Code of Advertising, accessible on the Advertising Standards Authority (or ASA) website, states that:

"Marketers and publishers must make clear that their advertorials are marketing communications, for example by heading them 'advertisement feature'."
This means that you, the blogger, are obliged to disclose content on your blog that you have been paid to write, or products that have been sent to you for free in exchange for a review. If you're found breaking these rules, you blog can be sanctioned quite harshly. It is possible that your name, and that of your blog, and details of how you have broken advertising rules will be featured on a dedicated section of the ASA website. You can view this list of advertising sinners for yourself. Your appearance on this list will show up in the Google results when somebody searches for your blog. This could be a major turn-off for other companies researching your blog and deciding whether to work with you, as well as for your readers.

If asked not to disclose promotional content, how should you respond? 

Here's how I have responded to requests for non disclosure in the past:

"Many thanks indeed for your email. I certainly could create a blog post to fit with your campaign, the issue that I have is regarding the non disclosure. It is a very serious offence for a blogger not to disclose collaborative or sponsored content. It is against ASA regulations and the 2008 Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Act. My blog can be quite severely sanctioned if I breach these rules. Non disclosure is also unethical, meaning that I would be lying to my loyal readers by producing the kind of post that you are requesting, which is something that I am not prepared to do.  If you are able to reconsider your non-disclosure policy, I would be happy to work with you."

You can also send this link to the ASA Guidelines to strengthen your argument.

Why is poor payment a problem? 

Well, duh! You're getting a bum deal if you use your valuable time to craft a post especially for a brand, only to be compensated with a measly £30. These days, I refuse any opportunities which don't compensate me fairly, and I hold out for the PRs and brands who are willing to pay me well for my work, which is what I deserve. Creatives deserve to get paid, so don't accept a paltry sum for your hard graft!

If offered poor payment, how should you respond?

If you're offered something as silly as $10 (which I have been offered for an entire sponsored post recently LOL), the brand in question is obviously never going to agree to a reasonable sum, so I just don't bother replying to these kind of emails. They are condemned to my deleted box without a second thought. However, if you usually accept £75 for a sponsored post and you're offered £60, it's worth trying to negotiate. Here's how I'd do it:

"Thanks for your email and for your offer of £X. My usual minimum requirement for a sponsored post is £X. Is there any room in your budget for an increase? I would be grateful if you could let me know."

Even if the PR gets back to you and says no, you haven't lost anything by trying! It's then up to you to decide whether the slightly lower fee is worth it, or if you should turn down the offer. The ball is in your court!


I'd like to close this post by stressing that there are a good number of fantastic PRs that I've come across in my time, including the lovely Alice who I interviewed about her working relationships with bloggers. By showing you exactly how to deal with the few bad eggs who do exist, I hope to increase your confidence and enable you to get the fair and favourable blogging opportunities that you truly deserve!

Do you have any advice to add to this? Do you bother responding to nightmarish PR emails? If you have any sassy responses that you like to use, please share them in the comments below so that we can all have a giggle!

Until next time,

A x