Over the past few weeks, I've been doing a lot of thinking.
It's a little weird when you've been blogging for 4 years and suddenly you are inundated with a pile of attention, because something you are doing hits the media. Suddenly everyone wants to talk to you and wants a piece of your time, your writing, of YOU.
Some of the calls have been amazing and if they do work out, I can't wait to share them with you. In the mix of those e-mails and calls, I've had three offers from processed food companies to either blog for them, attend an event, or try their products and do a giveaway.
In the four years I've blogged, I can count on one hand how many times I've had this happen before the Globe and mail. Funny thing, having the media pay attention to you. Anyway Food Revolution made me think long and hard about my own buying habits, what we consume here at home, and where I want to go with this blog. I then borrowed a copy of "Chew on This", and began reading about the origins of the fast food industry, big business marketing techniques, and how it affects us all. Through it all, I came to a conclusion;
I refuse to be a pawn in a marketing scheme to perpetuate the problem.
Too often, I think companies believe that if they wave free products at a blogger, we will do anything to promote them. Look at Sears outlets! The sad thing is, there are those who will do anything for free stuff. I'm not slamming people who do this, it's a free country and they can do what they want. However, I want to make crystal clear to readers and PR people what I'm all about so there is no confusion.
This blog is not for sale. *I* am not for sale. No company can approach me and wave a free product in my face, expecting me to post some sign in my front yard because I'm desperate for a dishwasher. Or a car. Or ANYTHING.
Being a writer, especially one with a good readership, is a privilege. I do this because I enjoy writing. I do NOT do it to get free stuff. Sure, the stuff is fun sometimes, but my focus is writing. The only time I will agree to promote/review a product is if I, and my family, genuinely love the company or the product itself.
Even then, I have some self respect here. I refuse to become a spammy, advertising machine just for a product. I do not care how large and expensive it is. I don't care how much exposure I'll get. What I care about is my readers, and making sure that content is interesting, fun, and genuine.
Now if I am PAID for my time and skills to promote a product (tweeting about it, writing about it, etc) that is a different story. I would consider that because as a paid employee, that would be an entirely different thing. I would have a completely different page so my readers wouldn't be inundated with it, and it would be separate from my writing. See the difference? However, I would still have to believe in the company and the product, or I would not do it.
Call me fickle. Say I'm missing out on opportunities. I don't care. I'm here to WRITE, not promote products I normally don't even allow in my home.
What companies do I love, adore, buy their products, and genuinely think are super cool? This is just a sampling...
-Nabob (I only drink Nabob, every morning)
-Renee's Salad Dressing
-Rocky Mountain Soap Company
-Starbucks (as a former employee, I know the company well and I'm quite comfortable supporting them)
-Hampton Hotels (from personal experience, we love them)
-Almay (I only use their makeup)
-Pantene (love their hair products)
-Crest (we only use their toothpaste)
-Tide (free and clear)
-M&Ms (for baking)
-Toyota (yes, with all their troubles. I LOVE my car)
-Apple (adore my iPod!)
-Catelli (I only buy their brand pasta)
-Hunts (I won't buy another other brand tomato sauce/paste)
-Overwatiea/Save on Foods
-Holiday Inn Express
-Dairyland (we only buy Dairyland milk, sour cream, etc)
-Kelloggs (only Raisin Bran and Mini Wheats-I refuse to buy most of their other products)
-Kraft (I love their peanut butter, and only use many of their baking products-however there are many products I would never touch, like Cheez Whiz)
-Quaker (only their regular oatmeal. Nothing else)
-General Mills (only some of their products)
...and more. Far too many to list here.
What companies will I NOT promote, based on personal experience, their business practices, or just products that I would never buy/recommend?
-Any fast food outlet (KFC, McDonalds, Sonic, A&W, Subway, etc)
-Best Western hotels
-Chili's or Applebees (from personal experience...no)
-any really highly processed food.
The bottom line is this; if we won't eat it, use it, buy it, or have issues with the company, I will NOT promote them. Period. Why?
It all began with Coke being part of the Olympics. For years, we had kept Jake away from pop. Only being a very occasional treat, he had no feelings either way about any Coke or Pepsi products, as we steered him towards smaller companies that made drinks with less sugar, less artificial flavor, and color.
Until the Olympic Torch came through town.
A huge sponsor of the torch relay was Coke. There were Coke trucks, and as soon as the relay runner finished their short bit, they got into a truck and were handed... (you guessed it), a Coke. Even at 8 am. Free Coke in really cool looking bottles was handed out to all the kids from Jake's school as the saw the community cauldron being lit, and the atmosphere was celebration! Party! Fun! Have some COKE!
Jake had FOUR 250 ml bottles of Coke and saved them, brought them home, displayed them on his shelf (because after all, they were Olympic bottles) and talked about Coke non stop. For WEEKS. Every time we went to the store, he wanted a Coke. When we went to the Olympics, he asked for Coke. Recently when we were discussing about what companies we liked, he demanded that if Coke approached me to do any work, I just had to do it.
Thanks a lot, Coke. I'm strongly against kids drinking pop and you just snagged my 14 year old. Fortunately, after I have talked to him, the appeal is waning but the whole thing just royally pissed me off.
My list might change and grow, and I can add links if readers wish. That list is not set in stone-I also love to try new products, and I'm open to that, especially if they are local, eco-friendly, healthy, products. I want there to be no surprises for you if you see me writing about something. If you are a reader that is looking for lots of freebies, giveaways and such, this blog is likely not the place for you.
If you want honest, genuine opinions about products, then this IS the place for you.
My family, my blog, and I are not for sale.