Jun 23

This Gun’s for Hire

I’m sad. In fact, I’m depressed. Truth be told, I’m downright despondent. No one, not one single
HiredGun_01 manufacturing company has ever sent me a free product sample in the hopes that I’d write a glowing review.

I don’t deal well with rejection. I tend to internalize things, cut myself, contemplate ending it all in some dramatic way. So, when I read that pay-for-play is a big, and growing, trend in blogging, I curl up in the fetal position for a whole weekend.

All I need is some sign. Some indication that an Apple or a Panasonic or a Coach knows I’m not only alive but ready, willing and quite able to blatantly hype their product. I’ll shill. Just show me some love.

And, here’s another benefit. I won’t tell anyone you’ve given me your product either. There will be none of that transparency nonsense with this blogger. In fact, I’ll follow the lead of Louise Crawford, who created an annual blogging event she calls  ‘Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn’ (say, what?). 

Crawford was recently called on the carpet by the blogging community for accepting Absolut Vodka’s offer to sponsor her contest. Absolut even created a special drink for the festival called the Brooklyn Spike (named in honor of Spike Lee, another event sponsor). BTW, if it’s a festival for bloggers, how come I wasn’t invited? Looks like another weekend spent in the fetal position. And, check this out, Absolut offered participating bloggers free gifts, including a bottle of Brooklyn Spike and a small digital camera in exchange for coverage. In all, nine bloggers accepted the vodka and eight got cameras. Me? I didn’t even get a dirty shot glass.

Critics of such blatant pay-for-play dubbed Ms. Crawford’s festival a ‘ShillFest.’ Others felt it exposed the sleazy underbelly of blogging. It turns out many bloggers never, ever reveal the largesse driving their content (note: even the legendary TechCrunch was recently nailed when a writer accepted a MacBook computer in exchange for covering a start-up company. That seems like a pretty good deal to me). As the Brooklyn controversy took hold (much as a second shot of vodka starts to take hold and dull one’s senses) some of the pay-for-play bloggers began admitting they’d received gifts from Absolut. But, good ol’ Ms. Crawford didn’t see what all the fuss was about. “I thought of my post as a piece of writing,” she whined, “and they sent me a bottle of vodka.” Good for you, Ms. Crawford. And, I’ll bet the vodka made your writing that much more creative.

So, here’s a plaintive plea from a lonely, dejected overlooked blogger who’d positively kill for a cool pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, a Mammut trekking jacket or a shiny, new Rolex. Send me the freebie and I’ll make it sound like the best thing since sliced bread. Hell, I’ll even write a positive blog if Chevy, or Chevrolet, or whatever the hell they’re now calling the company, sent me one of their clunkers. I can be had, Corporate America. This gun’s for hire.

Mar 02

PepperPrep:  Where you pay to not get paid

March 2 Guest Post by Trish Taylor, Peppercom

At a time when most PR firms are scouring the landscape for new revenue streams and defending its turf, we just came across the perfect windfall  – pay-for-play internships. There are tons of parents out there willing to shell out whatever it takes to keep little Johnny from whining and looking good to the Joneses, so why not pay for your children to work? Hey, whatever it takes to get them out of the house, right?

Parents with heavy pockets are now paying $8K to PR firms, law firms, etc. to hire their lazy, underachieving kids for summer internships. I mean, why bother looking for an internship to get a career when you have that keg tapped in the closet and dad’s nickname is Moneybags? If you’re a parent with money to burn and a kid who soon will have a BS degree, we have a created PepperPrep. Our team is already busy cold calling multimillionaire parents with deadbeat kids as we speak.

The Chicago Tribune article quotes an intern whose dad paid $7K for an internship at a Chicago PR firm I’ve never heard of: "I guess I put off thinking about the summer until March. It was probably me trying to deny that I was going to have to get an internship that summer."

Must be nice. I hate to admit this, but I had nine internships. I didn’t have to pay for one of them though. Although, I did commute into Chicago for a couple that didn’t pay while I bartended and worked at a local grocery store at night. I had five in undergrad between my sophomore and senior years, one during graduate school and then three between grad school and finally landing a full time gig at the ripe old age of 26.

I was the product of being in grad school during Sept 11 so when I came out, no one was hiring. I would get an internship only to watch the company’s first layoffs. But my persistence paid off and it was my dad who I have to thank for that. He was a maintenance guy at many places that closed and moved operations to Mexico before he landed at a bread factory. As soon as he heard the shop was closing up, he made sure to have another job.

He’s never so much as $7K in the bank and I don’t think he’s even bought a vehicle for that. He gave me $20 a week in college to help with groceries if he had it. But I’m sure glad my parents taught me to work.

My advice to students out there now…nothing beats getting your hands dirty and you’ll earn a whole lot more respect over the whispers of, “Did you hear what her daddy bought her? Her job.”