Hey Raptor Pack / TechRaptor Readers,
I wanted to fill you in on why we deleted a sponsored post that we published on Wednesday, something that we've done before, and probably something I'm sure we'll do again—but it's still a big deal. Before I do that, I want to talk a bit about Sponsored Posts at TechRaptor.
I get two kinds of "Post Requests" every week: Guest Posts and Sponsored/Paid Posts. Now, the former is one that TechRaptor doesn't allow, yet people ignore the message right next to writers[at]techraptor.net and ask for them anyway, and I tell them they're welcome to purchase one of the latter.
I get between 3 to 7 requests for sponsored posts every week, almost all of which end in me saying no or the person who came to us not agreeing to our terms. I don't budge on what our Ethics Policy says about how we do Sponsored Posts, because we won't throw away our values or readers' trust for money—no matter how much it helps the site. Here's our "Rules":
- No Casino/Gaming Links or Content.
- We will NOT review anything for a price—editorial content only.
- Header Image Must have "Sponsored" in it.
- Must be Posted by the "Sponsored" user, so people can see what posts have been paid for.
- Not posted in News/Editorial/Review/Etc.
- All Social Media Posts have [SPONSORED] in them for transparency.
These are pretty simple, pretty transparent, and in-line with FTC guidelines. Yet, people still ask me to break them over the course of 10 e-mail threads, sometimes more. Sure, the extra money would be great for the site so we can add new things, but I'm not going to be shady about it.
Here's two examples of a "request" I've gotten asking us to change things and mislead readers:
I started TechRaptor in 2013 with a clear goal in mind: build a website that created quality content, stuck to the facts, and was built on integrity and an ethical approach to gaming and tech journalism. Sponsored Posts are part of Advertising these days thanks to the rise of AdBlock, but because of our foundation, we're not going to hide them or disguise them. Honestly, we've had a few sponsored posts that a lot of people read and liked too, because we work with the Sponsor to ensure that the content is solid and interesting for our readers instead of just a boring post with a link. Remember, we want all of our content to be high quality and interesting!
So, back to the matter at hand. We recently put up a Sponsored Post, titled "How Technology is Changing the Events Industry,"with a Sponsor we had worked with on 2 previous posts. They were aware of our rules, how we do things, and how all of our Sponsored Posts are set up. After I sent the invoice and the link to the client, I received an email about 18 hours later with the following: "Looks great except, please could you remove that enormous sponsored from the image and if possible remove the tag sponsored. You can use our guest author if that would help." After which they gave me a name and full author bio.
You can guess my response—a firm no, followed by recitation of our previous dealings and FTC requirements for paid content. Followed by another request for a change, another recitation, and finally a decision to remove the post from our site. Here's the archive link - http://archive.is/xYjCY
We don't make a habit of deleting any of our content from the site. Authors aren't to delete their posts, editors don't delete posts, and if we do ever delete posts like in the case of our Dead Linger articles, we disclose it for full transparency and to clarify why we did so. That's what we're doing here, with extra emphasis on how we do our Sponsored Posts and what we deal with to even get any of them on the site. There's a ton of money to be made in hiding paid content, but we're not partaking.
Editor's Note: I'd also like to briefly mention that the sites being linked to within our Sponsored Post articles aren't always who we're directly working with on the postings.