Yes, I am borrowing a blog title from Jaymie aka The Bull Runner. You may want to read more about here just look at my bloggroll and click The Bull Runner! Anyway, she recently wrote about a topic on blogging and touched ethical issues of blogging. These issues are things that I have also encountered and so, using Jaymie’s criteria [thanks for letting me use this, Jaymie!] I will write about my own experience and stance on the topic.
ON PAID POSTS. Admittedly, I was invited to write for a fee. I wrote about a running event that I joined and then later on, the person thanked me for writing about it, but made it clear that it does not matter that I got paid for it. In fact, it has been a year since I was invited to write about an article and I told the person that as much as I would want to write something and get paid for it, it takes out the thrill out of blogging in the first place. I blog because I want to blog. It is refreshing for me to blog and share events and how running has transformed my faith in God and the way I look at life. And so, much like Jaymie, my blog has indeed evolved to be for “the benefit of the entire community.”
ON ADVERTISEMENTS. I do not have paid ads on my blog, and if there will be banners that you see here, it is because I was exploring on how to maximize my website. Having a hosted site is more responsibility than a freely hosted blog. But the freedom also comes with responsibilities. I admire professional bloggers who could make a living out of blogging. So if you see banners here, I don’t get a cent from it. Nope, not even that NuffNang thing that you see or don’t see. I offer advertisers a chance to advertise for FREE on my blog. But there’s one caveat though — they have to give back t0 the running community. Hence, the free race kits and other free stuff that you could get out of reading this blog from time to time. I am thankful to God for giving me a job that pays for the rent, food and even supports my utlrarunning lifestyle. Other than that, I have three advocacies where my extra money also goes to. That is why I love RUN FOR A CAUSE events because these events not just promote running but also help develop communities and improve the lives of people.
ON PRODUCT REVIEWS. I came across one runner who thought that the shoes that I showcase on my blog are FREE. Heaven forbid! I would be the first one to say if I got them for FREE! In fact, the first pair of running shoes that I got for free was actually a gift from an events organizer who was so thankful that I helped promote their running event, even sending emails and text messages to my friends about the event. I did it because I believe in the advocacy of the race, as it was a RUN FOR A CAUSE. But the running shoes and apparel that I showcase here on my blog, I labored with my own “sweat and blood”. So those Mizuno shoes you read me review? Those came out of my own pocket. Ask Master Sports [they are the ones marketing Mizuno] and they will inform you that the only free thing that I got from them was a Mizuno Wave 1GB USB that I got from a Mizuno Infinity Run press conference. I was really spending for shoes because I was really looking for the best pair of shoes for my upcoming ultramarathon. It was not easy to look for running shoes, to test them and see which one was perfect for me. And much like Jaymie, I do not give a 100% positive feedback, even with the one pair of free performance shoes that I got late last year. I always make it a point to write down what I feel about a product and how useful it really is. What’s the point of fooling people? It’s my name that is on the line too. Besides, I paid for the shoes that I mostly review, so I do not see why the brand could hold me accountable when I was willing to take the personal risk and invest on an expensive pair to begin with. Aside from this, I really promote products and services that I believe in. In fact, there are select products and services that I do not promote at all! For example, I have a deep tissue sports massage therapist that I am thankful for but I never featured here, though another friend of mine blogged about it already as I invited him to come over the house and try it out. There are things that I would rather keep to myself and share with a few, and some that I would willingly share to the rest of the world. My point here is that I only showcase things that I utterly believe in and have faith in what it could deliver. In my line of work as a business continuity/risk management professional, I have been trained to approach things with caution and that is the same way I approach at products and services.
ON EVENTS AND PRESS CONFERENCES. For the life of me, I have only attended two bloggers night events for a running event. One, the MIZUNO Infinity Run 2010 and the CONDURA SKYWAY MARATHON 2011. I do not know how exactly the organizers decide on who to invite and all, but whenever I get invited to such an event I feel honored to be considered as important to write about it and take part in it. And even if I do not get invited when I hear and read bloggers write about an upcoming run, I still join the event and assess it for myself. When a race is bad, I write about aspects of what is bad. But I also highlight the good stuff! But for other things, I also email the race organizer first and share my thoughts on the matter. For example, I had a great run during the 2009 Auto Review Run and even wrote about it. Alas, when the race results came out, the race bib was there and the time was accurate, but my name was that of a different person! I wrote and texted the race organizer personally first. I never maligned them because humans are not perfect and everyone deserves a second chance, even a third if you ask me! There is no such thing as a perfect race, but there is such a thing as a well organized one. The race organizers never got back to me as they promised, but its okay because at the end of the day, it is just another run for me. What matters is that I am consistent at running this race of life that God has given me.
ON RACE REVIEWS. I do not review all the races that I join. I only write about the things that I have enjoyed too much! There’s no point in writing all negative stuff about an event. I would rather see the organizers rise above it and learn from the experience. If there’s something negative, as mentioned above I would personally talk to them about it. I have noticed that the most negative blog posts on races gets the highest hits and comments. As a responsible blogger, is this what I want to perpetuate? Is this the kind of running community that I would want my kids to grow up in? A community that complains a lot, that looks for the freebies and no longer just focus on the fact that roads are closed and that there’s adequate water? If races are reviewed on account of freebies, then a lot of smaller race events don’t stand a chance to get a positive review and that isn’t fair either.
ON TRANSPARENCY. Since I got alarmed when a runner joked about the shoes I was wearing was free, I have since made it a point to state if the product I was reviewing was purchased or given. Same goes for race kits. I have only experienced getting two free race kits, and winning one race kit at a raffle. And of the two race kits I only ran in one since the other race kit is a 5k event and I already registered for the 15k event prior to getting the free race kit. So for the rest of the races that you see on my blog that I join, I always pay for it. I do thank God for free races such as the BDM Test Runs!
ON PRODUCT ENDORSEMENTS. I am not a product endorser! I only look like a product endorser because I keep writing about the shoes that I love, I write about the races that I love and the food that I eat or drink! But as far as I could remember, I never got a free coffee from any of the coffee places that I reviewed. In fact, none of them even wrote to me to thank me about reviewing their coffee. I don’t think there’s a lot of serious coffee drinkers out there, since aside from running — drinking coffee is the second thing that I am most passionate about and I make it a point that in all my travels I try the local blended coffee! So no, I have never been a “formal” product endorser. I only promote things that as I mentioned earlier, I utterly believe in and enjoy using. Besides, people can see behind the lies and reputation and integrity are hallmarks that are not to be thrown away. Just take for example one major telecom company that a popular former basketball hunk is endorsing. The company spends millions of money to get the product out there. When I reviewed among my friends and did a sample, none of them even pays attention to the print ad though the tv commercial was indeed worth noticing. But none of them got convinced that the service was even worth transferring. In other words, some products are just doomed to fail to get promoted because they just can’t compete with the other products and services of its competitors. Just do the basic math and you know it is true. So if you see me wear a brand that I reviewed and wear it all the time, it is just coincidence. I am not paid to blog about it and I am not paid to endorse anything.
Anyway, I will leave it at that. So there you have it. If you want to read more, here’s the website to Jaymie’s blog entry about it. http://thebullrunner.com/2011/01/27/on-credibility-transparency/#comment-26021. I blog because a friend encouraged me more than three years ago. I blog because I can share my thoughts. But in the process of blogging and running, I realized that blogging is also a responsibility. Not just to myself but to the readers out there who stumble upon whatever is written here. This blog is a mirror into my soul, and I hope that somehow people find positive things that they can learn and apply in their lives. That’s the greatest thing that a blogger could ever accomplish. As a running blogger, to make people move out of their seats and away from the computer monitor to hit the streets and run is an encouragement that makes me want to run farther and even stronger. So let my running prove the sunshine, and let my shadows melt away ….