Since I began blogging a few years back, I've always eschewed all these offers from companies and individuals for "branded content" to post here. I could have perhaps made much more money from blogging. The pennies one receives from allowing ads alone hardly amount to any kind of income. I'm even embarrassed to admit how little I've made in this area, but not really.
Accepting offers from companies to post their self-promoting branded content seems to me a violation of sorts. If one expresses one's thoughts honestly and with integrity, by allowing some company to provide a guest post is simply an exchange of that honesty and integrity for money, and that is not something I have done here. As Franklin Foer accurately captures:
"Advertisers will pay a premium for branded content, because its stands such a good chance of confusing the readers into clicking." (p. 151).
Foer's words capture an insidious side of the web, educators for some reason fail to acknowledge sometimes. It is often of place where deceiving others is an accepted practice. It's like the old athlete ads on TV where a popular athlete holds up a box of Wheaties and at least gives the impression that he faithfully eats the cereal each morning and it has something to do with his athletic prowess and ability. The web's advertising and these requests for "guest blog posts" are of the same deceptive practices. It's all a "little lie" but it is told for a greater good is the thought rationale behind these tactics.
I argue that educators and educational leaders who have integrity and principles refuse to engage in these kinds of techno-deceptions. They don't ask prominent other educators to endorse their products nor their persons. They certainly do not engage in deception. Educators are very fond of using the marketing language in every new program that comes along.
Everyone time some new initiative is undertaken, there's always talk about creating "vision statements" and "empowering stakeholders" and getting "buy-in." But what if that which your selling is just a bad idea, a horrible product, or even a waste of time? Just because you believe what your selling, doesn't automatically assume everyone should. As I've written many times, there's just not enough critical-minded educators who criticize these ideas. That is at the heart of why I could care less whether I make money on this blog, and I am certainly not motivated to post someone's "branded content."
Accepting branded content or promoting your colleagues latest consulting business may make you money and perhaps keep a friend, but to promote someone else's product or ideas without really having a personal experience with them is just plain wrong. Educators must learn to engage in critique and also be willing to accept critique instead of always being so obsessed with "buy-in" and "vision statements."
Foer, F. (2017). World without mind: The existential threat of big tech. Penguin; New York, NY.