I have been debating whether or not to write a post like this for afew weeks now and I have finally decided to bite the bullet and really hope it doesn't offend anyone as this definitely isn't my intention.
I really wanted to talk about how PR companies are really acknowledging that blogging is a form of media and actually maybe over doing it slightly or getting it wrong sometimes.
Also I want to touch upon the negativity surrounding some bloggers being sent free products to try out/review.
First of all I must say that I think it's great that Brands & PR companies are now working with Beauty Blogger and realize that one person can influence the opinion of others simply by giving a good or bad review of a product or even showing the products in action.
So it makes sense that brands are finally sitting up and taking notice and it is a learning curve for them just as much for bloggers as it is quite a new thing even though blogging has been happening for years and years.
So what do PR firms do for bloggers
- They send out press releases of new products to make blogger aware of the new products and hopefully so they will blog about the new products.
- They also send out free products to bloggers - this can be a select few or a high volume of blogger over several months.
- They also arrange 'blogger events' which I would say is quite new compared to the rest. Blogger events are designed to make the blogger more aware of the specific company as a brand and also to introduce them to a new range of products which they will get to try out at the event and may take home a range of the products.
Now to be fair sending out press releases to bloggers is a good idea - it keeps bloggers upto date with brands and in the loop and I know from previous experience it can sometimes inspire blogposts (however I don't rely on receiving press releases as they can sometimes be irrelevant and a bit boring at times) It's also totally free for PR companies to send out the press release as they would be sending it to other publications and forms of media, so it won't be taking up to much of there time. So on the whole it's a simple thing that PR companies can do.
The next thing is free products which I know alot of people have a problem with as they think this sways a bloggers opinion and it really is a tough one as I can't honestly speak for all bloggers out there. However I can talk about my own experiences of receiving free products which may or may not lose me readers.
I do receive free products and actually decided to not disclaim this in my posts like a lot of other bloggers do (unlike the laws in the US where you have to put a disclaimer). The reason for this is I felt I would be literally saying 'I received this product for free so be unsure whether to trust this review' I also I felt I would come across as to say please believe that I write honest reviews. I also didn't want people to only value products review on products that I had purchased with my own money. As to be fair I can afford all the products myself and simply value readers over free products any day of the week! There is nothing for me to gain over lying about a product. However on the whole I am a positive person so you will rarely write a negative review on my blog unless I am 100% sure that the reason to why I think the product is bad will be shared by others. I therefore do not think warning reader away for a product that say maybe gives me an allergic reaction is a good idea as the reaction maybe was unfortunate and only specific to me. As I am sure if a company sold products that gave certain reactions the company would definitely not be popular and may even be in the media over the claims.
Going back to when I would highlight a negative aspect of a product a good example of this is when I was sent some products from the PR company for Model's Own. The consistency of the eyeshadow wasn't good it was very chalky and therefore I thought it was worth mentioning as I am sure most people would think the same if they tried it out.
However onto a shampoo I purchased with my own money I had a terrible effect to it - which left me with a terribly dry inflamed scalp for afew weeks. I decided not to write a post on how bad it was and convince people not to buy it for the fear of the same reaction. I just put it down to being allergic to a certain ingredient or that the product was simply to strong for me.
Anyways onto the PR side of things - I only actually review 50% of what I receive ( To be honest I don't receive that much) due to companies sending me products that simply don't apply to me or my blog. It would only take a PR company two seconds to find my age on my blog to realize that I most likely don't need any kind of product to do with stretch marks or anti-ageing. So instead of trying out these products that are wasted on me and write a half hearted review on them most likely claiming it doesn't really work. I simply don't review them.
I really think this is where PR companies could improve by spending more time looking at the bloggers website and also communicating with the blogger to know what she prefers. Having said that I have spoke with a few companies that understand that some products won't apply to some people so they ask or say what the products are before sending them.
Now onto a subject that may be abit controversial. I personally think the way that some PR companies go about finding bloggers is totally wrong. Lets face it they don't look at how many comments you are receiving on each post or ask for your blog statistics so they know exactly how many readers to actually have. They look at the google connect widget and see how many 'followers' that specific blog has.
For me google connect is there for readers so that they can read new posts in google reader and keep upto date and the same when I read a good blog, I click 'follow' and know I won't miss a post by that blogger. It isn't there though as a measure of your blogs success, as a person can have over a 1000 followers and very little in the way of daily activity from the supposed one thousand readers. To me this is quite stupid way of deciding on which bloggers to contact or not. Also I think taking maybe 5 minutes or so to read a post or too to see if the blogger reviews things well is a good idea.
I must admit I sometimes wonder why companies do send me products when I see my blog as very small compared to some. I really doubt I influence that many readers to go out and buy certain products.
Also increasingly I think quite alot of us have seen the same things being reviewed over and over again on blogs and I don't think 30 good reviews on a certain product makes most people get out there bank card and buy one. I think it just highlights that the product was given free and it gets abit old seeing the same reviews! If a brand has a new product out I think it would be wiser to select afew bloggers to review the item.
Also I think it is just abit too corporate when a company sends out the full range of a new product to a blogger, say a full range of nail polishes or lipsticks, it just isn't a realistic situation to see a blogger reviewing the 12 new shades of x brand all in one go.
The next topic I want to talk about is Blogger Press Events - Now I am well aware that I may come across as a jealous as I haven't attended a blogger event but hand on my heart I am not jealous in the slightest and my gripe isn't even with bloggers.
So these types of events are pretty new really to the blogging world however press days have always be organised where writers from newspaper's or magazines go along to an event to look at a new range of products and listen to some person ramble on about the 'ethos' of the brand! However for some reason the blogger events seem to be bolder and better..almost like the brand is bending over backwards for them and lets be honest I am sure brands don't favour bloggers over magazine writers. However they know that magazine writers are professional and do it as a career. Where as bloggers do not need to blog about products and definitely don't financially gain from it.
Also press days/events are kind of meant to be the behind the scenes part of the whole thing, where a writer/blogger can go to be educated in the brand and there products, which is why we don't read about them in magazines. However increasingly we are seeing bloggers writing posts about the blog event they went along to and rightly so!
I am sure if I was fed cupcakes, played with makeup while drinking a cocktail then sent on home with a bag of goodies I would be blogging about how amazing it was. Wouldn't you?
Which makes me believe that the blogger events are planned out to be like this so that bloggers blog about the event and how great it was - which is free positive advertising for the brand straight away and it may even make the blogger feel positively towards all the products they received on the day. So it nearly guarantee good future reviews of the brands products.
What would be nice to see is bloggers being treated similar to magazine writers, yes the odd cupcake and cup of tea. But basically to educate the blogger about the brand in maybe a less formal way but with no fancy dress themes or free cocktails in a swanky bar! So that they can take away that knowledge and use it when talking about the brand in the future.
We are after all intelligent people that have a passion for makeup/beauty and don't need all the frills!
So there you have it, my thoughts on how PR companies interact with bloggers and what things maybe need to change! I really hope you don't dislike me too much after reading this and if you have read the whole thing, well done! I know it did turn out to be a bit of an essay.
At the end of the day we all need to remember, free products or not, that we do this because we want to and we shouldn't blame or look down on other blogs or get annoyed when we see a disclaimer. I think we can all learn from each other and that is including brands and PR companies!