22 October 2010

Samples or Swag - How are your PR samples perceived?


If someone were to ask me "Do you receive freebies?" I would have to say no. 
Or even "do you receive gifts?" That would also be a no. 
But do I receive samples? Indeed I do.

Of course samples most of the time are full sized products which are 'free of charge' sent by a PR company that represent a specific beauty brand. But do I treat them like freebies? Definitely not.
I treat any sample like I would any product that I review or talk about on Makeup savvy, with total honesty.
Which is why I dislike reading articles where Beauty Editors or journalists call these samples that some beauty bloggers receive as "Beauty Swag" or "freebies". 
I personally write this blog because I love reader interaction and feedback and I also genuinely love talking about beauty products and NOT for any freebies. However as a beauty blogger I obviously get put into this category by default!

Sadly they do have a point though!
I have seen countless posts ( and twitpics on Twitter) by beauty bloggers just showing a 'preview' of a newly received PR sent product. Sometimes even placed on the PR logoed jiffy bag or still gift wrapped, so that you can't even see the products. 
So no wonder journalists and editors have this view, when bloggers are showing off there "freebies" or hand wrapped "gifts" .


However truth be told, I don't read articles slating bloggers for this on a regular basis! So I actually don't care what journalist's think. 
But what I do care about is the thousands of people that read beauty blogs on a daily basis and what they think!

(Just to state these aren't PR samples - just an example) 

I know that over 55% of my readership now comes from direct traffic or search engines, so my guess is these people don't have there own beauty blog.
So I would never want to perceive myself as someone better than them by showing off products I had received for review purposes because a) I'm not above anyone, and b) It just alienates the reader and they may believe that your reviews are dishonest, which may result in them not return to your blog. 

I also don't want any of my readers to be inspired to start there own beauty blog just to get the perks of free products.

The actual perks of beauty blogging are talking to like minded people that have a true passion and most of the time vast knowledge of makeup products. Also receiving nice comments and be appreciated is another plus. 


As for the downsides of blogging when it comes to these "wonderful freebies" - it's actually spending the time replying to e-mails to explain why I can't except X product because it doesn't fit in with my blog. Or replying to an PR email that wants to know when I will be writing a review on a specific sent product. 
Even deciding what to do about a product sample you didn't like or gave you a bad reaction, can be stressful. Do you not review it? Do you email the company and ask them if they want you to publish the review still? Do you post it and not care! 


My point is to just be realistic! Don't get over-excited and show your readers what you got free through the post and risk them being jealous or disliking you for it! (If you do get excited, atleast do your little dance on your own!)
But bloggers aren't just to blame here, of course all the companies that wrap up all there product samples all pretty in nice boxes or tissue paper. Sometimes adding 'gifts' in there that aren't even related to the products being sent are also guilty! You know what you are doing.

Oh, look some nice Topshop makeup and erm, a pretty Disney Couture bracelet!
(Again Topshop have never sent me anything, ever - just an example of what I mean)

I now actually reject more PR samples than I receive (because they don't fit in with my blog) and I also email any company that has my address on file and sends products without asking before hand, to simple say that I won't be reviewing the products and to ask before sending anything in future. 
This may seem abit harsh but this is how I feel my readers will  always trust me. 
I'm also lucky enough to live in the UK  so don't have to disclosure which are PR samples (unlike is the U.S). I won't want anyone to read a review believing my judgements on the product until they get to the end and read the disclosure that says I was given the product for free. Of course that's going to make them doubt my honesty, even though all my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased. 
So this is why I will never mention which products where bought with my own money and which weren't, because to me they are all the same.


I actually feel quite proud to call myself a Beauty Blogger and have my own .co.uk and I know that 95% of you feel the same and want readers to trust in you. 


As for the other 5% that blog for "freebies" you can all blog off!  






40 comments:

Alice said...

Such a brilliant post!

Karla said...

Whilst it's nice to receive products/samples/freebies, whatever people want to call them, people shouldn't blog with the aim of getting stuff for free. Blogging should be fun and a way of interacting with people who have the same interests as you and not motivated by getting stuff for free. And you have to remember that if you do get things for free the company is in a way using you for free advertising.

Another great post Fee! xx

LipglossAndLeopardPrint. said...

Excellent post! Well said Fee ;-)
xx

dani@callitbeauty said...

to be honest, the very thought of what i would have to go through when reviewing free samples stresses me out so much, i'm thinking of never going down that route. but, "never say never" and all that jazz...

the beauty blogging/yt industry has changed SO much in the short year i've been a part of it and i'm not sure getting free samples is worth the drama. right now, in anticipation of what MIGHT happen, i'm thinking of what sort of policies i want to enforce if i do get contacted by a pr company in the future.

great post, fee! and i agree with you, blogging shouldn't be a "get rich, quick!" scheme. there should to be a true desire to express yourself through the written word; this is why i started. and i think the blogging community can see right through those who are only in it for the fame and free products.

Kaushal - BeautyFulfilled said...

Well said & all very true Fee!! :)

Kaushal xx

SweetLikeJelly said...

when I started blogging I had no idea how widespread it was or the way the PR industry deals with it!!! I just knew of a few blogs I checked daily and liked and thought it would be fun to have somewhere to say what I thoguht!!! I think anyone blogging for freebies would get bored quickly- blogging takes a lot of time and effort. You have to love it t o keep going!!!

Beautyjunkielondon said...

Great post, well said and 100% agree.

Dreams That Glitter said...

Great post sweety, 100% agree. It too annoys me when people post photos of their goodies on Twitter or wherever. Actually, it really annoys me!

xoxo

Small Town Gal said...

I think it's very sad that some people might be persuaded to blog purely for the freebies. Blogging takes more time than people think, I can only imagine how much effort it consumes to run the larger blogs.

I've nearly been blogging a year now (with some patchy parts due to ill health) just before I realised people were actually being sent sample products. I was very surprised!

Olivia said...

I understand your point of view fee! My experience: I believe that writing if I received a product as free samples is a way to be honest to my readers... in italy many people actually don't declare if their products are free or not, so they say that everything they received for free is good, just to recieve more freebies... just to highlight that I dont' like this behaviour I try to be clear about it on my blog.
I think, as you do, that is not nice to show the readers how many things I receive for free: this is not nice, this is only a way to create more jalousy and for motivating "freebies hunters" to blog.
And one of the things I hate is when people says that companies try to buy the blogger sending them freebies... this is just ridicolous! I receive samples bacause I have hard work with my blog and YT channel, writing posts, taking thousands of pics, and really workin hard...this is a little privilege I gained with my work, lus I never heard anyone making problems about journalists receiving free stuffs...
Last thing: I dn't review everything I receive, my blog is mine, and I don't work for anyone that's not me, so I blog only about what I want to share with my readers... I write previews on press realeses only if they're interesting, I write review only if I especially liked or disliked the product... and if a company doesn't like it, thank you and bye bye!

Olivia said...

maybe I should answer to your post on my blog... if i can I will do it! xxx

Sammy said...

Great post Fee.
lol "As for the other 5% that blog for "freebies" you can all blog off!"
I agree completely with the fact that there are a small amount of blogs out there that blog for freebies and I think it is quite obvious when you read a review that they may be distorting their real opinion of the product.
I love reading blogs as they offer reviews on products I may want to buy and I feel false reviews just waste my time when reading them and don't help at all in my decision on whether to buy the product or not.
Another fab post Fee. Going to miss you if you choose to have your blogging break due to moving.
:-( xxxx

Nikki said...

Very well written! I hate seeing on twitter etc. "oh look what just came! *Twitpic*" I cant be bothered with that.

Great post! :) xx

Debbie said...

Yet another great post! Couldn't agree more, bloggers are a cheap advertising medium for PR companies and its almost insulting that PR co's would send unsolicited stuff and then expect a review, your stance is impressive and to be admired, well done you. Every one that reads your blog knows your reviews are your genuine opinion, whether or not you purchased or were provided with samples, and that is really important to your readers and also of far greater benefit to anyone that does send you samples that you choose to review.

Teacups and Buttondrops said...

I love this post. I'm pretty new to blogging but I don't do it for the freebies(and never will). I love both the planning and writing of the articles and reviews that I write. I love the feeling of posting an article and feeling proud of it.

http://teacupsandbuttondrops.blogspot.com

paperheart said...

this was such a great post. its only made me admire you even more. its posts and blogs like yours which keep me blogging and keep my faith in beauty bloggers high. thanks for putting this out there and being so honest! <33

Charlie said...

Great post. Just we differ on one thing, I've recently started to put disclaimers on all my pr provided sample posts and I'm sorry that it instantly makes you doubt my (or others) honest reviews. I feel that as I generally am quite open about my skint-ness it's quite obvious which are PR samples and which aren't... but also, since I don't always love everything (todays post being a point in case) I think it declares loudly and clearly, look I got sent this, but I'm not biased, you can see I don't like this bit or that bit or any of it and that I refuse to just say I do because it was given to me for free.

And I absolutely agree that there's a flipside to the samples, and that is being inundated daily with things you have to turn down because it doesn't fit your blog, dealing with some appalling PR's (thankfully in my experience a very small minority), having to keep on top of your emails, being chased up for posts and the thorny issue of how to phrase things when a sample you've been provided with is just utter utter shit without compromising your integrity but whilst keeping honest.

Great post. I can't see how anyone would be upset by it xx

missy_ellie_uk said...

Great post Fee, and thought-provoking. It does make me sad that there are blogs and bloggers out there who are clearly only in it for as many products as they can get, but I usually unfollow as soon as I get a whiff of that.

I've only ever been sent a few bits and pieces as samples, but wouldn't agree to review anything I wouldn't buy myself, or that didn't fit with my blog. And getting sent things completely unsolicited seems a bit presumptous! I always declare from the start of a post when something has been provided for review, as I want to be completely upfront about it. But I would hate that to be perceived as bragging, or showing off my swag.

Lydia said...

ahahah "blog off" - that was great!
I acutally feel the same.
I am also very tired of having to put a stupid disclaimer everytime I review a product that has been sent to me.
People doubt either way, so why doing it?

But hey, I agree. They aren't freebies. They are samples. Period. And also, since NOTHING is free you pay it with your hard work and the amount of publicity that comes from your review, so no, they are not freebies!!!

zoelovefashion said...

Lovely post!
Nice blog!
you follow me and i follow you?
xxx

Nic's Notebook said...

Really good post! I love reading reviews of products but I want to think that they are genuine reviews and not just nice reviews cos they got the product for free.

Marie said...

Great post!:D These are the reason why I follow your blog!;D

Have a great weekend!:D

***** Marie *****
allthingsmarie.com

Marie said...

*reasons

City Girls Fashion Box said...

I agree, the key beauty blogs i read are written by ladies who i respect in terms of honesty and opinion. I feel neither bothered as to whether they were purchased or sent, i just like to see what they have to say.

On the flipside, there are a few bloggers that basically think getting to that stage is an achievement and a clear presentation of just how popular they are. I feel rather alienated and pushed aside that my blog isn't worthy to read as i don't get sent freebies, here there and everywhere.

But you may blog for yourself, to advise readers or even to feel connected to others with the same interest, not just for materialistic gain.

Your post is very interesting to read, and very good of you too post when there is so much competition. Keep up the amazing work! xxxx

Louise said...

On a couple of mine I've stated at the bottom if a product was sent to me but I thought you had to. I might take them off because people may not like me stating.
x

Louise said...

good post I personally do say when I am sent something usually in the review that I do - so many people question honesty etc now I just feel it's best to cover my own back

Rachel said...

Another great post, Fee!

I think it's easy to tell those bloggers who do it for the love and those who do it for the freebies. I definitely have a point of view for my blog, and lord knows I often don't even write about beauty products and end up rambling about everything that comes into my head! I can't imagine just waiting for the samples to come in and then basing my writing around what I receive: I can't imagine how that is even remotely enjoyable. Saying that, the samples are definitely a useful tool to help us develop that perspective: it's just about striking the right balance and keeping our own blog identity.

Saying that, every time I see that Kerastase box, I go a little bit weak: so gorgeous!

Barb said...

Love the you can all blog off, very witty!

Hannah said...

I totally agree with you. They are samples. Not freebies. We can chose what we do with them. But in terms of blogging about them, they can deffo not be be freebies as we review them in turn for a good or bad review. :)

www.madeupbyhannah.blogspot.com

Meowcake said...

I have a mixed view about this. So mixed it's hard to describe and explain. One thing I will say is that one YouTuber (who I liked 100% until recently) mentioned how she ASKED the PR company to send her stuff. Gone down so much in my books. Unfortunately, I believe that the MAJORITY of beauty bloggers to blog FOR freebies. I had a "no freebies" badge on my profile. Dunno why it has gone but I will be making another and putting it up again soon. I imposed a rule where I DO NOT accept anything 100% free. I was sent on my way to review a musician. Free tickets. But I paid with my own money ON PURPOSE to get to the place I paid at so my overall task was not 100% free.

ModestyBrown said...

A very interesting post as ever. I think there are plenty of people that are in it for what they perceive as freebies. I think it is important to remember though, that they aren't really free gifts. They come with an expectation of a review post. It's not always easy, as with anything in life you're not going to like everything. I was in that position recently and it is stressful. You know you're going to upset someone but for me, that's always going to be the Brand/PR and not my readers.

I do disclose what has been sent for consideration. It's just a personal preference to do so. I hope that regular readers will know me well enough to know that I'll write what I think no matter what.

I admire you greatly for turning things down. I think lots of people wouldn't but I think it shows true integrity and a very clear idea about your readership.

Savvy as always ;)
Jane x

Rowena said...

gawd how i lurv your blog. this is one of my sources for anything new as i rarely go out there and i never receive samples- hmm... i wonder why?

positive vibes from bullshitville!

Dollface said...

Great post my dear. I love your blog authentic and honest, definately one of my favs.

Keep up the good work gal :)

FunnyFaceBeauty said...

Awesome post. I've recently been sent some items and worry about what my subscribers will think. I have a standard review form and have told the companies that my loyalty remains with my subscribers and I will always be 100% honest. If they don't like that, then I will not do a review.

lori said...

omg i would die for that kerastase box!! i have my own beauty blog http://iloveproduct.blogspot.com/ and would look at freebies as an opportunity to review more product be it positively or negatively.

Martje said...

blog off!! hehehe that was funny to read :) I have have my own "blog" but I like to show items I made, products I use body and beauty, things I baked, my cats etc etc...all about things I like to share and show.

I would be lieing if I`d say I don`t want to receive free stuff...who wouldn`t!! But would it be fair indeed to promote items just because there is a big merchandising brand behind it. No way.

For now I buy my own stuf...since no-one has contacted me, and I`m not going to beg for free stuff. And all my comments and posts made are honestly about how I feel about the items. Would I indeed receive a free box of for instance Kerastase goodies and I would hate it...well to bad brand, cause I`m telling the world my truth.

Stay true to yourself and what you believe in..don`t worry about those 5% of your readers, cause it`s all not worth it ;)

Promakeupblog Emma said...

Still very much loving your helpful and honest posts! Your blog truly helps me a lot. I myself do disclose what items I receive but I am genuinely honest and most of the items I have received are from brands I have a specific interest in and have gone out of my way to contact, however, that in no way means I wont be honest if I dont like something I will say so but tactfully because this is what helps brands improve and consumers be aware (in my opinion) Thank you for the helpful post xo

Annie said...

Brilliant post. I agree whole heartedly with this. Thank you for sharing xx

http://annieshomemadeheaven.blogspot.com

Jermaine Mintuck said...

Don't be so very suprised about bloggers getting free goods to review. Just. Don't. It is considered the usual. Unless the person does not WANT the freebies. Now, that is less usual. I got started into this one winter after researching in Google after seeing several bloggers say they had free stuff.

Have been doing this for 2 years now.

Natalie said...

Completely agree, aslong as you're honest why does it matter if you got them for free or not?
www.buttonsandlipstick.blogspot.com

Post a Comment

I love to hear what you think and do read all comments.
If you want to ask a question make sure to check back after afew days for a reply.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

ShareThis