Ladies, this post is going to be a bit of a rant and its about PR and blogging, less so beauty.
I dislike these sorts of departure from our regular beauty news as much as you do, but it is something I’ve got to get out there, thanks to certain events that’s happened over the week. I don’t know if its the gloomy weather we’re having that’s causing it or just an impending full moon, but 3 different demands in one week just got to me.
If you’re here for news about all that’s happy and light and beautiful, wait up. A proper beauty post is scheduled to be published in just a few minutes.
Thank you for your patience
If you’re curious or you are PR or you represent a brand who would like to work with bloggers (my sort of blogging specifically) you can hop along and read after the jump.
If you are in PR or you represent a brand who would like to work with bloggers, in particular beauty bloggers, I have some bits of advice you may want to consider. I do not speak for the majority. I speak only for those who emphasize product reviews on their blogs and I speak based on my experience with PR and people who represent brands and what I’d like them to understand from my perspective.
As PR or the brand wanting to get the word out, what you’re looking for is readership or circulation. The wider, the better, I’m sure. My Women Stuff has a large circulation. I can offer you that, but all I ask in return is for some understanding.
Understanding the Blog
My Women Stuff is not a magazine. I do not even want to be one. I want to keep this a blog about beauty where I provide real time product reviews about whether a product works for me, my thoughts on colour cosmetics, women issues I come across etc. This is the foundation of My Women Stuff.
I do not regurgitate press releases and deem my job done. I no longer post notices about warehouse sales or sales and short term promotions, unless I think it worthy of a mention. There are enough blogs out there doing that already. I try all products before writing about them, because I want to be able to give my thoughts on it. Readers come looking for a review, not for a press release. This is the basis on which our community was built and I will not change that.
If your emphasis is purely on getting the word out, in the shortest time possible, whether or not its a regurgitation of a press release perhaps My Women Stuff is not for you.
I make time to attend product launches and events but unless the launch or event is extremely special, I don’t write about that either. Readers don’t want to read about some boring event I went to that they did not. As a blog reader myself, I know I don’t. All they (and I) want to know is whether the product is worth trying, so I’d rather focus on the products, which is what the event or product launch is all about. So if your emphasis is on sending out word about an exclusive event that a majority of people were not invited to or could not attend, perhaps My Women Stuff isn’t for you either.
I will not name companies but there are a few companies who treat MWS just as they would print media and get news and testers out 1-2 months ahead of its launch. It gives me time to arrange the schedule for testing and posting, and in return, I try to time my posts just when the product launches for maximum leverage. I appreciate their understanding and coorperation, and I enjoy working with them for this reason, and I give back. Blogging and PR is a 2 way street in my neighbourhood.
Understanding the Blogger
Read the blog and the About page
I’m serious. If you want to work with a blogger you have to understand their blog and their emphasis and style. So take some time to read the blog and to read their “About” or “Contact” page to get a better feel for the blogger and their style. Do you like what you see? Might it be a good fit for your company or brand? Is this the blog you are looking for? On my part, I provide pros and cons in my product reviews and if a product does not work for me, I say so. Does that trouble you? Perhaps you only want glowing reviews all the time. Well I’m afraid that’s what paid advertorials are for and I no longer run advertorials on MWS – try sending an Hermes Birkin and we’ll talk
Bloggers have jobs and a life
Please understand that as bloggers, we do not do this full time. Most of us have a full time job, and some are mothers or wives with families and husbands to take care of. I have a full time job that brings in the bacon. This blog, despite what many people think, does not make me enough to live on. If I could eat skincare and use makeup to pay my bills, it might be possible but since its not, I can’t. Understandably therefore, my job must come first. This means sometimes when I’m busy, your product review gets pushed to the back burner because I don’t have time to take photographs or draft a post.
Blogging is time consuming
I blog in my spare time and there is a lot involved in running a blog. If I were to copy and paste all the press releases that come my way, I’d be done in 5 minutes. But I’d have no readership.
Text, or rather coherent text is one thing, but the biggest amount of time is spent on photography. On a bad day with no sunlight, we can’t take face shots. Under yellow or fluorescent lighting, product package shots may work, but product swatches fail. Its a very delicate balance we have to strike and that is not even taking into account maintaining our blogs, responding to comments, coding, ensuring everything’s shipshape etc. A post you take 2 minutes to read could have taken 2 weeks to draft. My suggestion is to set up a blog and then see just how easy or difficult it is for you. Can’t judge if you have never tried
Product testing takes time for bloggers who care
Makeup is probably the easiest and quickest to test and in a limited edition collection, I get word out as quickly as possible. But I get a great many requests to try and post skincare reviews. Happily for brands and PR, Malaysians seem to place a little more emphasis on skincare than makeup. That’s great, but skincare takes time to test – 3-4 weeks at a minimum. I cannot in good conscience try a serum or moisturiser for a week and proceed to write a glowing review. It just can’t happen because I’m a blogger who cares about my blog content and about my readers.
So if you really want me to review a skincare product, please expect a 6-8 week turnaround time. I think it is fair and you will likely not see a post on it for at least 2 months from receipt. If you’d like the post published when the product launches so there is buzz, I will need it ahead of time. Telling me about it when the product is already launched and in the market and then telling me to rush a review while the product is hot isn’t going to cut it I’m afraid. Skincare isn’t limited edition, so it should not matter at what time of the year the review is posted, so long as it is. Perhaps if posted after the buzz of the launch has died down, it will create new buzz or reignite people’s interests. That might be something for PR or brands to think about.
Bloggers are human and are individuals and not your mouthpiece
Sometimes we may be having a rough time. Please understand that your product review isn’t going to be top priority then. If you are too demanding, we may not want to work with you in future. I’m not afraid to do this, because I think its time PR and Brands understand that we are human with a point of view, not your mouthpiece.
We are individuals which means my skin may be different from yours and I am entitled to say a product did not work for me or that it is expensive, or that there’s a similar product in the market. I do try to keep it professional on my part but you should not tell me not to say negative things at all, because I’m not being paid to only say good things. In fact, I’m not being paid at all! By contrast, I know that magazines only give emphasis to brands who advertise with them. No advertising = no writeup. You are getting a much better deal on blogs – free publicity. So don’t push it because I might push back.
2012 Update: No, I will not provide a draft review post pre-publishing. Don’t even ask.
I only have 1 face
This is probably the biggest set back of all. I only have 1 face. Its fine when its makeup. I just remove and start over. But skincare is impossible to try all at one go. So when I can, I recruit readers or friends to try certain products and then share their thoughts. So its not that I don’t want to post about your product. Sometimes, I just can’t because its just not the right product for me. But once I do get feedback, I’ll post.
Bloggers love hearing from PR
Yes we do. Unless we trawl websites or malls hunting down new stuff, its impossible to know what’s out there or what new brands have appeared. This is where the PR and the brands come in. I appreciate information I receive and product testers to try. I’ve personally found many gems thanks to PR. And when I love a product, readers know. When I’m ambivalent, they know too. Readers of MWS are smart ladies!
All said and done, I love hearing from PR and Brands. I love working with you. But all I ask is for some understanding that you may not always come first, nor always come out on top. You approach bloggers because we get the word out to our technologically savvy peers who research before buying. You want to leverage on that and on our blog readership, large or small.
But if you want to save yourself and me the headache and stress, please read and understand my blog and me and accept that I am human, and I have an opinion and time constraints. I will be as professional as I can and I will get the job done and the word out. That’s my principle so if we’re on the same page, let’s do business.
Note: Hey everyone who left a comment, thank you for all your support. I truly appreciate it and its nice to know that what I want my blog to be resonates with you the same way as it does me. Like Kristine says below, all the readers who share their experiences in the comments contribute as much to the development of the site as does the product review itself. It offers a wider perspective and I think that’s what makes our community stronger. Keep up the good work and I’ll see everyone in the comments in coming posts *hugs all round*