Simple blogging tips: Do you have to provide a draft review post pre-publishing to companies or PR?

by Paris B on · 71 comments

in Discussions,Musings,Simple Blogging Tips (for beauty bloggers),Tips

draft post prepublishing Simple blogging tips: Do you have to provide a draft review post pre publishing to companies or PR?

I recently was approached by a brand manager of a skincare brand who asked if I might like to try their products and review them. This is a brand easily found locally that I haven’t tried, so I agreed. Much to my surprise, I was then asked to provide a draft of my review prior to publishing. To be honest, its the first time I’ve ever been asked to do this for a product review and it threw me for a loop.

I naturally declined, but said manager was insistent that nothing would be changed, just that they wanted to view the review since I was wont to mention pros and cons. At the risk of being juvenile, I had what might be commonly known as a “W.T.F” look on my face when I read the email. The thought that ran through my mind was, if there was no intention to change anything, then why ask for a draft? What is the purpose except to request revisions if they so feel that certain things shouldn’t be said?

Which begs the question if we bloggers should have to provide a draft review to the company or PR company if they request it?

I will say no.

If it is a product review and not an advertorial, I take the position that I am not obliged to provide a draft review post pre-publishing because what purpose would it serve? I’m not about to revise my opinion and I will not do so. It is a point of integrity on my end – I will be honest but I will be fair. If said company can’t see that, I’d rather not work with them.

As far as I’m concerned, when a company provides someone with a product for them to try it and thereafter review it, they should have confidence enough that the product in question works, and delivers the results it says it does. If it is a product provided for consideration, then well, a review isn’t expected. There is a difference.

The company or PR company should also be familiar enough with a blogger’s style before they even contact said blogger. They should feel that the blogger and their style fits what the company wants, and they should respect that skincare products are very personal, individual things that may not work for everyone. If they choose to blanket email every blog out there without even once reading the blog, then its their problem if they don’t get the desired coverage they want.

Also, when brands or PR representing brands approach bloggers, they really are putting themselves out there and should expect that not everyone will love the product and that there may be similar products out there. They don’t pay bloggers to blog exclusively about their one brand or product so they shouldn’t get their panties in a twist when bloggers don’t behave the way they expect them to. If they’d like control, take out an advertorial and they can have all the control they want.

Its no use saying “Oh, but you said you will mention pros and cons and I wanted to know what they are before they are published”. Fact is, if every product review mentions pros and cons, the way I structure mine, then live with it. No one product is perfect. Ok wait I take that back. I actually have reviews with no cons. But that’s only because I love it so much I can overlook all its flaws icon wink Simple blogging tips: Do you have to provide a draft review post pre publishing to companies or PR?

integrity Simple blogging tips: Do you have to provide a draft review post pre publishing to companies or PR?

So if you own a blog, and you are offered a product to review and are then asked to provide a draft post of your review before you publish, I urge you to think twice before accepting that offer. A request like that is as good as censorship and I would rather that we share our thoughts freely without first having someone go through it with a fine tooth comb. A free product is nice, but is your integrity worth the price?

Incidentally, said email request came also with an offer to pay for a product review because “As much as we would like to have genuine reviews on our products, it is undeniable that bloggers in general accept a fee to write”. I found that unnerving. No advertorial was requested (I asked) but they meant payment to review a product. Now if that wasn’t incentive for someone to give it a full 10/10 and be raving all about it, I don’t know what is. I would view all reviews I see on this product/brand with a very jaundiced eye from now on, knowing what I know. Needless to say, you will not be seeing anything about that brand on this blog from this point forth. I don’t hold any truck with nonsense like this.

If you are a blogger, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please feel free to disagree if you wish. Have you been approached with similar type requests to provide a draft review pre publishing? I don’t mean advertorials for which you are paid not for a product review, but for an infomercial. I have lots to say on that but will hold my peace for now.

Update: Just realised I should have pointed the brand manager to my last post on PR and Bloggers and add this post to that one. And coincidentally, Soloverly has a similar post on said brand up today too!

Paris B

Note: If you have received a similar request, and wish to share your comment on this issue, please refrain from mentioning the brand in your comment.

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[ 71 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

YH April 6, 2012 at 8:50 am

Oh, this one I’ve got to comment. Way to go, Paris!! It is the honest and frank opinion that I got from here that keeps drawing me back. I want to know the good, the bad and the ugly. Keep up the good work, Paris. Don’t waver on your stand!

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 10:54 am

Thank you YH! I’d like to read the good, bad and ugly too! We should all just be truer to ourselves and not let others dictate our opinions for just a cream or lipstick.

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Jyoan April 6, 2012 at 9:24 am

Thanks for not putting readers’ hard-earned money on the line. I think bloggers definitely can influence the way people think, and because of this, there is an underlying responsibility to remain transparent and honest enough.

I’d also hesitate to even put up something if I have to be checked first. You are so right with the point that bloggers are not paid to exclusively promote something, unlike models/artistes who are obliged not to take up work that promotes even similar/rival products. They can say all they want because they are paid a lot and exclusively to do so. It becomes a job for them. But hey, it is not a blogger’s job to promote your product! And I think companies need to get this into their heads.

That said, of course if a blogger is big enough and get paid/sponsored and have a contract to say one is to promote something, then yes, because now, the blogger has taken on a job, and not just doing a little favor or helping to spread the word because he/she personally likes it.

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Jyoan April 6, 2012 at 9:31 am

PS: I was thinking specifically of Xiaxue when I said big enough to get advertorial jobs. In which case, she has always made it clear that it is an advertorial, which means she’s paid.

Yet many other big, good and informative blogs are simply not paid, or like yourself, have rejected certain offers. If not paid, I think it is fair enough that the blogger can choose to write the cons. Companies need to accept this. Haven’t they heard of the saying, ???????. They cannot expect a free ride. (Ironically, bloggers tend to give some products free rides every now and then because they just like something too much. hahahaha.)

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:00 am

Well if we have to count the pennies before blogging then things would be very different. I don’t mind sharing about a product I may have bought myself that I like, even if the company/pr does not know I exist. I’d like to put my blog first and the PR element second. So in that sense, yeah I guess I’ve given out many a free ride :D I’m quite the evangelist for Guerlain Meteorites since the day my blog began (before I’d ever heard of their PR)! hehe…

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 10:56 am

I will agree about the responsibility bit. Its for us to discover those levels ourselves. Can’t dictate how others behave, can just offer suggestions :) As for advertorials, I’m not against them, so long as they are disclosed. There is a lot of time and money and effort put into what we do online and if some payment is coming that way, why not? I am however not for paid reviews. That is unethical from point of view of company and blogger but that’s just my view.

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the muse April 6, 2012 at 9:28 am

Never had that happened outside of sponsored posts but have had PR reps who pose as reader’s coming on and commenting about how great something is when I pointed out negative aspects of the product. I’ve also had pr reps contact me and ask me to put in links to a product, I typically do this already so reader’s can know where to purchase the product I am discussing but occasionally forget but I find it irritating when a rep emails me and asks me to link to it particularly when I purchased the product with my own money.

I think some of the rudest e-mails I’ve gotten are ones asking me to post a link to a brand blog or to mention it or even magazines that ask to have their online content linked to in my posts and they offer NO link back to my site. gee thanks!

insert rolling eyes here.

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Jyoan April 6, 2012 at 9:33 am

Oh my gosh! That really sounds horrible. Coming in to comment how good even though you already said it has its cons! Like, what in the world are they thinking?

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 10:58 am

Urgh! Yes I’ve had that happen a long time back. They send over an army of people to comment to say that the product is really great and that you don’t know what you’re talking about if you don’t like it. I don’t see it happening at my end anymore. Or maybe I’m just getting better at detecting spam when I see it ;) In a sense, I think the reps/brands/PR locally aren’t as advanced as those in the US so if its a review of a product i’ve purchased myself, I don’t get much flack from them. I don’t think they even read it :P

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Jenn
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 9:38 am

So far all PR companies that i’ve worked with are alright – they’ve never requested for a draft from mua so all is well. But there was one particular one which i found quite annoying – it actually copied my review bulat bulat and posted it on their website without informing me… and they spelt my name wrongly! >.<
Jenn recently blogged…Product Review: MAC Pencil Sharpener / DuoMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:01 am

Lucky you Jenn ;) Although I have a sneaky suspicion you might hear from this one in time (some of the bloggers I know have already!) I think you had a bad experience yourself! I hate it when people think they can just copy our review. What’s wrong with just linking back? They are making money from a sale, they could at least send us some traffic >.<

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christine April 6, 2012 at 10:10 am

Based on what you wrote i will trust you with product recommendation then bloggers who send draft and change when the client requires it.

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:02 am

I hope no other blogger has agreed, but we just never know who has :) Thanks Christine.

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Tine
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 10:14 am

No. No. A loud, resounding NO. Unless it’s an advertorial, we should never be asked or pressured to provide a draft of the review prior to publishing.

It’s an interesting topic, one that I posed to the beauty editor at InStyle Australia during the ABBW. I had readers asking me this question too, if they should provide drafts of reviews to PRs first before publishing, since the product was provided for consideration, and I thought it would be interesting hearing her thoughts (since she’s a blogger too). The beauty editor was very quick to say no, that bloggers should not show drafts first. Even in print media, unless the piece is an advertorial, they do not deliver drafts to brands first. It’s just not done.

Like you said, if the PR will not ask the blogger to make any changes to the pros and cons (especially the latter) but just to “have a look first”, then what purpose does it serve the PR? I’m sorry, but if you want editorial control of that review, then let’s talk money. Shampoo is not payment.

A few years ago, I’ve submitted my draft for review once, and I didn’t know better then. Thank goodness the PR did not request for any changes, but I still shouldn’t have done it.
Tine recently blogged…ORLY Cool Romance in Jealous Much?My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:04 am

Thanks for sharing the editorial insight Tine. I wasn’t sure if any beauty writers did submit a draft but in most cases, mags are all rah rah yay yay anyway so I don’t think the brands/PR are very bothered if they would have any backlash. I honestly did not see why said brand would want to see a draft that they can’t or as they say, will not change. They can jolly well read it with the rest of the population then! And you’re right. Money talks. Shampoo or face creams don’t.

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Phoenix April 6, 2012 at 10:16 am

Hi Paris, I really respect your firm stand on this matter & it’s so good that you value your integrity as a blogger. This is the first reason that you are the top enabler blogger for me in making my skincare / makeup purchases because I know you’ll be 100% honest about it, and if you rave about any product, it’s certainly gonna be good and not because X company paid you to say that. And this post certainly confirms that I have selected the right person to refer to for beauty related products. =)

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:06 am

Thank you Phoenix! That sort of responsibility is quite scary hehe :) But I do hope anything I’ve loved gets your love too. I don’t expect it to, but its nice if it does ;)

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Joyce April 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

I have been contacted by a few shady companies. One company wanted me to post a review about their site on my blog, but they didn’t want me to mention the fact that I was going to be paid to do so. That to me is very unethical, especially to my readers. I immediately declined their offer.
Joyce recently blogged…Beauty Blog Giveaway: Apothica + SkinCareRx + SkinBotanica $20 Gift CardMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:07 am

Yikes! Definitely shady Joyce! The only thing is, for every one who turns them down, there will be 10 who will take it up. I guess if you come across those blogs, you’d know just how they operate then ;)

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nia
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 10:34 am

way to go paris! i salute u!

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:07 am

Thanks Nia :)

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Hanny
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

I’ve never worked with PR companies, so I can’t tell about my experiences… However, methinks that a blogger should always state what is on their minds. (Pssst: if there’s no contract and the brand wants to pay you, why don’t you stick to your own principles, blast the product if it does not work for you and still get paid?) (Just a naughty thought)
Hanny recently blogged…Hmmm, I’ve Put This Off For Far Too Long… Review: Inglot AMC Collection Matte Gel Liners in 76 (White) and 77 (Black)My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:15 am

Yes, I do believe bloggers should be able to speak how we feel but we should let the PR people dealing with us know that stand. Being paid for a review means they have the rights over it, and that means you are pretty much subject to what they want of you. So, taking their money and then blasting them with a bad review just isn’t ethical and they can easily and rightfully get you to change it or return the money etc. So the best thing to do is to be clear up front and no one gets any nasty surprises.

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Lily
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

Wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Miss PB :-)

I have received requests for posting ‘announcements’ on brands’ promotions and activities. At that time, I was a brand new blogger, and didn’t know better. I was eager for information for my readers and I did a short post. That was it. It was more of a “Let’s use a new blogger since she’s still fresh” kinda thing. I learned my lesson and ignored such requests after.

Now, I work with brands which have respect for bloggers, not simply use them as a source of free advertisement. In fact, certain bigger brands really do not have much ethics when it comes to their PR people. Maybe it’s just the people they hired, but it put me off the brand completely. Good riddance to them *spam*
Lily recently blogged…Sigma Premium Travel Kit : An All RounderMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:18 am

I used to do the announcement thing too. I don’t have anything against that (although some people are really sneaky and only ever contact you for promotions and stuff!) but I’ve decided to structure my blog differently now so that’s been markedly reduced. I get put off brands if their PR people are pushy or awful (like the one in this story) too. If they represent the brand, they are surely a very poor representation indeed!

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Syen April 6, 2012 at 10:53 am

Interesting how we ended up writing on this issue on the same day! Agree with you on this too- I also wouldnt provide a company with a draft. It’s a review, not an advertorial.

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:29 am

Its serendipity! :D I’m glad we are of the same mind.

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Applegal April 6, 2012 at 11:16 am

I would say “NO!” too! I can send to them a copy of the post once it’s published, if they’d like a copy, but I will not send it for their “review” beforehand.

The offer to pay a fee sounds a tad insulting. It also sounds like they didn’t do their homework before sending you the email. Could be a standard email sent to all bloggers!

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:31 am

I found it insulting that they just lumped all bloggers under “expect to be paid” and yes, they just did a mass mail. I don’t think they even know or care whose blogs they hit up. A little bit of research goes a much longer way than just carpet bombing. Sigh.

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LeGeeque April 6, 2012 at 11:33 am

You know where I stand on this ;) I’m glad I can still pick on your brains for non-gushing reviews on products I’m keen to try. No one’s integrity is worth a few bottles of cremes and lotions, that’s all I’ve got to say :)
LeGeeque recently blogged…Addicted to InstagramMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

Yeah, send that Hermes and we’ll talk already! ;)

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Rahainah
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 11:50 am

Because of your honesty in reviewing products, makes me read your blog everyday :)

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

Thank you for your support :) Its a heavy burden to shoulder hehe… ;)

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Jarucha April 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I’m really glad you are shedding some light about this…man, this company sounds outright disrespectful and they seem oblivious to how rude they were. When bloggers are not honest about pros and cons about products, I don’t want to tune in to read their blog. Thank you again for always sticking to your guns! I look forward to reading more reviews!

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

Thank you Jarucha. I can’t tell people how they should blog because its their blog after all, but perhaps this will help readers understand what goes on behind the scenes a little better :)

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Swati
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm

oh there are these sponsored reviews but I really never came across any company which payed me but even then, its their wish to pay but we don’t really make any commitment that the payment means a lovey review in exchange!!! and, honestly, I think even reader’s can spot the super sweet and extra glowing reviews and don’t really believe in them!!! its better to mention about a product objectively and groundedly. but, yes, even I would not want to show the review prior to publishing and if they do ask me to share the views, I just talk about how I am faring with the product and that’s it.
Swati recently blogged…My Top 5 Home Remedies this Summer {DIY}My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

Haha yes I’m sure by now most readers who read blogs will notice when a review looks out of place, or sees the same sort of post on different blogs :) I think most of us can be objective and rational. PR and brands just have to accept and understand that and importantly understand how each blogger works because we are not all the same!

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Bugs April 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

That’s why I love you ( your blog ) PB… muakssss :***

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:38 am

Aww… thank you so much for your support! :)

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Sam
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I’m in a different field for my blog (books, but I would love to be offered cosmetics to try! LOL!) but I state that the review will be my opinion so I may or may not like the book. I tend to look at books offered a little bit more critically though, as the book might be intended for a different audience. I will reject anything I know I’m not interested in (let’s face it, I still haven’t met a sci-fi book I liked) before the book is sent out. In the book blogging world, publishers seem to be happy if you review the book at all. I have a feeling they get a lot of books sent out, but with no review.

As a reader, I want to read honest reviews on blogs. I’m big enough to make my own decision. I just don’t have time to go out there and research and try anything. A review may alert me to a new product, set in concrete a wavering decision to buy and add to my wishlist. I wouldn’t visit a blog for advice/suggestions if I knew it was being paid to do so or had been ‘amended’ by the company pre-publication.

Just my 2 cents!
Sam recently blogged…A little Typo haul…My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:39 am

Thanks for sharing your views from other blog niches Sam! I will agree that as a reader myself, I look to blogs mostly for awareness. I read their thoughts, I pick up on new products and I file them away for future reference if I need something similar. For the most part, I read blogs because they are entertaining and some of them are really good writers :D

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Saphy
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Well I think if the company isn’t confident enough to have you post a review without sending a draft to them first before publishing it, then well gee something must be wrong somewhere…

Then again I have never been sponsored before so yeah :X
Saphy recently blogged…Dip Dyed Hair InspirationMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:42 am

I actually told them that – that for them, its a point of confidence in the product. But I declined all offers thereafter even though the request for a draft was withdrawn. I’d rather not get into all that crap :P

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JackieA April 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Arise all bloggers and fight against such shady companies…..PB, this was indeed enlightening! The moment you are requested to send a draft to be reviewed or agree to receive money in exchange for a review, your writing will surely be marred and not 100% honest.

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:46 am

Indeed JackieA! I would love for everyone ever asked to provide a draft review before publication to soundly reject this offer and tell the brand they are going about it the wrong way. Unfortunately however, the lure of freebies is just too strong for most :(

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ysk
Twitter:
April 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Luckily there’s no pr or marketing manager that ask me to do so.If they ask me to do so,I’d say HELL TO THE NO!I will only send them the link of review which is already posted up.Draft is something that can be only seen by the owner,not anyone like pr.I do write pros and cons,but it seems that most of the products get high rating from me coz they suit my skin=)
ysk recently blogged…Review:Crabtree&Evelyn La Source Foot Spa Collection-Ultra Moisturising Foot Remedy and Intensive Conditioning Foot MaskMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:48 am

Good on you for taking this stand.

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passerby April 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm

im borrowing your phrase ” shouldn’t get their panties in a twist ” ahhahahahaha

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:52 am

teehee ;)

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lavender April 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Thus far, i have not been asked to send a draft before posting except one time (it was a facial treatment – for contest). Bravo Paris for making the stand!
lavender recently blogged…Aftermath of an encounter with RobbersMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 11:53 am

Thanks Lavender. I think it important that we should stand together on this issue and not give in.

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gio April 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Absolutely no! I would never send a draft review before publishing it and would never work with a company that asks me to do that. I usually send them the link to the review once it’s up, but even then I would never change anything (and no one has ever asked me to yet thankfully).
gio recently blogged…QOTW: Do You Layer Nail Polishes?My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I’m glad we are of a similar mindset Gio! I do the same you do re: review link as I think its only polite to and thus far, most genuine brand collaborators will never think of asking to change anything!

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