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 😉
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!
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.