Now that brand PR marketing seems to have shifted focus to other forms of social media, leaving blogs and bloggers a little out in the cold, I’ve noticed another shift in the dynamics of bloggers and blogging. I’ve noticed a shift to the other extreme, where bloggers seem to prefer to adopt a “no-PR” approach.
What some bloggers have chosen to do, is to not navigate the PR jungle, and not accept products for editorial consideration or reviews. Some had been PR-friendly before this, but no longer want to be for various reasons – the perceived loss of personal integrity, or a quest to downscale their product collection, or just a loss of interest in beauty blogging in general. Some have been sidelined by brands or PR, for reasons no one can fully understand. From a fellow sidelined blogger, I fully commiserate!
I see nothing wrong in not accepting PR products – I do it as well, to a degree, where I choose to adopt a stricter, more selective approach. I buy a lot of my own crap (my affectionate endearment for my beauty buys LOL! :D ) and I accept some. If I’m uncomfortable or unlikely to use what I may receive unsolicited, I return them. If I don’t receive something I’m interested in, I buy it. That’s how I roll these days.
But that’s not what I’m on about today. What makes me a little uncomfortable, is with what I’d term “PR Product Shaming” where people say things to a blogger with the conscious or unconscious intention to make a PR-friendly blogger feel ashamed, or uncomfortable about accepting PR products for editorial consideration.
This is mostly tied to the perceived notion that sponsored products result in biased reviews. Add to this the reluctance of many people to disclose that they were sponsored a product or service, and, let’s face it, a very human feeling of envy on the part of the onlooker, which leads to an element of distrust on the part of those reading a blog.
What this results in, is a tarring of all bloggers with the same brush. I’ve met people who say the word “beauty bloggers” like it’s a bad word, or try to distance themselves from being called that, or implying I should be ashamed to be one. While I don’t blame them, since the actions of many does diminish the integrity of most, I feel that shaming someone who is receptive to PR products, is doing the blogger a disservice.
Sure, some bloggers blog for the sole purpose of filling their house and lives with free products and services. If that pains you as a reader, avoid those blogs because there’s really nothing you can do. Reading, watching or following will just continue to boost their stats and keep them in their freebie lifestyle. Some, despite their bias, offer beautiful photographs and excellent product swatches – they are doing a service, just not in the way that is easily accepted.
Yet, there are other bloggers who are receptive to receiving product samples, and who strive to retain their integrity, to tell you if a product is worth spending your hard-earned money on. There are many out there, and I know that most matured readers are smart enough to decide for themselves who to believe, and not to trust just 1 person with their life and money. I always tell people to do their research, because I don’t know everything, nor am I an expert. I’m a consumer, and as a consumer, I get pretty pissed when a recommendation falls flat and my money goes to waste!
However, as nice as it is to have a bank account so healthy that you can buy everything you want to ever talk about on your blog, and live a comfortable life with your own roof over your head, without going to debtor’s prison, few people have that luxury. Those who do, don’t blog; they’re too busy keeping that bank account healthy! LOL! :D
But for most, being receptive to receiving product samples allows for variety in content. So often I get asked “Can you please review XYZ product, and compare it to ABC so I know if I should buy it?” and I say “No, I can’t.” because I cannot possibly buy every single product from every single brand out there, just to satisfy a reader’s curiosity, nor mine.
But if I do receive a selection of product samples, then it allows for that sort of variety and comparison to be carried out, which benefits the readers, and basically puts the brand in their place, happily or unhappily. It was the only way that Cushion Foundation Week could happen, as I’m not even that interested in using a cushion foundation. Save for the Iope cushion, if I had indulged in every piece of cushion foundation featured thereafter, it would have set me back a pretty hefty RM800 (US$203), but press samples allowed it to happen, to serve as, what I hoped would be, a helpful guide to the western cushion foundation releases.
But this isn’t about me. I just feel that the PR-product shaming should stop, because PR sampling is now the norm, and it will remain the norm. Readers should be clever enough to decide for themselves whether to keep reading a blog that fails to disclose this, or a blogger who is persistently biased in favour of a sponsored product. We all know that not every thing out there is a “must have” or “can’t live without”. Anyone who tells you this in every post deserves to lose their followers.
Give all bloggers a chance. At the end of the day, what their true intentions are will come through in their blog. But making bloggers feel guilty about receiving PR products, or making it seem like it’s something to be ashamed of, isn’t right.
As bloggers, we owe our public disclosure and some modicum of integrity to be honest. It’s not hard to do, and it goes a long way towards making things easier and more comfortable for everyone out there. If you don’t like something, just say it – what’s the worst thing that could happen? The brand stops sending you free stuff. Does it matter to you? If it does, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities in life. If a brand does that, they’re not worth working with anyway! I know this from personal experience :)
If you blog, are you PR-friendly? Do you feel like bloggers shouldn’t accept so many sponsored products, or at all?
I know this issue doesn’t matter to everyone, but I just wanted to say what I have to say because this is my blog and it’s been niggling at me for ages LOL :D There are bad apples on both sides of the blogger-reader divide. But product samples are a fact of blogging life these days. As readers, live with it – it comes with strings attached for all bloggers, even the biased ones – and do your research, and trust that the bloggers you trust will have the integrity to be honest. If they aren’t, ditch them.
As for bloggers, just tell the damn truth. Your readers deserve it.