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PR People Getting Pushier with Bloggers Since the Recession

A guest post by Krizia from Eat Smart Age Smart

I’ve been blogging since June 2007 when I launched my beauty site . In April 2009, I launched a healthy eating site with the encouragement of my Internet coach Yaro Starak and in the last few months I’ve noticed a shift in the way I deal with publicists.

When I first started blogging, I actually went out and bought beauty products to review them on the site.

During a conference, an exhibitor told me that in my position (promoting skincare and make-up brands on the Internet at no cost to the manufacturer), I should never have to pay for products and I should be getting them for free by contacting the companies.

I didn’t need to hear that twice. On the following Monday morning, I started calling and emailing skincare and make-up companies to get review samples.

I crafted an introduction letter with the most important points about my blog and the reason why I was asking for samples.

In very little time, I started received samples and before I knew it, I became inundated with products from the U.S., Canada and as far away as the U.K.

It got so bad, that the guys at my pick-up area (I rent a UPS address) started complaining about the number of parcels (I’ve received several thousand dollars worth of samples) I was receiving and they were threatening to seriously increase my yearly fee. Luckily I received a few samples I could share with them and they quickly forgot about the idea of increasing my fees.

The samples were taking over my home and I couldn’t give them to friends and reviewers fast enough. In order to keep up with the flood of samples, I started running contests on the blog in order to give away products to 1) clear my home 2) put my readers to work so they could write reviews that I could post on the blog 3) secure some sponsorship dollars from beauty companies to keep up with these contests.

In 2007 and 2008, publicists (who I dealt with to get these samples) would email me to let me know they would gladly send me the samples I requested and asked that I email them once the post was up on the blog.

In many cases, publicists liked the concept of the product review so much that they would recommend my site to their marketing departments for paid reviews or other paid advertisement opportunities that were incredibly lucrative to me.

I still remember that in 2008, I got a really incredible contract via my ad service company (I have a company that takes care of selling ads on my blog) with a large pharmaceutical company to write six posts for them to try educating readers on the benefits of their product. The deal was to net me $8,000 for those six articles and the only thing I had to do was to get the copy reviewed by the pharmaceutical company to ensure that I wasn’t using any medical words in the wrong way.

This was an exciting point in my blogging career since that type of contract is far more lucrative than running site ads or Google AdSense ads.

Everything came to a stop in October 2008. As the stock markets were tumbling, panic was setting in, real estate prices were falling, companies were laying off workers and hard copy magazines were folding, I received an email from my media company informing me that the pharmaceutical company was ceasing the campaign I had started and that they had to cut back on the fees I was supposed to get (I only got $1,600 in the end for three features).

It was a devastating moment for me, but I thought things would get back to normal soon. I don’t think at that time that I understood how things were going to change.

Life as a blogger since the recession and my relationship with publicists

It took me some time to realize that things where changing; but because I was so busy working, I had not noticed the signs of change.

It’s only spending 90 minutes in one day answering emails from publicists that it hit me.

>>> Here’s what I was observing:

1) I was getting at least two to three times the number of pitches to review products. I was spending a lot of time emailing back publicists asking them to send basic essentials like photos, a press releases and price information. Some of these emails from publicists contained only a few short lines “we love your blog, will you feature our product, here’s a link.”… that’s not much to work with.

2) I was getting more requests from non-bloggers looking for link exchanges. These requests were coming from companies that had sites which sold beauty and hair care products on the Internet. They wanted me to add them to the front page of my blog, while they would give me a link on their blog on a page that was almost impossible to find and not visible from the homepage. This happened a lot and it floored me that these companies didn’t get that I didn’t want to give them free publicity while my site was buried somewhere on their site.

3) I was no longer receiving ANY offers for sponsorship opportunities on my site.

4) The few requests for free samples that I had sent were returned to me with a long string of questions:

  • “How long have you been blogging?”
  • “What’s your PR rank?”
  • “Are you on Twitter?”
  • “Are you on Facebook?”
  • “How many unique users?”
  • “How many page views?”
  • “How fast can you get our review on your site?”
  • “Have you won any awards in the past?”
  • “Send us links to past reviews you’ve written.”
  • “What angle will you take with this feature?”
  • “I need all your company details before we release any samples to you.”
  • “Will you promote this on social media networks?”
  • “Are you going to shot a YouTube video like you did for other brands?”
  • “You said the review would be up last week, WHERE IS IT?” … etc.

As you can see, I’ve started dealing with really demanding publicists and in some cases rude and impatient publicists. I was never asked so many questions in the past when I requested samples.

>>> Samples are being denied or scaled back:

I’ve contacted companies that in the past had sent me boxes and boxes of samples (and I do mean full-size products) and when I contacted them recently, they would say “sorry, we’re not sending any samples right now, but if you want we can provide you with information for you to write a review on your site”. Well, it’s hard to be excited about a product you’ve not tried.

In some cases, companies were sending those ridiculously small samples you get at your department store and it’s still unclear to me how they expect me to write a review when I can only test the product for two days (we usually test products for two-to-three weeks before writing a review.

Here’s a photo of products I received the same week for review:

Samples

As you can see one company sent me the smallest possible size while the other company sent me full size products.

Maybe it had to do with the niche?

The interesting thing is that I launched a new blog on healthy eating and healthy lifestyles in April 2009 (www.EatSmartAgeSmart.com) and my relationship with publicists is vastly different from one niche to another. The blog tackles healthy eating, but I also focus on fitness. The fitness publicists have not been really easy to deal with during this recession.

One company (which manufactures supplements) that contacted me to send products for review also wanted to know how much it would cost to sponsor spots on my site. They actually wanted to pay to have banners on my site and not only receive a free review!

I remember that when I sent them the finished post I wrote for them, the publicist sent an email thanking me for getting their company circulating in the social media networks. They were thrilled and I was thrilled.

In contrast, I’ve contacted a number of fitness companies who have said “NO, we don’t send samples to bloggers. We only deal with major media. If you want to test the product, you’ll have to buy it”.

In the cases where a fitness company was willing to send me samples, I’d be subject to daily or weekly emails asking: “When will our review be up?” to “The client is getting nervous and impatient, WHERE IS THE REVIEW?” to “I saw the review and there are things that you wrote that are wrong.” to “We don’t like ‘this word’ you need to change it in the review NOW”.

Most fitness reviews have been received with a string of negativity, while my healthy eating reviews are usually quite well received and the publicists or owners of companies jump for joy at the idea that I’m helping get the word out.

So how am I dealing with publicists since the recession?

  • In the case of negative backlash, I’ve decided to ignore those publicists and not let them affect me or affect my work. I usually won’t work with that publicist anymore.
  • When I get praised for a review, I quickly email the publicist and company back and thank them and I’ll usually get my traffic assistant to take that link to more social media networks.
  • I’ve created an auto-reply that delivers an email with a link that takes publicist straight away to a PDF they can download that gives them all the requirements we need to write a post. If we don’t get all those elements, I will pass on the review and will not chase after publicists. This also has helped cut back on the number of follow-up emails I send publicists.
  • I’ve set clear expectations in that PDF and do make it clear that a review will take eight weeks before it’s featured on the site. And that once the review is up, I will send them a link.
  • I’ve said ‘no’ many times to publicists who had a burning deadline to meet if I couldn’t make it fit in my publishing calendar and if that would be adding to my stress level.
  • When I contact a company for samples, if I feel that getting samples is hard work and I’m being asked loads of questions and am given tons of excuses why they don’t release samples to smaller media outlets, I’ll usually walk away and find another product to review or another topic for my blog post.

I’m not the only one finding it hard dealing with publicists these days

I’ve spoken to other beauty bloggers and editors of magazines (who were not bloggers) and they’ve also found that more and more publicists are being quite pushy, demanding and sometimes rude.

They also feel things are quite different since the recession and they’ve found themselves having to put their foot down and ask the publicist to no longer contact them on a daily or weekly basis and tell them that once the review is ready, they will be contacted.

My theory is simple: Publicists and companies now know that bloggers have a lot of weight on the Web and with the recession hitting advertising budgets really hard, publicists are turning to bloggers to get the word out about their products and also as quick way to getting into social media networks without having to spend any money.

Manufacturers realize that buying a full page ad in a magazine that would costs several hundreds of thousands of dollars will affect their profits if they aren’t able to calculate the rate of return on investment, while hiring a PR firm to get a few samples (that costs very little to the company) out to thousands of bloggers and demanding quick turn around on the features is much cheaper.

They get their new launches to circulate all over the Internet and thousands of bloggers telling their readers to go out and buy the product, and they don’t even have to write a cheque to the bloggers.

This situation could be quite specific to lifestyle bloggers, but I’d love to know if other bloggers also feel more pressured when dealing with publicists since the beginning of the recession.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. David Zemens says:

    Agreed.

    The economy (in the USA, where I am familiar with it) has changed quickly and forever, in my opinion. It has impacted all the areas of our lives that you mention in the article.

    I guess it’s no real surprise that it has also affected the digital/virtual world of blogging.

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we all come out the other side of this downturn prepared to move forward in new directions. Being able to adjust will be key.

  2. Robby G says:

    Very well written post. The PDF file is a great idea and even adding a Frequent Q&A for publishers page in the PDF or on the blog isn’t a bad idea. I was wondering how the whole writing reviews on free samples worked and think that I’m going to get out there and find some publishers who want reviews from my blog. Thanks for the information and the great read. Cheers.

  3. Brett McKay says:

    I’ve had the same problem on my men’s interest site. I don’t actively pursue product reviews, but I’ve always gotten requests from companies to do reviews. I’ve noticed a big change in the way companies pitch their products to me.

    Before, companies would be very cordial, offer sample products, and provide gift baskets for giveaways. Now, most of the emails I get are curt and it includes a PR piece written by the company. The email usually says something like “Here’s something your readers would be interested in. We’ve provided some free content for you.”

    I’m sometimes flabbergasted that companies actually think I’m going to post a PR piece written by them on my blog without even compensation in the form of a giveaway for my readers. I’m doubly flabbergasted when they act like they’re doing me a favor by providing their crappy PR piece as content on my site.

    So, I just ignore most emails from companies.

  4. epr says:

    Thank you for revealing how many of these PR people operate. Their tactics are disturbing and distasteful and for people who are new to blogging/journalism/PR, they may not be clear on the nature of the relationship. It’s important for new bloggers to understand that they owe nothing to PR people, regardless of the value of the product provided or whether the product sample was requested or arrived unsolicited. Nothing.

  5. Oh brother. There’s a lot I want to say here (I thought the arrogance of bloggers hit its peak when mommy bloggers started bitching about getting free stuff to the the point where they boycotted PR folks and then hypocritically ran back to them at BlogHer). But let’s just hit on the fundamental problem here:

    You’re confusing publicists with PR people. Watch who you’re calling out when you don’t know the difference. The two terms are NOT interchangeable. (Coming from someone who not only deals with PR and marketing folks constantly as a blogger, but a former PR consultant at that.)

  6. It makes sense that with so many eyeballs spread out all over the Internet, that the large portals are not the places to get the best bang for the buck.

    Everyone has their favorite blogs and you’re more likely to trust him/her than a faceless ad on site you have no personal connection with.

    I’m curious what happens when you give a middling or bad review to a product, especially when the company PAID you for the review. Have they cut off the relationship if you said you were going to standby the review and not change it?

  7. Heather says:

    This issue is hugely prevalent amongst mom bloggers. Many of them started blogging about their kids as a hobby and have now turned to product reviewing. I try not to do to many reviews because that’s not the focus of my site but I get crazy pitches for things like applesauce, pudding, hotdogs….things I could buy for $1 at the grocery store. What benefit is it to me to write about these things? Sorry, I don’t work for applesauce. And yes, they can be pushy and email over and over when I don’t respond right away.

    I don’t have huge traffic numbers but my audience is growing daily via rss and I feel like they take my posts seriously. If a company came to me with a serious and relevant offer I bet we could do something that would benefit both parties. It shouldn’t be so one sided.

  8. Yeah, it seems that the company force to cut advertising budget drastically since the recession. And if possible, they want advertise without pay. I already receive some email that ask me to post their news with link for free. Yeah, some time i post it if i in writer block.

  9. Deb Ng says:

    Publicists have to report to their clients. Their clients want to know where their products are going and if they’re getting any ROI action. Publicists SHOULD be asking questions. Why will they pay the expense to send full sized products around the world if only two people will read the review? Moreover, sometimes bloggers ask for samples for the sake of getting free stuff. It’s also not unreasonable at all for publicists and their clients to want to see reviews in a certain amount of time. They’re not pushy as much as they want to be sure they didn’t send you a product for nothing. Also they have to make regular reports to their client. It looks bad for them if they’re sending out products with no reviews to show for it.

    I talk with publicists every day in regard to my food blog and always find them to be pleasant and agreeable. It’s never a problem to answer their questions because I understand their clients need to know where their products are going and if the campaign is working. It costs money to send out full size products, and frankly, I prefer a small sample size so things don’t go to waste.

    No publicist has ever asked me to change words or take out anything, even in the case of an unfavorable review. The only times I’ve been contacted to edit is when there’s a misspelling in a product name or if I have the wrong link.

  10. This was an amazingly crafted case study and a great post. It makes me kind of angry that people who know your reviews are solid would start acting so rude…

  11. Excellent post very interesting. It’s a sign of the times. People have changed thinking they are smarter then they really are and everyone is looking out for #1.Little do they know that this sort of mentality is actually the major cause of this whole mess.Sort of like how bloggers look out for each other for the most part they DON’T and then wonder why they quit ;) Nice post gave me some great perspective on that side of the fence.

  12. Jesse Luna says:

    I don’t think asking more questions is being “pushy”, it’s being more accountable to one’s clients. If I don’t do my due diligence when investing in ads or giving away samples, then the needs of my company are not being served.

    I like that you set up some standards for how you are dealing with the change. That’s important in this economy. The other thing I would suggest is to up your reporting services. Give more info on stats and reach and keep building your army of fans. ~@jesseluna

  13. Rita says:

    I’m a consumer journalist. I have problems with the idea of receiving free samples then reviewing the products.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  14. Krizia, this dynamic post lets me know that you, at least, cracked the code within one industry to receive samples and build your blog through reviews.

    The industries I work in don’t work with publicists. I deal directly with suppliers, and they’ve not yet realized the value and benefit of blog reviews. How sad for them and their potential buyers.

    Publicists have a results-oriented mindset for people like you because they have to justify their actions to their clients.

    Perhaps contacting sales and marketing executives directly at specific companies that sell the products you wish to review will yield better results.

  15. Muzi Mohale says:

    In my case, I don’t get samples to review since my blog is about tourism which is an experience. However I get the pushy type trying hard for me to publish their press releases. My review entails sleeping over or doing a tour so I blog about the experience…what I’ve observed is that those kind of invites comes from tourism organisations and not individual tourism products. Though I’m in contact with fairly diverse PR firms representing luxury game lodges to hotel chain. Before the recession, I was getting invited on a regular basis by PR firms to ‘test drive’ their client’s hotel/lodge.

  16. Nice, what great insite!

    It’s one of the reasons why I love to keep Financial Samurai simple, with minimal monetary distractions. I have direct clients who I trust, and that’s it.

    I will never put up anything I’ve never tried before.

    Great post.

    FS

  17. Leigh says:

    “these companies didn’t get that I didn’t want to give them free publicity”

    Those “link exchange” emails really piss me off. If you want advertising that’s fine, pay for it, don’t try and pretend putting up links to your shop in anyway benefits me.

  18. As a medical blogger, I must mention the many serious issues that blogging for pharmaceutical products causes.

    (I’m assuming that the product advertised was something innocuous like a generic pain killer, because using your blog as a platform to sell products you – admittedly – know nothing about and that could potentially cause serious harm is unconscionable.)

    Medical products are not like normal ones. There is a serious informational imbalance. We just assume our doctor knows what he or she is doing – they have the 8+ years of education, after all.

    Frankly, even the simplest products can have serious side effects.

    When you blog about medical topics, you take a very significant burden. What if you post that consuming folic acid supplements can improve health – and then learn that in high levels can cause cancer?

    Endorsing a health product carries even more weight.

    We are barraged by pitches from Big Pharma, eager to sell their product in any way possible. They take advantage of our greatest fear – that our health will fail – to push products that are expensive and not necessarily the best choice.

  19. Felix says:

    That is a great post. I like to read about first hand experience instead of the usual top-ten-tip-lists to make your blog better articles. Good work Krizia.

  20. david says:

    I struggle with the fact that often reviews cost me money. PR companies send the goods, I spend 2-3 hours reviewing and then it costs me money to send the good back :(

  21. DB Ferguson says:

    It’s not just lifestyle magazines. I do a news blog and fan site for a television show on a basic cable network, and I’ve noticed that I’m getting publicists from the network contacting me more frequently and being more aggressive about featuring their “assets” on my site. I’ve been doing an unpaid, aggressively positive news blog about their show for over three years, and yet they push for me to feature even more things, some of which seem much more like marketing buzz than content of actual worth to fans.

    Long story short, it’s not just you. And thank you for bringing your issues to light. I never put two and two together and realized that it was new marketing strategies for a marketing department trying to publicize without spending any money. It’s frustrating, though, doing what I do with no compensation and the network being so pushy about what it wants me to publish on top of it.

  22. This is an interesting post, and I love hearing your view of PR from the blogger perspective. I don’t think the recession is causing PR professionals to be more “pushy.” I wrote about other reasons PR professionals may be coming across this way in a separate blog post which you can find here.

    http://blog.monicaobrien.com/pr-professionals-vs-bloggers-who-is-at-fault/

    Thanks for getting me thinking on this fine Sunday morning!

  23. trisha says:

    This is really interesting. Last year we were inundated with products and as our influence and site grows, I have noticed that the product offering as lowered (which is opposite of what it should be) and the press releases have INCREASED.

    Its less product and more “advertise us for free”. Its a hard balance because you want the relationship but you don’t want to advertise something that you haven’t seen and touched.

    I work as an owner of a small (mom) blogging review network of 100 bloggers and we have actually seen a decrease across the entire board out of all of our niches.

    Those that are getting pitches are getting them with HOARDS of insane questions. Thanks for letting us know we are not alone in how we work with them.

    trisha
    momdot.com

  24. Matthew says:

    Great article, I am just getting into the “PR” aspect of blogging and it has been huge to me. However I can see how companies are already weary of things, especially if they haven’t worked with bloggers much.

  25. Bloggers should never feel under pressure to respond to a PR’s advances or write about a product they’ve received for review.

    I have a foot in both camps: I blog about media and communications, as well as working in the Social Media team at Edelman (a PR firm) in the UK.

    As a blogger I receive a fair few pitches from PRs who think I will write about their products – in most cases I do so because they have done their research and it is something that i think will be of benefit to my readers.

    In some cases though they totally miss the point – I was recently offered the chance to review some anti-obesity pills…

    However as a PR there are pressures, particularly due to the economic state of affairs we find ourselves in, from clients to ensure that they get a good amount of coverage for their PR spend.

    This is where we need to start educating both PRs and clients.

    Clients need to be aware that the blogosphere is different to traditional media – ten samples will not mean ten reviews – and that what is importanct is to develop a meaningful relationship with a blogger over a concerted period of time and to look for ways to add value to their blog and readership.

    PRs need to be educated that the world is changing and sending pushy e-mails demanding coverage is no longer acceptable.

    It is a long and hard process we are undertaking, but that education has begun and is beginning to take effect.

  26. Carleen says:

    I have been working with PR in various forms for years and really don’t agree with much of the view of PR in this article. Nor do I think the recession has had a great impact on PR practices.

    PR have a job to do, which is to promote their clients’ products. In that sense, they will and should, seek to know as much as possible about a site they are pitching to, and inquiries into publication dates and such are to be expected.

    I also have not seen any sort of increase in PR questions or pressure and never have seen it to the level indicated by this article. Once in awhile a PR person might seem a bit impatient, but I don’t mind that and simply explain my editorial time line to them. I have only once been asked to provide copy for pre-approval and I politely refused with no issues. I also once was asked to include a spammy keyword link in an article and I refused.

    I do think that there is an increase in general pitches, pitches that are irrelevant or poorly written, and also link requests. Regardless, it is easy enough to weed out or ignore those who are blindly pitching or who have questionable products.

    Finally, I have seem a small decrease in samples or sample size, and that might be recessionary, but I don’t mind that. Companies have more sites to weed through these days and should not be expected to waste items. Hence,why they may give out less and be more particular about who gets samples. They want to assure that the product get reviewed and is covered on the sites that will provide the best exposure. I also see nothing wrong with sending only general product info. Often that is all I want or need, so why should they waste a sample on me? Personally, I have taken to accepting fewer and fewer samples because I don’t want to be covering the same items as everyone else–I don’t want more free products, I want more readers.

    I can’t speak to any decline in paid reviews because I don’t do those, but that could be both a consequence of recession and of the Google penalties associated with such reviews. I haven’t seen much decline in ad revenues other than I seem to have much less small company direct sale ads and more large company sales in their place.

  27. Rachel Kay says:

    Interesting post. I can certainly commiserate with the annoyance of receiving poorly written or demanding pitch letters. I assure you though, that isn’t due to the recession, it’s simply untrained and unskilled public relations at work. Bad seeds that unfortunately give solid professionals a bad name.

    A couple of points I do want to respond to:

    – If a writer sends me a request for a sample from one of my clients, it is imperative we do our due diligence before sending products. Our clients’ products range in price from about $30 to more than $100, which can be a significant investment for a smaller company. We do need to have those questions answered (traffic, rank, unique visitors etc…) to justify sending product. I have counted more than 500 beauty blogs and growing, which means thousands of dollars if we were to supply product to each blog who requested it. Just like any other media outlet, or any other tactic for that matter, we need to show the value in any investment we recommend. If a blog has 5,000 readers and the post is tweeted out to 10,000 followers, that would obviously make more sense that sending product to or buying ads on a site with 5 readers. This is why media outlets create media kits, which show at a glance readership and demographics.

    – Samples are being denied and scaled back, sponsorships are being reduced. Yes, this is a typical result when budgets tighten in tough economic times. Ad budgets are reduced, which is why magazines are closing. A company who liberally doled out product before may now have to scale that back in order to keep from laying off employees or cutting production. I’m confused at how this is interpreted as the result of pushy PR people. Trust me, the PR person wants to give you what you want, but sometimes hands are tied, especially when budgets are in question.

    Thanks for starting the discussion.

  28. Amber says:

    When you cultivate and maintain strong professional relationships– this is a non-issue because you’ll usually get what you need. In those instances you don’t, maybe it just wasn’t the right fit. We all have our own standards, requirements, and criteria for the products we give editorial consideration to on our sites. That’s up to us, and we probably wouldn’t have it any other way! Brands and their representation are certainly entitled to have their own set of criteria too. You are more than welcome to politely decline anything at anytime and have a responsibility in the relationship too. I wouldn’t fault them for it. I’m beginning to think this isn’t an issue just about samples anymore, but one of self-entitlement in the industry. It’s very sad to see, and will be our one-way ticket to demise. When you buy a URL, it doesn’t come with a lifetime supply of lipgloss as a gift with purchase. I’d like to see more people actually appreciative of what they do receive.

  29. hokya says:

    i am still learning about PR right now, this article help me much

    anyway, i just can say thanks for your live example and what you thought about it… :-)

  30. How do they expect to keep making money if they’re scaling back so much?

  31. Dave says:

    I’ve received a few free products in the last few months, including a whole bunch of travel books to review. Everyone I’ve worked with has been super friendly and patient, and appreciated my reviews.

    On the flip side, I get my share of promotional emails from smaller travel websites and people trying to promote this or that. I mostly ignore them as many of the commentators mentioned doing.

  32. BNS says:

    There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The recession is over & I guess everything will be back to normal in a month or so.
    Well written

  33. This is incredibly informative and I’ll be retweeting it to my followers straight away. Congratulations on your success; you’ve achieved it very quickly. You should be proud of that.

  34. Ryan says:

    Fear drives people to do things that they wouldn’t normally do. When adversity strickes successful people become more creative, average people become fearful and act from a place of fear. The publicists you speak of , at least the pushy ones, are afraid of outside conditions. The irony of the situation is that their thinking controls the situation. The few who can grasp this concept are the few who buck the trend and don’t experience ‘recessions.’ The only shortages are those of creativity.

  35. Anita Nelson says:

    Thank you for this post and all the comments. I need beauty bloggers!

    I have an online skin care brand, ModelSupplies, and have wondered how to get bloggers (besides my friends) to review products. I do not yet have a checklist and am completely happy to send a full size product. I do not have good product photos, however. Thank you for the checklist.
    x0x
    Anita @ModelSupplies

  36. Very well written post. You are so very right about PR people right now. It is crazy.

    I am definitely going to implement the PDF thing.

  37. Kris James says:

    This is an excellent post thanks. You’ve discussed things I’ve never thought about as a blogger and I really appreciate you sharing your experience.

  38. Kimberly says:

    Thanks for the great article and for really shedding some light on this.

    I too have noticed an increase in press releases being sent. Sometimes with nothing else in the e-mail but the press release. To me that is kind of rude. I would love it if the person sending it could take the time to introduce themselves and maybe let it be known that they visited my site and they think that what they are pitching would be a good fit. Sadly I get press releases for things that have nothing to do with my reader demographics. I totally understand that they are just doing their job. I just wish they would take the time to get to know me and my readers first so that they know what kinds of releases to send.

    Usually I receive full size products but on occasion I have received smaller samples which make it very hard to do a fair and complete review. It’s hard to see how a face cream reduces wrinkles if you only have enough for two days. Unless it’s a miracle product I doubt you are going to see a difference in two days. If it’s not possible for a larger product perhaps they could send several samples so that trying out the product could last a week or two, enough time for a fair review.

    It’s a shame that the horrible economy has trickled down to effect everyone like this.

    Thankfully I have a great relationship with all the PR people and Publicists that I work with. On occasion I get one or two that are a bit pushy and demanding, but they are the exception to the norm.

    I appreciate this article. You really opened my eyes to a lot of things.

  39. Dominique says:

    The chance to do reviews (sponsored0 are also few and very infrequent outside USA. What’s really irks me are publist sending non-personalised e-mails trying to get me to promote their product for free.. no thanks.

  40. ITrush says:

    Very well written, didn’t know this kind of opportunity and looks like it’s a good option to look at.. Thanks for sharing your experiences and other tips.

  41. Andy Merrett says:

    So, “sister” Jennifer, why not explain it? This was an excellent article and, true to form for the experiences raised, you’re nitpicking.

    OK, so the two terms may not technically be interchangeable, but PRs are, by nature, publicists.

    For the record, I continue to work with some excellent public relations people. Building a relationship is key. Naked PR is probably a company I won’t be rushing t
    o work with, particularly as the last site update was in July.

  42. @Andy – Had you really even looked at NakedPR you would have known it’s not a “company.” You’d also know that no one gives PR folks for grief for screwing up than I do, so it’s not a case of nitpicking. It’s a case of misinformation. Had you read my comment, you’d also know that I am a “former” PR consultant, hence why I wouldn’t update that blog much anymore. And no, PRs are not publicists by nature. You just need a bit of independent research all-around it seems. The information’s out there (I’m not going to spoon-feed it to you), and it was the author’s responsibility to find that information before posting.

  43. poorblogger says:

    PR is common for blogger..
    More of us chasing it without really know about it…
    Nice post

  44. It’s a good morale to keep your head up, but the reality is that the worst is yet to come. Since I live in Vegas I can see that people are spending less and less and losing more and more in Vegas, too.

    I just saw an article about the credit card companies hiking interest rates even to their best customers. It’s affecting the lifestyle of everyone living off of credit. Cash is the best! Save your cash, don’t use credit, and DON’T SELL YOUR GOLD!!!

  45. @ David – You return the samples to the PR companies? Wow!

    It’s never happened to me.

    All the samples I get I keep and pass them on to my product reviewers (I have two ladies who test most of the samples we get).

    Krizia

  46. Fantastic guest post. Set the idea light bulbs off in my noggin. Much success to you as the economy (hopefully) improves.

  47. I would have to disagree with this post. Maybe it’s because I’m a small blog, but I’ve not had that sort of problem with PR people. In fact, when I explain ‘this is about how long it will take me to get a review out,’ most people are quite understanding. I don’t mind the occasional email checking in. That being saide, I do buy most of the products that I review in my blog.

    Now, I have had several sites recently contacting me wanting me to link to their blog/service on my blog, and they were completely unrelated to beauty products (one was a tech review site, for example), so I declined. I’m not going to promote a service or a site that I wouldn’t use.

  48. This issue definitely extends outside the beauty niche. In general, I don’t do a whole lot of reviews on my blog, which focuses very specifically on eco-friendly home decorating. I used to do more reviews in the first year of my blog, but I have cut back tremendously because I really don’t have any use for a vast majority of the items pitched to me.

    Instead, I have been trying to find more advertisers and paid sponsorships, and I have gotten pretty creative, I think, in my pitches for ways companies can sponsor content. But it’s like hitting a brick wall trying to get a company to spend any money.

    The response I constantly get is “We don’t have the budget for that, but we’d be happy to send you a product sample for review.” And then once the product sample is received, no matter how little it cost them and/or their clients, I’ve found that the PR reps AND publicists handling the accounts will send endless emails asking when their product will be featured and being truly rude and aggressive.

    I’ve learned to turn down most product reviews and pitches, preferring instead to maintain control over my content by deciding what I post and when I post it. This has meant that I’ve gotten a lot less review products, but I’m completely OK with that. In fact, I’m happier for it.

    Bloggers are criticized by so many PR reps AND publicists for trying to monetize our blogs, but they are the ones who are throwing free product at us trying to get their clients in front of our audiences with little investment.

  49. As a beauty blogger, I find this article controversial. The blogger herself seems to support the idiom of a “swag hound” while fussing that PR reps should be bowing down to her.

    I have to disagree that it’s gotten tougher due to the recession, I’ve noticed a complete 180 switch, yes. But in the fact that I’m getting approached by MORE QUALIFIED PR and am able to build relationships rather than just asking for free samples. If that’s why you blog, that’s probably why PR reps are being tougher on you. They know who does it only for the freebies.

    Since the economy has turned, my traffic has quadrupled; contest sponsorships are up; and advertising relationships are even up. I contribute this to the fact that the reps are looking to still get their brand in front of eyes who may not be buying. Trying to capture their audience, even during these tough times.

    This is just my 2 cents. You may *not* be a swag hound, but you came across as one in this article. And that’s what most of us bloggers are trying to FIGHT AGAINST.
    Jami

  50. Galvahaha says:

    It makes sense that with so many eyeballs spread out all over the Internet, that the large portals are not the places to get the best bang for the buck.

    Everyone has their favorite blogs and you’re more likely to trust him/her than a faceless ad on site you have no personal connection with.

    I’m curious what happens when you give a middling or bad review to a product, especially when the company PAID you for the review. Have they cut off the relationship if you said you were going to standby the review and not change it?