Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Talk It Out Tuesday: The Pros & Cons of PR

*This could be a controversial topic. Differing opinions are fine, but keep it respectful. 

I want preface this post by saying this is from MY perspective. I'm not extending this as collective viewpoint for all bloggers. These are my perceptions and I know they're opinionated.

I think one the most talked about things in the blogging world is PR samples. It can be one of the most competitive, confusing, and frustrating ventures out there. It really is a hot button topic. I do not have much PR experience personally, but in the course of my blogging experience I have witnessed it enough from other bloggers to have an opinion. I've chosen to not take part in a lot of PR or asking for PR samples. I have taken offers if I am personally approached, but even then I am selective.

I think there are definite pros and cons in regards to PR. I'm definitely divided on the whole thing, but essentially for me personally and my blog I'd find too much PR a negative. The list I've compiled below are what I think are/would be pros and cons for PR. Some of these are from my own observations, and some of these I relate to my own experience and blogging decisions.  Be aware my negative list will be lengthy.

  • I have go-to blogs I know to visit who receive PR samples ahead of time. I rely on these bloggers and their swatches to make shopping decisions. Bloggers who do PR stuff are needed!
  • PR samples would definitely lighten the load financially. As much as I'd love to dive into PR just for that reason, it does not feel right to me.
  • You can create great contacts with brands. 
  • PR can turn you from just being a blogger to a more professional blogger.
  • PR can allow you to be a link between your readers and polish companies. You can have more knowledge into the brand versus just the regular person. 
  • You get access to new products before anyone else.  
  • You can provide more opportunities for your readers when companies sponsor giveaways. 
  • Who PR picks to get samples can be very inconsistent. There are bloggers who are ignored by PR companies with well established blogs, while the opposite bloggers are given samples (more in next point). The process does not make sense.
  • Bloggers who are brand new, have a small following, and low quality photos are sometimes given PR samples. This is the one time I'm critical about people swatches. If you are given a product to review you should show the product in the best possible light and in a professional manner. It is unrealistic to expect newer bloggers to show PR samples in a professional manner.
  • PR has become a source of competition for bloggers. There are many new bloggers who see receiving PR samples as some sort of badge of honor, Miss Universe tiara, or a trophy. PR I do not feel makes you popular blogger. There is a lot of work involved outside of just receiving things for free and being "first" to have something that makes you a popular blogger. Plus, you can be popular without getting freebies!
  • There are bloggers who just blog in hopes to receive PR stuff.Even worse there are people who feel entitled to receive stuff. Shady.
  • PR can be inconsistent about sending things. You may be promised some collection and you may never get it. 
  • For me personally and my blog, if I were to receive a lot of PR stuff I feel it would detach me from my readers. I get emails that people like my blog because almost all of my stuff is self-bought and low cost. People can relate to it because they're on a budget. I feel if I received a lot of stuff from PR I would lose that connection with my readers. I like to be relatable. I go through the same shopping/financial struggles as everyone else!
  • PR allows you to become more of a professional blogger. I said this in the pros, but it is also a con. I feel with PR you become tied to that company. You have a responsibility to swatch the polishes and blog about them in a timely manner. It's not just fun and games. It's a commitment.
  • Press Release days. Hundreds of people posting the same press release over and over again.....
 This is all I can think of at the moment. What I noticed as I was dissecting this was that most of my negatives towards PR are in relation to people in the blog-o-sphere versus the PR companies themselves. There are a few bloggers I rely on for PR stuff. Few is the keyword here. The reason is because I can rely on these bloggers to be professional, friendly, and have a dedication to their blog outside of just what they receive for free. These are the bloggers that exemplify what a good PR relationship/experience should be for themselves and their readers.

The perception from some people that PR stuff makes you special, better, popular, or etc is what really bitters the whole PR concept for me. There is some weird obsession with it in the blogging world from some people that is just annoying. If I could give you guys a dollar for every time I've heard someone mention how much they wanted PR samples or ask me how to get free stuff we all would be rich. The blogging experience should not be centered on the freebies you receive! It saddens me that this seems to be the main focus of so many people.

This is not the only reason I'm turned off to PR. I have other reasons I mentioned above. PR would seriously help me so much as far as saving money, but I'm not willing to compromise my time and my blogging persona for PR. I know a lot of that would have to change if I took that on.

This I know is a touchy subject. If I said anything offensive, I did not mean it to be, like I mentioned before these are my viewpoints based on my experience.

What are you thoughts on PR stuff?

Happy Tuesday!


  1. Committment thing in your cons has recently been a hot topic with me. I'm at a point where I am not really taking in more contacts or PR samples until I get my backlog cleared. I'd love to churn out posts ASAP, but one day I realize....what's the point? It got so competitive that others got snarkly with me when I am the first one to post and I didn't enjoy that. I post on my own time and put out reviews honestly. I am concerned that some may see that my opinion is skewed on posts that are samples from PR and they're free to think that. I give good and bad reviews on samples I got, that's the best that I can do. But it's funny cause I've raised this issue with a fellow blogger to talk it out lately and you have this post too. :) Good stuff.

  2. I agree with you - especially with your #1 Pro - I love that bloggers are given polishes ahead of time so I can look at swatches and decide if it is something I want to jump on when it gets released to the public.  I have no problem with the fact that they didn't buy it themselves.  I'm way jealous about that fact - but it's awesome that they get that opportunity.  I do, however, love when a blogger talks about polishes that they actually love and purchased themselves.  Obviously they do research like me and decide to spend their hard earned money on that particular polish.  I guess I wouldn't judge either way - but I am happy that I have many nail blogs to choose from and some receive free polish and some don't:)

  3. I feel that if you do receive PR samples you should treat them as though you purchased them with your own money. At least, that's how I treat anything PR may send me or approach me with. I will post about everything that I receive, but I review each item honestly. If I didn't like it, you'll know it. Same goes if I loved it, you'll know it.

    I also don't post press releases. There are enough bloggers out there who will post them and some days I feel like I see the same one 30 times in a row. However, I do like to receive press releases because I like to be informed of upcoming releases, sales, specials, etc. I like to have that knowledge for myself and to talk about on my blog if I choose to. 

    And to be honest, I never expected to receive products for free. I started my blog as a place to share my obsession with others who are just like me. I live in a home full of boys and my closest girl friend is an hour away.. I need my girly time and my blog fulfills that. I enjoy sharing my obsession with my readers and truly love swatching and taking photos of products. Yes, receiving products for free is a nice perk to blogging but it should never be what you start a blog for or what you aim for. I am always honored when a company wants to work with me.

    I love blogging and it's my "job", meaning it's all I do for a living -- even though I make NO money from it at all. I keep my blog completely add-free because I personally find ads on blogs annoying and I'm not looking to make money from my blog. I just enjoy it. I'm fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom, which allows my blog to be my job, my main focus (outside of being a mom/wife, of course). I had several home based businesses that I ran for a combined 6 years, but I quit all that to focus on what I really love: blogging. My blog combines one of my old businesses (I had a photography studio) with my obsession of makeup, hair and nail polish. What more could I ask for? I am incredibly lucky to call painting my own nails and swatching lip glosses "work".  

  4. Press Release Days are the bane of my (blogging) existence.

  5. I agree with you on some points.  I like that certain blogs that have been around for years get stuff early to show us new collections. They have put in the time and proven themselves and have great photos.  I also agree that new blogs that have crappy pictures and polish applications are not showing that product in the best light.  Why do they get the free stuff? I think it sucks that some bloggers ask companies for samples.  This I will never do. If I am EVER approached and it has yet to happen, I will be very grateful and not start to expect it all the time.  I'd be honored if a PR company thought enough of my blog to even ask!   I think its crap that some blogs expect it.  Thats uncool.  I also hate when there are tons of the same press releases out all on the same day.  I hate that and never want to be a part of that. I always wonder if the blogs who got the free stuff are really honest in liking the stuff.  The blogs that have been around before all of us even thought to blog-I truly trust in the opinion.  They have proven to be trustworthy in that respect.  

  6. I agree with basically everything here haha.. I really dislike blogs that receive PR samples and ONLY do good reviews of them. It's just so annoying! Not every polish is perfect, and I want to know that BEFORE I buy them! Ugh, drives me nuts. 

  7. To preface - I don't blog myself, I just read a lot of nail polish blogs :).

    In general, I don't have a problem with PR stuff. I like seeing swatches and honest reviews ahead of time for a number of reasons, the biggest being: if I see limited stuff around here at all, I often have only that one chance at it. (I'm looking HARD at you, Sally Hansen and Revlon.) I need to know ahead of time if it's worth picking up, because if I pass it up now to wait for swatches/reviews, I am likely never to have the chance at it again.

    It also helps me plan my spending - if I know there's something good coming shortly, it really stops the impulse buys. (Well, slows them down. Who's kidding who?) I passed up a lot of polishes because I knew I wanted about 5 polishes from the China Glaze holiday collection (and they're great).

    But I'm with you on press release days...I tend to just skip post after post. Given the variability of release schedules, I don't even pay attention until I start seeing actual swatches.

    Not being a nail blogger myself, I can't speak about the competition. But as a reader, I can say that if a blogger is nothing but sunshine and roses about EVERYTHING, I stop trusting them. Because no one gets it right all the time. And yes, I like to see bloggers review items they bought themselves because they liked them - because, honestly, that's pretty much how I buy my nail polish :).

    Another con I've noticed with PR samples is that a number of blogs (no fingers pointed or names named) tend to be reviewing more and more boutique, mail order only (read: out of the budget) brands. If that's the direction they want to go with their blogs I support them since they know how they want to blog, but it's just not relevant to me because I do have limits. So depending on your PR samples, it can skew or limit your readership.

    But in the end, bloggers need to make their own choices what they're comfortable with and what they feel keeps them honest. Because if you can't do it your way, why bother at all?

    Just my two cents' worth from the cheap seats :).

  8. Wow, judging from your response and how well written you are...you should be a blogger:)  Love the "cheap seats"  ending:)

  9. This was a really great post. I personally appreciate people who have PR content because I like seeing swatches and hearing about formulation before I buy a product. I've been approached by a few companies, but I've declined because I simply do not have the time to do proper reviews on my blog or keep it that up to date, and I honestly know I don't take the greatest pictures for swatching. I will happily leave it to the pro's with their glossy swatches and in depth reviews.

  10. Agree with everything you say.
    Ahhhh, Press Release Days - one of the most annoying things ever.

  11. Preach it, guuuurl. We talk about this a lot and I totally agree -- there are so many pros and cons. I definitely agree with you about people feeling like they are better than others because they get free samples, and the newer bloggers getting free samples bothers me too because GENERALLY SPEAKING, they get them simply because they get lucky when they ask for them. I'm glad I've never gone asking for samples of anything because I don't want to discredit my blog and the hard work I put into it.

  12. I agree, wonderful point about the more hard to find mail-order polishes! I tend to skip over those posts too because they're too expensive and not readily available to me.

  13. Very well said, Steph. I also depend on blogs that I know receive all of the collections and post beautiful photos and reviews so that I can decide what colours I want then plan my shopping accordingly. Blogs that do PR well are a valuable resource for those of us on a budget. :D 

    I enjoy doing the rare PR review. I don't approach companies and ask for free stuff but if they contact me, I consider working with them. My reviews of provided products are just as fair and honest as the reviews I do on products I buy with my own money. No amount of stuff for free is worth compromising my personal integrity and if a company or retailer is just looking for a yes girl, they need not contact me. 

    I recently received a few polishes for review from an online retailer. It was a great experience. The site owner was lovely to work with, the samples sent to me were gorgeous and the fact that I was able to do the reviews and add those beautiful and otherwise too spendy for me polishes to my collection was really nice. Do I expect it to happen again? Nope. I figure this was a one time dealio. And I am perfectly okay with that. No one owes me something just because I run a blog. :)

  14. I found this post quite interesting to read.  I like the points that you brought up, and I respect your view on the subject.  I don't see any of it as offensive.  Great post, and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

  15. You wrote an interesting article I have had the same thoughts. It is possible though that some company's target new bloggers in the hopes that they will continue on and buy more product from them. I personally shy away from free items unless they are sent along with an order. Reading a blog that gives off the vibe of being better because of PR items is also a turn off for me. An honest review is what I look for or interesting nail art. Thank you for putting into words what some of us have been thinking.

  16. You wrote an interesting article I have had the same thoughts. It is possible though that some company's target new bloggers in the hopes that they will continue on and buy more product from them. I personally shy away from free items unless they are sent along with an order. Reading a blog that gives off the vibe of being better because of PR items is also a turn off for me. An honest review is what I look for or interesting nail art. Thank you for putting into words what some of us have been thinking.

  17. You nailed it on the head again!
    While most bloggers want the prestige (and free polish) of PR samples it comes with responsibilities including having to post the swatches right away, having to do the polish justice with clean manicures/clear photos, and having to post endless press releases...Oh how I hate those days when every blogger posts the exact same press release and I feel like my Google Reader is just on endless repeat of the same thing... I know some people contact companies for PR, I have been hesitant to do so for those exact reasons. I have only contacted one company and felt really uneasy about it later. Not sure that I will be contacting any more...

  18. Well said. Lot's of good points here.

  19. The biggest con you listed imo is press release days. Every blogger and her sister posting the same standard, promo, blah blah blah can be annoying in my dashboard. I also agree about the being tied to a company issue. Some could become biased based on the freebie stuff they receive. That being said, I am a swatch watcher when I go to purchase anything beauty related, polish, makeup or skincare. Basically, I said all that to say, cheers! I agree!!

  20. Eugenia you have taken everything in my head that I wanted to say here and translated it to...e-paper? It's been a long night, haha!

    But I definitely agree with what you said. While I am fortunate enough to receive PR products occasionally I definitely don't feel entitled to them and I'm extremely grateful for what I have (self bought or provided). And I do my best to show EVERY polish I receive the best way that I can (clear shots, applied as well as possible, etc.). And as for PR announcements... Eh. I'll post the ones that interest me otherwise I can count on them being posted elsewhere, and I'm usually correct. ;-)

  21. I'm fairly new and I've never received any PR samples. I don't know that I'd never accept them, but I don't really expect to be getting anything like that. I didn't even know there was such a thing when I started my blog! Everyone else, as well as the original post, expressed themselves so well. I just really wanted to comment on one thing I HAVE noticed that really bugs the CRAP out of me about it, and it was touched on by others...please for the love of all that is holy, if you DO receive PR samples, don't post photos that look like you dipped your scraggly fingers into the bottle up to the first knuckle. It bugs me just in general, but it really gets me when they do it with PR samples.

  22. I think the committment thing gets lost in the dark with a lot of new bloggers. It's one of the mains reasons I won't do much PR. I don't want that kind of responsibility. I have too much of that in real life!

  23. I agree. Bloggers who get PR stuff are definitely needed! They're an awesome resource, but I like balance too. I like to know a Blogger is invested in their blog and their hobby outside of what they get for free.

  24. It totally is a commitment. I wish people realized that. It's a lot of work to swatch and take photos. It takes hours! I'm glad you've had positive experiences with blogging and PR.

  25. I love your attitude. I think it is so important as blogger to be gracious and humble. It keeps be grounded and approachable. I also worry about how honest some reviews are. I feel like since a company picked you out to review their products it may be more difficult to be completely honest. I'm not saying they are dishonest, but if something is truly awful, they maybe a little more leanient than if it were something they bought on their own.

  26. I am with you on the boutique brands. I have been contacted by a few of those companies, and the limited availability of those products keeps me away from accepting their products to review. I know as a reader I wouldn't go out the way to buy these brands since they are pricier and hard to find. It's fine what other people do, but for the purpose of my blog it doesn't work for me.

  27. I am the same. I don't want that responsibility!

  28. You bring up a good and touchy point..discrediting your blog. This is one of the reasons I personally do not ask around for samples. I feel like when some blogs that are just run by PR samples with very little original content or personality behind the blog have sold out (especially the entitled people). It does a disservice to yourself and to your blog.

  29. I enjoyed your comments. I think just being satisfied with your blog, and being gracious for what comes your way is really admirable. :)

  30. You're welcome! Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  31. That's an interesting assumption. You may have something there?

  32. I know how you feel . I contacted a company a little over a year ago, and that was the last time I did. I felt really uneasy about it too. The whole thing doesn't feel right to me at all. I definitely consider it, if I'm approached, but even then I'm selective. If I do PR stuff I prefer to do it with smaller brands or brands created by bloggers.

  33. Thank you Eugenia for such a thoughtful and insightful response. I agree with everything you said. I think you're so right too about it taking more effort to say something positive about a polish. Without PR stuff I rarely can get passed how much "I like it" or "love it". It takes a lot more to write a great review. The bad reviews are easy!

    I have difficulty with the sense of entitlement. There are times I hear some people complain who get PR stuff that their stuff is late, they didn't get all the samples, it didn't come in a timely manner, and etc. This turns me off so much. While you're waiting for your free samples, I'm paying money out of my pocket for the stuff. It's just tacky to say stuff like that. You should be grateful! I find bloggers like your and your attitude about being appreciative for what you receive very admirable. You have an excellent blog. I really enjoy your posts!

  34. Yes, it is really frustrating. The only reason I can think a ton of people may do that is because they do not currently receive samples from the company, and they hope by posting the press releases it will score them some samples?

  35. Yeah, I don't mind new bloggers not having the greatest swatches, but if it's PR stuff there is no excuse. That's the only time I'm critical of swatches really.

  36. Steph, I missed this because I've been so busy, but I do want to comment here, because I know you'll read it anyway lol.
    I love your post - it's very clear cut and fair.
    I've been on both sides of the fence, and as a big blogger the huge problem I had was quantity over quality. I tried my best to do justice with all of the products I received from PR/companies, but I just felt overwhelmed with the urge to get that post done, now. And then, I eventually got burnt out. I was never able to post about what I wanted, when I wanted to. I know these were all self imposed rules, basically - but how can you receive samples and not feel pressure to post them in a timely manner? That was me, always scrambling to get something posted as quickly as I could.
    Nowadays, my wallet is feeling the bite, but I am on my own timetable and I just love it. I kind of miss it for the sake that I knew what was coming out and what to be looking for, but not enough to put myself back in the "game" again.
    And then, I really don't miss the competitive atmosphere and the snarkiness of some folks. I'm just doing my own thing and I'm happy with it.
    Steph, I hope you know I have a huge respect for you. <3

  37. It would be really interesting, at least to me, to pick the brain of a PR person that decides who gets the releases, giveaways, etc. and what they look for to select a particular blogger.


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