My Blogging Experience: Brands/PRs

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Todays post is a another in the 'My Blogging Experience' mini series that I started last month with my 'blogging pet peeves' post (here). As my blog is coming up to it's 3rd birthday (which is in May and I will have a rather exciting international giveaway to celebrate) I thought I would create a few blog posts to share my experience of blogging over the years including what I have learnt, my experience of working with brands/PRs, blog photography and more. 

This post is all about my personal experience and approach to working with brands and PR companies. When I started my blog, I didn't think that I would really work with brands as it was just a creative hobby for me rather than blogging for money or samples and it still isn't. I started my blog mainly as I always bought quite a lot of makeup and I wanted to share my views and I already wrote on two review websites (Dooyoo and Ciao) so my own website was a natural progression for me. It wasn't until almost one year after creating my blog that I was approached by a brand to work with them. The brand was The Skin Regime and I was so excited when I received Dana's email, especially as it is an American company. I remember feeling quite overwhelmed when I received my first product to review as I didn't want to disappoint the sender as they had sent me a product from America and I wanted my blog post to be amazing. Although I feel obliged to be up front and true to my readers and followers, even though I only had 30 or so at the time but every reader should be provided with the necessary information if they want to purchase as well as an honest review of the product. 

Since then I have been very lucky to work with some of my favourite brands that I bought from before I even started my blog such as Debenhams, Yves Rocher, Burts Bees and more; as well as being introduced to brands I never would have tried which is one of my favourite things about working with brands/PRs. The college above shows some of my favourite products that I have received for review recently, one of which I never thought I would own - the Silkn Glide HPL System.

Working with brands/PRs is a controversial topic in the blogging community but my personal view bloggers working with brands/PR companies that is the norm however honesty and transparency are so important. I also think that bloggers approaching brands/PR companies themselves is perfectly acceptable and I do it myself on occasion, it is just the way in which you approach the individual on the other end of the email which is what makes it controversial, in my opinion. For example, when I approach a brand I email something along the lines of: 'Hi, I'm emailing to ask if you work with bloggers' etc so they can say if they do or don't. What I do have an issue with is that some bloggers may think that brands owe them products to review because they are a blogger and have X number of followers. No brand/PR owes any blogger anything and what may need to be taken into consideration is that PRs are real people and they are just doing their job. I have been fortunate enough to have positive experiences with all brands/PRs, some of which are so lovely, especially the team at Media Hubb, Media Works and Total Media who work within digital marketing and media buying as well as blogger outreach - I would love to work in PR/digital marketing! 

On the other hand, I do receive emails from PRs that basically ask me to publish a post about a certain product, campaign or app/website with no benefit to myself or my blog - that's not ok. I didn't work hard for almost three years on my blog to provide brands with free targeted advertising, in my opinion. If I did publish their posts I would feel as though I am providing my readers with information they don't necessarily want and I would be lowering the value of my own blog; I wouldn't want to that as bloggers do work so hard. Some of my family and friends have described my blog and their experience of starting a blog as a 'part time job' and a 'mini business' and I think that sometimes bloggers are undervalued although with the rise of 'big' bloggers in the mainstream media, it is becoming much more valued and important as a new media outlet for consumers, brands and PRs. 

I have put so much time and effort into my blog and one of the perks is working with some fantastic or not so fantastic brands but it shouldn't be the reason anyone starts a blog, you have to have a interest and passion for your chosen topics. I love blogging and after almost three years I cannot imagine stopping! There are controversial topics within blogging, as there are with everything, which can take some of the enjoyment out of it but if you are thinking of starting a blog I would suggest you do it. It is one of my best decisions I have made, not only because of the lovely perks such as events, samples to review and meeting new people but on the whole it is a fantastic, supportive community that I love being part of.

Just a little note, there was a #lbloggers chat last week I think about sponsorship and disclaimers which I was too late to join but I read through some of the chat (definitely look out for the blogger chats on twitter) and I wanted to be completely transparent regarding sponsored posts. For example, this post is sponsored and I personally have no problem with bloggers accepting sponsored post opportunities as long as they are honest, labelled as sponsored and are relevant or helpful to readers and followers which I hope this post is.

*this is a sponsored post*

If you are a blogger, what are your opinions on working with brands/PRs? Also what are your thoughts on sponsored posts? 

32 comments

  1. I understand everyone has an opinion but some bloggers out there are so judgemental when it comes to PR samples and sponsored posts, expressing their hate for it constantly and I do wonder if they were offered these opportunities would they still turn them down?! (probably not). I have no problem with either and would never judge a blogger over them, for me as long as the post is interesting I will still read it regardless. I've had two opportunities for sponsored posts one that I took up as I liked the topic and another that I turned down cuz I didn't feel like it fitted in with my blog, so it's all about what works for you and your blog I think x

    Beauty with charm

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    1. I completely agree with everything you wrote! x

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  2. Great post. I think as long as you're honest about it there's no harm in it at all! xx

    MissyRed.co.uk

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  3. wow, great and honest post! xx

    Rose
    http://www.lepetitrianon.co.uk/

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  4. I'm just starting out blogging so I'm certainly not in any position to have much of a say on this topic. However I definitely agree that honesty is the best policy when being asked to review a product by a company. If I see a review that doesn't have a single bad thing to say I become immediately suspicious as no product is perfect.

    Nicola | Cream of the Frock

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  5. This was lovely and so honest. I have had a few sponsored posts and I'm fine with doing them if they are related.

    Jackie | fashionxfairytale | bloglovin' |

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  6. Love this post ! I think it is important to be as honest as possible.
    My blog is three years old too (Not as amazing as yours though) and it annoys me when people contact and ask for free posts. They don't understand how much time and effort goes in to things !
    Love you blog always :) xx
    Alex - http://champagneandlemonadeox.co.uk

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    1. Honesty is so important :) I hate emails like that too, it's so rude! Thank you xx

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  7. i so agree working with PR's is really contervitial, when i am sent a prodcut, i tey it and if it wok=rks only then i advertise it.
    there are so many PR who fought just because i said the product didn't suit me even though i was ready to send it back to them
    Keep in touch
    www.beingbeautifulandpretty.com
    www.indianbeautydiary.com

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  8. Excellent post and I totally agree with the points you've made :) I always find working with PRS a great opportunity to test and try new products. I'm always a curious person when it comes to brands and products and love trying new things and I guess blogging opens up that opportunity to expand more as a person and as part of the job x

    www.krystelcouture.com | OnePiece Giveaway

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    1. I always love to try new products, whether they have been sent or I've bought them - thank you x

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  9. I am so glad you wrote this post as I don't understand why it has to be so taboo! I hate getting emails that ask me to give promotion/benefit and help to companies when it's not relevant to my blog, or just plain rude- I work so hard with my blog, uni and freelance I just can't physically agree...and actually some people see that as me being ungrateful or stuck up I mean I have got into lots of convos about it- but you have to be true to yourself, whether that's a relevant review/post or who you work with. Great discussion to bring up xx


    Blonde Of Carbs

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    1. Some PRs just don't look into the blog they are emailing, I especially hate emails when they don't even bother to write my name! Thanks :) x

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  10. Great post, this is such an interesting read and very helpful. Thanks for sharing! x

    http://coconutallure.blogspot.co.uk/

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  11. Honesty is the best policy! Reviewing products shouldn't concern other bloggers xx

    Hannah x | hannatalks

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  12. So refreshing to read, I'm on both sides so can understand how each side thinks, sometimes PRs are out of order, sometimes bloggers are!

    Tweet xx

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  13. Amazing post! Thanks for your honesty! :)
    -Maria
    in1997.blogspot.com

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    1. I always try and be completely honest and up front, thanks x

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  14. I loved this post so much! It was so honest and it really gave me a good insight into this area. :)

    xx
    smudged-fingerprints.blogspot.com

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  15. Such a great idea for a mini series! I'm personally all for brands working with bloggers and sponsored posts as long as each side is up front with it. I think that most bloggers are very honest with their opinions whether they received a product for free or not, and the ones that aren't honest are very obvious so if you follow and read content from the right people who shouldn't ever feel like you're being scammed into buying a bad product :)

    lizzyxfresh.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm always a little suspicious if I see that a blogger hasn't labelled something that has been sent to them, so I do avoid those blogs - thank you x

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  16. I've been lucky enough to have worked with quite a lot of brands now and as my blog has grown more, I've found that I've had to become extremely selective in who I work with. I also made the transition to blog full time (with freelance tv producing and writing on the side) so sponsored posts - as long as they are exactly in line with what you'd write anyway - are definitely something not I would consider, but really want/need to do.

    At the end of the day, I believe that your readers will know if a post is genuine or not and nothing is worth damaging your integrity with them. Great post though hun, and sorry for the ramble :)

    Elle
    www.theellenextdoor.com
    xx

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    1. Honesty and being genuine are so important x

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  17. I've had some quite mixed experiences. Often a brand will reach out to me, I'll respond and they'll never bother sending anything. It's so disappointing when you've already planned a post and they came to you first xx

    Magpie Jasmine

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  18. Great post Heather, I completely agree with everything you said! :) xx.

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Feel free to leave me a comment, I read all of them!

If you would like to contact me with a question or PR information email me at: heathernixon4@gmail.com