Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bite Blogger/ Press/ PR and blogger ethics.

Eager eyes will have notice the 'Bite Mark' on my blog in recent weeks.  I was invited to join Bite Bloggers.  I read their manifesto and said yes as it was what I was aiming for already.  This is not going to change anything on my blog, but I thought I would clarify a few things.

My blog is my own space to air my views or share news.  It's not the only place I write, but this is is one of the spaces I control.
Bloggers. Integrity. Trust. Ethics.

Any products I am sent are for consideration only.  I do not automatically post on products just because I am sent a press release or sample.  I consider the item/event and if it is of interest to me and this blog.  I do have some ethics and try to only share things that pass my checklist (although I'm not always brilliant at this!)
  • Ideally products are not tested on animals.
  • Products do not contain animals.
  • PR/company representatives are polite and do not pressure me.
  • PR/company representatives are able to answer product questions.
  • The PR company/product relations people have a good conduct and do not have a reputation for bullying or stealing content from other bloggers/writers.

I normally (unless by accident) mention if I have received the product from a company.  This makes no bearing on my review.  I disclose so that I am not hiding anything from readers.  Magazines are sent nearly everything for free, and don't disclose it, however you open a magazine and expect adverts.  A personal blog is different, and my community integrity is more important than lying about where I bought products from.  How daft would it look if I kept raving about a different face cream each week and 'claimed' to have bought a new one each week. Who seriously buys a new face cream each week?!  You would all think I was fickle for changing my mind each week and then not believe a word I said.

PR Tips!
I do not mind companies approaching me and drawing attention to their product but here is a BIG tip for anyone wanting to promote their products;

Look at the writer and take time to research them, their style and what they stand for.

I have lost count of the number of emails that fly in saying things like;
"Hi Computergirl we really like your fashion blog and want you to let your readers know.... blah blah"
"Hi Musings We are launching (blah blah) can you put this on your website and include links and we will then use the piece on our website"
"Hi We're a car dealer ownership and want to create affiliate links with Mrs Musings Computergirls "

All that happens is I open the letter/email and then it goes straight to "file 10" (Recycle bin).  IF you aren't going to take the time to learn basic things about me then I don't have time to learn about your product, or inflict it on my body!

Also thank a blogger when they write something.  It takes two seconds. If a blogger has some constructive feedback, then listen.  Don't threaten to sue them!!

PR Samples.
I only have so many hours in the day, and most things I purchase from local shops.  This means my brand awareness could be quite limited if I only bought the same things each time.  I also only have a limited income and can not afford to buy one of every item range, just to write about.  This is especially important when it comes to things that I like but won't really use on a day to day basis.  Also some things are useful for comparison but I won't use them again.  I try to test a product several times before sharing thoughts, especially with skincare as you need to test it through your monthly cycle (see small rant).

Any left over press samples are given away to friends or charity (Give and Makeup!)

I like small businesses, especially where products are hand made and targeted individually.  I don't mind these companies getting in touch and supporting their product, if it works.  After all, some of the large 'brand name' companies have rubbish products that don't work, but sell lots just because of the brand name.

Blogger Ethics
I'm not going to beat around the bush.  There are some shocking bloggers out there, and sadly I am not surprised by some of the goings on I see.  Here are some rules for new bloggers/reminders for old one;
  • Don't sell press samples on your blog to line your own pockets.  It's cheeky and spoils trust between bloggers and PRs.  If you are going to sell (used/tested) samples for charity then fire them a quick polite email.
  • Don't badger companies for 'free stuff to review'.  Would you walk into a clothes shop and expect to take items out for free 'because you will be wearing it and advertising their store'? No? Blogging is exactly the same.  Don't get me wrong, I see no harm in introducing yourself (politely), but trying to get free gifts out of them is tacky.
  • Remember, PR circuits are small and lots of PRs know each other through previous jobs.  Some deal with multiple clients.  Either way they are human and will think nothing of recommending a good blogger or sharing warnings.  Think of it like restaurants, you'd think nothing of sharing good and bad experiences with friends and colleages!
  • Don't forget your goal.  The goal of blogging. Sharing.  All too often bloggers get a bit power hungry, follower hungry, greedy.  Keep your heart in the right place and you will be a happy blogger.

I could go on and on but I am sure you have all fallen asleep!  I hope this gets my view across adequately but if it's confusing then I'll happy explain it further!

If you have any thoughts on blogger ethics, press smaples, PR conduct then please feel free to comment below!


  1. Great ethics Hun! I've noticed since I began to get samples and press releases how many are put in magazines. I never thought mags would do that without disclosing so I am shocked and it's put me odd them now.

    Great post xxx

  2. Hi Lauren, thanks for your comment. Yes, its quite a lot of shared information- however I'd like to think that magazines are selective about what they include. But I guess they don't test a lot of products, just include bare info (what, where and £) where as a lot of Bloggers will test the product, so it's good to get different sorts of information!
    Hope you're well xxx

  3. I recently started my own blog after reading other blogs for a really long time. I'm glad I read this post. I wouldn't dream of contacting a company to send products! Do people actually do that?!?! And then sell them?! That's terrible. I just review and discuss things I already own or buy. I don't have lots of followers because I just share my blog with a few girls I've swapped with at the moment but I'm happy with that just now. Thanks for the useful post and happy blogging!xx

  4. Hi Stacey- you should plug your blog on my 'plug your blog' page :)

    Yes, unfortunately lots of people contact companies to 'get free stuff'. They literally send a list of the products they want to try. Most say they cant afford it and want free things. Some review and sell them, some just sell samples. The really stupid ones get products pre-launch and sell them on ebay- very easy to track down and blacklist!!

    Thanks for your comment :)xx

  5. That's terrible...I have noticed some blog sales/swap listings on MUA which say the item is a sample (e.g. when someone's been to a MAC event and received an LE item in standard packaging rather than the LE packaging).

    I might just go and go some plug-ingness... :)

    Thanks for following btw!


  6. Hi Stacey- I have noticed that too. If a company doesnt mind then that's ok. xx

  7. Found this post via Big Fashionista's blog. This is a really useful post. You really hit the nail on the head by saying you wouldn't blag stuff in a clothes shop so why try it with PRs. This is true.

    There is the other side of the coin. I am a journalist and am constantly being hounded by PRs and companies wanting us to feature their products in the newspaper I work for. If we do it is free advertising for them, and we as a company would lose integrity. If we do feature them the article has to be clearly labelled as an advert or sponsored article, or competition as we would be investigated by Ofcom otherwise.

    On the other hand if a PR wants us to review the play they are promoting the very least I am expecting is a free ticket. If they approach you for publicity they can't expect you to buy your own ticket - unless it is for charity. And besides, I am a journalist - practically on minimum wage, so I would never turn away a freebie, I would just declare on my blog that I got it through work.

    I think too often bloggers get away with not labelling where they got their products from and whether it was free. This is fine because it is a different medium. But readers will agree that it may affect what they write if it is a freebie, and it is not declared.

  8. I also found this via Big Fashionista's and just wanted to say thank you for such a wise and useful post! :)

    Nic x

  9. Miss Stylicious, Thanks so much for your comment. I agree it is a tricky situation. I choose to disclose so that its transparent. Also sometimes it helps to know which products are doing the rounds. I know a few bloggers which don't disclose- and know that their blog is literally 100% samples and press releases, yet they say they just nipped to town and picked x,y and z up. If they lie about that, then what else are they lying about?

    I hate it when PRs hound people- if they are rude then I wont deal with them/their brand. It's about building a good relationship and manners cost nothing. xx

    Nic, thanks so much- glad you enjoyed it xx


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