PR Policy - No PR Samples Here!

January 12, 2014

THIS HAS NOW BEEN UPDATED, READ MORE HERE

This is an interesting subject, I have covered it briefly in my 'PR Policy' page but I wanted to go into more detail to avoid confusion... So here is the longer version of why I do not accept PR samples.

I've thought long and hard about this part of how I run my blog. Most bloggers accept 'PR Samples' of products so that they can try out and review new products.

This is a standard and well accepted way to blog, it means that the blogger gets to try out lots of different products to review without it costing them an arm and a leg!

I have no problem with this practice, as I said, it is standard in the blogging world.

However, when ever I read a review with a * next to the product name (meaning it's a PR sample) my heart sinks a little. I am sure that the review is still honest... but... if you get something for free or the owner of the company contacts you directly you would feel a small, maybe even subconscious, obligation to be kinder or softer in your review. Not dishonest, just no as honest as you would be if you had paid for the item out of your own pocket.

I want to be clear - I am not, in any way shape or form, criticising any other bloggers that accept PR samples. In fact, I agree that it is a great way to experience lots of products on behalf of your readers in order to provide lots of reviews. However, there are plenty of other blogs out there that offer that service so there is no need for me to do it too.

Also, I try to find natural and often DIY alternatives to 'normal' products which doesn't necessarily mean buying another product. I.e. Using coconut oil instead of moisturiser.

I don't want to be overloaded with new options to try out - I try and keep my skin and hair care routine very simple. If I change anything I do it gradually, for a good amount of time to see how it works in both the short and long term, I also only change one variable at a time - kinda like a scientific experiment so that I get 'true' results!

So, that is an explanation of why I do not and will not accept PR Samples of any products.

Thanks for reading,
Rach xx

P.S. Can I please stress again I am not against PR samples, I completely understand their place in the bloging world and I know that, especially for smaller companies, they are a good way to get their name out and about. I repeat, I am not criticising PR samples or blogger who accept them.

21 comments:

  1. I think it's really cool you don't accept PR samples :) I personally would if I ever got offered, but I completely get what you mean. I'm always slightly dubious of reviews that COMPLETELY rave about a product, without any negatives! xx
    www.touchscreensandbeautyqueens.wordpress.com

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    1. thanks! :-) yeah there are a lot of blogs I just completely avoid because I can see that they give stuff good reviews as it was a PR sample and they want more!! So naughty! Readers trust us bloggers to a certain extent and I never recommend anything on here that I wouldn't recommend to a friend. :-) thanks for stopping by!! xx

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  2. I really enjoyed reading your reasons for not accepting PR samples, it is such a difficult area and I am never quite sure whether I am getting it right. I turn down far more than I accept and it is hard to sometimes judge whether a brand will be suitable or not. When you say if the item is a PR sample there is more chance of a positive review then I would say the answer is yes and no. For me the interaction I have been able to have with brand owners and PRs has been invaluable and it has made me understand certain brands and products better, however it is always hard to say to someone that you didn't enjoy their product, some people really don't take it very well Xx

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    1. It is such a tricky subject as a lot of 'green' brands are only available online - if you went into Boots (as a 'normal' person not as a blogger) you would be able to try pretty much every product there, they just have samples out on the shelf for everyone to use.
      I think that you can tell if a review is genuine or not, I steer clear of the blogs that clearly just review product after product, raving about each one! It is more of an issue outside of the green community I think, personally.
      I know that if one of the lovely small business owners contacted me and were generous enough to send me a product I would feel very obliged to be kind in my review, especially as a lot of them cannot afford big advertising budgets, etc. I know that is not the case for everyone, I just struggle to separate the emotional human side out of it... that's my personal weakness and I am aware of it! I think I would do best to steer away from that issue altogether.
      There is no right or wrong and, as I said, I love reading reviews and I know that we wouldn't hear about some of the great, smaller brands if blogs like yours didn't get their name out there... but I will leave that to you experts ;-)
      Thanks for reading, understanding and commenting, lovely to hear from you xx

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this, it's refreshing tbh and I totally understand where your coming from. My blog isn't total a no go for PR samples but so far I've turned down several opportunities, for the fact that the product ip wasn't for my skin type, hair type etc but I can see probably the majority say yes I think I think a blog can really lose its identity....

    http://subjectbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. That's a good balance Rinica, I think you've got it right there. No point accepting/reviewing something you never would have bought in a million years. thanks so much for reading and getting in touch xx

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  4. Thanks for your very honest opinion and you are totally right about it. What i don't like to see is when people seem to churn out one PR post after another without any sort of personal posts in between, it's really boring and a bit of a turn off. I have come to the conclusion that it really is best to make your own products, and when I do accept PR samples I check to make sure their company ethics and ingredients are what I am happy with to put on my skin/hair/wherever before I accept. However, apart from the few I have accepted before the new year, I will only accept samples now on a limited basis as I want to concentrate on creating my own. I really admire you for having strong ethics though :-) Thanks for sharing dear xx

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    1. That is so true Louise, you become just an advertising platform not a blog!! I don't follow those blogs, I think you can spot them a mile off and I avoid them! Good on you for doing more DIY!! yay! you can be in complete control of what's in your products and what you are putting on your skin.
      Thanks so much for your kind support and understanding, it really is lovely to hear :-)
      Rach xx

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  5. What a refreshing and honest post Rachel and good for you for upholding your principles. Although I am a relatively new blogger, I have been surprised and a little unsettled at the number of PR samples I have been offered so far. I have made a conscious decision to only accept samples of products that I would happily buy myself, rather than taking every offer I get and which fit with the ethos of my blog. I think, particularly as a new blogger, it is easy to get a little starry-eyed when companies start offering you freebies and there is undoubtedly pressure to do a positive review. Fortunately, I have loved the few samples I have accepted but I think if I tried a sample that I was not happy with, I would still feel comfortable highlighting any negatives, although if it was really bad, I think I would probably contact the person who sent me the sample and decline to leave a review at all.

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    1. Well done to you for only accepting what you think you would have bought anyway, I think that is a good rule to keep in your head when deciding. I worry that my self control would not last (you've probably seen how badly I've done in no buy January!) and I would get swept up in the beauty and excitement of it all!!
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting xx

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  6. Nice post miss!!!
    I always try no matter what in the reviews I have done to highlight the positive and negative sides of the products....in order to give a fair overview.
    xx

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    1. Thank you! :-)
      I think it is always pretty clear whether a review is genuine or not, I find a balanced review much more useful.
      Rach xx

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  7. You have great reasons for not accepting PR samples and you're right, sometimes I find myself being a little less mean (but still totally honest) in my reviews when the product was sent to me. I too like to switch out one product at a time, it's the only true way to tell if the product is working. That's why it takes me forever to write reviews and can't understand how some bloggers review products within a couple of weeks AND just love every product they try. Boggles my mind!

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    1. It's really great to hear that someone genuinely 'gets' what I'm saying and I'm so glad you know what I mean :-) thanks so much for reading, Rach xx

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  8. As a brand who sends PR Samples I enjoyed reading you post, and its something which is definately getting talked about at the moment. Its so difficult for brands also, as I have been innundated by requests for items and as a small relatively new company I have ZERO PR budget, so fund the items myself - full size, as we dont do samples (yet) - Its good to know that you are raising awareness of this, and your post hasn't scared me off as a brand at all, as it lovely to see a honest genuine opinion which isn't confrontational or bashing anyone - Great post Rach- Suzie x

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    1. I know that it is a great way for smaller brands to get their name out there and I am sure PR samples are very important to you... which is why I wouldn't want accept anything from you as I would feel awful if I didn't like it/get on with it! I would find it so hard to write anything less than positive about anything you sent me... which is ultimately wrong. Although I would not want to mislead my readers but I wouldn't want to upset you either! If, however a large faceless brand sent me something it would be much easier to be honest. Maybe I personally cannot accept PR samples because I would feel too obliged to be positive and that is my personality - I know others wouldn't feel such a strong obligation.
      I'm so glad that you didn't find this post confrontational, it is not meant to be at all. We can continue to chat on twitter and when I have some make up money I can buy some of your products :-) I don't write many reviews on my site anyway as it is so hard - what is ideal for one person is the opposite for others! What I see as a good point could be a deal breaker for others.
      Anyway, I could carry on for aaages! best stop now :-)
      Rach xx

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    2. Bless you, the whole idea of samples is to get honest opinions of it, its a risk a brand will take a good brand isnt afraid of any criticism - after all thats how we improve, learn and move forward. I really apprciate your openess and integrity - and love the fact I am not a faceless company :)
      Best wishes Suzie xx

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  9. Hi Rachel - I'm relatively new to your blog and it's interesting to read a post like this. It's an honest take on a sometimes awkward subject. I have the same issue with sponsored posts which bloggers get paid for. That for me is probably more offensive and you often find the blogger loses their writer's voice in it all. However, with product reviews I have accepted free samples both from smaller brands and PRs. I used to work in marketing and PR myself and you would often get samples in goodie bags at events that journalists would pick up and could cast their opinion on. Free PR samples isn't anything new and this is a new way of doing this sort of thing but more in the online arena. I think blogging is now seen more as an addition to journalism in magazines and the media as a whole. We are very influential and for me that's why integrity and transparency is crucial to being a blogger. However, can you fully believe what you read in a magazine either? Probably not. It's just one person's opinion after all. I only accept samples from companies I have an interest in and feel would add something to my blog and would be something that my readers would want to read about. I also feel it's important to give some background to the brand / company so the post has some depth and interest rather than just a post about a product. Unlike yourself I do not feel obliged to write a glowing review if I feel some things were not up to scratch. How can a brand grow or change if they don't get feedback. Also what works for me may not work for you so I think we need to read a review and take elements from it that resonate with us and discard the rest. I know that if I hadn't agreed to accept some PR samples I wouldn't have come across and been able to share with my readers some of the fabulous brands I have found. It also helped me in finding brands for my online boutique in addition to what I already knew about. Another point is that for me it's like a trade off. I write a post that can take up to 2 hours to write and upload once pictures have been taken and made to look pretty for example. So, for me it's a mutually beneficial relationship. We all need to be mindful of who we accept a sample from, being truthful and honest about our findings (and talking to the brand if we have doubts), and making sure we do the product justice by using it for at least 4 weeks if a skincare product. I have also learnt to enter competitions now too. I have had some great wins and this can be another fab way to get hold of products that I may not have had access to before. Looking forward to reading more of your blog over time :) xx

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    1. PS: So sorry it's an essay ! Got carried away. Eeek ! xx

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    2. I think it's amazing that my post prompted such a long comment :-) I know that magazines get things free, I always take their recommendations with a pinch of salt...
      I think essentially I don't see myself like a 'normal' beauty blogger, I don't generally use products as such, I use honey to cleanse, pure oils (not blends) to moisturise and so on...
      Where some people will always be honest there are those bloggers who don't want to 'bite the hand that feeds them' by giving anything a bad review! But, they are easy to spot and I avoid them.
      I know that this is how the world works... but... it just doesn't fit with my aims of my blog. I set out to share my DIYs and my knowledge, learn from other people... I'm not too bothered about sharing my opinions on products unless they are outstanding or awful. If you look through my blog I have only ever done 4 reviews over 9 months! It's just not my thing, so if I accepted samples it would change my blog over all and I'm just not comfortable with that.
      Again, as I say a few times in my post I have no problem with the practice, I just don't want to do it myself. I read lots of blogs that do reviews and you can see which ones are balanced and honest, I think.
      Just a small thing - you say you wouldn't have found some brands without PR samples but, if they had contacted you and offered a discount code (or similar) you could have still experienced the product? I have been buying a lot of samples recently (Kris d'amour, bloom remedies, etc) and I buy things in the sale. I also enjoy getting small, free samples in with my order so I can experience new brands without any kind of spoken or unspoken obligation to review (positive or otherwise).
      There is no judgement from me - I know that this is how the world goes round, I used to work for a recruitment agency when I was 18 and I'd take merchandising and food treats to clients on a weekly basis. I know it's not the same but I also never assumed that the journalist in the magazine had bought the product with her own cash!
      Sorry my thoughts have come out all jumbled up!! I hope it makes sense still :-/
      Rach xx

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    3. It does Rach and I completely respect your standpoint. I always question myself and my motives when it comes to blogging and I love the fact that you have a strong ethic to go in a certain direction. Go you xx No judgement from me and I look forward to reading more of your blog. I watched your Femme Cup and Smoothie Maker Vlogs. Really good. May have found a multi purpose blender for our caravan :) And you may have finally convinced me to make that jump to a cup xx

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