Lovely Followers

Monday, 15 March 2010

Eyes Wide Shut - when blogging becomes a hazardous occupation.

I received a product this morning from a regular and lovely PR contact in a make up company. At first I was delighted, then my heart sank and I felt melancholy. The reason for that is not because I was disappointed with the product, far from it in fact. My experience over the last week with another company has just left me with a sour taste in my mouth about reviewing.

The point of this article is not to slur any reputations but to share my not so pleasant experience and some of the negative aspects of blogging about things we love!

This subject resurfaces a lot on blogs, twitter, facebook and in general chats with other bloggers. If you think PR agencies are frustrating and sometimes a little cold then after reading this, you will look at them differently. I now look at them with the fondness they deserve at trying to manage bloggers and their clients. I have never met an unfriendly or unprofessional PR company. To my face they are utterly lovely and if they have any opinions to the contrary about me I would hope that they would vent them suitably professionally manner too!

I must say this is a first for me and I will go on to explain the story for you. *deep breath*

I approach a company to review their products as they look interesting and I haven't heard of their products before.

A delighted owner writes back and sends me some products to try, I did not ask for any products in particular and said that any products would be gratefully received. To be honest, samples would have been fine but I was sent full sized products. I take my time in using the products and when asked how I am getting on, I tell them the truth. The products are lovely but there is an issue about one of them that I can't get on with and don't like.

Instead of asking for more details or offering me guidance, they simply say that it is a personal issue and that's the end of it.

I then make a video review listing it in my favourite products for it is still a wonderful product and has helped my skin no end. I of course mention the aspect I don't like, and probably in overly graphic terms but it's all true and I stand by it.

I then receive not one, not two, not three but four long, offensive and threatening emails from the owner who wants to pursue legal action against me unless I take the video down.

What would you do? I talked to a few colleagues and friends for their opinion. They see that I have done nothing wrong, phew.

I decided not to take the video down and replied to the emails in a very professional and polite manner. I could of course see that they were very upset that they had sent me products and I didn't give them a 100% glowing review and that I got some of the details incorrect about the method and system. I attempted to correct the mistakes with annotations so people now have the correct information about it.

More emails ensue with even more personal attacks, insults, threats and demands. I suggested a phone call but they didn't want that. I also suggested a blog review clearing up the inaccuracies they felt had come out of my video. But I would not take the video down as I stand by my review and there is nothing libellous contained within it. I think they preferred to just hurl abuse at me in emails rather than sort it out.

I don't really care to be honest. I read the exhaustive literature on the website and in the packaging. I followed it for a bit and it wasn't really suiting me so decided to use it how I saw fit and how I got results best. In my reviews I always say to go to the official website for more information, it is not possible to give every bit of information in a video that is five minutes long!

In the end, I decided not to respond to any more emails as it was not really a resolution that was wanted, just more abuse. I happily sent payment for the items as requested. I didn't even want half the products but paid for them all anyway.

I am not malicious though, I prefer not to mention the company because I do not wish to harm a business or bring about bad feeling. I am not recommending or warning anyone off the products either. I will simply seek alternatives when they are finished and tell you all about those! I believe in Karma, what goes around, comes around.

I believe that I have behaved with empathy, respect and honesty. I have paid for the products which were sent to me for free review, I now feel completely unbiased.

The owner then emailed me (more emails *sigh*) to tell me that they had been approached by another blogger to review the products. My heart sank again and went out to the other poor blogger, who I then emailed to warn her of the wrath of this company at any negative feedback.

The point is that the owner has the right to reply to the video, I have no problem with that. That is the beauty of the system. We review because we want products to be better, if they can be made so. I am not the expert, I am just someone who has an opinion and I am willing to share it. Instead of taking this opportunity, the owner has decided to take a heavy handed approach. I am not going to break my own rules and be pressurised in to taking down a review because they don't like it. If I did that, what kind of reviewer would I be?

The difference in dealing directly with a small company and with a PR agency is simple. Any PR which gets a brand noticed and establishes credibility is given a pat on the back when reporting back to their client. Good for them, they at least do some research spend time communicating with people, it's not an easy task at all!

I struggle to see how an honest review can be taken badly unless you truly don't want to hear about it? Name me a company that thinks that they know better than their customers? I feel that it is in the customers' best interest to have the opportunity to feedback and improve products for everyone else.

It makes me wonder if PR companies feel like this when I place negative reviews about products they have sent me? Of course I feel bad, but it is an opportunity to gain respect for taking that feedback and improving products that will bring in more customers.

I urge you all to make sure that when you review you are upfront with those expecting reviews. Make sure they know that just because they send you a product it does not mean you will review the product and more importantly that it will be a favourable one. A decent company will accept this point. I often send an email outlining the review so they have a chance to respond and help with any issues before the article is published. I personally think this makes for a more rounded review unless you like the shock value or writing scathing reviews! Be aware that scathing reviews work both ways and only dish it out if you can take it.


  1. Oh no, sounds absolutely awful!
    This is unfortunately where ignorance sets in on the other side; it’s baffling why a small company that needs this kind of PR should treat you in such a disgusting manner, instead of offering you an alternative product to suit your skin type better and resolve your ‘personal issue’ they choose to do the complete opposite. What the hell for…? Someone should clearly tell them that word gets around as they clearly don’t understand the implications of treating their reviewers… who in turn speak to new/existing customers can have on their sales!

    As well as companies ‘educating’ us on their products it’s also about us the bloggers educating them on the power of the World Wide Web!!!!

  2. The whole point of reviewing a product is to tell a person about the good and the bad you had with the product, even though it might not effect them in the same way.

    I would agree with you, you had a problem with the product and you told people about it.

    I find it appalling that the owner went on such a rampage. There products won't suit everyone, and they have to deal with that.

  3. Thanks for making other bloggers (like me a newbie) aware of things like this Jasmine.

  4. What a shame Jasmine. I imagine it's really put you off the brand, as well as the company. And that's a real shame.
    I feel sorry that you had to pay for products you were sent for free. A review is just that...a review, your thoughts. You should be entitled to say what you want about products and companies should expect (and respect)that.
    Hope this all gets sorted soon xxx

  5. How someone as sweet as you could aggravate someone is beyond me (yes, I'm a huge suck up).

    How can they expect you to review something and lie about it?

    Plus, I'd like to see what legal action they want to take against you. I hate when people bandy "legal action" around willy nilly when they don't have a clue about it themselves.

  6. thats awful!! I can't believe they treated you like that...Sounds like they were just out to get you to pay for the products that they sent you for FREE

  7. Good lord. I'm shocked. To send you aggressive communication because you didn't like something about a product, despite promoting the positives?

    Maybe the company is ignorant of what you would do (ie review and YT) with the product, and is inexperienced in dealing with the truthful nature of bloggers and just expected some free advertising? That's all I can think of.

    Companies I have dealt with have welcomed constructive criticism as this is the only way they can improve a formula and gauge the reaction of the person on the street. The mere fact that this organisation chose not to do that, and employed bullying tactics instead makes me sad for you.

    Personally I would have handled things in exactly the same way.

  8. OMG I'm so sad to hear about this, it sounds awful. I can't believe they made you pay for the items either. It's a great point to mention when speaking to a PR company not to expect a review or even a favourable one. My heart goes out to you and I wish I could give you a hug! X

  9. OMG.. this is quite ridiculous. I felt quite sorry for you, but then they have no rights to sue you either. Support!

  10. I'm really sorry but you're right so all my support is with you! Good luck, hun xxx

  11. Thank you all for your support and thoughts on this matter. I have brooded about it for days before writing this article a few days ago. It nearly ruined my birthday too as I couldn't relax - even in a spa!! It feels good to have it out in the open and to know what you all think.

  12. Thanks for sharing this with us. I appreciate the fact that you are so honest and stick to your principles.

  13. WOW what idiots. you stand your ground girl...what the heck. Its not like you do paid reviews and it was part of the contract for you to sing songs about that product. screw them!

  14. Happy belated birthday dear. :) And I have to note how classy you are in this post for not mentioning the company by name. This is just a very helpful post for bloggers who are just starting to be approached for reviews, etc. Whenever I get approached by email, I write to them the terms upon which I agree to accept the product. If they agree, I do the review. You're the best Jasmine, keep your head high. :)

  15. I am shocked! That is really bad on their part, I would have just returned the products rather than paying for them, unless they set out in your contact with them that taking the products meant that they would receive a positive review then they haven't a leg to stand on. I would be grateful if you could message me who it is, so i can avoid them at all costs, even if their products are good I don't ever want to spend money on their crap company. Thanks babe, hope you can forget about them and have a nice week x

  16. This is terrible! If they can't take criticism then why do they bother sending their products to be reviewed? If a product sucks then sooner or later the consumers will know about it. And even if by chance one of us bloggers had bought the specific product, there would be a negative review anyway. We have opinions and have the right to share them and they cannot do anything about it!
    You did very well to keep your video up and I'm sorry that you had to pay for the products.
    Thank you for this very useful post!

  17. I totally get you here... I one received a product with a clear "no strings attached" policy, yet whenever I said something negative about it, the company that sponsored the product would pressure the PR company, and they would call me in horror asking to remove the info.

    *sigh* I wonder if in future brand owners realize that bloggers who actually bash the product from time to time, are actually more believable

  18. wow, what an awful thing to happen to you. I'm sorry that you were unable to relax, and I hope that getting off your chest has helped somewhat.

  19. This is awful!really awful...I would be very worried about such a threating beacuse you know, I'm not a lawyer,a dn I don't know what they could really do.I'm sorry for you,you seem to be an honest girl :)

  20. You paid them for the items and have every right to post an opinion if it's clear that it's a personal view.
    That's what bloggers do. I don't want to read industry-produced or endorsed hype. I want authentic blogging. Sorry to hear about the intimidation but I am so glad you stuck to your guns!
    I don't blog but I think it must be safer on the whole NOT to accept freebies even though I would be HUGELY tempted to do so.
    You did nothing wrong.

  21. That's so ridiculous and infuriating!

    Pasiphae makes a great point though, we 'd know about the bad product sooner or later!
    Or maybe it didn't work out for you, but so what? Surely they don't expect that their products are suited for EVERYone?!?

    I don't get why they expected you to lie and behaved like that! So sorry that you had to go through this, but you did more than enough (I would have sent the products back too)!


  22. Don't ever stop being honest, don't bend your own morals for anyone.

    Next time someone tries to intimidate you, throw it in the bin. You're doing nothing wrong, being sent free samples or full products is not payment for a biased review.

    Chin up!


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