Lovely Followers

Thursday, 2 September 2010

When to say No.

I am approached nearly daily by beauty PR agencies and brands that want to advertise in some way on my OxfordJasmine blog and YouTube. I am always on the lookout for exciting new products to try and tell you about. But half the time I wouldn’t get to hear about it otherwise without this vital contact.

This isn’t a post ranting about PR agencies and the ramifications of paid for posts, sorry. I have no problem with either of those subjects and I don't want to rehash old arguments. PR intervention in blogging is here to stay but it is up to us to set the rules, each to their own. This is just a post offering insight in to my decision making process as to whether I accept an offer to review.

When considering an offer from a company, firstly I ask myself

Does their product excite me? If it excites me then it is likely to be an interesting read for you.
Do I really want to try it?
Would I buy it to review anyway? If not, why not?
Is it cruelty free?
Is it accessible for the majority of my audience?
Who else have they approached (everyone?)?
Does this product reflect my style and persona?

Secondly, I consider the tone and language of the email itself.

Is this a general email, am I addressed by name?
What are they offering in return for my help? This is really important. If it’s someone I know and like then it’s a no brainer. If it’s someone new and unfamiliar then I have to consider whether they deserve my help! I am helping, this is not a formal contractual arrangement or service I am providing! I am putting in my “professional” opinion and time. Not to mention photographing, videoing and all of those take resources and time.
Is my blog or YouTube mentioned?
Do they know I am a cruelty free reviewer?

Then I research the company, especially if I haven’t heard of them before

Main website - about the company
In the news?
Cruelty free
Are there any other reviews?

Then I make my decision and sometimes I reply, and sometimes I do not.

Now I also approach companies, to review their products, based on my research of their products, ethos and willingness to engage with social media. I have always assumed they will say no, which I think is the best way to prepare yourself! If they say no, which so far they haven’t, and I am sufficiently interested, I will buy the product and review it anyway, no hard feelings.

I also approach bloggers and YouTube reviewers as part of my job. I am extremely good at it because I have been on the other side too. I cannot be anything but honest and I am choosy about who I contact and why. I am always polite and often my emails come as a nice surprise! I offer the reviewer the opportunity to choose their items for review, unless it is for a particular launch. I don’t expect a review on every single item, or even at all. I am happy to receive feedback privately or via a post or video. It’s all really useful.

There are distinct similarities between reviewing and purchase decision making. We know that brands spend a lot of effort, time and money considering their marketing messages to their customers. You may think I mean you, but I don’t. You and I are secondary customers for most make up brands. The primary customer is not a person but a business like a department store or Boots/Superdrug. We buy what they set out for us. Direct to consumer is the way forwards for purchasing as they really do want to know what you think to make their products better.

The conclusion I have reached and the advice I want to give is this:

Never be afraid to say No and stay true to your blog and its audience.

What do you think?


  1. Interesting post. I turn down a lot of offers as they're items that I have no interest in buying myself. I used to be nervous of saying no but realised ages ago that if I feel "forced" to write a review then I'm not going to enjoy it.

    Funnily enough, most companies reply with a "ok, just let us know if you change your mind", but the some contact lens & fake tan companies have got shitty with me over it. Some seem to take it as an insult when I don't want to waste their time and money on a product I'm not at all interested in.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. The day you allow your blog posts to be dictated to you is the day it loses its integrity. Well said Jasmine! X

  3. Very thoughtful post - thank you. I just wish the 'distinct similarities between reviewing and purchase decision making' included the mindfulness you use choosing what to review. If I was that mindful I'd have more money and less stash, and I don't think I'd be any less satisfied with my makeup collection. xx

  4. I sometimes don't respond at all just because I have said no before and have been emailed with a load of abuse for not wanting to try their product!

  5. Really interesting and thought provoking post - thank you! It's good to see another bloggers 'process' and how you take things. In some ways I understand it from both sides to as have been working in PR for the past few years - so I know the expectations of the 'informal' relationship between brands & bloggers.

    This has really made me thing about how I decide on which emails I reply to. Generally, like you - it comes down to 'does the product excite me' and in recent months I have started to glaze over when I spot a brand that has been everywhere - it's not going to be interested to me or readers if I have already seen it a 100 times!

    Anyway, not going to go on too much - but thank you for putting this out there, really interesting and has made me reflect on what influences me with blogging. x

  6. A very interesting post. As yet I really haven't had much in the way of this sort of contact. I had wondered how easy it was to say No though. There are a number of brands that seem to be quite liberal with their sending out items for review. Most of these are brands that don't interest me. I hope if I am ever contacted that I can remain true to myself and not act on flattery!

  7. Well said, Jasmine! I hope that some ladies will read your point of view and remember what the true aim of beauty blogging is. Unfortunately, make up brands haven't contacted me yet (maybe I'm too honest sometimes *g*)but a funny incident happened last months instead. A German girl asked me in English (well, she could have contacted me in German, too) if I could provide her some beauty products to review as she thought that I were a PR lady of a beauty company. Very odd but funny! :-)


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