#bbloggers is a really good event on Twitter every Sunday night where beauty bloggers all come together to discuss topics relevant to beauty blogging. Quite often, it will cover camera equipment, how to raise stats, certain looks and a whole heap of great conversation that everyone can join in on. It’s good for new bloggers to e-meet other bloggers and its good for older bloggers to keep with what’s going on in beauty blogging world. I always tune in if I can.
One topic comes up many, many more times than anything else, and that is how to get hold of PR samples to blog about. So, in plain speak, with no frills, here’s my view.
· Back in the day, there were relatively few bloggers paving the way with beauty blogging in the UK. Many of them got samples because it was a new way of communicating that brands were keen to find out more about and experiment with.
· We know that blogs are one of the most effective ways to communicate how a product works and to showcase new shades or items.
· BUT, everything has changed since the old days. There are thousands and thousands of beauty bloggers now and there will never be enough samples to go round.
· A PR has to justify why he/she is sending free products to bloggers.
· Therefore, a blogger has to justify why she/he should have them in the first place.
· That could be from showing them a cut and paste from that day’s Google Analytics to give solid proof that your audience is big enough to make it a worthwhile process for the PR. If you have fifty readers, no. If you have 500 readers, no. If you have 5000 then yes, maybe. If you have 50,000, definitely, and so on. Because those are the numbers we are talking about now, and that’s per month.. not ever.
· It could be that your blog has a point of difference that defines it as a specific or niche market that other bloggers don’t cover that often (for example a hair blog or cellulite/weight loss blog) in which case high stats aren’t quite as relevent.
· It is purely by good fortune and early adoption of beauty blogging that the ‘older’ bloggers established good and loyal followings and over a period of years.. not weeks, not months, but years have built up solid stats.
· PR departments usually run as a business, with budgets, forecasts and everything else, and one PR department may be rich in samples, others may have literally six or seven samples of any one product.
· I have never heard of a PR department with more than 200 samples of any one product. And that’s to go round newspapers, magazines, on-line magazines and then blogs. Because blog readerships are generally lower than print, the print is the priority – many magazines have a circulation of 200,000+ readers per month. I don’t know a Uk beauty blog that can match that yet.
· A PR’s job is to get eyes on product. That could be via magazines, papers, TV, in-store advertising or blogs. There will never be enough samples to satisfy the amount of people that feel they need them. You could liken it to making a batch of 12 cupcakes and then 150 friends ask for one each. Cannot be done.
· I’ve seen bloggers asking for samples when it is very clear that their blogs are not gathering a big readership. There is nothing wrong at all in having a small blog, nothing. But in PR business terms, you can see why not everyone can get what they want.
Asking is fine. There is no rule about who can and can’t ask. However, as blogging gets more and more noticed, it can land you in trouble if you ask for the wrong reasons. The definition of fraud is deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. Which is where the ‘shopping list’ bloggers could end up in a whole heap of trouble they didn’t expect.
· It isn’t about deserving.. whether you do or don’t deserve.. its not even about how hard you work on your blog.. whatever is sent to you has to be justified at head office level and unless you are putting a lot of eyes on product, it simply isn’t justifiable. Whether or not that is fair is another thing entirely, but that’s how it works.
· Bloggers who treat PRs like a gifting service are quickly weeded out and dropped. Fact.
· DO email PRs letting them know who you are and what your blog is about. Letting them know you exist is crucial. But if you write, ‘Hi I started my blog two weeks ago, please could you send some samples?’, forget it. The mere fact of having a blog is not enough. Not even nearly. You will be in junk mail quicker than you can say, ‘it’s not fair’.
· Surprise the PR. Print off some of the posts you are proudest of and post them with a covering letter introducing yourself and just saying hello. Sometimes, just doing things a little differently might get you noticed in the crowd.
· If you audience is small, then prove how well they engage; collate your comments about an item you have posted about from the brand you want to talk to and send the collation to show that the product was well received and there was good interaction around it. One small blog might receive fifty comments on one product – that’s excellent. So show the PRs what you have that’s different.
Good interaction on all social media bases, such as Twitter, FB, Tumblr and Pinterest will also help to show that you have an interactive audience across all bases.
That’s all folks. If it sounds harsh, it’s because it is now a very different environment. Samples raining on bloggers heads is a thing of myth and goes back to when there were very few bloggers all getting the same samples. The simple fact is that less got more, but those days are gone. Only each individual blogger will know their own reason to blog about beauty, but genuinely, if you’re in it for free beauty, you have an uphill climb.