Every now and again, blogging goes through a subtle change that’s probably not noticeable to blog readers, but certainly is to bloggers. At the moment, there’s definitely something in the air. I know I’m not the only one feeling it. So, if you’re not interested in what happens at the back end of blogs click away now!
It’s actually quite difficult to explain – without sounding like the world’s most self-centred and entitled person – what it is like to be a blogger in today’s beauty environment. However, a recent experience that actually happened to other bloggers (I didn’t, thankfully, attend the event) sums it up. A brand invited bloggers to an afternoon tea (clearly stated as such on the invitation) and to look at products. The bloggers duly turned up right on time to see journalists being ushered out of a sit-down lunch in the same venue, while the bloggers were side-lined into a small room and offered a few canapes and a goodie bag.
Now, canapes are lovely, of course, but I think if you’re invited to one thing and it turns out that you gave up your afternoon for a canape, that’s another thing entirely. And exactly at the heart of blogger outreach at the moment, where bloggers are obviously given the second-class seats. It’s just an assumption that bloggers only come out for free stuff and you can throw a canape at them, pretend it’s tea, and the job is done. Clearly, this is absolutely nothing to do with the journalists; they didn’t organise it!
If I say that I have been told recently that I’m not an approved blogger for a fragrance brand (which isn’t all that premium by the way) and therefore not ‘allowed’ to blog it, if I say that a premium make up brand allows journalists to Instagram all their forthcoming ranges, but I’m not ‘allowed’ to do so because I’m a blogger, and if I say that I’m now excluded from a brand that I’ve supported all the way since its inception because I don’t get along with the PR (apparently), then it gives you an idea of the landscape. This is alongside being told I can’t blog a make-up brand because I’m not on their select list and being on the butt end and embarrassment of a brand asking another blogger who they should choose between my site and another to send products to… you can see why it all gets demoralising.
In fact, I’m the first to take control of the situation and opt out. I will no longer work with several brands at all because their attitude to bloggers as second class freebie bagging blaggers is so horrible. There will definitely be a decline in the range of brands I’m blogging about because it seems more dignified for me and more respectful to readers if I choose not to take part in external wrangles. I don’t focus on what other bloggers or vloggers are doing, I completely mind my own business and focus on what’s going on for my readers on my own site, because that’s where my passion lies. But for all the great brands that really do understand how important social and influencers are to their growth, there are many now that see bloggers as the tail end use of whatever budget they have left.
It is absolutely expected of bloggers to be part of the PR party – to promote when you’re told to promote and to generally boost brand exposure and sales through coverage. That’s 100% not my job. It’s not my job to sell products to readers, and it’s not my job to join in mass coverage to tick somebody else’s numbers box. It’s my job, where appropriate, to cover products I think are relevant to my readers in some sort of way that allows them to make a purchase decision, or to form their own view, or even to include them in the flipside of beauty world. It’s an absolute horror of mine that someone who has saved hard and long for a coveted product on my recommendation absolutely hates it. We all know the disappointment of a product that fails.
I cannot collude with the beauty industry’s attitude sometimes that consumers are there to be fooled into buying products. I just can’t. PRs get nowhere near actual consumers, and brands don’t really either, at the decision making end. It’s why the connection between bloggers and their readers is so vital. Because there is nobody else creating this communication bridge. So, to be told – out loud – that it’s not really my choice whether I blog a product or not (i.e. I’m supposed to blog everything come what may) is rather rich. You will also find a definite freeze out if you’re not any other than hysterically enthusiastic.
So, I guess you could say that the change is in seeing bloggers purely as PR portals, but unimportant and stupid ones, too. I can’t stand to see other bloggers treated like that, and nor can I stand being treated like that myself. So, it’s up to every blogger to deal with it in whatever way they see fit, but for me, I’m the one that jumps early from working with brands that have no respect for the on-line community before I end up so demoralised that I press delete.
You know, it’s not about the food – canapes or lunch – who cares really about that? But if you’re made to feel inferior from the get-go by actions or words at anything or by anyone, then my advice is to retain your dignity and jump ship!
*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.