When PRs Won’t Talk!
There’s nothing like a PR silence to get you wondering what on earth you did wrong. Bloggers get dropped like stones all the time for reasons that none of us will probably ever know. I have to admit, it doesn’t happen to me often – rarely, in fact – but it’s happened recently with a fashion brand, and it’s enough of a sharp reminder for me do a post on it.
I hear from bloggers a lot, worried that they’ve fallen off certain press lists, but the way things have worked out, probably nobody is certain to be there forever. There are gazillions of bloggers, so PRs can pick and choose as much as they like. And beauty blogs have such numbers that even if you’re right up there with the stats, it’s no guarantee.
So, why does it matter? In a lot of cases, it doesn’t matter – information on all brands is spread across the internet (even early info and sneak peeks all make their way online regardless of release dates) and there are usually pictures, too. And, if you want to swatch, there’s always the shops! So, there’s always a way around sharing information you really want to share with your readers.
Most brands are happy to send out samples to established bloggers, and for those with higher numbers, it’s an easy win for them. In an established relationship you know how it works. If a product is flagged on a very high stats blog, then the tables are turned somewhat – the blogger is giving far more in coverage than could be considered equal to a few lipsticks. But that’s really not what it’s about – it’s about working with a mutual respect for each other. I’ve been dropped from a couple of agencies and in-house brands for giving less than favourable reviews – and conversely, I’ve also refused to work with a couple of brands – but I could buy and blog them as much as I want to, in theory, and still in a truthful way. If I thought that failing PR relationships would stop me giving truthful reviews, I might as well give up right now.
Nonetheless, if you feel as a blogger you have an established relationship with a PR, and suddenly you’re dropped like a stone, I think it’s incumbent upon the PR not to leave you guessing. We can all respect honesty – what I find hard to respect is the cowardly no-reply.
So, I’ll give you my experience as an example. I was invited to a fashion press day (several times) with the sweetener that their client wanted to gift me a pair of boots. The reason they wanted to gift was because last time I blogged about them, the brand got a lot of click throughs. As they would – they’re an amazing product. Now, I already have those boots, and didn’t really want or need another pair, but since I live in them during winter, I went to the press show. While there, I saw another brand’s (looked after by the same agency) pair of boots which I wanted. Looking through the emails, my exact words were, “could I have a sample” for photography (in fashion, it is expected unless expressly stated that samples are exactly that – as in, you give them back), and then asking the PR if she could let me know when they go on-line. In my email, I also say “I am happy to buy my own”. That’s totally clear (and in fact, they’re on order right now) but if they had pre-samples I’d like a pair.
Since I’ve shown up to the show, there has been maybe one email, and literally nothing ever since. And this is from a PR that emailed every single week without fail (and interestingly, is still emailing a couple of writers for Thebeautyplus.com). I know I sent plenty of click throughs to the website because I can track them. I don’t mind if there are no samples, to keep or otherwise, because I’ve already got the one pair and have the other on order! I phoned to request an image.. the PR was mysteriously in a meeting, having all but bitten the phone in half with eagerness before. I guess I could have used an internet sourced image from the get-go and bypassed the PR altogether, which is mostly what I do anyway in these circumstances – but you know, I thought we got on great! The brand has totally missed out on coverage so far which is a disservice from their PR who promised to let me know when they’d gone live. It’s not a freebie = blog post – I’ve bought them.. I’ll probably be blogging them anyway, it’s just a lack of information right down the line for no apparent reason.
The whole PR/Blogger relationship is always up for debate – I sometimes feel very down and fed up about the fact that everyone always wants something. Like, there is no room for real friendships because the need for coverage consistently gets in the way. I keep my barriers up and on the odd occasion that I’ve let them down I’ve been stung. One bitten, twice shy, etc. And, it’s quite a painful experience when the penny drops that it never was what you thought it was. I have a small handful of PR ‘friends’ that I see out of work for chats and dinner and it’s always lovely, but I’m always a little on the back-foot and just waiting for the sting – which actually is pretty unfair on them when you think about it.
As a blogger, I am a big time-resource for PRs – I know it. I post between 3 and 5 times a day, do my research for hours so I sometimes know what their brands are doing before they do! Most are patient to the point of saintliness. But my experience with the fashion brand will be a very familiar one to lots of beauty bloggers who find themselves on the end of a silence. If the PR or brand won’t reply, they won’t reply. You can’t make them, but what you can do is be the better person and lay that relationship to rest without banging nails into it. Let it go. Lots of brands will be thrilled to have your coverage, lots of brands will realise that samples are irrelevant if you’re passionate about beauty and lots will understand your commitment and value. It’s just the odd few letting the side down and the fact is, I will probably never, ever know what went wrong. Silence is like that.
*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.