My stats are telling me that views are down on this blog. Gloomy news, but its made me sit up and think. This started off as an insider beauty blog – and in fact I began it anonymously – but even I can see that other than the odd ‘first look’, there isn’t much thats ‘insider’ about it now. Let me explain why. First of all, the beauty press in the UK is small in numbers – like really small. Everyone knows everyone, and that’s across the board; magazines, newspapers, PRs and marketing people, buyers and brands. So to operate anonymously is nigh on impossible – if a PR shows me a new product, and I know I am the first to see it, if it then appears a few hours later on BBB, its kind of obvious that it’s my blog! So, it’s now an open blog, with nothing, including figures and my identity, hidden. At the beginning, when blogging was so new to the UK, it took a huge leap of faith for PRs to let me have product information and pictures ahead of anyone else. And it took quite some time for the rest of the beauty media to cotton on that blogging might sprout into the mighty combined force that it now is. If I feature something on my blog, nine times out of ten, the PR gets a call in from a publication on that product because they want to feature it, too. Job done, you’d think: PR’s happy, I’m happy and BBB readers are happy. Oh, no. It is just never that simple. The state of play as it stands now is that magazines are openly asking that products aren’t released to bloggers ahead of them featuring it. In fact, in the case of one designer lipstick which is still under strict embargo despite being seen in US Vogue then UK Vogue (in that order) but not on their websites (because you know us bloggers for snooping about the web) as it has yet to be featured in one more key print publication before anyone else can even sniff at it. I’ve never officially been told of its existence, so to all intents and purposes I don’t know it’s even embargoed if I ‘don’t know’ about the product. In fact, the silence has been deafening from that department! Which is why it was on my blog two weeks ago. I’m just not bowing to the pressure yet I am very much aware it is there. But, I have been posting bland for want of a better word because it isn’t easy bucking the trend all the time. And, if I do it all the time, I’ll become my own worst enemy. As it is, some PRs are holding back on issuing bloggers, or me..who knows…with information because they know they’ll get it in the neck from the mags. I’ve discussed it with a senior person from the lipstick brand. ‘It’s difficult, it’s difficult’, she said. Damn right it is, but you try being the person excluded from any info at all and see how that one feels, honey. And you can also bet your bottom dollar that after all the Topshop make up exclusives have been in print, they’ll be sniffing around on line for coverage too. I don’t say bloggers shouldn’t feature it, but who wants to be second best? I don’t want that for me or for BBB readers. So, things are on the change in beauty land and it’s something of a slog at the moment…just when you think you’re making progress, you slide a few steps back. I was just at an industry awards ceremony that had at last realised that beauty blogging should have its own separate award – without wanting to take anything away from the blogger who deservedly won, we began these awards with the chairman of a huge brand verbally sealing his commitment to print. A bit of a kick in the face to those of us who were there from on-line publications, genuinely excited to have a category of our own. It’s as if he was saying ‘we are tolerating on-line, but really we love magazines best’. I was even slightly nervous about going – being in the same room with a bunch of people where the insider vibe is that they really don’t like what you’re doing – was slightly daunting. Enough people visit this blog that it’s worth pushing on and trying to get all beauty blogs, not just mine, seen by PRs and other media as a truly valid, worthwhile way to discover and read about beauty in a way that traditional outlets have never done and will never do in the future. BBB readers come in every day to read things from a different viewpoint, to get some exciting insider info and find out as soon as I do what’s going on in the world of beauty. And, they’re damn well going to get it.
NB: Feeling philosophical, the least BBB will be is an accurate record for the future on how blogging moved and merged into the beauty world.
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.
It’s all very interesting and a bit sad really. What I love about your blog and a few others is the exclusives! I love hearing this is coming and that is in the pipeline. It’d be a shame if that were to stop. It’s something sorely lacking in my own blog because I don’t have contacts, but it’d be refreshing not to be blathering on about the same new collections everyone else is blathering about. But hey ho, thats just how it is for me but it’s also the reason I love your blog for being different, for having info on new releases that no one else has!
Oh this sort of thing is all a bit saddening really – magazines clearly see beauty features as a source of income at the end of the day – bloggers actually obsess over these products lol… Naively I expected we’d all just muddle along together…never mind! Keep doing what you do best, and everything will slot into place!
This is similar to that article that was written about beauty bloggers a few weeks back. I look forward to reading online about upcoming, new and reviewed products far more than I do in a magazine as I feel the product is being offered with an open mind, rather that a product to be sold.
Its a disappointing to hear and I hope it stops but it starts.
We’re in a transitional phase, I guess, I’m sorry it’s making you all meh about blogging though, it really shouldn’t!
Sometime soon, we’ll have established the pecking order we can all (blogs AND established print media) live with, but it’s not a real surprise that magazines are flexing their muscles while they still can.
In six/twelve months time, the landscape will be different, I’m sure, different how though, I don’t know.
It’s alright. They’ll soon be extinct when we take over. It’s the fear of irrelevance causing all this drama.
Just hang in there…
I read Her Royal Poshness’s comment, and I just thought of the disputes at Wapping. Looking back you kind of wonder how they didn’t realise change was inevitable.
They want the exclusives because they think it leads to higher subscriber numbers which translates to more ad dollars. But they’re missing the point. Juxtaposing blogs and magazines is like comparing apples and oranges, which the mags don’t realise yet…
There’s no competing between us, really. People simply don’t go to monthly magazines for news, poeriod. I only did that before the internet existed. People go to them for pleasure. Magazine reading is more a hobby than anything, not a source of news and once they realise that, their fear of obsolescence should start to disappear.
As an aside (and a pat on the collective online back), this is the first year that more ad dollars/pounds are going to online rather than to print, subscribers or not.
The fact is we live in a global world and brands are constantly bringing different products to market on a cycle and there will ALWAYS be bloggers who sniff out the info.
Blackmail and strong-arming are techniques that don’t work in any facet of life, including this one.
And it’s unfortunate but few, if any, global corporations have a top-down innovation policy. They simply won’t embrace new ideas or formats. Change is hard and nigh impossible in a bureaucracy.
I say solider on and do your thing.
Keep on keeping on.
I forgot to add, that I actually read loads of magazines and subscribe to at least 6 (although I have a bone to pick with Harper’s B… their customer service rep said that I shouldn’t complain I haven’t received it since Jan since I pay so little for the subscription. Right then and there I cancelled my subscription so perhaps you should talk to the CS reps about falling subscriber figures!)…
Anyway, the point is, there is still a place for them and even us bloggers read them but it’s for fun. I like them for the visuals and some of the long-form lifestyle features, not the news bits.
Mags, we love you for the lifestyle pieces. You’re not purveyors of breaking news! You can’t be with a 3 to 5-month lead time and that’s okay!
Right, that’s way more than 2 cents… stopping now. xx
What I love about your blog Jane is your honesty and integrity … I agree it’s frustrating being a blogger and it’s even more frustrating for us here in Australia but as Get Lippie said we are in a transitional phase and it’s not even about establishing a pecking order, it’s about being able to all work together collaboratively … it’s hard being a pioneer but you’re doing an awesome job being one, keep the faith I know it’s hard.
I never have to click onto your blog because I get it in my daily email but I look forward to it. Keep your chin up. You are doing a great job.
I agree wholeheartedly with beautywoome. I certainly don’t read monthly magazines for news. In truth, their ‘reviews’ of products are invariably so glowing, I assume it’s more a case of PR placement than considered comment.
For credible reviews and the latest information, I always go to the internet; specifically to a handful of trusted blogs. (Obviously yours is among them.) If I want to know whether a new all-singing, all-dancing mascara lives up to its promises, I certainly don’t think Vogue will tell me the truth. And these days I want an honest assessment of products before I splash the cash.
I’m just a standard consumer who loves products and likes to be ahead of the game, so your blog is wonderful to me. I heart it very much. Its not unusual for me to pop a release date into my calender…
I find it quite disheartening that magazines etcetera, are still trying to claw back the power to brainwash consumers to buy “the best (insert product)” just because they’ve obviously been paid to have it in their magz or however it works where it benefits them.
I stopped reading magz for product reviews a long time ago when I realised that everything in their pages was the best of the best!! BAH! Nonsense.
Anyhoo, the point is, I’m wholeheartedly supporting the blogosphere albeit without my own blog, just the click of a link.
And I would like to think that my comment here is another voice shouting for order in the court of Fashion and Beauty.
I too agree with Get Lippie. Magazines in their current state are going to have to adapt to the existence and super-growth of the online world or die. But they’re not going down without a fight. Or at least a lot of flailing of arms and a stroppy rant or twelve. We’re the tortoise in this race. And we all know what happened there.
PS: I too read your blog everyday in my inbox but if that doesn’t come up on your GA hits I’ll be glad to pop in to your real blog more often!
I´m with MarciaF, I get it in my e-mail.;) But you rock, and I simply will never understand why brands refuse to use the best ways of promoting their products just because the magazines what to be first. A lot of people read magazines, ofcourse, but if you are perticularely interrested in something you go for the web. Most women are a bit interrested in make up, easily satisfied by an issue of Vogue och Cosmopolitan, but if you are more interrested in make up than you are in lets say fashion for instanse, if it´s a special interrest, you have to turn to the web. Magazines have takes for ever to be published and only cover a small bit. Magazines may have al lot more readers than your average blogg, but I´m willing to bet that the ones that hang around here spend a lot more..
Don’t get disheartened. You’re doing a great job offering the kind of frank, objective and enthusiastic news that we just don’t get from magazines. Print is fine for pretty pictures – perfect to flick through while sitting in the hairdressers – but I don’t look at vogue.com every day but I read your comments every day and value your opinion. I get my BBB fix via RSS so if that doesn’t show up on your stats, I too will be happy to click through and show my support in your Google Analytics. Print will have to change, sooner rather than later, and like one of the posters said, this landscape is going to look a whole lot different in a few months.
Another vote for magazines as eye candy, blogs such as BBB for unbiased information. Or more specifically, I look at print for fashion. I prefer blogs for health and beauty topics. Again, for the same reason; magazines are selling you something. Blogs, for the most part, aren’t.
I never miss a BBB email and am frequently surprised at how much better informed you are than the actual source. Example; there’s a number of premium beauty counters in the store where I work. It’s not unusual for me to say to one of the consultants, “oh I see your brand is bringing out such and such a product”. More often than not, they haven’t a clue what I’m on about. I’m astonished at how few of them even consider keeping abreast of what’s going on in the industry by going online to blogs such as BBB. They seem to rely almost exclusively on whatever material is sent to them by the company. Perhaps its a case of product fatigue after selling it all day, five days a week.
Keep up the great work!
I’ve been following these different arguements/articles on the whole offline v online debate for a while now, but have not yet commented. I don’t want to give my company background away, but I work for an online retailer, principally in the beauty industry – I didn’t log in with my work blog account as I want this comment to be read as MY opinion on the situation, rather that reading as a PR stunt. I’ve been in the beauty industry for less than a year, and compared to other industries, I’m shocked at the lack of belief/respect/interest in blogs as a form of media. In every other industry I worked in, print and online sat side-by-side. I’d understand if the big brands and magazines were slightly hostile towards blggers as they were focussing on their own online marketing activities – but by the looks of their websites, email campaigns and offers they’ve obviously yet to see the value.
Having worked on magazines for twenty years (and having Edited one too) I know all too well how the industry works. It’s no different in male grooming, with magazines and weekly freesheets still considered top of the pile.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that, as a blogger, I couldn’t write about something because a print journalist has been promised an exclusive. In most cases I just think ‘sod you then!’ lol.
The problem is print still offers a more tangible ‘result’ for many companies – partly because of a reluctance to accept change and partly because it’s easier to understand. But of course, there are commercial realities too. Writers who work for big publications always write with one eye on who’s advertising with them. If they tell you otherwise they are lying, trust me. Companies develop relationships with titles and if they’re advertising will expect ‘editorial support’ of their products. And if the publications are going to have to devote a whole page to a product then they damn well want that to be an exclusive. Companies like this because it’s a relationship that allows control over how a product is presented. Blogging is the complete antithesis of this – they cannot control what’s said, which is bad for them but great for the millions of readers out there who don’t want micro-managed reviews!
The sad thing is – and you know this all too well – many companies are ‘talking the talk’ when it comes to being blogger friendly but aren’t ‘walking the walk’. Bottom line? They still don’t ‘get’ the new publishing revolution.
If magazines want to boost their circulation they could try including better articles. Most of the women I know feel completely patronised and turned off by the general content of women’s magazines. Beauty pages are just a small part of a magazine’s content. I don’t buy a mag to read about mascara, I buy it for all its content. And if 98% of that content is brainless drivel I’m not going to buy it at all.
Maybe the magazines are wary of bloggers precisely BECAUSE they tell the truth and don’t give everything a glowing review. If all it takes for a mag to rave about a product is to buy some advertising or whatever then how easy is that? Great publicity in a ‘respected’ magazine equating to tons of sales. But bloggers actually review the product which PR etc can’t control. SO I guess they might be wary of handing over products knowing a less than favourable review might pop up a few days later.
Frankly though they’ll have to get used to it. I always turn to the net now for real reviews. As many others have said above, I treat recommendations in magazines as an ‘advertorial’and little more.
Keep up the good work BBB, your blog is one of my favourites.
Just like MizzWorthy, I live in a world of naievety and optimism. I’m continually hoping that one day print and blog can live in a happy world of harmony. BBB is a true inspiration for my little blog. I follow via bloglovin and always check out the daily posts even when I mark the majority of them as “read” due to lack of time. This is one I wouldn’t miss for the world!!! Thank you for leading the way for the rest of us! We really appreciate it! xxx
I love the BBB because I know I will get an honest perspective. I have gone on to buy many a product based on the posts I read. Although I love my magazines, there’s always that niggling feeling that there are other forces at work and product reviews might not be the unbiased opinions one would like them to be.
I too, much prefer and trust the opinion of an educated blogger (like BBB ) to the recommendations of the glossies because I know how all that works. The object of the mags is to gain the big bucks advertising by featuring and fawning over the latest product. Pages need to be filled with both editorial and ads, there is no transparency.
if the beauty brands truly have products they can stand by they have nothing to fear from the bloggers, in fact quite the opposite; endorsement free from paid advertisement (imagine!) what company would shy away from that.
Also, the very nature of the blog (especially BBB) allows for products to get their own, ‘mini feature’ rather than being part of a larger story in which they could easily get lost, and more importantly a very specific beauty focused reader which cannot be said of the readers of a general interest womens’ mag.
I could go on, but suffice to say, I do believe that the industry can no longer treat the blogger as an upstart, and the savvy PR departments will soon learn their value as a very immediate and democratic arm of communication.
And just to jump back in and give another twopenn’orth; I agree with Cenora’s comment. If magazines want to boost readership they need to boost intelligent and interesting content. I’ve stopped buying most of the magazines I used to enjoy and I now only read *takes deep breath* Vanity Fair. And I read it because it has truly excellent articles on interesting subjects.
I used to love the ‘middle aged’ glossies like Easy Living, Eve, Red and She and would usually buy at least two and often more of them each month. Now I don’t think they’ve got anything interesting to say.
Perhaps if they stopped being PR vehicles and started doing some real investigative journalism, we’d turn back to them.
beautywoome just got the point.
I’d add: You can’t take a blog with you in the tube for a comfy evening.
We serve different things.
And I dont care for “stealing” news, the PR agencies want that, they just make things more attractive when they are kept secret. Thats their policy.
The consumer is becoming King/Queen as never before. Products increasingly stand or fall on the basis of their actual performance rather than the money spent on advertising.
BB Couture is a big name in the nail polish milieu but doesn’t advertise anywhere as far as I know. It has garnered fans due to blog recommendations and excellent customer service. I have no connection with BB btw. Manufacturers who are proud of their products should be throwing them at the bloggers because canny consumers find good reviews persuasive. Keep blogging.
I wish there was a button to ‘like’ beautywoome’s comment. I couldn’t have put it more articulately.
I love reading BBB. Keep up the great work!