How not to talk to bloggers

May 26, 2012

Recently I was approached by a company asking if I would like to review their online beauty shopping service, with the help of a £100 voucher. This is a company that has had quite a lot of flak in the press recently, so I thought it had the potential for an interesting post. I replied that I would review its services but it would be a very honest account of my experience, and they agreed.

They sent me the code for the voucher, and I had a look around the site and although there wasn’t a lot to choose from, I finally found a beauty treatment I could blog about. The cost was £60, which would leave £40 for me to buy a beauty product to blog about.

I entered the code I’d been given, and it appeared to swallow up the entire £100.

I contacted the company to explain the situation, and they told me there wasn’t a problem with the voucher, it was still valid, and I should try again. But at that point, being incredibly busy, I’m afraid I lost interest.

A week ago I received an email from the PR asking when the post was going to go up, basically implying it was my fault there had been a problem with the voucher in the first place, and adding ‘as the voucher is worth a substantial amount of money we did expect something in return.’

My flabber was well and truly gasted, but I explained, politely, that I hadn’t used the voucher, or the company’s services, and therefore felt under no obligation to blog about it. She immediately became contrite, but because of her initial aggression, I no longer felt I wanted to blog about the company at all. (Since I was supposed to be providing an honest review, the fact that I’d had issues with a complimentary voucher did not bode well.)

If the PR hadn’t gone on the attack, I might have been more receptive. If she’d sent me an email asking how I was getting on, whether I’d had a chance to use the voucher yet, for example. But her fatal error was to demand where the post was, and tell me that she expected ‘something in return’ – without being aware that I hadn’t received anything. She didn’t have a clue about how to talk to bloggers.

I’m incredibly fussy about the brands I’ll feature on this blog. Like many bloggers, I get offers of all kinds of things to review on a daily basis, but I’m very selective. If I don’t feel something is going to work as a blog post, I won’t accept it, it’s as simple as that. I don’t want a house full of freebies and tut I don’t need/can’t use, I don’t have time to attend/take part in things/go on holidays I’m not going to blog about. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time or resources.

But it’s a two-way street, and a good starting point if you want to work with a blogger, I think, is to be respectful, to recognise that they’re busy and often have full-time jobs, and if you’re expecting ‘something in return’  for something you haven’t delivered or they haven’t received, you’re going to be disappointed.




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  • London Beauty Queen May 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I think i know exactly who you’re talking about. I got offered the same thing and turned it down as I didn’t believe I could push the company to my readership, knowing they’d failed so many of my current readers already. Instead of them responding with either an understanding email or an alternative suggestion, I just got arseyness. Whatever – you’ll now never be seen on my pages again.

  • claire May 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I think maybe if they had done their homework, and presented you with a list of lovely things you could get with the voucher, tailored to your documented tastes and just let you choose a couple from it rather than faff about with vouchers they would have looked a little more professional. This blogging thing with its ‘oh they’re all just glad of the stuff’ is something I’m having trouble adjusting to. I won a prize, by default (my blog was 31st best out of 30 and someone pulled out) and I was contacted by a nice enough girl but was rather vague about the terms which involved me getting to London the next day…because we know they work with all sorts of people in their PR grind, can you imagine them interacting with, say the marketing director of a company or its PA even in the same manner? The wording and whole demeanor would be different I’m sure. As a former business development and sales executive who had to close deals every day, I was so careful how to word things without scaring them away but controlling the result. MAkes me think they give the blogging jobs to the inexperienced really

  • catherine @mummylion May 26, 2012 at 10:18 am

    well said! we are not machines.