Won’t get out of bed for less than a bar of chocolate. Blogging, PRs and a special relationship

July 28, 2011

Since I started blogging two and a half years ago I’ve been inundated with emails from PRs ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous and in some cases, very cheeky.

There are lots of fantastic PRs out there who know how to approach bloggers and I work with them all the time. This post is not aimed at them.

For the rest, here are some pointers:

1. I will only recommend things my family and I enjoy/believe in/like, and the only way we know that is if we try them/experience them/go to see them (and I don’t have time to return samples). The nature of blogging means it is a personal thing, not a third-hand experience.

2. My blog space is not free space for you to take over and promote your client. Blog posts take time and effort to write, and I really do think about what I put on my blog.

3. I won’t promote competitions for your client unless you have incentivised me to do so.

4. I’m fussy. I like writing about travel, entertainment and beauty. Washing-up liquid and vaginal-tightening cones, not so much.

5. I have verbal diarrhoea, and I never run out of things to write about. So no, I don’t want a guest post from you pushing your client’s product, and no, I don’t care that it’s ‘free content’. I don’t need ‘free content’, because I’ve always got something to say.

6. I choose the brands, events and organisations I want to be an ambassador for very carefully, because I feel a connection to them in some way.

7. If I have space, I will try to blog about your charity campaign. But I’m not a listings site. Nor am I a newspaper, so please don’t ask me to blog about events after they’ve actually happened if you didn’t invite me to attend them in the first place. It’s more than a little insulting *sniffs*.

8. I’m not joking about the bar of chocolate. Well, maybe a little.

*Bloggers – what would you add?

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  • This Mid 30s Life November 6, 2011 at 9:13 pm


    The best, I think, are the “we just want to tell you about our great competition…. you might like to mention it on your blog?”

    Well, if I think it’s a great competition, why would I mention it on my blog? So that others can enter, reducing the chances of me winning? I need an incentive.

  • Thierry August 3, 2011 at 9:15 am

    If I may, I would like to give you a view from the other side. I am the founder of toy distribution business. We receive quite a few requests for samples from bloggers so they can review the items and post about them. We always check the reach the blogger before we even reply. Being a small company, our marketing budget does allow us to send samples to too many. We already have to send samples to large retail buyers that seem to regularly lose them or have a policy of not returning samples. And this is costly!
    Maybe I am wrong about this but I must admit that I get a little irate when a blogger gives a link to Amazon as the place to buy the item they blogged about as I know full well that there is affiliate money to be made there. We do have a retail website and I think it would only be fair that any sales were to come back to us or at least one of our retailers directly.
    Recently we also got a request from a baby blogger requesting a Rugby board game that we distribute. Why would a baby blogger request this if not strictly for swag?
    When we refuse to send samples, are we not putting ourselves at risk to read sometimes later that the product has been slated online by some blogger?
    Bloggers and floggers (PR, wholesalers, importers, retailers, etc…) can help each other but both sides have to get value out of the exchange. How long is it before the taxman cometh?

  • English Mum August 2, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Why on earth would the vague and anonymous PR think that incentivising meant rigging a competition so that you’d win?! Very odd!

  • Jacqui August 2, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I’m not a blogger – just like Reading your blog Liz and this and all the comments have really made me laugh!!

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  • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:46 am

    To the anonymous PR who left two comments on this post.

    I haven’t published them, mostly because they’re quite insulting. But just to point out the following:

    I do not expect to win competitions being run by other companies; I’m saying that if a company wants me to promote THEIR competition on my blog space – ie, as happened with the Next model competition – they need to incentivise me because effectively they’re advertising on my blog. Clearly I was never going to win the Next model competition *cough*, but there has to be an incentive for me to want to promote competitions on behalf of a PR’s client, given I’m not running the competition on my blog, simply promoting it for them and giving them a link to wherever it is you’re hosting the competition. They’re being paid to promote it, why shouldn’t I be given something as well? I hope that makes sense.

    I am a ‘real journalist’, as 21 years of bylines will testify. You can see my CV on linkedin. I believe it’s possible to drink coffee and work at the same time, by the way.

    Of course if you’re borrowing samples professionally you should return them, as do I when I’m at work. But photographers, stylists etc are PAID by their employers – whether freelance or not – and therefore can justify the expense of returns; bloggers are not, generally, paid for blogging, which is the reason they can’t afford bikes, or expensive postage, or indeed, if they also work full time like I do, afford to spend hours at a post office. I’m sorry you lent someone a £350 dress and they didn’t give it back – that’s clearly theft (and by the way, I’ve never accepted any offers of fashion samples as a blogger); but I’m talking about samples of things we’re expected to review and share with our families. I think a lot of PRs see us as an easy way to satisfy their clients that they’re engaging with digital media. But it has to be a two way street.

  • Joanne Mallon July 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Is it only me that would blog about the vaginal cones? Sounds like a party in your pants right there. I got given a DIY vajazzle sample recently, maybe there’s a series of posts brewing?

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:38 am

      You did not get given a DIY vajazzle?! Shuuut upppp!

      • Joanne Mallon August 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm

        Yes I did, it was at the Superdrug Christmas preview. I’m going to wear it to the NUJ summer party and expect it to be a fine conversation starter.

  • Rachel Gully July 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I’m new to blogging (although considered it for years). I have not yet experienced PR’s. I can’t believe the cheek of some of them though! Vaginal cones?? *chokes on coffee* 🙂

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:38 am

      They look as bad as they sound.

  • Chris at Thinly Spread July 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Dear Mummy Blogger is a good one, love that.

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:37 am

      I know. So blimmin’ lazy.

  • DD's Diary July 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

    One PR for a head lice product asked me if I’d like to stand outside my teenage daughter’s school and give away their combs/shampoo! Er, not so much, thanks …. But some are brilliant, especially the chocolate prs, clearly 🙂

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:36 am

      OMG can you imagine! Why would anyone want to do that?!

  • Rebecca Ring July 29, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I’m also new to all this but on the whole have come across some lovely PR’s who have taken the time to read my blog before approaching me, thus making me feel valued! I hate those emails that start “hi there” and never mention me by name! you have’nt taken the time to read my blog why should I take the time to read your email! Like everyone else I’ll only review those things that I believe in, are relevant or use and no I will not hide the fact it’s a sponsored post before you ask!lol

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:36 am


  • Him Up North July 29, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I would implore, nay BEG, PRs to do their research and actually read my blog before diving in with an email offering reviews of baby products, feminine hygiene products and all the other inappropriate dross. And don’t send emails which are obviously mail-merged, boiler plate bullshit. Ayethangyow.

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:35 am

      *hear hear*

  • Nicki Cawood July 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Right, I demand to know which PR didn’t realise I needed vaginal cones?!? Did I forget to add this to my about me page?

    I too have had some corking emails, much like yourself, but the best ones are when you politely decline, stating *this* doesn’t fit with your blog etc, and you get an email back basically berating you for not realising it “IS what you need on you blog, and plenty of other bloggers have recognised it, even if you can’t see it”.

    Yes this happened.

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:35 am


  • peggy July 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I had all of this except the vaginal cones (?!) Actually you have just inspired me to write something along these lines on my blog for PR to read before sending what I consider junk a lot of the time…

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:34 am

      I’ve linked to this post in my ‘About me’ section now – hopefully it will cut out some of the nonsense.

  • Mummy's Little Monkey (@Jax2000) July 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Don’t send me an email offering to show your support for my blog, by allowing me to post your badge on my aforementioned blog, linking back to your website. Yes, this really happened to me last week.

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:33 am

      That is unbelievably cheeky.

  • nicci cowdell-murray July 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Ha ha i love it! Im quite new to blogging but already had some very cheeky emails but also had some lovely PR emails too , i also will only endorse products i either use or am interested in :0) xx great post . . . . . . now who is going to share it with the PR’S lol x

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:33 am

      I think some PRs have seen it…

  • Ramblings Of A Suburban Mummy July 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I’m new to all this but I loved it when a PR asked me to write a minimum number of words in exchange for some cartons of juice?! What’s that all about? Also, PR’s you know I have two very small children so why are you telling me about your horrible dolls that are for 8yr olds? Beyond me!

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:32 am

      I’m often being offered baby things to review – it’s as though PRs assume that because you’re a mum blogger you must have a baby.

  • Mari July 28, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Vaginal tightening cones? I would NEVER blog that. I’m feint at the thought.
    I have only dabbled so far with PR but I do hate receiving emails of campaigns that I had nothing to do with and maybe would have been interested in. Talk about stick a finger in the wound!

  • Nickie July 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Vaginal tightening cones? Damn, you know all the best people!!

    The best ones at the moment are offering payment for a “professionally prepared article” that would only be placed on my blog. It’s extremely insulting, insinuating that the content on my blog is sub-standard which begs me to ask how they found my blog in the first place if its content is so awful?

    • Liz Jarvis August 2, 2011 at 7:30 am

      Yes I *love* those ones too