I am an aspiring public relations professional who has held internships with beauty and lifestyle PR companies. During those internships, my tasks often include putting together mailers for editors and bloggers filled with an assortment of free products. Another responsibility is to locate client mentions on blogs, which are mostly in the form of product reviews. I recognized that these tasks are related - I prepare and send out product, and in return beauty bloggers review what they receive, creating online brand mentions - and became curious about the overall process that takes place between public relations companies and bloggers. At the time, I was a senior at Rutgers University studying journalism. and so I decided to write a market research report for one of my classes to better understand how the relationship between PR, beauty bloggers and free samples.
The bulk of my data was collected through interviews conducted with public relations professionals and bloggers. This is what I learned:
The two main components that I found make for the most successful correspondence are research and transparency. In regards to research, bloggers will respond better to pitches when they are personalized and clearly show that the PR representative has read their blog. Doing research beforehand is also important for bloggers when requesting products from companies. Bloggers can personalize their requests by stating why their audience would be interested in brands from that particular PR company.
Both parties prefer when expectations are clear from the get-go. For example, if a beauty blogger has a policy that they do not review every product they receive, this should be clearly stated on their website and/or in communication with PR companies. Public relations professionals also appreciate it when bloggers express any concerns they have with a product to them personally, before writing a negative review. Instead of bashing a product, PR is much more receptive to posts that include constructive feedback and accurate product information.
The most authentic bloggers write truthful reviews and are open about whether or not they received the product for free.
It is also important for bloggers to be transparent with their readers about the gifted product. The most authentic bloggers write truthful reviews and are open about whether or not they received the product for free. Through proper research and transparency, the process of sending bloggers free samples can ultimately be a win-win-win. Bloggers receive the tools that they need to accurately write a review, public relations companies give their brands exposure through a powerful outlet, and consumers are able to refer to a trusted source before making a purchase.
- Public relations professionals should research bloggers before reaching out; beauty bloggers should perform the same research before contacting a PR agency for free product
- Emails that are personalized result in a more receptive recipient
- Beauty Bloggers should have clear disclosure policies that explain terms and conditions for reviewing products.
- Public relations professionals appreciate it when bloggers address any issues that they have with a product directly before writing a negative review.
- The process works best when bloggers write honest and accurate reviews and disclose if the product was received for free.
Samantha Bonizzi is a recent graduate from Rutgers University with a degree in journalism and media studies. Currently, she resides in northern New Jersey, where she is working towards her dream career in beauty or lifestyle public relations. She hopes to someday live and work in New York City. When Samantha is not busy working or writing, you can find her running the streets or taking dance classes at her local gym.
Photo Credit: Sudden Fiction