Thursday, January 31st, 2008

There has been a bit of buzz over beauty blogs and their place in the past few days, beginning with WWD’s article on beauty in the blogosphere as well as ten of their picks for today’s hottest beauty blogs.  Following that was a less relevant piece where retailer Target refused to speak with bloggers because they are part of nontraditional media.  Target asserted they wanted to focus only on traditional media outlets, because they reach their core audience.  Today’s latest article covering beauty blogs was published by the New York Times seems to show beauty bloggers are in it for the free stuff and swag treatment that was previously reserved only for editors and industry insiders.

I’m curious to know what you, the readers–the most important facet–think of beauty bloggers working with brands and their representatives, free samples, and even “swag.”  Does the association/link between beauty blogger and company public relations representative taint the blogger’s viewpoint?  Are beauty bloggers just in it for the goodies?

A few response pieces to the NYT article by fellow beauty bloggers can be found here and here.

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31 thoughts on “Provocative Thoughts – Beauty Bloggers, PR, and Transparency

  1. Zsofi

    i love beauty blogs (most of all Temptalia of course) because here the readers are telling their own experience,their own opinion about products.
    i used to read many magazines,but lately i found that there are mainly advertisements. so even if the article claims to be someone’s own opinion,it1s not. it is a paid advertisement. thatwhy i love blogs,they are for real. and i can communicate with other readers.

  2. kat

    Well, there doesn’t exist a single person who can be completely objective. I think that it’s possible receiving “swag” could make a blogger speak more highly or fondly of a product (perhaps more because they own it and are therefore more intimate with it) but I doubt that they would recommend a product they actually dislike because of it.

    It’s still probably less biased than other forms of media… Like Zsofi said, you can get a specific persons experience and opinions. So it’s always nice to get someone else’s point of view!

  3. TT

    As long as the blogger gives honest product reviews, and doesn’t just gush over a product because she got it for free (and even through there’s no way of being 100% sure if they’re being truthful, things like posting product photos and swatches makes me trust bloggers a lot more than magazine editors), I don’t see a problem with it. Who wouldn’t like getting free stuff? I can’t blame them for taking it.

    I do have a problem, however, when beauty bloggers start focusing almost exclusively on the really high-end, luxury brands, which seems to happen more often when they start getting attention from cosmetic companies. Your average girl can’t afford a vanity full of Dior and Chanel. Most bloggers seem to have started out with the goal of helping other consumers find products that work for them, so ignoring more reasonable brands (like MAC!), which are usually just as good, if not better, does seem kind of like selling out and gets annoying for those of us who can’t afford that $50 compact they got for free, no matter how great it is.

  4. No! What jackasses for them to say something like that! I read beauty blogs for the swatches, to see what products look like in real life, and on real people. Something the producers of the products rarely have time to actually do, and something that traditional outlets don’t even bother with!

    Also, I like hearing the un-biased descriptions and reviews of products that I KNOW I won’t get from traditional outlets. I don’t know that a magazine hasn’t been paid to say nice things about a product. And they never say anything really bad about a product. Beauty blogs tell you the truth about how the product works/feels/responds on that particular person, and by reading multiple blogs, I can get a more balanced view of a product’s qualities.

    • Hey Mariah! It’s true that traditional media outlets don’t go as in-depth with product reviews like swatches and un-retouched photos. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. This is a good discussion. I think that there are a handful of people that are in it for the free stuff but that there are also a handful of people that are dedicated to giving honest and respectable information first and appreciating the samples second. Just like in real life. Some people work at a certain store for the perks, while others are there because it is plain and simply, a job but it’s nice to have the discount.

    In respect to association between beauty blogger and company PR, I believe it really boils down to the intention and priority of the blogger. What does the blogger themselves value more as a priority? Free stuff or being a reputable information hub? Depending on what their priority is will definitely effect what type of review they write up on the product. All we can hope for being on the other end of the screen is that the person is being trustworthy and that they are in it to give resourceful information.

    • Hey Mrs. Lynne! Thanks for joining the discussion :) It seems so hard to imagine anyone starting up a blog, especially beauty, just for free stuff. Just seems like more work than it’s worth! I mean, I know I put in 30+ hours a week into Temptalia, and I just can’t imagine free stuff ever measuring up to the time/effort/passion.

      I like to think that the majority of readers can recognize a quality blog, something that has credibility, from something that’s questionable.

      • Zsofi

        thanks for Your time Christine! 30 hour a week is really a lot of hard work,which of course comes from Your passion for makeup and beauty. before finding Your blog my life was less entertaining and colorful. i wish You never end Your work here.

  6. Gina

    I don’t like some blogs because they do seem rather contrived to me at times. However, I LOVE certain blogs like yours. Why? Because you do sweet things like recommend the right shades for us and because you run out to the MAC store at 10 a.m. to get us swatches. The bloggers who blog only for free stuff just don’t have the passion that the genuine bloggers do. In my opinion, their blogs just aren’t very good and eventually lose my attention. Those bloggers don’t take the time to do FOTDs or take their own pics or give individual readers recommendations or make swatches or write detailed reviews and they just don’t seem like real people…they seem more like corporate advertisements. However, if you run a blog like this one, which I can tell is written by a genuine person and a genuine beauty-lover, the readers can tell and keep coming back for more. I don’t care if you get a boat load of free stuff- as long as you can see that a lot of passion was put into the creation of the blog.

    • Tanya

      What a wonderful way to put things Gina, I couldn’t agree more. It really shows in her daily posts that Christine gives her heart and soul to this site and its the reason I spend so much time daily reading what she has to say. Because I Stumble, I come across other beauty blogs…this is my favorite :) I must say that I have also enjoyed crossing over to a few of my fellow reads beauty blogs, which I learned about through Temptalia.

      • Awww :) This is exactly how I feel… readers will be able to recognize a blog that’s honest vs. one that may not be so honest. They can see when someone enjoys what they’re doing and puts effort into it.

    • Thank you, Gina! I try to make my presence known, and not just be some ominous writer. I’m really here to help as much as I can :) I totally agree that people who run beauty blogs have to have passion to do it well.

  7. Erin

    I think it comes down to how easily you can talk to the blogger. However, famous people get paid to endorse terrible crap all the time and people haven’t outlawed that yet… if people are allowed to watch infomercials that sell things that don’t work all day, they can read endorsements from people they don’t even know online. The difference is, if you have no taste in makeup and can’t explain why a product is better than the other, I am not going to be an avid reader. The problem solves itself.

  8. Wow, that article struck a nerve. Most of the beauty bloggers I know have not blogged on the basis of getting “swag”, but to inform makeup addicts and those new to makeup of things to look out for, tips and tricks, look ideas, etc.

    And for me, and “Free” product sent to me stems from that company’s offer, not solely at my request in which I have never requested to gain products for review, I simply just buy them on my own and review them.

    Also, I love beauty blogs, I think they are very informative and entertaining at the same time. As a consumer, I like to see everything I buy, I like to see colors and swatches, pricing, released dates, etc. and before I couldn’t even find any of that information anywhere, including the ‘net! So I am glad that there are blogs such as yours, Specktra, forums, etc. that shed some light on things we’ve missed.

    • I think it wouldn’t have struck a nerve if it wasn’t so obviously spun. It’s one thing to uncover the truth, but it’s another to just blatantly spin a story the way you want it to read. Oh, well, any press is good press, right?

  9. Vy

    That article only applies to the “lucky few.” The lucky few who have connections somehow. Most of the blogs, however, are hobbyists. I have my personal blog to maintain and it doesn’t take just 10 min for me to post. When I have photos and factual info to post, I want to get it right. Blogs take effort. I don’t think any amount of freebies can cover the amount of hours I put in it (unless it’s free MAC for life!). Temptalia is sooooo much more than just a blog. We get REAL-LIFE opinions instead of beauty editors who trot around in freebies, which makes them feel good enough to write positive feedback on it. That is how I feel about beauty writers of magazines and such. I used to want to grow up to be a beauty editor/advisor for a magazine but I long gave up that idea. Sure the trips and swag is nice but it’s no where near awesome loyal readers. Keep up the great job Christine! We love it!

    • I wholly agree, Vy. The bloggers mentioned are definitely some of the top beauty bloggers around! I would love it if Temptalia paid anywhere close to a real job (I’d take even as a minimum wage job at this point), but it certainly doesn’t, so I’d like to think that obviously I do it for the love of it!

      Thank you!

    • Stephanie

      Vy.. Well said here! It only does apply to a lucky few with connections. I also have a personal blog, I do it for my readers. I don’t make money, and I don’t get any free samples, it strictly comes out of my own pocket. I love beauty blogs, and I love getting different people’s opinions. I also started as a hobby and also because I love talking about it.

  10. I like beauty blogs like yours and Karen’s the most. You guys seem unbiased and only talk about stuff you like. Unlike others that seem a bit faux.

  11. Penny

    I think it’s very hypocritical of NY Times to smudge bloggers’ credibility like that when most editors of mainstream media are trotting around with freebies and VIP passes. Anybody who’d worked in PR, like myself,will understand the frustration with these media gangstas. They treat us PR people like crap unless they want an exclusive interview,freebies,etc. Having said that,I think beauty bloggers are more credible and unbiased as they cater more to the interests of their readers instead of the benefit of advertisers.On that note,great job Temptalia!! I was such a makeup klutz until I found your blog. Your time and effort goes a long, long way!!

    • Hey Penny! I’m really glad that it seems like people can see through the Times’ article and know the truth.

      Thank you :) I’m so happy to have helped!

  12. Lydia

    I hated that artice in the NY times!

  13. Sandy S

    It’s just like anything else – a music writer getting free CDs etc. I like reading fashion and beauty blogs they are so instant and now! I love Cybelesays.com, SheFinds and Beauty Blogging Junkie and will continue to do so everyday! ha!
    Sandy