Tales from IMATS: Perspectives on beauty bloggers

I thought I’d share an observation that came from IMATS. It was interesting to see in person, how we, meaning beauty bloggers, are perceived by the various companies represented at the show. Some didn’t seem to care, others were mindly interested, and some didn’t seem to take us seriously at all. While others, got it and were really encouraging and inclusive of us.

A representative from one company told us that everyone can call themselves a beauty blogger. As a small business, she admitted that she can’t afford to send every single blogger product for review. I thought that was a valid point and fair. I completely get that companies are increasingly being bombarded by requests from bloggers or feeling the pressure to engage in some kind of blogger activity. Given how new a media source we are, I can see how difficult it is for companies to determine what their blogger strategy should be, if they even want to have one.

But there was something this representative said that slightly irritated me. She said that when it comes to sending out products, ‘if it’s for a blogger, I tell my PR to send a sample but if it’s Vogue we’ll send them a full size.’ Of course we aren’t Vogue, nor do we claim to be. But to me, a statement like this seems dismissive. And it got under my skin.

I get that it is expensive to send out products for review and that you have to be selective about who you send to. I get that perhaps some bloggers are actually demanding freebies from companies. I get that. But don’t dismiss all bloggers and most of all, don’t think of us as being second rate. Maybe this isn’t what she meant but that is how it came across to me. Maybe I’m just sensitive.

On the other end of the spectrum, we had an amazing conversation with the co-founder of Cover FX, a Canadian makeup brand. This company is one that seems to really get how to work with bloggers. And it extends from their marketing team all the way to the top. The company’s co-creator Lee Graff, who we were fortunate enough to be introduced to at the booth, said some really encouraging words to us. She told us that beauty bloggers are important, that ‘editors in New York at the fashion magazines are afraid of you!’, and encouraged us to stay true to ourselves and what we write. She seemed to understood the impact that we have on our readers, their purchasing habits and that the majority of us are doing this, not for ‘freebies’, but because we are passionate about the beauty industry. It was so inspiring and all of us were a bit speechless after it.

So there you have it. Two very different conversations that gave me a lot of food for thought.

Enough serious stuff.

Like the photo that Farah took? Here, a Ben Nye rep decided to do some mega swatching on my hands at the show. Too bad you can’t see the gold sparkle on the one hand. It was pretty cool.

Comments

  1. Make-up Junkie says

    Great post – it's interesting seeing how some brands view bloggers. I do know some brands are very selective but from my experience I've been very lucky that all the brands I've worked with have been really good to me.

    I think brands like CoverFX are amazing at recognizing how influential beauty bloggers are. Brands that throw beauty blogger media events are the ones that really care about learning what blogs are all about. Working in social media now, I'm seeing first hand that more brands are realizing how important online media is. It's just a matter of time 😉

  2. Sara (The Makeup Snob) says

    wow fabulous! Great points made! What a mean first lady. You should post her company so she can see how influential bloggers are when everyone reads how mean the representatives of "that brand" are!! and dont want to buy anymore, lol! we definitely have a million choices. Dismissing one is easy to do!

  3. Lipstick Rules says

    @Make-up Junkie: The majority of companies I've worked with have been good to me too. I agree that it will take time.

    @Sarah: I don't think the first lady meant to be mean. She was actually very nice. I think it's based on her experience so far with bloggers and perhaps not really getting what we do. If all she knows are the 'demanding' blogger types, I can understand why she feels this way.And I do get the fact that it does cost money to send out product so they have to be selective. It was only the comment about Vogue that bugged me the most. Hopefully as Makeup Junkie says, things will turn around and more will get it.

  4. Monica says

    You brought out many valid points. I think that maintaining a good relationship with PR reps speaks in itelf. If bloggers are in this for the long haul it will reflect in their posts & the amount of times they post. I'll be honest there are alot of beauty blogs that have emerged since I've begun two years ago & a few were started with the notion that free products would land on their doorstep, and, that irritates me because that tells me that a few bloggers "whore" themeselves out for "just the freebies". So, alot of companies have in a way gotten burned by trying the blogging route. However, my advice is be honest always, do what your passionate about, and the rest is just a bonus! I would think that these companies would choose wisely who they send products to by looking at stats, comments,and quality of posts. Glad you wrote about your views. I actually have to admit I didn't hear any of those negative comments & just great advice from Lee as you mentioned & Debbie from Face atelier. Both were such sweethearts!

  5. Lydia says

    Mhm interesting.
    I'd also expand on that "magazines are afraid of us" thought.
    Really? How come? In what way?

    I don't really like fashion magazine, and that is probably because they become tedious and every journalist seem to have the same writing style after a bit, and also because fashion magazines in Italy write 3 words in english every 5 words in Italian, and that just bugs me. it's unnecessary. use Italian or write in English completely…

  6. VexInTheCity says

    Interesting.

    I agree that yes, anybody can call themselves a beauty blogger but the difference in quality of writing and posts run across a wide spectrum.

    I don't write my blog for cosmetic brands to judge whether I'm serious or not and don't think that deeply about it either. That would take the fun out of it for me. My reviews are 100% honest and my blog readers know that. So long as THEY believe my credibility that's all that matters to me.

  7. UnicornSmile says

    hmmm that's some very interesting information.

    Personally, if they don't respect the blogging platform, don't give them any air time. They'll soon jump on board ;))

  8. Liparazzi says

    Looking lovely as always Michelle!That was a really interesting post, I know what you mean about some companies not being in touch with the whole blogger movement! They need to start realising that we are their customers as well and to be dismissive of us is being dismissive to the very very people they want to sell to!

  9. Carine says

    Vogue can be afraid ! it's funny because when i want to know the real quality of a product, I trust beauty bloggers more than women magazine…generally, it prevents me from buying the crap women magazines suggest us to buy !

  10. Helen (Nice Things) says

    This is really interesting. Do you know, I bet the number of people who follow blogs outnumber the people who but Vogue every month.

    I have never asked for a freebie in my life. Stuff finds its way to me by word of mouth and I'd much rather it were that way than me actively canvassing people for things. It looks greedy. Maybe it's the Brit in me – too proud to ask! Let's see what happens when I go to London IMATS in Jan!

  11. witoxicity says

    What an insightful post, Michelle! On one hand, I can understand that lady's point of view, but on the other hand, she did sound very dismissive of us beauty bloggers. Times have changed and she shouldn't underestimate the power of the word of mouth through blogging.

  12. Melissa from Cover FX says

    Hi Michelle!

    That was indeed a very insightful post! Always interesting to see the beauty blogger's perspective.

    The rise of social media has changed the way we (as communicators and marketers) engage and market to our consumers. Social media has allowed us to reach out in ways that were not traditionally possible.

    At Cover FX, we recognize that and embrace the opportunity to on a more personal level, connect with new and existing consumers through the use of various online mediums.

    Today's consumers are so inundated with choice and advertisements, making word of mouth marketing even more powerful. We really value beauty bloggers influence, feedback and experiences with our products; positive or negative =)

    So great to finally meet you all! I posted some of the pics we took at IMATS on our facebook group, check it out!

    Melissa

  13. Farah says

    Great post michelle. I too noticed some comments and reactions when they found out i was a blogger. However im also a makeup artist so when they found out they kinda changed their tone a bit.. weird

    btw i so love that pic of you hehe glad i took it 😛

  14. Ondo Lady says

    I am not a beauty blogger but I do a lot of product reviews and my philosophy to PR companies is the same as I have towards people. If you treat me well then I will treat you equally well or even better but if you are dismissive or rude to me then I will not waste one bit of energy one you. If I see something I am interested in reviewing then I will approach the PR and if they send it then great but if not I just move on. I probably will buy the product and cover it on my blog. In terms of PR companies resources, I understand that it is not feasible to send products out all the time but I think a simple polite email can make all the difference.

  15. Music says

    Well said. I think some companies "forget" that words of mouth travel faster than any kind of advertisement space they can afford to buy on traditional media. Bloggers shouldn't compromise their integrity either just to satisfy their i-want-freebies mentality. Blogging world has exploded recently, so there's still much to learn about common courtesy and the online social rule.

  16. em says

    Interesting read! I alwyas love reading your posts

    Some people clearly have an 'us Vs them' mentality and it doesn't have to be that way!

  17. Michelle (BeautyEditor.ca) says

    Oh wow – as someone who straddles both sides of the fence how can I NOT weigh in on this one! (I've been working in magazines for 5 years as a beauty writer/editor… and now I also blog)

    I definitely think "old media" are uncomfortable with the rise of blogs – and that goes not just for beauty but every topic. Think about it – if you've gone to journalism school and slaved away as an intern, working for free, in order to FINALLY land an editor job (trust me, it's REALLY difficult), you'd be a bit miffed that bloggers are getting the same attention (and yes, freebies) that you are.

    From a PR perspective it's also difficult – there are so many blogs to keep track of and monitor. I'm sure this is rare but I've also heard horror stories from PR friends about bloggers requesting "too many" samples and bad behaviour when they get invited to PR events. Which I can understand too – one minute, you're an anonymous blogger, and the next – you're being courted with champagne and gift bags!

    Anyway – things are changing fast and I'm seeing a lot of publicists reaching out to bloggers, so we'll get there… eventually. The other good development is that we're seeing more bloggers take a professional approach – which gives the publicists representing these brands more peace of mind that you're not going to represent them in a totally negative light.

  18. Sabs says

    Regarding the whole sample size vs full size thing…I think personally, that that has to do more with who's reviewing it. I don't read vogue so I can't say for sure, but there's probably more than one person there who tests the products so that they can collaborate and sorta discuss the ups and downs to each product. Which means they'd need more of the product. Whereas a blogger is typically one person per blog and would need a smaller size. It's also probably a way of trying to hook consumers, so I don't think you should be too upset about it 🙂 Enjoy your samples though! Must be fun 🙂

  19. Lipstick Rules says

    @Sabs: Good points! Regarding samples, I am by no means complaining about that part. It is more the attitude towards bloggers that got under my skin a bit. I think the blogging community is getting to be influential and shouldn't be dismissed. That was my main point. My reason for blogging is not to get free samples. It is too much work involved for that to be the motivating factor. My two cents.

  20. Miss Jayce says

    Hi Michelle, I really enjoyed reading this post. It's really nice of CoverFx to be so encouraging. And I also find, from the conversation, they truly understand. I sometimes feel that Editors at magazines don't always tell the truth anyway. I hope more companies take a look at this post and respect that beauty bloggers are bringing passion and knowledge to the table and yes selection is key. That's also why, there are Social Marketing Directors, make good use of them! =)

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