One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

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I Don’t Need To Review Your Product, You Want Me To.

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I get asked to review quite a few products on my weight loss blog. Weight loss is a broad category and a highly targeted market. Food products, pills, plans, exercise equipment, supplements, nothing is off limits. Most of the time I politely refuse the offer, and most of the time I never hear from the company again.

There are times, however, when I think the product is a good match.

Recently, a custom t-shirt company reached out and asked if I’d be willing to write a review for them. At first I wasn’t that interested but then I saw some potential with FitBloggin’. If they had the right type of shirts there may be sponsorship potential. So I replied to their pitch with a pitch of my own.

Hi XXXX! 

It’s nice to hear from you. I’d love to do this. Right now I use Zazzle for a few things but it’s pretty impersonal. I also host a conference called FitBloggin and we are looking for a shirt sponsor. Do you have any fitness apparel or something more then just you basic cotton T?

-Roni

Their response….

As a matter of fact, we do!  We have athletic tops in mens and women’s and customizable sweatpants and shorts. 

Right now I can offer you two free t-shirts for review, and you are more than welcome to look through our other stuff if you’d like to order any of it.  We pride ourselves on our low prices.

Let me know what you think.

Best,

I was excited! My plan was to design a shirt for a running event. Give it a try during a race and then post a review on Roni’s Weigh.

This opportunity just became a perfect fit for my site and my brand. I was excited for our potential relationship.

Once the design was done I was told how to proceed with ordering. Part of the email included…

You will need to enter in your credit card information and be charged one cent for your order.  We only do this so we can charge people full price for the shirts whenever they don’t end up doing the review they promised.  If you have any further questions or concerns let me know. 

Hold the phone! What? I was floored by this. What if I didn’t like the shirts? What if I didn’t write the review fast enough? What if they didn’t like my review? They could decide to charge me whenever they wanted?

My reaction may have been a little harsh but I meant every word.

As for charging if the blogger doesn’t do the review, that concerns me. I generally only post positive reviews, so if I’m unhappy with the shirts or the printing and decide not to review you would charge me?? 

I’m not saying it’s going to happen but I’m also not going to take an $75 dollar chance. Blogging is my profession. It’s how I make a living. You are asking me to promote something for you to my audience free of charge in exchange for a sample of your product. Is there a risk there? Of course, but that risk should be yours not mine. 

I’m sorry but I don’t feel comfortable providing you my credit card information. I don’t like to be pressured into posting a review and by holding the cost of the shirts over my head that’s exact what you are doing. 

Thank you for contacting me but I’m going to have to pass on the review offer. 

Listen, I’m flattered when I get these offers. I’m grateful when companies see the value I may be able to add to their campaigns but, like I said in my response, I refuse to be pressured into posting a review.

I say this in fear of sounding like a complete jerk but sometimes, what I really want to say to them is: I don’t need to review your product, you want me to.

Am I being unreasonable? Would you have provided your credit card information?

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However, to prevent the massive amounts of spam I was receiving I have turned off comments on any post older than 5 days old. If you'd like to leave me a note regarding this post or anything really try me on twitter (@RoniNoone,) my Facebook page, or even IG (@RoniNoone) I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. I never thought I'd have to do this but it's gotten way out of hand and comment management has become simply too time consuming to manage.

Discussion

There are 12 comments so far.

    Kase Noland

    November 16, 2011

    Hope you don’t mind me commenting here as I am coming from the opposite side of things. I am the guy giving the product out for bloggers to check out, review, wear, love, etc. (@GoSportID).

    Why do we offer free products for review? It’s pretty simple, we love the promotion that we get from people who not only like our products but are willing to write a review, tell their friends and broadcast it out to the world.

    Would we ever charge someone who ended up not actually writing a review (most commonly because they didn’t actually like the product or had an issue with it)? Absolutely not, but not because we’re nice and just like to give people free stuff. If you really don’t like a product it is worth x product cost to me for you to not post to the world that you didn’t like it. Honest reality.

    A far better solution than charging someone who didn’t write a post is to contact them and find out what went wrong with their experience with the product. Was it a customer service issue? Was it a packaging issue? Was the product faulty or the quality not what was expected? This kind of insight is worth far more than what most products cost.

    SunnyStL

    November 16, 2011

    So many times I see things like this and it saddens me that so many businesses just do shady things. And yes I find this shady. What happened to honest business. If they have to add onto an email they will charge you if you dont like their product when they gave it to your for FREE? So your then expected so say great things about it. You have every right to tell them no way no how. If your going to “give” me something for Free you dont charge. PERIOD. It would be like sharing food with your friends, then charging them if they tell you its not the best. Give me a break. Its sad that was have to look for these kinds of notes at the bottom of an email. Im sure there are plenty of people that dont pay attentiion to this and get charged. Sad.

    MarisCallahan

    November 16, 2011

    That is not PR. I don’t know what this company thinks they are doing reaching out to bloggers but good public relations strategy does not include guilt-tripping bloggers, peer pressuring bloggers or the exchange of money. This company has it all wrong.

    Public relations is EARNED MEDIA. Meaning the company’s product stands on its quality and there should be no incentive to cover – no free product, free trip, anything. A blogger that calls herself a journalist but then turns around and takes a press junket is unethical.

    In my opinion, blogger relations and public relations are different. Blogger relations falls under the PR umbrella but any company that asks for a product review is not doing public relations for their brand* (I never pitched “product review” in my early days of consumer PR. Those came from bloggers who had attracted the attention of PR people). What PR does is pitch brands, products, services for inclusion in editorial that a journalist is working on. A lot of it amounts to luck, and having good relationships with writers.

    In a perfect world I think the goal of PR should be to engage the writer with the hopes of inspiring them to write about a topic and use their client as a source or example. I represent an Indian restaurant and I would be embarrassed to show my client 12 identical reviews of a meal. I WANT to encourage real, meaningful content, not a cut and pasted press release with corporate messaging.

    *Unless the product is a movie, book, theater, etc. Then of course, reviews are traditional but even then most media outlets donate the product. The reporters don’t take them home.

    I went a little off topic here, but in a word, yes, I think this is an unthinkable strategy and it’s more than just bad PR practice it’s bad business.

    supersana786

    November 16, 2011

    If you died (hypothetical example) would you get charged for not posting a review????

    VivaBolova

    November 16, 2011

    You are absolutely not being a jerk, Roni. I represent brands and I contact bloggers, and I wish sometimes my clients would better understand when they are crossing a line. This company clearly did and you put them in the right place. I am proud of what I do as a marketer, and I appreciate partners like you that stand up for their beliefs. This isn’t even about marketing or PR – it’s about doing business right and being open. About time organizations learned how to do both.

    MizFitOnline

    November 17, 2011

    WOW. NO. Never.

    skinnyemmie

    November 17, 2011

    Hell to the NO.

    Joyce Cherrier

    November 17, 2011

    I’m in shock! Seriously they want access to your CC? Thought your response was perfect — polite and professional.

    fergusonsarah

    November 21, 2011

    I agree to you.. That was a great idea! Thanks for posting.. :)

    Charlotte74

    November 22, 2011

    Credit card details to review their product. Seems a bit rich…

    Joanna Wilson

    November 25, 2011

    Your article seems interesting.You’re so smart and witty.You are different.Thank you for giving your informative sheet.Keep it up!

    its_gail

    December 6, 2011

    I got the same email a couple weeks ago. Seriously??? Can’t believe that the guy thinks we don’t all pass around info like this.