Friday, 4 November 2011

Mummy Bloggers Beware

I make no secret of the fact that I'm a PR and sometimes it does makes conversations with my 'blogger head' on a little strained - but not often.
I will admit to having a folder in my mail application called 'Crap PR pitches', but thats for my own enjoyment and not something that I'd ever share.

The 'PR' me has subscribed to a service called Response Source since it launched X years ago and I've always picked up great national coverage for my clients through its daily alerts service. 
I say always but I really mean, always used to, as over the last twelve months or so the alerts have been flooded by bloggers (and I have to say mummy bloggers in particular) looking for free stuff to 'review'.

The bloggers using response source usually state their traffic and number of followers to boost their chances of landing the odd PR freebie or two and sometimes they post two or three requests in a single day - clogging inboxes even more. 

So, I've decided not to renew my subscription to Response Source because it takes so much time out of each and every day to wade through requests from bloggers on the blag.

But why am I telling you this?

Well I just sat down to go through today's 100+ requests and it looks like I'm not the only PR fed up by the constant inbox battering. The first message I looked at goes like this...

Is this the beginning of the end for the mummy blogger? I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Well, everyone is a 'writer' ... I can drive, but I'm no mechanic. I just think that real content and amusing, informative, skilful writing will prevail *eventually* The rabble will get bored soon enough .. *hopefully* . Just so tiring and consuming wading through so much bilge!

  2. I didn't realise ppl did that! I think I put one request out at the beginning of the year when I was doing my charity reading challenge, and that's been it. Can't believe ppl are doing it daily :(

  3. I have a very interesting conversation with a PR/Marketing Manager the other week who said that her phone is bleeping off the scale at the moment with emails coming in from RS. She also noted that the "mummy blagger" emails have increased and that it had put her (and her company) off working with bloggers in general until she had been convinced otherwise by a digital media manager from the inside (so to speak).

    There are a noted few who are persistent and don't seem to be able to conduct any part of their lives without a review item to hand and they have effectively been blacklisted.

    I'm sick of "mummy bloggers" or indeed "parent blogger" being given a bad name through this practice. I can honestly say that I have NEVER asked for anything to review but will take up opportunities presented to me either on a specific forum or by email.

    This is a hot topic at the moment and I suspect it is because of the boom in "mummy blogging", most of who DEFINITELY set up a blog thinking that they could just do reviews for freebies.

    I may sound hypocritical when I say this but I get literally hundreds of offers a month sent to me and cherry pick a few that I think fit in well with my blog and the readership. There's going to be backlash from the official review blogs but the ones that are successful I can count on one hand and they really have put some hard work into their blogs - hence the popularity.

  4. Very interesting post. I am a mother and a blogger but not a Mummyblogger and certainly not a blagger.

    In fact I am not sure how it works that some bloggers have a constant stream of items to review. Perhaps due to the fact that I live abroad, I have never had even the whiff of a freebie. No PR companies have contacted me, even though most of my fellow bloggers in UK are occasionally contacted.

    (By some strange irony of Apple, autocorrect wanted to make "fellow" into "freeloading" there).

    As it stands, I am quite glad that I haven't been tempted by the lure of the reviews and freebies. I blog about things that interest me and recommend items and places that I have found to be good.

    A blog with a review or two a month is fine, but I no longer read blogs that consist of one review after the next.

  5. That's really interesting, Sian. I use RS frequently with my journo hat on, so it's a bit of a worry that PRs are now dropping off because of the blogger influx. It'll undoubtedly make my 'real' work harder.

    As a journo, I keep my blog entirely separate from my work. Admittedly I'm lucky enough to do (paid) reviews for work, but my blog is a bit of fun and I have no interest in running reviews or comps on it, nor making it a revenue stream. I do, however, have my blog address on my email sign-off (although I delete it if I'm contacting 'serious' professionals), as I thought it was a good showcase for my writing, but you've made me think twice about it now, as I don't want the mummyblogger tag to work to my detriment.

  6. Thanks for your comments guys.
    I will add another 'case study' here.

    I've been the PR for a high end baby brand for 8 years and I've had my fair share of interesting approaches over the years but nothing compared to this.
    I had an email from a lady who has a 'mummy blog', she wanted to 'test and review' our pushchair worth around £1000. I mailed her back to ask her how long she had been blogging, how many followers her blog had, how many followers she had on Twitter & Facebook etc...
    Her response was that her blog had been live for 40 hours and she had 2 followers.
    What can you say to that?!

  7. Thank you for this post. As a new mummy blogger I have been debating the issue of reviews and you have made my mind up. There are so many more established bloggers already reviewing and when you can review products on most online stores there doesn't seem much point cluttering up a blog with them.

  8. Wow. I'm a blogger, and a mummy, so I suppose you could class me as a mummy blogger. I'm a world apart from that post though. I have not done one single review, mainly because I love to write and to me blogging is all about an outlet for my writing. Not to grasp free stuff.
    I think a blog starts to lose its purpose and interest when it suddenly becomes a walking advertisement - I know I've followed and enjoyed blogs only to lose interest when they start blogging about products and nothing else.
    If I wanted to watch the adverts then I'd switch off the laptop and turn on the TV instead. :-)

  9. I don't know if it's the beginning of the end of 'mummyblogging' but I do think something's going to give, sooner or later. I was chatting to someone about this at the baby show - a blogger had come up to them and said she'd started a new blog and she wanted to take xyz away with her from their stall to review. She pretty much demanded the item, but had a very brand new blog. I happen to know the person manning the stall and have a relationship with them and wasn't trying to blag anything, but the stuff she was telling me was so embarrassing, I didn't even take my "business cards" out once at the show.

    Anyway, my essay's point is this: I think it's going to become more and more about relationship, and recommendation, but at the same time I think there are as many PR's that take the .... as bloggers that do.

  10. @Mymummylife
    I have seriously been with RS for over 7 years... I can't think back any further!!!
    From that mail, I'm clearly not the only one dropping by the way side and earlier in the year they did put filters into place so you could block all bloggers but that's not the point really is it?
    Im seeing less and less requests from actual paid for media and RS doesn't come cheap. It has to be worth it.

  11. Luscka,
    You are right, its about the relationships that you build with brands and PR's. Of course PR's take the piss too - though I hope that no one thinks that I do!
    Its wrong that newbies are jumping on the bandwagon just to get freebies though - it brings the reputation of established bloggers who have worked hard to build their sites into question.

  12. Very interesting post. I'm quite new at blogging and have done a few reviews, but only where a company has specifically asked for mummy bloggers. I'd be too embarrassed to pester a company for freebies and I put so much effort into my review that I don't tend to see it as a freebie anyway.

  13. I literally stumbled into mummy blogging under the illusion that I would be writing a diary of my kids that no one would ever want to read! I had no idea about how quickly it could develop and not a clue about reviews or freebies. I have to say as a mummy that was forced to leave work due to childcare costs they have some advantages. That being said I not asked for anything for myself (I have organised a Christmas event but that is for other people and have received nothing for myself!) and only accept things that I like via email and feel fit my blog or me! I kind of feel that if i going to the time and effort of free advertising and I always write with my own style (not press release copy and paste crap) that they have got to want me not the other way round.

    However...I will freely admit I am a terrible speller. In fact despite numerous qualifications, being a teacher by trade I am truly rubbish at spelling. I did write a post in the early days of my blog about spellings and typo's. The problem is despite spell check, if you don't know that it is wrong in the first place how can you correct it if it is not picked up?

    I don't however see my blog as a piece of literacy genius - it is just me babbling on about stuff, things I love and loathe, the mayhem of 3 under 3 and any other crap that might pop into my head. I am also flattered that people want to read it and hope my spelling does not let the 'mummy bloggers' side down.

    Tis the season for festive fun and frolics - I think it is expected to see lots of reviews. Hopefully things will slow in January!

    Great post...sorry for my long reply!

  14. @Multiplemummy
    I'm with you on the spelling....

    My personal nark - and clearly that of the PR used as an example is bloggers blagging freebies when their sites have such a limited reach.
    I have a cat. She's called Cheryl and she is pretty awesome. She's on Twitter and she has a blog (told you she was awesome). She has more followers and a bigger reach than the majority of the bloggers posting on Response Source.
    She's a cat.

  15. I guess I'm a mummy blogger and occasional blagger though I've never heard of RS and apart from the odd tweet with a #prrequest I don't think I pester PR companies.

    The trouble is as long as companies keep sending stuff put, more and more people will jump on the bandwagon. I've spent 18 months building up my blog and it's only recently that I've found myself being swamped with requests from PR companies. If they come to me and I accept is that still classed as blagging? ;)

    I hope PR people are happy with the work I've done for them, I always send them emails with links once it is posted and ask if they are happy. I guess most are as I get a lot of repeat work through them and I do think it's a shame if mummy bloggers all get a bad name because of all the persistent blagging.

    I won't apologise for the odd bit of blagging I do myself, if we are reaching a stage with the kids such as potty training, weaning etc then I usually do put out PR requests to see if anyone would like a product reviewing, mainly because I like trying new products and also many of my readers have similar aged children and so find these reviews relevant.

    Gosh I've gone on a bit there sorry! I just don't like to be thought of as a blagger :(

  16. Wow your cat is truly awesome! I want her twitterID..I feel I must follow her!

  17. I queried whether this was a genuine RS post because it is just so blatant! I thought I was misreading it and missing the joke. Obviously not.

    Though this one has to be one of the extreme I can tell from Twitter alone that more and more people are just wanting freebies. Tweets such as...
    "I want to review something, it might get me readers or even comments - anyone have anything for me?" just make my head spin.

    It's a damn shame really, blogger outreach campaigns have been known to be very successful in some sectors but they will fall by the way-side shortly because PRs just don't have the time to sift through the blaggers to find the bloggers.

  18. @DawnieBrown
    You are not a blagger and as I have worked with you with my 'PR' hat on I can absolutely hands down state that.
    RS is Response Source - it's an enquiry service that PR's like me, subscribe to (not cheap) and journalists post enquiries to when they are looking for case studies. Well that is the way it used to be anyway...

  19. The only time I've ever asked for something was I got sent a pitch to review a very low cost item and I thought of a better way (which didn't involve a very low cost item that I wasn't going to write about), suggested it to them and they agreed to it. But that was a one to one exchange and they had already approached me. I don't go round asking for stuff and I truly appreciate the things I have been offered.

    I can honestly say that I didn't even know about people getting free stuff to review when I set up my blog so there is no way I can say that that was what I set mine up to do. I was gobsmacked when I was first offered things to review! It is a nice side effect of blogging but it's not my be all and end all. I have by and large written about everything I've been sent too - even if it has been in a post where I mention several items, tho I do struggle sometimes keeping up with the Toyologist reviews because they send so many toys in one go.

    Like Nickie, I'm always annoyed by a minority spoiling it for the majority. And it's also why I don't subscribe to many blogs; I pick and choose what I want to read as I go on. I do read reviews but only of products I am interested in. I know that reviews don't get as many pageviews. The ones I am subscribed to don't tend to be review heavy. And as I know that too many reviews is offputting, I try to limit them on my own blog too.

    Sorry, I'm rambling but I hope I'm making sense. Perhaps Response Source needs to have some ground rules setting limits for requests per month, like they do on groups like freecycle, and persistent annoyances can be booted off.

  20. Yikes! As you know, Sian, I work at a comms agency and completely separately I'm a 'mummy blogger', so I see blogger relations both sides.

    I too have noticed a big increase in mummy blogger RS requests in recent months, with the vast majority being requests for products to review.

    I can't speak about 'persistent blaggers' as I haven't paid enough attention to spot repeat names, but I'd guess the majority of bloggers are doing this in good faith - they don't know that their one request is one of hundreds.

    I do wonder if instructions on how to file a request are on a mummy blogging forum somewhere, encouraging bloggers to give it a go. I know it's not ideal for a blogger to actively ask for products to review all the time, but I don't think the occasional request does any harm if it's reasonable and for a proper feature (not just, "I fancy a new telly"!).

    I actually attempted to file an RS request last month as I wanted expert comment (NOT products) to support a post I'm writing for A Mummy Too on reusable nappies (I was facing conflicting advice as to whether they're suitable for newborns and wanted an official line or two).

    My request got held for moderation by RS and I was asked to include my blog stats if I wanted it to go through. After speaking with the guys at RS, I learned that this is actually a requirement RS impose on all bloggers now to help PRs decide if the request is worth pursuing.

    I guess it makes sense - I would imagine the majority of bloggers don't get any response at all as their stats are usually very small and the products sought often of high value.

    Again, it may seem comical that someone with a handful of readers wants a PR to send stuff for review, but I guess unless you work in the industry, you may not know whether 300 visits a month, or 100 Facebook fans is huge or tiny. (And I won't go into the whole issue of whether stats matter half as much as who the audience are and how likely to message is to be acted on etc as I don't want to bore everyone rigid).

    Anyway, the need to include stats etc made me realise that my own RS request could be seen as spammy, despite not asking for products, so in the end, I just put a call out on Twitter and got my input that way instead.

    It's a real shame this is becoming an issue because RS is, in my opinion, a fantastic tool for journalists and PRs alike. On the plus side, the requirement to include stats shows that the people at RS are conscious that there is an issue, and I'm sure they'll come up with further ways to resolve it over time that are fair on bloggers and PRs.

  21. Very interesting post.
    I am new at the blogging things and never been given anything to review, but surely never asked for it either.
    Some blogs do actually have too many reviews in my opinion.
    as a new girl on the block, I find it annoying that if I want to talk about a product that I generally and honestly endorse and paid for it, someone might think it is a PR spin.
    I am also keen to contact whichever brand that I review positively to say what a good job they have done, because word of mouth is the best form of endorsement, but then again sometimes I wonder if they think that I am after something.
    Very complicated! but please keep the advice coming

  22. Great post. Very timely as the situation is totally getting out of hand. Sometimes I wish someone would send me a masseuse or a chef to "review" :), but most of the time I'm ok with not having any sponsored content (other than a few links). I've been blogging for almost 7 years without freebies so I know I do it because I love it :)

  23. Emily,
    LOL... you should have asked me about the reusable nappy thing. I have worked with many of the leading brands over the last 12 years - but YES they are suitable for a newborn and more suitable than a disposable because they are chemical free. (Rant over).
    It's interesting that they are now asking for stats before you can post and it makes my head spin even more when I see stats of 200 visits a month attached to requests.
    I have to admit that I have been really anal about it over the last few months and when it really, really started peeing me off I started a spreadsheet to log all the blogger requests I was getting.

    It is a shame that RS is being compromised in this way but in addition to the number of blogger requests there is also a massive reduction in real journo requests.

    Any more nappy stuff - I'm your gal!

  24. I was under the impression with RS you could simply opt out of receiving request for review products and/or requests from bloggers? Certainly, I think that was the idea behind introducing the new categories of request a year or so back.

    The problem isn't just 'bloggers'. Because if these requests didn't succeed for those making them, then they would soon dry up. But for everyone PR who sees this as inappropriate, there's another PR who sees it as a valid way of generating backlinks for a client, quickly and inexpensively.

    The challenge comes, I think, because traditionally the relationship between journos and PRs worked very differently - and these are new relationships, with new norms, still being worked out.

    It's as much up to PR agencies and digital professionals to look at how to address this, if it's a problem, as it's down to bloggers to behave appropriately.

    Perhaps Daryl could look at creating a guide to issuing requests for bloggers using his service. Perhaps the PR agencies and brands could begin providing online information for bloggers wishing to contact them, setting out terms of engagement?

    I think it's too easy to criticise people for "blagging" but if something's there, and times are tough, people will chance their arm, every time - and I'm not sure anyone has the right to judge. After all, it's perfectly legal and nobody HAS to say yes, surely?

  25. Hi Sian,

    I started up my blog in January not really knowing what or where it was going to take me. I was soon approached by a company, who gave me my 'break' in reviewing products. I used RS back in March, I didn't expect anything from it but I was very lucky to be inundated with emails offering me products to review. I have not had to use RS since as I have developed a good relationship with these PR's and they are always willing to email me when they have new products/ companies that they'd like me to write about. I have been lucky to be approached by PR's off of the back on my blog ever since.

    I am quite appalled by that request to RS - call me what you like, naive /green etc., but I see every email I get from a PR as a opportunity to write an honest review of a product for the readers, I would be doing myself (the PR's and readers) a disservice if I didn't.

    My intention is for the readers to see that I approach every review with integrity and only ever review products that are of interest to me. It saddens me that some people think that we are doing it just to get freebies (and like you say some new bloggers are) it ruins the reputations of those that do it seriously and those of established bloggers.

    I won't stop doing reviews as I enjoy testing products but it does make me stop and think about where my blog is going and what others think of me. Thank you for raising this point.


  26. I'm a very 'new' blogger and whilst I'd never call myself a mummy blogger (I leave that to the experts), I've used RS twice and had a nice response from PRs (and RS themselves to be fair).

    But I am seeing more and more review requests for 'parenting' products- some of which I've accepted and some are just bizarre - but a lot of which take my blog somewhat off-topic, (something that I'm planning to rectify very very soon!) - despite specifying what my blog was meant to be about (and will be about again!)

    I guess it works both ways - the amount of PR junk I have to wade through almosts makes me sympathetic to the blaggers. I've had SEO departments ask to do specific optimisation for their links!

    However, at the end of the day (And I'm going to put a disclaimer on this as only my opinion!) - how someone wants to run a blog is up to them. Be it a diary, reviews, giveaway or a mix of all 3.
    If blagging works for someone, so be it. The offers will most likely soon dry up.

    However, I'm finding the mummy bloggersphere in particular, so critical of the behaviour of other bloggers, its quite disturbing.

    Things will evolve, the strongest will survive and as usual with the internet, it'll probably happen quickly (etc etc etc)

    I'm sure RS will soon change if it loses revenues from PR's unsubscribing or journo requests drying up (creating a separate enquiry service for bloggers?).
    But as long as PRs still want to use blogosphere as a way to fulfill their client's brief quickly, there'll always be blaggers picking up the freebies (and I don't mean that disrepectfully to PRs, but some really do just seem to want eyeballs and content to show they've done their job)

  27. Sally,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Yeah - of course its all perfectly legal and I'm just showing the other side of coin here.
    From the RS point of view, as a subscriber I did set some blockers when the new categories came in last year but more and more requests have started to slip through.
    Yes it is up to PR's and Digital agencies to address this too and the ones who are sending products out just so that they can tick the 'Blogger Outreach' box on their spreadsheet are of course making the situation worse.
    I emailed Daryl this afternoon with the very same suggestion.

  28. @Mummy Manda
    I wish more people had your integrity.
    Keep at it.

  29. @Gadget MUM
    Thank you for your comment - this has turned into quite the debate!
    I'm with you on the bizarre requests... I have a folder in my email for them too!
    This is still a relatively new arena and you are right - things will fall into line with specific services for bloggers but in the meantime I think that we should have the whole picture.
    Response Source shouldn't have let that request go out today. It should have been refused (in my opinion).

  30. Hi Sian,
    I've long been a fan of RS and admit the increased volume of requests eats into my evening much more than previously, but I still value the vast majority of enquiries. I've just blogged about today's spoof here if you're interested:

  31. A really interesting post. I rarely do reviews and so I'm responding to this impartially.

    As a newer blogger I was baffled when I saw the amount of things other newer bloggers were being sent to review and events to go to. Because I don't get such invites or have such contacts it was an eye opener to me.

    However, these things are a 2 way street. Sometimes bloggers travel, at their own expense, to 'the big smoke' to attend events to be encouraged to promote a companies product in return a small sample product. Some bloggers do this sort of thing a lot in the hope of getting a link back to their blog or creating 'relations' with the company.
    I can well believe that there's a cry out from mummy bloggers for products to review or give away in competitions. I am constantly told that running a comp. on your blog is 'where it's at' at the moment. If tomorrow all companies ceased working with mummy bloggers I don't think it would make a huge difference to the blogging world - or maybe I'm just an idealist, optimistical newbie !

  32. I'm fairly new to blogging & only started it so I could write about what was going on in my life. I've won a couple of prizes & have written reviews for them but had never thought about contacting companies to ask for "free" stuff ............... now you've got me thinking, should I email Porsche & say i'll write a review on my blog if they give me 1???

  33. We get asked all the time to review products but the team on flying start don't have time, I certainly don't have time (although we have reviewed the occasional product to tie in with features) so I have recently put a shout out on asking for parents to come forward and apply for a new review panel, as I do think that its a shame we can't feature these products that are being offered for review.
    Must say, I have been overwhelmed by the feedback for applicants!

  34. I'm a bit sickened by the blagging and bitching that goes with mummy blogging so I have mothballed my Fivekidsandcountingblog and am concentrating on my blog about current affairs politics and news so no freebies or reviews for me - only been blogging a short while but can't believe the personal attacks I have witnessed people experience via comments on their blogs. There are some fantastic mummy bogs out there but some serious drivel too !

  35. I'm a mummy blogger but have never asked for anything. Yes, I get requests but I do hand pick them. But to be honest, I'd rather not do reviews at all and am making a concerted effort to move away them them completely unless they are too fab to say no to.

    Fantastic points, a while back I came across a very new blog with only one post, in which they introduced themeselves and then proceeded to inform PRs that they would be more than happy to do reviews??? WTF.

    I was blogging for nearly a year before I had any contacts with PRs. It's not all about freebies and in fact is really hard work.

    And I stop stopped using RS yonks ago.


    Mediocre Mum

  36. Trying to reply to everyones comments... but my Chicken kebab has just thrown a spanner in the works.....
    Hope you understand!

  37. Ha I've just eaten a meaty dominos pizza.... 260 calories a slice. Yup, healthy eating plan down the pan! Chicken kebabs would have been such a better option! X

  38. I blog and I blag but when I do blag it's not for me but for my charity events.

    For my last event #borntoplay I blather a whole lot but that blagging raised money for save the children.

    I guess that's ok isn't it? Or is blagging just blagging?

    I get things to review, and I provide links and promotion of those posts too. It's nice receiving new products to try and share with others - but I do see lots of bloggers who just do review after review and don't seem to write about anything else.

    It's really interesting seeing it from a PRs side- my husband is in PR and is often shocked by some of the pitches and offers I receive.

  39. I have a question: does anyone (anyone! be honest...) really like reading reviews on blogs? I personally find it a real turn-off. I'd much rather read some well-written post with personality about something interesting than a few paragraphs on a new product that the PR has sent the blogger.

    Don't get me wrong, I write about products on my (fairly new) blog but they're products that I have bought or been given as a gift from friends that I feel passionate about and want to share with my readers.

  40. I had no idea bloggers were using RS like this. I can imagine that as a PR it's really annoying.

    But surely this is self limiting because the greedy blaggers will soon realise that filling in the RS form doesn't actually get them anything. More and more PRs are likely to just use the filter to stop listening to bloggers and that'll be the end of that.

  41. Great post and lots of great comments, a real contribution to the debate.
    I just wanted to confirm you can filter out ResponseSource enquiries by type as well as the more extreme option of all bloggers. And we recently introduced the option to filter out individual enquirers simply by clicking a link at the end of their enquiry.
    As for 'massive reduction in real journalist enquiries', that's not my observation but it may depend on sector and I am sure the increase in other types of enquiry has altered perspectives a bit.
    As for letting that spoof enquiry go out, well I stand by it as I think it has been a catalyst for debate which has to be a good thing.

  42. P.S ~ seeing as we are talking blagging...

    #borntoplay (for save the children) will be returning next July and we'd love companies to get involved. So I'm On the blag for anything fabulous for our raffle that happens on the day!

    Maclaren, hipp organic and other fab companies got involved last year so get in touch if you want to be involved in a fab event for a very worthy charity.

  43. I'm a PR - I actually came across this post because I have a great relationship with a blogger (Nickie - up the top) - if I can put in my two cents, I divide bloggers into two categories - the ones who come up to you at events and send RS's with 'do you give products to review' and those who write because they LOVE to write - very easy to tell the difference. The latter (of which Nickie is one) make for much more interesting 'features' should their interests match your client/campaign. I think bloggers are considered influential rightly so, but I think many have cottoned on to the fact they can pick up freebies. The worst is when a blogger gets grumpy when you don't give them samples, we simply don't have enough free stock for every single request!

    Going forward I think PRs need to create more interesting feature content than just 'reviews' (e.g. discussions and debate) and bloggers should write on what they are passionate about, rather than just what they like to receive in by the PR postman.


  44. I hadn't heard of RS before but I have noticed that there seems to be a big increase in mummyblogger review blogs that have started recently. I've done 2 reviews in 2 years of blogging and am about to do a third and I'm only doing it because I'm actually interested in the product - otherwise it wouldn't be worthwhile for the time it will take to try out and write a (hopefully) entertaining review. I do get quite a lot of PR approaches, especially when I manage to squeeze into the Tots 100, but most of them are innappropriate or London-based. I am in Dublin, and interestingly have never been approached by an Irish PR company. As an ex-PR who was approaching bloggers 5 years ago, I find that odd..

  45. This isnt black and white and you certainly have to say both pr's and bloggers have to take some responsibility, let me explain what i mean. We get upwards of 20 direct requests every month from bloggers wanting to review 'specific' toys and we have teamed up with selected bloggers to put together a review strategy partly to help create more awareness for us as a small independent toy company. I have even used tracking links, favourable blogs, from relevant well positioned bloggers but it doesnt always result in any tangible sales. I think there needs to be a more complete strategy around the blog piece linked to an offer and an integrated follow up then the 'freebie' becomes a measurable asset. The bloggers that start thinking more about how their blog or following base can link at multiple levels to the product or service so there is a perceived win win on both sides are the bloggers that will rise to the top. Some less well intentioned bloggers may cause some friction and leave a few pr's in their wake but they won't ultimately survive surely?

  46. How funny, I just blogged about how so many of the mummy blogs I used to enjoy had become all about the"review" and how boring that was. I guess it is snowballing, and not in a good way.

  47. I think the blogging world is full of mixed opinions from what I have seen since I started mine 6 months ago. I have only done two reviews and my latest took me an hour to write so it's not really something for nothing but I have never contacted a PR company let alone RS, never heard of them! I think reviews can be helpful, I would buy a product that had been reviewed positively by one of the blogs that I follow but I guess you can't please all the people all the time! 'Those messages were shocking though, I would never expect to review anything of value until I was one of the top bloggers! But it means nothing to me, I blog because I love it not for an occasional write-up of a product. Interesting post x

  48. OK... I'm back...
    @notanorthernmummyblog - I too get turned off by multiple review posts on blogs and I do try to stay true to writing about products that i truly love and use... lego, Xbox etc and I try to integrate my reviews so they don't stand out and make people switch off.

    Clearly bloggers are getting responses and free stuff - or this route would have fizzled out long ago.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. As I've already said i've been a subscriber to your service since launch. I've chopped and changed my subscriber categories over the years and I have added filters since the new features were added.
    This clearly has been a catalyst for debate as my post has had over 2000 views tonight!

  49. @childcareisfun
    Blag on lady... If anyone has anything that they would like to donate to Fi's Born to Play please feel free to say so and I;ll pass on your details.

  50. @scottdunn85
    You hit the nail on the head. Its all about the relationships that you build with the bloggers that you work with.
    As a PR I work with lots of bloggers but I don't ever take the 'product review' route.

  51. Really interesting debate. I started my blog in May 2008, before the likes of twitter and facebook were the force they are today! Before tots100 and all these other competitive blogging stat places were around. Back then (sound like an old biddy, I know), people blogged to try and get book deals, or because they loved writing. A few did get book deals Petite Anglais, Wife In The North...but most of us were doing it because we were home alone and it was comforting to know there were other people out there in the same position as you. I'm a journalist, and I had a little baby but still wanted to write. Then the PRs arrived, Twitter and Facebook 'likes' pages. Things have changed. I started doing the odd review, but hardly got any feedback, and decided it wasn't for me at all. I stopped blogging for a long time, as it all seemed about PR and not about writing anymore. For me, my blog is a personal outlet for writing, that I couldn't believe people even wanted to read and comment on. For some, blogging is a full time career. To have the big stats and visitors, you have to spend A LOT of time visiting other people's blogs, commenting on them, linking, tweeting into the night. It's exhausting. But each to their own. Some have made quite successful careers out of it. Bloggers are the new thing. I've never quite understood where the PR is coming from, surely at most you reach 1000/2000 people even on the most successful blogs, but most likely in the 100s for the average blog, whereas in magazine's/radio it's 100,000s of people. Perhaps, as a PR, you could tell us what PR's get out of bloggers, except from ticking a box? Cor, this is much more interesting than what's on TV tonight anyway...

  52. @Looking for Blue Sky
    I think reviewing when you have a genuine interest in the product is where its at.

  53. @Paul
    Thank you for taking the time to respond from a brand perspective.
    Having worked with bloggers in the past and tracked links I'd be really interested to know how or if you still work with bloggers.

  54. This is a really interesting post. I started blogging primarily as a way to use my brain while on maternity leave, and to document my baby's life. I soon became addicted to the blogging world. I started getting approached by PR companies, and nowadays get a few requests a day. However the one thing I won't do is review just anything- I will only review something relevant to my daughter and something that I would probably go out and buy with my own hard earned money. In my opinion if someone is offering me something that I would go out and buy myself- in these hard times why would anyone not accept it? I see so many people reviewing soap and shampoo and things and thats when I think it may be taking it a little too far. Why would anyone want to read a review about soap?! Unless it was exceptionally exciting soap! ;)

    I always try to make my reviews interesting (they are probably not!) and loaded with personal stories about my life with my daughter- I am very aware that they are not the most interesting to read.

    In these tough times, being on maternity leave and with my husband having to take a massive pay cut, some reviews I have done have offered opportunities for my daughter that I would have never been able to provide for her at this current moment in time. But in exchange for a product I build up a relationship with the brand or PR and spend a good deal of time writing a relevant review.

    That said I will never be just a review blog and I spend a lot of time on my blog writing what I want to write about- it is my space and the main thing I am passionate about is my writing, that is why I got into it and that is why I continue to do it. I have noticed a lot more sole review blogs cropping up, and if I am honest they do not interest me in the slightest.

    Thanks for a really interesting debate while I am a little bored and restless on this dreary Friday night and this is just my opinion- doesn't mean its the right one!


  55. I'm a blogger but not a mummy blogger; I think the answer has to be that PRs take control of the situation and have a preferred list of bloggers where they know the stats and the reach and know that there is something tangible to offer the client. I think it is often forgotten that the PRs are there to generate awareness and increase sales of a product, not to be a friend and freebie-giver to bloggers. To speak up for bloggers, I think that many, particularly new bloggers and those who aren't media aware, genuinely don't really understand the business aspect of PR (i.e. budgets and the limited availability of samples) and it has to lie with the PRs to do the right thing for the client. That's the bottom line. That said, it can all be done amicably and not responding to RS at all is probably the answer as well as hand selecting the bloggers you want to work with long term.

  56. Katie,
    Your opinion is valid and welcome. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  57. This is a very interesting post and is stirring up a lot of opinions! It was only fairly recently that I found out about RS and you even emailed me saying that you had seen my enquiry. It's a tough one to say was I blagging? I was trying to find out about decent maternity gear and that I was a willing guinea pig, simply because I have been struggling to find good items and I knew it would be of interest to my readers (pregnant ones of course). It has made me see it in a different light now though.

    I am happy for my blog to be varied. I love to write a heartfelt post and talk about something I am passionate about but it is not possible to always have the material, life can sometimes be boring and mundane, who wants to read that. I feel there is nothing wrong with reviews, especially if you make them engaging. The exposure to even a handful of bloggers and people searching on google will be worth it for the cost of the product.

    Just my opinion though! :-)

  58. @Britishbeautyblogger
    Thanks for your comment. Great points.

  59. @Mummy and the Beastie
    And a valid opinion too - thank you for taking the time to comment.

  60. As an aside, do you think this is why there has been an increase. In PAs asking for only positive reviews to be published and the request for sample products to be returned?

  61. Morning Nickie,
    That is a totally different debate I think but one that has also been brought to my attention this week. If a PR insists that a blogger writes only favourable reviews then it isn't really a review at all is it?

  62. Liz (

    OK... here's my take. I use RS all the time as a journalist, in my day job. I carefully target the PRs I want my requests to go to (I've seen some bloggers tick every single box).

    I am also a blogger of course and I also do blogger outreach as part of my day job but I haven't used RS for anything to do with blogging for at least 18 months, basically because I have so many approaches from PR companies on a daily basis it's all I can do to cope with them (and annoyingly I'm still getting the ones aimed at parents of newborns, or entitled 'dear blogger'. So lazy.)

    What annoys me though is when I see #prrequest from bloggers blagging on twitter. That goes for bloggers who are trying to score sponsorship for conferences next spring or summer, too. It makes my toes curl, frankly, and tbh it also makes me unfollow.

    When I put up a request on Brit Mums for bloggers interested in working with a major brand earlier in the year I was inundated with responses... but at least a handful were from bloggers who had been blogging for about a month and had 20 page views.

    I do not condemn or blame anyone from trying to get freebies for their family or to make the household budget stretch a little further at the moment - times are really tough for a lot of people. But I do think there needs to be some sort of reality check with some bloggers. If they think about it from the PR's point of view, is it likely the PR will want to work with them if they only get a handful of hits on their blog a month?

    I'm very lucky that the brands I want to work with want to work with me, I know that, and I'm very appreciative of all the incredible opportunities I've been given. Of course a lot of the brands I work with I've been working with for years as a journalist, but some of my favourite opps - being an XBox ambassador, for example - have come via blogging.

    I also make it very clear on my blog what my PR policy is. But I have been blogging for three years. The best advice I could possibly give anyone starting out is to build up your blog and get that right, get the traffic. THEN you'll start getting the invites and products - if that's what you want. Not everyone does!
    Liz Jarvis

    I blog at

  63. Fab post Sian and great comment Liz, I have been blogging for a year and did use RS for a start but I haven't for ages ad I totally agree. The rise of the mummy blogger is ever increasing and I think in time the bloggers who are really interested in doing blogging for the right reason's will be the ones left and all those who are just in it for the freebies will get bored and stop. I do get things to reveiw but I never approach companies or send out requests, I just think that is rude.
    Thanks for highlighting this.

  64. Wow, I am baffled by bloggers actually sending out ads via ResponseSource! I didn't even know you could do that! (And if I had known, I still wouldn't).

    My first contact with a PR came completely out of the blue from John Lewis. I still have no idea how they 'found' me - and at first I thought the email must be a joke!

    I will admit to occasionally emailing PR's, but only if I think the review would be beneficial to both of us. I have a rather more niche angle when reviewing, in that my son is autistic, so my approach to reviews is coloured by whether I think the product (or whatever it is) can be beneficial for all children on the spectrum and with other special needs. This, I feel, is helpful to more people that just me - it's not about the 'free stuff' for me. After all, what's the point of a free scooter if my son is in a wheelchair and can't ride it?

    I do think that some bloggers have their heads turned by freebies and lose sight of what they were blogging for in the first place. That is actually quite sad. And as for those who come into it just for the free stuff - they give the rest of us a bad name (although I can't help admiring their nerve!).

    Getting back to your original point (sorry!), I think there needs to be some reviewing of procedure at RS. Genuine journalistic approaches, yes. Blatant blogger blagging - an emphatic NO.

  65. Wow! Such an interesting debate. I think the fundamental issue here is that anyone can be a blogger, so it's not like a bunch of sales people, or accountants, or marketeers, where you kind of know how to handle them, or what kind of person they are likely to be and therefore what may and may not work with them... Bloggers come from all backgrounds, all walks of life, so it is hugely tricky for both PRs to pitch it right and equally now there appears to be a bunch that are purely after freebies. For anything to be really successful you have to work at it and really work at it, so PRs need to be more mindful of the parameters they set and bloggers need to realise they need to equally give something back. I have used RS ever since Lunchbox World started back in 2009, although to be honest have not put any shout-outs out since early Summer this year due to having some really good PR contacts now. I try at all times to be professional and keep requests focused to Lunchbox World, putting the fun back into lunches, eating outdoors, on-the-go and so on. I must do another shout out to see what's changed, as Lunchbox World has both a website and a blog, although I have intentionally kept the blog separate so as to be able to focus on family life as well as fun lunches.... to keep the readers interested and provide variety. Maybe the time will come when we are inundated with requests to review... I will have to tackle that one with eyes wide open!

  66. I'm going to try to keep this short as I'm a bit fired up on coffee and it could go all kinds of ways! Like most honest human beings yes I like free things. Free things can make us smile and bring a spark to an otherwise cruddy day. Free things can, in some cases, change people's lives. In my opinion folks shouldn't go chasing the free things as that lessens the true value of what they are....for example hugs are free but if you ask for them all the time it kind of cheapens the emotional strength giving nature of them.
    I write a regular feature on my blog called "I want one of these." Now some people might think that it's a blantant "look at me, give me stuff, I want your things!" sort of thing but those who know me better know that I very very rarely get sent anything by the people who I feature and the real reason I do it is because I love pointing out people who are doing something/making something/selling something amazing and beautiful. Giving folks some love and maybe getting a thank you in return is the best freebie of all!!! Who needs stuff!!! :)

  67. I've never approached anyone - but since I started blogging (and in particular since the book came out) my inbox has been swamped on a daily basis by emails from PRs asking me to attend/mention/review stuff.

    Often I get two or three identical emails from the same PR in a very short space of time...which simply irritates me (if you can't check your mailing list then why should I read what you keep on and on sending). At least half of the stuff I get sent is entirely irrelevant to me. Very (very) occasionally I might think - yes, that sounds interesting, I could review that so I repsond and they say great - and I never hear from them again. So the point of their original email was what exactly?

    There is no coincidence that other than a few guest posts on a fantastic cooking website I have reviewed only a couple of things on my own blog ever. One was a DVD - a favourite of my daughter so we 'wrote' (or at least drew) the review which we both really enjoyed doing. The other was the first of a few reviews I will do for a company with whom I have had a life-long love affair (much discussed on twitter!). I'm happy to review stuff for them because it is genuinely relevant and of interest (cooking/baking surprise there)

    I do look at every email that comes in - but will continue to say no to 99% of them - partly because I want reviewing to be only a very small part of my blog and mainly because unless it's something that I am truly interested in and would jump at the chance of doing/using in any case I don't have the time/energy to pursue. I hope by doing this at least readers and any companies/brands I do work with will know that what I write is genuine, considered and above all objective. If I don't like something I will say so... Much as I love reading reviews there's nothing that pees me off more than a blog that is simply wall to wall raving about product after product. (I'm sure many or most of the things reviewed are genuinely wonderful but post after post of fulsome praise without even the hint of a negative anywhere along the line does make one wonder) What a curmudgeonly grump I have clearly become : )

  68. I have never actually approached a PR for a review and am very choosy when I do review items. I actually don't like to do reviews very often because usually I get very few comments on them. I admit it, I'm a comment whore. I love them more than page views.

    That being said, if a PR contacts me, has done their homework and a product fits my blog, I am happy to review. Fishing for reviews though seems a bit cheeky.

  69. I think that part of the problem is that it is very difficult for new bloggers to learn the ropes. Every so often you see posts like this, that gives you an idea what's going on behind the scenes but otherwise people are left to guess.

    I'm perhaps unique in that I'm both a new and old blogger. I've been writing a shopping blog for five years. In essence it gives a mini-review or highlight five products a week. Over the years I have received a few PR emails and I now properly review a half dozen items a year - but most of the items are just pulled from the web.

    Even with this previous experience, I've found starting Another Goldfish to be quite challenging as it's a whole new experience. The Mummy bloggers seem to have a fair few expectations on how people should interact and respond. You shouldn't be doing this and should be doing that...yet without there being a clear explanation. I'm thinking a few months ago there were complaints that people were writing for PR people for free and thus making it more difficult for those who were charging...(or something like that- it was hard to follow when you didn't have a point of reference to start with.)

    Even when I've posted a question on Twitter, using examples I'm receiving on my other blog, I often get the impression that the answer should be obvious. Maybe that's so, but it often feels like I'm trying to learn how to bake a cake by looking at a picture of the final result.

    Now I'm not saying that everyone should go out of their way to teach newbies (even I don't have time for that), but I think we have to accept that new blogs are going to make mistakes along the way.

    For the record,I never contact PRs - and I don't expect PRs to contact me because Another Goldfish is still developing, both it's voice and it's audience. One thing I do know is the long term investment it takes to establish a blog.

  70. This comment has been removed by the author.

  71. I actually had to ask on Twitter last night after seeing a few tweets in my timeline, "what is a blagger?" because even though I had an idea I didn't realise this went on. I'd say blagging to such an extreme is giving the "mummy blogger" a bad reputation and it concerns me that if people are setting up blogs purely for the purpose of receiving freebies in exchange for a review, the Tots100 Index for example will start to become the place many PR's avoid.

    I don't do reviews on my blog and know very little about the etiquette of doing them, but when I stumble on a blog that is wholly reviews for particularly expensive items, I often wonder how that blogger managed to get hold of them. I get emails from PR's daily, as most bloggers do, and have recently been inundated with them, probably because Christmas is on the way, but I hold my hands up and admit that I delete them all. Occasionally, I have been known to respond politely explaining that I don't do reviews but thanks for considering me and very occasionally I get a reply thanking me for emailing back.

    I don't know what the answer is but it's a shame that mummy bloggers are inevitably going to be tarnished with the same brush eventually, and then we will be inundated with bloggers writing about the fact they are 'not' a mummy blogger and don't want to be known as one.

    A very thorny issue.
    CJ xx

  72. I've had my blog since 2008 (not a mummy blogger) and read a lot of blogs and I've noticed a lot of reviews creeping in, I was also approached recently about doing reviews of things but I e mailed back and said no thanks because my blog just isn't that kind of blog and I want to stay "on topic". It would certainly put me off reading a blog if it turned into a stream of reviews.

  73. As a fellow PR who also has open PR/blogger visibility, I couldn't agree more. And I don't think those who are doing it realise quite how transparent it appears and how badly it reflects on them. It's also a shame that it gives bloggers who write for the pure passion for writing a bad name. Yes, free stuff is a perk and I don't deny having taken up offers from brands who have approached us with products or services relevant to us as a family. However that's not what being a blogger should be about.
    On the PR side I've done a lot of work with top brands advising them on blogger outreach and how to get the most out of this type of working relationship. I've even warned brands about the freebie hungry blogger and I feel quite strongly that sometimes a blogger who actively asks for product to review is in it for the wrong reasons. I think brands are fast wising up to the 'scam' and are getting more wary about sending out review products. It's a huge shame because lots of people including myself get a huge reward from blogging - advice, support and friendship. As I said, yes we get nice perks but brands (and us wonderful PR's) shouldn't be exploited!!!!!!!

  74. Thank you for all the comments today (whilst I've been running around like a crazy mother). I've just been told that there are lots of whining conversations taking place on Twitter.....
    Come on people, this is an open discussion. If you have something to add, positive or negative then please do leave a comment.

  75. Ooh and I want to add that it drives me batty sifting through the RS requests weeding out the good from the bad (have to say that the Full House competition prize ones drive me insane too). And I also confess to using RS in the past to find info and experts for posts, and products from brands for a blogger event but I am justifying that as totally acceptable. Right?!

  76. I cringe when I see people trying to blag products on Twitter. All that cosying up to brands, and even bared face begging really makes me uncomfortable.

    I've been blogging for about 2.5 years. In that time I've had my fair share of PR pitches, and yes, I review (and have recently been told I'm not allowed in the Mumsnet bloggers Network because of it), but I don't ask for product. I'm happy to 'cherry pick' stuff that's relevant to me and my family and I feel lucky that blogging has given me opportunities to go places and meet people I never otherwise would've.

    Soon it'll be some one else's turn. That's as fleeting as this is.

    Incidentally, I was tweeting with a brand owner just this week who was getting fed up of his inbox being filled with 'mummy bloggers' approaching him for free product. They said it felt like people were out for a free christmas shopping trip.

    I think it's a real shame that a minority of 'mummy blaggers' are giving 'mummy bloggers' a bad name.

    It stop waffling now....


  77. Such an interesting subject, until 6 months ago I had never really heard of the term MUMMY Bloggers, my blog had been going for 4 years and I had blogged a little about my son, but mainly for friends and family to see how he was doing (as he is unwell) only when I joined twitter did I realise people reviewed products. I must say I have reviewed about 5 products, I have only once put out a PR request, I shall not apologise as it was put to me I needed something for my son that I could not afford and the NHS could not help me with. I try not to hound, yes there are some products I would love to review, I must say over the past few months I had put plea's out for sponsorship for Cybher but about a week ago I realised I did not like that I was putting that all over peoples timelines so I have stopped it. My brother deals with PR a great deal for Arcadia group and says places like Twitter have caused a great deal of such tweets, he has even been asked for free clothes but he says it also does give them as a group a great deal of advertising.
    On the spelling front mine certainly is awful and I am sure there are many in here apologies for that I do try.

  78. Someone much wiser than me once said "if you're going to stick your head above the parapet, someone's going to take a pot shot at it".

    That goes for bloggers, blaggers, and those who blog about the whole thing as well! We're all sticking our heads above the parapet, and sooner or later that pot shot is going to come our way.

    Sending out generic requests to PR sources (either RS or the #prrequest hashtag) for free stuff is not something I would personally do, but I don't hold it against anyone who does. After all, if I was following someone who did it too often I would unfollow and/or block. It sounds like RS has all the tools you need to do the same there as well in your PR capacity.

    At the end of the day people wouldn't behave like this if it didn't work, so I believe 50% of the cause of this situation must lie at the feet of the PRs who *do* send stuff to bloggers without an understanding of what they're going to get from the blogger. (Not you personally Sian, I hasten to add, based on what I've seen of the way you work)

    Blogging is such a wide world, there are no rules, despite a number of blog posts desperately trying to tell us what the rules are. Each one of us blogs for different reasons and wants different things out of our blog. At the end of the day, if you don't like a particular blogger's style, don't read their blog, don't respond to their PR requests. It's no loss to you is it?

    I think bloggers and PRs are still trying to figure out how to work with each other. Learning how each other feels about things like this is a very important part of that process. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sian.

  79. Oh Sian I loved that story about the mummyblogger who wanted the fancy pushchair after 40 hours! That's brilliant. And hey, you've got to at least admire her gumption.

    To each their own, I say, but still it must be annoying to be inundated with requests all the time.

    I pick and choose what I review. To be perfectly honest, if I was still working I probably wouldn't do any. But we're on a very tight budget with next to no disposable income. So I've found the odd freebie / payment to be very handy.

    When I started blogging I had no idea all of that even existed.

  80. Oops sorry I forgot to say... anyone else think that "just like mummybloggers but with more style and better spelling" was not necessary? It was very funny until that part.

  81. Very timely post for me. It's easy to get carried away when you're on a very tight budget and being offered lovely things - especially when they're for the children. I have sent a couple of requests when it was a company I really want to work with, but I felt a bit uncomfortable with it and don't think I will do it again. I don't want to just write reviews and try to only do a few - although it's nice to be able to offer things I've reviewed for competitions.

    I've been blogging for just under 4 months so I'm one of the new bloggers. Hope I'm not giving blogging a bad name.

  82. What a brilliant debate with some really interesting points of view. I'm a bit torn on this subject, as I have requested items for review on my blog on two occasions. But I am extremely picky about what I review, so I try to make sure that if I review something it's because it's a product I absolutely love - hence why I will hold my hands up to contacting the PRs directly. However, as a journalist, I know to offer decent coverage in exchange for the product.

    I've only been blogging for a couple of years, but I'm constantly amazed at how 'the review' has taken over parent blogging. My reader is absolutely full of reviews and I very rarely read one, unless it's by a writer that I respect and know will write an honest post, with their own spin on it.

    In terms of RS I have used it with my journalist hat on, but was often inundated with unsuitable replies, so only use it now if I'm desperate, preferring to rely on my own contact book instead.

  83. @Another Goldfish
    Thanks for your comment. A guide book certainly would help people to find their feet but I think that one of the problems is that no two blogs are the same. What's right for one isn't necessarily right for another.

    @Crystal Jigsaw
    Thanks for joining the conversation. As an established blogger have you seen a big increase in PR approaches?

    How many reviews do you think are too many on a blog? I'd be interested to hear.

    Hi hon. I knew you would understand! The point of this post was simply to highlight the way that some pr's / brands are beginning to view mummy bloggers. Spoof or not that post went up on response source last night and someone wrote it because that is their view.
    Looking forward to your email re the pr fails. x

    @Insomniac Mummy
    Well said.

    Thanks for your comment. I wouldn't apologise either if I was you! I would really love to hear your brothers point of view as a fellow pr.

    Thanks Ruth.
    Yes bloggers and pr's are still working out how it all fits together. I personally think that RS shouldn't have let that post through but they did and it serves to highlight how the image of mummy bloggers is changing.
    Personally i'm a big fan of the delete key!

    @This Mid 30s Life
    The 40 hour blogger was pure class and yes I did admire her gumption. I would never have the guts to do something like that.
    She didn't get the pushchair!

  84. Let me pre-frame this comment by saying I am making a generalisation and it won't apply to 100% of bloggers.

    I find the majority of product posts and mentions disingenuous because the bloggers are (95%+ of the time) only writing about things from PRs. They aren't talking about the products they are buying, things which have changed their lives or genuinely passing on a hot tip: it is all about the freebie.

    I think putting effort into your blog and writing about your passions are so important. If you really want to review products look around your home - what was money well spent? which toys do your children adore? what improved your life? Write about it, you will be far more authoritative. One of the beauties of blogging about products compared to commercial magazines is the independence, if you only blog about freebies you lose this.

  85. @Here come the girls
    Thanks for your comment, I will pop over and check out your blog.

    @Young Mummy
    Thanks for your journo point of view.

  86. @Kat
    Like the disclaimer!
    I agree with you 100%

  87. Okay been thinking how to word this properly without upsetting anyone. Fingers crossed I do an okay job *gulp*
    I have used RS a few times, mostly when I was a new blog on the scene of reviews/competition running. I have blogged for 10 years now but back then my blog was a place to vent out my teenage angst and problems. I was the centre of drama and even ended up with my very own Encyclopedia Dramatica page (I'm happy to say it's been removed, FINALLY!) which made me change my name, my home, my friends, everything. But that's not what I'm here to talk about... gone off on one, whoops! Anyway, these days whenever I do use it I try and be professional. But I tend to use another site as I find the staff to be a little more friendlier to bloggers.
    Thing is RS lately have been emailing me basically saying "before we submit your request can you tell us more about your blog including monthly views" which I'm not usually a fan of, but this time I did it as I want to do something big for my blog for Christmas for my readers. I do feel RS is more a journalist site rather than a blogger site, that's mostly due to the site's looks and the way the people from the site have emailed me, so I do feel a tad... bad(?) when I use it. I don't think of myself as a journalist as I'm nothing compared to those who work for glossy mags and newspapers.
    The example you used concerns me that it even got through as they do check the submissions with care, clearly not the case this time. Or perhaps RS are taking the piss? Who knows.
    Basically what I'm saying is, I admit to using RS, but generally I feel that they are best for journalists rather than bloggers. There are better websites for us bloggers to use. I mean christ most my responses come from Twitter, not media enquiries or emails randomly sent out to me.

  88. I should also point out when I do send our anything I actually expect the PR to say that the item needs to be sent back by a set date, I never expect freebies, but when they do say "no you can keep it" I am very grateful for those companies. I don't look down on those who ask for products to be sent back, infact I fully understand that moreso.

  89. To be honest this is the sort of thing that made me not want to be wrapped up in the whole 'mummy blogger' thing so much anymore and stop writing at my 1st blog and start my low key one, it's just wasn't for me. And until I read this had no idea people actually contacted companies cold asking for stuff!

    Each to their own but it does feel like there are definite camps for the different types of mummy bloggers building up over time which will always cause friction - a them versus us culture.

  90. I think it's important for PR's to help champion good bloggers and educate brands on the pro's and cons as there are so many. As a blogger, yes it is easy to be overwhelmed with the position you find yourself in when it comes to free stuff - who doesn't want shiny new things to arrive in the post?! But when people use it to do their Christmas shopping or simply to make a little cash from eBay then there has to be a line. Will be emailing you with some pretty fine examples of PR fails!!

  91. A very interesting post and so current as Mummy Blagging seems to be a major headline in the blogging world at the moment.

    I have used RS twice this year and each time I have been asked to include my stats, which I am happy to do but on average I receive at least one PR request a day direct to my inbox, many of which are returning PRs. I do worry that people reading my blog will class me as a Mummy Blagger which I most definitely am not but I do enjoy trying out new products with my family. I try to always make my reviews a piece of writing as opposed to a 'press release' and I make sure that I ALWAYS write a post for something I have been sent to review, good or bad and some products are not even keepies.

    I really try to keep a balance between my review posts and my family posts and at times I have considered not reviewing anymore so that I can't be classed as a blagger but why should I miss out on something I enjoy that benefits my family? My stats are still increasing month on month so obviously my readers are happy.

    I think this is a topic which is going to keep rearing its head more and more and I'm not sure what the answer is :( I have also written about this topic myself recently.

  92. @Helen,
    RS is a journalist / PR service and maybe they should have nipped the blogger requests in the bud before they got to this?

    In blogging as in life.

  93. If there was a theme tune for this, it would be TLC's song "I Ain't Too Proud To Beg"…

    I avoid the term 'review' as it has truly been bastardised over the past three years, bandied around by people who just don't know what the hell it means. The Response Source request you highlighted *is* an issue because when you pay for a service, you don't expect to be confronted with tat like that. Filters, blocks and whatever else aside, RS has to strive to maintain a really quality service.

    I appreciate that everyone has their different reasons for blogging and that receiving free stuff can be useful for families, but we must recognise that interacting with PRs, brand owners etc is *commercial*, and with this comes responsibility. Giving products is a business. When you feature products/services that solely originate from what you blag, or are approached about from PRs, this is actually a not so subtle form of advertising. You're automatically biased because it's not like this content is buffered by *other* products and services that you use that are uninfluenced.

    People talk about products and services in real life all the time. I don't sit there with my mates and say "Review: Packet of Tat From Wherever" because that would sound pretty ridiculous. Well guess what? On a personal blog, when you suddenly jolt your audience with a review cum advertisement, that's what it sounds like.

    There are million and one ways that people talk about things they love and the things that they hate without doing review announcements. The reason why there is this whole 'review' thing is because people are looking for someone to stuff what they feel is their obliged piece of content about the items.

    When I started blogging in 2004, I purchased an iPod not too long after. It was like my first child . I never 'reviewed' it but readers knew that I loved that thing (I still own the chunky little brick). This is another reason why design and lifestyle blogs are so popular - these people are genuinely passionate about the things they come across through *living* and will make stuff, go around their home and highlight what they love, etc *as well* as mentioning stuff that they've been approached about. It's more organic.

    I'd also like to add that it's of no benefit to readers for a load of blogs to all 'review' the same item. It's very contrived. I had to look at over 30 blogs for a company the other day - 60% of them featured 2-3 of the same reviews around the same time.

    As for the is the mummy blogger dead? To be fair, it's a term that's a bit odd. It defines the person on being a parent instead of what they write about. But I would say that the freebie bubble is bursting and people will continue to get very choosy about who they work with.

  94. I know of people who wanted to start blogging to get freebies, mainly a satnav, she was unimpressed when i told her pr's should approach you not her go on a blag. I review mobiles, most i buy from the company directly with exception of my WOMWORLDNOKIA work where i always take a two week loan. which is fair.

    But some pr's are crap too @LGBlog sending me a device unofficially making me pay to post it back was a huge fail.

    in some cases bloggers and pr's take the piss at times but the minority spoil it for all

  95. Oops I meant 'somewhere to stuff'

  96. Wow. I've never heard of RS! Where have I been?! Well, I've not been blogging long so that's my excuse. But anyway, the comment in your post, to me, just sounded bitter and a complete generalisation of the mummy blogger community. There are some fantastic blogs out there with absolutely terrific, original writing and, obviously, some that are more for reviews. I've never been approached by any PR's and, equally I've never approached any PR's myself. I put up a PR disclosure when I first started the blog, more out of naivety thinking I would be inundated with requests. This hasn't happened, but I don't blog to review and I think the majority of bloggers don't either. I'd just find it tedious doing review after review, but clearly some bloggers don't mind doing it. Hmmm. Im kind of on the fence. I'm a person to just let people get on with their own thing, but if everyone starts to become tarnished with the same brush, then with have a problem.

  97. @Sian
    Yes it is, but they have opened up to the blogger folk and feels they weren't exactly... prepared(?) for what they may see in the future.
    I think there is perhaps a lack of etiquette when comes to bloggers sending a request through compared to professional journalists, if that makes any sense.

  98. Hello. I've just read through all this with great interest. I would just like to add: I blogged about my bumhole the other day, and am STILL WAITING for PRs to get in touch and send me free bumhole-related products. I really, really am. (this is probably a lie).

    Great post, very hot topic, and a fab discussion piece. I am not a reviewing blogger and unlikely to become one. It's not for me. But I have no truck with those that want to. Each to their own, etc

    PS sorry for mentioning my bumhole.

  99. Really interesting and eye-opening post.

    What I wanted to say has already been said, but wow! I had no idea people were actually contacting companies directly, blagging specific items to their wish list *missing a trick here ;0)*

    I think the only time I have ever contacted a company directly, they were a local toy manufacturer and I asked if I could go look round their production and interview them about their product design etc to write about them on my blog. I thought it might be genuinely interesting to my readers to get a behind the scene look. I didn't ask for a product for myself - the reply? I was told they weren't open to the public! LOL

  100. Just been reading all the comments. Clearly hit a nerve their Sian! Ha!

    If you look at any of my blogs - even my personal one - I always talk about products and none of them are reviews. People need to keep it a little more real.

    I also think everyone reviewing the same old crap actually gives less credibility to that writer / blog.

    But hey ho, I also dont actually care what people do on their own blogs, as I streamlined my RSS feed months ago and am now only reading sites with great content, regardless of how much I love chatting with them on twitter!

  101. @Natalie
    Ever the voice of reason. Thanks for your comment.

    @Paul H
    Thanks for commenting. I have a part 2 to this post where I will be looking at PR and Brand failings too.
    There are two sides to every story after all.


    Yes but something obviously pushed that PR to write the post. If PR's and brands are already thinking in that way then like you say - we have a problem.

    Makes perfect sense.

    Was just about to check out your post too! Thanks for commenting.

    I guess If I wasn't a pr then I wouldn't even have noticed it!

  102. Never even heard of RS, in fact I was thinking Repetitive Strain? Religious Studies? Obviously not. Enlightened, and just a little bit frightened. Think I'll go back to my wine...

  103. @Claire
    You missed a trick there.... you should have added that you lost your make up bag and will happily do anything to replace it!

  104. Like always I seem to have too much to say for 1 comment, so I have blogged...

    Mich x

  105. Thanks for the link Michelle and if anyone else has posted in reaction to this ongoing debate please do feel free to post a link.

  106. As the owner of a brand which targets the parenting market, I am constantly inundated with freebie requests. PR companies I have dealt with, but not retained, have suggested that bunging some freebies to the mummy bloggers would be a good marketing strategy.

    On balance, it does give a bad overall impression of 'mummy bloggers'. There has been one occasion when I approached a mummy blogger and gave her some of our products to review, which she was happy to do. The review was glowing, but it jarred against her normal style and I felt I'd compromised her integrity. Given that she is one of the biggest names in mummy blogging, I was stunned by how low the click-through rate was. The ROI was a tiny percentage of that from Adwords or other established marketing techniques.

    Any approaches made towards us are now rejected, although we make a point of replying and being nice - we'd love to give you products, we simply don't have enough, and need to sell those we do have.

    Oftentimes, mummy bloggers can be seen complaining about sloppy PR approaches that don't take account of their focus or name, which is fair. However, many of the blagger approaches are equally sloppy. It's not uncommon to see another brand name in the body of the text where they profess to love our brand and think we're a prefect fit. Interestingly, several of the previous commenters who claim never to approach PRs fall in to this category. Perhaps the devil is in the detail, a PR isn't a brand, after all.

    As per your main post Sian, the main culprits are those flooding alert services with their requests. There is one in particular who has become a standing joke in her office. She makes requests several times a day, and would quite shamelessly blog about having a cold if she thought it might produce some free hankies.

    Beauty bloggers have carved out a niche in doing honest reviews of products, some of which they've been given, others that they've bought. This gives them a clear point of distinction from magazine beauty pages, which we all know are heavily influenced by the advertising spend of beauty brands. Perhaps this is a model that would also work for mummy bloggers.

    Having said all of that, there are many mummy blogs and mummy bloggers that I love, and enjoy, but they're usually the ones writing from the heart about their lives.

  107. I have thought about this after my earlier comment and I'm changing my mind on this a bit.

    There's no such thing as a blagger when it comes to mummy blogging. Are the mums in question asking for something for nothing? No!
    And I think that it the point, companies don't have to send out products for bloggers to review but they do because they get a review out of it-usually a bloody thorough one too. Companies won't stop working with bloggers overnight due to a flux or reviewing bloggers.
    As a newer blogger I myself assumed at the start that reviewing was what we were 'meant to do' as a high percentage of the established blogs were doing reviews and maybe that something other newer bloggers have found too.
    The phrase 'blagger' is not sending out good vibes in the Blogosphere - I'd love to see it binned along with 'troll' :)

  108. Actually Sian since you've asked here is my post from a while back on the relationship between PRs and bloggers:

    One thing I would add is that it is ridiculous, IMHO, for PRs to suggest that bloggers should return products they're sent to review, and this is why, as a blogger, I don't work with the PRs that suggest this. It's very different on magazines/newspapers of course, but blogging is NOT a full time job, there's no post room or expenses account like there is on magazines. If you're working with bloggers, and you're sending them a product for review, you should, I think, be prepared to let them keep it - or alternatively, find another way of getting your product reviewed (ie, traditional media). I don't like to see bloggers being exploited, either.

    But the other side of the coin is that bloggers need to keep up their side of the bargain. It still grates with me that when I was given a gorgeous, expensive pushchair to review and offered it round to someone with a suitable aged-child to guest review for me, the blogger I sent it to never produced the review, and ignored all attempts by both myself and the PR (for a very well known brand) to contact her. That's not blogger integrity. That's theft.

  109. The blagging debate has actually made me very wary about pressing publish over the past few days.

    I do review, I also write about our daily life because my blog was started as an online diary for my family who live far away. I used RS once or twice but the amount of crap that filled my inbox was unreal and I never used it again.

    Recently I have had a lot of reviews, I went to the baby show and didn't ask anybody for products but introduced myself to brands I had previously worked with, to say thank you in person and they then asked me to do more for them.

    I don't get freebies, I work my arse off on my blog to give a pr a decent write up, If the product is crap I say the product is crap and I never copy a press release and I always always write bits about my children in the review making it much more personal.

    It makes me sad that the blogging world is becoming like those baby groups that I avoid where there are cliques, bitching and people judging everybody else. It's meant to be fun!

  110. In addition to my comments above, I do agree with Mammasaurus on her last point. The danger of the term 'mummy blagger' is that it's throwing negative light on everyone who writes reviews. Let's not forget that reviews take time and effort (they don't write themselves!) and are genuinely useful.

    As a mum, I read reviews on blogs before making purchase decisions. As a PR, I work with bloggers because their opinions are read and trusted by others - so yes, that includes providing products for frank, honest review. And as a blogger, I do write reviews sometimes - not just of things provided by brands, but also of things we've bought ourselves. Why? Well for the same reason I write about my pregnancy woes or newborn sleep tips - I'd hope that it's useful and interesting to other parents.

    So as Mammasaurus says, if a blogger puts out a call for a product to review, PRs are free to act on it or not. If they do, then it's because they believe it will have some value for their client - so really it's never 'something for nothing'.

    As I said above, if the increase in blogger RS requests is indeed frustrating some PRs, some filter options are already there for them to use, and I have faith that Daryl et al will continue to refine the service as necessary to ensure it remains valuable to PRs.

    Thanks again, Sian, for writing a great post that has got everyone thinking and debating - that's a great thing.

  111. Oh my what interesting reading!I blog and don't do reviews (or at least not paid for ones)and think I might just keep it that way! All sounds a bit overcrowded in the PR freebie world. Think I will stick to just telling the tails from the farm!

  112. I have stopped following do many blogs that constantly use the words 'so when soandso sent me suchandsuch to review' . I read blogs for entertainment and friendship. I occasionally do reviews. I like to give them a twist (name label on pants) but I'm sure we all think the ones we do have a twist. I find reviews hard work not 'pleasure blogging' so they have to be damn fine stuff and worthwhile for me to do it. Some of the mails PRs send out are dreadful too. I get so many offering baby things and yet my most personal blog writing us about infertility #awkward I'm happy with my balance, each to their own. It depends what you are 'in it' for. I'm here for the friendship mainly, so far that objective is 'paying off' very well. I'm lucky and happy.

  113. Thanks for all the comments this morning. It's interesting that so many people are saying that they are now questioning what they are publishing and if they should be writing reviews at all.
    The issue here isn't about reviews but how mummy bloggers are perceived by others.

  114. I wanted to respond to the anonymous brand owner as I think it highlights where bloggers get a raw deal.

    When you want to market your goods, you have to decide whether it's for brand awareness or trying to shift units. If it's the latter, you advertise so you buy display ads on or offline, or you do adwords etc.

    Just like with traditional media, it's too much to expect that a 'review' or news piece *has* to generate a certain amount of clicks. Getting coverage across a number of blogs or other media is more about a collective effort.

    All that piece of media's job is to put their (hopefully great) content in front of eyeballs. Depending on what your product is, only a certain percentage of people are going to have the propensity to be interested. Of those, only a certain amount are going to act *right now*. Some may not act now, but will remember it a few months down the road. They might not need it but they might know someone who does and tell them about it.

    Brand owners get low responses in traditional press all the time - the difference is that they won't express the same level of indignation about it.

    While there is an issue with blagging, I think brand owners and sometimes PRs have the wrong expectations of bloggers. They're not cheap labour. Some of them are very influential but they're not pimps. Let's also not forget that online is like the gift that keeps giving in terms of SEO.

    And I don't think you compromised that bloggers integrity - she just wrote it as an advertorial which is not supposed to sound like editorial. I used to charge £7k for one of those and it only had a print shelf life of 2 weeks!

    Blagging aside, there are a lot of brands that get a very good deal, possibly too good a deal out of bloggers. Let us not forget that either!

  115. Second comment from me, having mulled this over a bit....

    I stand by my first comment which said that I generally don't find PR-arranged reviews on mummy blogs very interesting anyway.

    @Sian, if the real debate here is how mummy bloggers are perceived by others, then it might be appropriate for me to air my thoughts as a fairly new mummy blogger. I've been blogging since June and I've been quite surprised by how cliquey some (not all!) mummy/parent bloggers are and how unwelcoming some (not all!) have been. It feels like if you are in one of the 'gangs' (for want of a better word) then you receive a lot of support/links/blogger of the week nods, but if you're not, you don't.

    Perhaps it's just reflective of life that it's all about who you know, not what you know. But having tried to make friendly banter with one or two of the 'in-crowd' on Twitter, I quickly realised that my banter wasn't exactly welcome.

    I suspect that I'm committing the ultimate faux-pas by admitting this, but I do wonder if other bloggers feel the same way?

    So... back to the point. It doesn't bode well if PRs think mummy bloggers are blaggers. And new mummy bloggers think other mummy bloggers are cliquey. Perhaps the answer to the question in your post Sian is: yes, unless things change.

  116. I wonder about the point of reviews on blogs at all. I can say I very rarely read them and usually click off the blog. I have no interest what anyone elses child thinks of a toy, my children are fit to decide themselves.

  117. @Alison
    I guess in blogging as in life that natural friendships form between certain people. A shared history or longterm friendship can look daunting to others but I would say that makes cliques.

    I know I've never been part of the 'in-crowd' but then I never have been in my offline life either - so it's no great loss to me!

    I just carry on doing my own regardless of the views of others.

  118. @The mum of all trades
    Have you ever written any reviews on your blog?

  119. @Natalie,
    Just found your comment in Spam! Sorry about that.

  120. I am another one with more to say than will fit in the comments box

    Great debate - so much to chew over!

  121. Wow this is a crazy long set of comments!

    I think I'm in an interesting place in the mummy blogger world in that yes - I am a mum and I blog so that apparently makes me a mummy blogger but my blog is also linked to my business so is a showcase for that as well as family life... it's a bit like I'm a mumpreneur but I don't use that label either!

    I'm sure that this is probably the latest storm in the tea pot and if PRs are being lazy in not doing research or if brands are being too generous then surely they will eventually realise this and balance it out. I do feel though that there seems to be a rise in the 'you can make money through blogging' movement as the latest work at home mum get rich scheme.

    I do post some reviews on the blog of products I sell (usually the ones that the children have seen in the stock cupboard and asked for) but I still have to pay for the product I am using and I talk about our nomal family days out. Apart from this I've done one review where I received an educational iphone app but that was relevant to the readers of my blog but I guess I'm not in demand because my blog isn't my brand my business is my brand and my blog supports that.

    I read blogs with reviews (and sometimes get a bit jealous of the amazing experiences some of the children get) but I generally only read mummy blogs of people I 'know' and I find it hard to get enthused about new blogs I stumble across if it is all about products and paid for trips rather than real life and experiences.

  122. Have any of you thought of the impact on journalists? I've been using RS for ages and it's been invaluable. But the responses I get have definitely gone down in number. I thought it was the recession - that there were fewer PR campaigns in the areas about which I typically enquire. But if this issue is a contributory factor, that does actually make me feel quite sad.

  123. Speaking from a blog reader's perspective, I don't read reviews by Mummy bloggers anymore, in fact I've stopped following those types of blogs. Here in Australia there seems to be a really large clique of Mummy bloggers who are ex PR/journalists or people who have the contacts and they get the product reviews ALL the time. Unfortunately, they are often written with poor spelling and grammar, bad photos and something I'd prefer not to read. Just the other day an Aussie Mummy blogger posted about how she was inundated with products from PR companies, wanting her to write a review and if she doesn't like the product or have time, the products end up in a box. She kindly gives these products away as gifts or to charities but in my mind, if I were the product company, I doubt whether I'd like my products ending up in this box.

    Speaking from a Mummy blogger's perspective, I've written many an unsponsored review on places to visit, kid's movies etc because I want people to know this stuff. I want to know this stuff. In 10 months of blogging, I've been approached twice to test and write a blog post about a product review and I thought I did pretty well. Unfortunately my stats aren't as high as those aforementioned bloggers, nor do I have the PR contacts and I'm not in the Aussie blogging mum clique. I'd prefer not to be to tell you the truth. It's not why I started blogging and if I get caught up in the Mummy blogging hype which is conferences, product reviews, etc well I've lost the integrity in which I blog.

    Was interesting to read this post. (Got here through Kate Takes 5.)

    Anne xx

  124. This has been a great debate & really useful to get insights from bloggers, journos, brands and PRs. I particularly like the fact most people are suggesting the parties in this industry needs to take some ownership. My baby is 13 weeks and as you can imagine I got sent oodles of 'stuff' I felt like Victoria Beckham. But after Cybermummy 11 where the blagging culture quite frankly stunned me, we posted a 'what to expect' on our blog for both readers & brands. Ultimately as a mum I RELY on parents views to support my family life, it's why I started blogging, to contribute to this. Some PRs do have a way of making you feel like a commodity. In that case, we back away. For us it the relationship that counts. After all, we'd be nothing without our readership & they deserve transparency.

  125. @Alison
    You're exactly right in what you say. The exact same things happen here in Australia. I've also found there's another whole blogging community out there, that doesn't mix within these communities, they don't have any alliances to any blogging groups and their content is fresh and a pleasure to read. That's ultimately why I read blogs.

    I'm very opinionated about products and I'd prefer to try something out myself, based on googled reviews and the side of the package rather than the opinion of another Mummy blogger who keeps getting all the product reviews and is too 'tired' to do them.

    It's also becoming a sad world if we can't use the words "Disney" or "Heinz", for example, in a blog post without thinking, 'what's in it for me?'.

    Anne xx

  126. @Anne,
    Thank you for stopping by, its great to hear views from another country.

    Thanks for adding your view.
    For me its about relationships too. Thats where events like Cybher and CyberMummy show their worth. You can be whoever you want to be from the safety of a computer screen but meeting brands, pr's and other bloggers in person is what makes these relationships grow.

    From a PR point of view decent journalist requests are right down too. Looks like we all just need to start communicating!

  127. I've deliberated commenting on this for a day or two, trying to think how to phrase my feelings on this post which I found very emotive and stirring.

    I'm a mummy-blogger. I'm not ashamed of the term. I'm a mummy and I blog. I blog about life with my son. I don't understand people's issues with the term (that's another matter though). When I started blogging (nearly a year ago), I did so under the encouragement of MammyWoo and The Moiderer. I wrote happily for a few months, occasionally struggling to find content but thoroughly enjoying the experience. Then I was asked if I'd like to review a Maclaren pushchair. And since then I have been chosen to review for several brands including Toys R Us. Some of these I've been asked to do, some I've applied for.

    I was told about RS a few months ago by someone who has commented here and has been judged to be 'not' a blagger. I would agree with that, but then the definition set out in the comments above repeatedly, contradicts that. I've used RS three times and had some amazing opportunities from it, my reviews take a long time to write and I always give my personal and honest opinion. I have built up new relationships from these opportunities and am repeatedly asked by them to review a new product.

    I'm not saying this to float my own boat or show off, I'm doing it to illustrate a point. Am I a 'blagger'? Or am I a blogger (having been told by several bloggers that they respect my opinion) who likes to review and let people know about things that are relevant to us and potentially other families.

    (I know I'm rambling but I've got lots to get out!)

    I'd also like to query those people who criticise bloggers who review, but they themselves will turn up to the opening of an envelope. Another event in London? Oh yes please! And they don't think they're the same?

    One last point I'd like to make is that I find the term blagging offensive. According to it means "to persuade or deceive in order to get something for free".

    Controversial and brave post, it's made me very wary of the other side of Response Source.

  128. Wow what a lot of very interesting opinions and comments. I have done reviews on my blog and i will be honest that when i was first offered i was taken a back and excited to be given the opportunities. I have only ever reviewed products which i feel are relevant to me , my boys or my blog and its readers. I also found it was getting too much and took a step back so i could focus on my writing, which was why i started my blog. I didnt know that PR people would contact me when i started - that wasnt why i began my blog.
    I dont mind being labelled a mummy blogger because i am a mummy and i have a blog. But i would feel hugely deflated if i were a mummy blagger. I contacted some PR people (including you but only because someone suggested you - sorry!) for a toilet training carnival i held which was an informative piece on potty and toilet training auds reviews aswell as a link for posts by parents who had been through potty training - a topic close to many peoples hearts as we all go through it(as parents i mean) but i didnt keep the products as other mums reviewed them for me and i gave some away in a competition. The othet time was when i was about to start potty training myself and i asked if anyone would like me to review a potty for them and i asked about re-usable nappies as am thinking of using them due to comments i had on a post about my household waste. I only used the #pr request on twitter because i had seen it done by other people and i wanted to make a real feature post about it on my blog with follow up posts etc.. I didnt enjoy doing it either but using that hashtag twice and writing to PR companies - does that make me a blagger?? I hope not.
    I had not heard of this RS thingy and i wont be using it either as i get enough emails - too many at the moment and i do say thank you but no thank you to several.
    But it is tempting i am sure to grab everything you are offered - especially when first starting out because you hope it will get your blog noticed i guess. Hmmmm interesting!!
    Apologies for the waffle and if there are any typos its because i am typing whilst being a mummy as am breast feeding and very tired xx

  129. I meant breast feeding while writing that !! See tired brain!! X

  130. I think many have missed the point here, Freebies? I wouldn't say freebies, not if you write good, detailed reviews that are not five word sentences. I take lots of pictures of a product, sometimes vlog, other times I mention or talk about the product within another post. Many of my review products have been passed on to good causes (but I don't constantly state this)! Other products I've kept for my children especially educational toys or products, yet I don't want them spoilt. I spend hours on one review sometimes and I'm not paid for that! I've had fantastic feedback from PRs and directly from brands which I prefer really as it avoids all this stuff. I notice some bloggers just post a press pic and short review, I never have. I've blogged for three years and only reviewed since July which is mainly due to our santa's little helpers feature. What rattles my cage is the fact I see many here stating they don't ask for nothing yet have posted PR request on twitter and even gone as far as to feature post on "How to contact PRs or brands". I wouldn't start a blog just to review, if so I'd start a review blog and wouldn't even see that as a way to get freebies as I like my reviews detailed so that's work! I have done quite a few for our feature but still post more personal post all the time. I do a lot for charities and so forth. Most mummy bloggers provide a source of cheap advertising for brands but still put in a lot of work. If you write for a magazine you get paid for the feature, getting the products too sometimes, now that's what I'd call a freebie!

    Thanks Claire. x

  131. What an interesting blogpost and the comments are great.

    I've never been asked to review anything but did a sponsored link once, and I was really really uncertain of whether or not I would do it. It's not why I got into blogging, and though I did notice other bloggers were reviewing things, it just didn't register that they were getting it all for free.

    Wow, I'm naive.

  132. I am a blogger that has a big part of my blog doing reviews. I started my blog to record key events in my family life but due to a few health issues started almost as soon as I started my blog I have not been able to make my daughter's time that exciting. This is about to change and I have a second chance in life and I am going to make sure that my daughter has lots and lots of fun so my blog will be more about us and less about reviews. I am not going to stop doing reviews, I do enjoy them and I have quite a few to do (on products that I have been given but mostly the ones that I have paid for). I do contact PRs and companies (relevant to me and my family) and ask them whether they want to work with me and my blog..I never ever expect or demand that they offer me a sample product for review and I do not beg.

    I also have helped quite a few companies by posting about them for free or adding an advertisement for them. I am not blogging to get freebies and I don't see it like that as I give a honest review ALWAYS! If something is good, I say it's good and if it is bad, then I make sure that is clear in my post. I have a section in my blog that states that I give an honest personal opinion at all times and I stick to that.

    I hope what I have said doesn't make me a blagger. I certainly do not do what the example you have given.

  133. Great post and it is the hot topic of the moment. I have used RS a couple of times as I was trying to create a sensory room. I never got anywhere with that request but I did notice PR's contacting me because of it . I do reviews and I have been really luckily with some of the items I haved reviewed. I also do my reviews from the point of view as mum to autistic/special needs children. Which in turn hopefully opens up another area of marketing.

  134. I've added a new point of view here from a tired PR..... we don't have enough time in the day for all the requests!

  135. Sorry, had to come back again and add another important point - where the review process works well is when it ranks highly in google for example. I did a buggy review for Mamas & Papas about a year ago (I didn't approach them I should add!) and it gets thousands of hits because it comes top in google for that product. Hundreds of people click through from the review to the M&P website as a result. Where the process falls done is when people lie about their traffic and use it as a way of saving themselves a few quid when they're pregnant or Christmas shopping!!!

  136. Hi,
    I've been a TV journalist for 15 years and never heard of RS - but of course we were contacted by Pr companies all the time. Perhaps we were lucky in that they knew it had to be newsworthy to get a look in and I rarely got contacted about something that had no mileage in it at all.
    Of course RS may be more about reviewing stuff which doesn't really happen in TV news so I'm guessing it's something you would be involved in more in magazines and feature writing. Perhpas that's why I haven' heard of it.

    Now I do know it exists I'm not rushing to join up following this article and the comments. But I certainly do not blame people for wanting to get things for their children with special needs for review - they can be hugely expensive and there is no funding available for many of these things- Ended up writing a ridiculous amount here so I too have done a separate post. interesting topic Sian . Thanksx

  137. Afternoon all.

    Your views are welcome here any time. You know that!
    That is a very valid point. I've had reviews sitting on the top slot on Google too and the returning traffic is good even 18 months down the line.
    I have an idea for a new session at Cybher..... How to write good product reviews.

    I've just had a call from Response Source.... They have tech probs today so watch out for the flood of mail when they are back online!

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Good luck with your blog.

    @Little Me
    We need a blogger manual don't we?!

    But that's just it. Not all bloggers produce good detailed reviews.

    @Mummy Mishaps
    You don't have to apologise for approaching me! Great typing whilst feeding skills BTW. Respect!

    This post wasn't written as a personal attack and I don't think that anyone has suggested that bloggers shouldn't do reviews (or maybe I missed that comment).

  138. Like I said, I deliberated for a day or two before commenting, but as you've said above in a comment "don't whinge on twitter, come here and discuss your thoughts", so I did :-)

    I wasn't taking it as a personal attack but wanted to address some of the points made as they were applicable to me and my blog. I'm sorry if you thought I was having a pop at you. It's been interesting to read the post and the comments, and has certainly opened my eyes to both sides of the situation.

    I think I'm just surprised at the thoughts I'm reading. The 'fault' surely has to lie with both parties involved. Some bloggers may be deemed to be cheeky for asking, but the market appears to be there. If PRs said 'no' then maybe bloggers would stop asking?

  139. @TheBoyandMe
    Yes of course brands / pr's are also to blame. The sloppy sending out of products to anyone and everyone just so that you can tick the 'blogger outreach' box on your report is a major factor.
    PR's may state that they don't have time to get to know bloggers before they start working with them and personally I think that this is a major problem.
    With my PR hat on I always research, visit blogs, look at Twitter and Facebook pages before choosing my target list. I then make contact with a clear outline of what I am offering and what I need in return.
    Even with my 'inside knowledge' of the blogger community this takes up a lot of time but its something that you simply have to do.

    I'm trying to get a few more PR's to give their point of view - so stay tuned.

  140. I will definitely stay tuned because I'm interested in this outcome. I enjoy building a relationship with PRs in order to help promote their products. The amount of effort that you put in to researching the blogger is commendable, I wish that every one did that as I had recommendations for babies last week (rattles and comforters), my son is two and a half!

    To consolidate what Claire said a bit above, I consider it to be a trade off of services; an old-fashioned bartering system. While I may receive a product without financial charge, I spend at least an hour on every review, if a video-review is included then you're looking at two hours. Surely my time and effort can be traded off against the cost of the item?

    Thanks for creating a 'forum' in which both PRs and bloggers can share thoughts. Maybe if there was a little more discussion on the 'how to' neither of the two parties would commit the cardinal mistakes that piss each other off?

  141. A bit late to the party but lots of interesting food for thought - for me the reason I don't do a lot of reviews is that I value the time taken to review and write at a certain level, a box of breakfast cereal just isn't worth it for me. But I am time poor.

    I can see the attraction and there are things I get emailed about and think, yeah that's fun, so I do them but the reviews are an adjunct to the blog not a key part of it. For me blogging is about writing and not much else. The other stuff is a fun perk

    When I read blogs I do unsubscribe from those where the review to content ratio doesn't work for me - yes I know people need the cash but to be honest I don't have the time to read reviews of stuff I am not interested in - I'm not sure every blogger and PR has thought about this aspect, it's all very well reviewing stuff but surely only worthwhile if people are reading it?

  142. @TheBoyandMe
    Reviewing products is really time consuming and I've been guilty in the past of agreeing to do things and then really regretting it when I just cannot find the time to work through the whole process.
    Actually I'm going to start noting how long reviews do take me to do, it will be interesting I think.
    We all know that talking about things clears the air and I would LOVE to see some more honest opinions from brands here.

    @Muddling Along
    I see reviewing things as a perk too and I if you write things up in a fun way and keyword and link your posts properly then it's worthwhile for all parties.
    I think that PR's should give clearer guidelines about what they expect in terms of a post too. Then no one is in the dark.

  143. I am a mummy blogger who focuses on reviews. I have asked to review in the past, to get me started on my journey, but now seem to have PRs approaching me for repeat product reviews which keep me busy as ever. This must show some worth of my work! On occasion I may well comment 'i would love to review that' but this is from a genuine interest in the product or service, not a blagging perspective. I can see how some mummy bloggers may be getting a bad name... but it doesn't apply to us all.

  144. @yummymumto2
    Absolutely. There are lots of great bloggers who create great reviews. But the actions of a few are damaging the reputation of parent blogging across the board.

  145. Hi all

    Saw this post on Twitter and it is something that is very close to my heart, well my job really...

    To cut a long story short, I work on the PR and marketing for a men's grooming brand and I use ResponseSource on daily basis for journo requests.

    I must start off by saying in general that its a very cost effective platfrom and has enabled me to pick up some very good national coverage for the brand I work for.

    However over the past few months I have also noticed that its attracting quite a few mummy bloggers looking for the odd free prodcut to review. To be fair its not just mummy bloggers looking for freebies, there are quite a few others putting out the same multiple requests on a daily basis, I won't mention any names...

    So I suppose its up to ResponseSource itself to regulate the alerts that they are approving, to enusre its not just being used like spam.

    I know there are lots of great mummy bloggers that use ResponseSource as it should be used. And the actions of a few are certainly damaging the reputation of parent bloggers across the board.

    But I suppose its human nature to want free things and the fact that Xmas is coming up means they can ask for a whole range of items outside of the parenting sector :)

    As well as Response Source, I use Media Bubble, GorkanaPR and Pressloft for Jounro requests. The first two also suffer from the same problem. Are there any others on the market?

    Great thread by the way. Hopefully my feedback is of some interest.



  146. As a pr for a baby brand (inhouse) I find this whole issue quite difficult and something I have been debating recently. In an ideal world the blogs I’d love to work with are those that float my boat as a mum first and foremost. Ones that are witty and funny, heart warming and sentimental, brash and blunt – all the things that keep me reading and relating to.

    Then the pr hat comes on and the hard task begins – which of those blogs do the occasional review and are age relevant to my brand? This I have found is a full time job - I know you can pay to get that breakdown but budgets are small. Therefore as the research is down to little ole me sometimes you’re quite pleased when you get an approach via email or twitter asking to review one of your products. You think great, a blogger that has a child relevant to us and can help us spread the work about our fab products. But then you do a little digging and you realise they have tweeted the exact same tweet to about 30 other baby brands and their blog is simply review after review. So yes I might get a piece of coverage out of it but it won’t feel credible and I’ll know deep down it won’t do anything to help our brand awareness and rate of sale.

    And as for Response Source I pay for this service as I do find it still provides some good leads from journalists that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about but I’d say 3 out of about 100 I get a day are relevant. My delete button is certainly overused!

    So in summary (sorry I should be more succinct being a pr) for me it’s about finding those special blogs that I rate as a mum but will also work well for my brand. Also up to now I’ve been very hesitant about saying ‘no’ to bloggers for fear of being a ‘pr fail’ and hung out to dry on the twittersphere. But reading these posts have actually made me realise that if I don’t think the blog is going to work for our brand and isn’t worth sending the sample out I can be brave and say no thank you!

  147. WOW didn't this get a lot of response!

    I have to agree both with Nickie (Typecast) and Kate (The Five F's).

    I don't ask, I'm not overloaded with offers and would only accept those relevant to me and my family.

    When I do pick up a product I like (either sent or purchased myself), I rave about it - not for point scoring or blog pimping reasons, but because I believe it is genuinely a great product and deserves some attention.

    It's a parenting nightmare trying to get good advice about what is suitable or genuinely worthwhile buying for your kids - who better than the parents who have tried and tested them.

    What I say might not be what others agree with - but I can only speak from experience.

    Lastly and possibly more importantly - FREE does not mean it did not take up time to try out, analyse, take good photographs, write about, critiscise and adjust your own work and finally blog and frequently RT comments.

    It's not all about flogging and blagging and there are some very genuine ambassadors for great products out there.

    Don't bite the hand that feeds - because there are a few hungry dogs out there.

    P.S. The email request for free stuff would have peeved me off too


  148. I set up my blog to blog about me and my family not to do reviews. I have done quite a few but only when approached or relevant to me. I also do book reviews which I have contacted publishers about, but they say they want you to do that rather than sending ones you won't read.

  149. Interesting post. I do not think that Response Source requests are moderated are they.

    On the flip side (as well as a blogger I am a freelance writer) I was quite surprised by the amount of "spammy" responses that I received from PRs the last time I used Response Source to research an article. I was sent stuff that had nothng to do with my request, which was a pain to wade through.

    Had the PR mailed said hello and asked if they could tell my about their clients I would have been fairly receptive to it, but not after bing spammed.

  150. @Nick
    Thanks for commenting.
    I agree that services like RS, Media Bubble et al should have systems in place to attempt to control the requests a little more. As PR's we are subscribing to a professional service and I for one want to know that all the requests that come through are from trusted sources. Not sure how they would manage that - but hey, that's not my job!

    Yes, it is all about research and working with blogs that fit your brand but that is exactly what takes the time!
    Despite what many people think after reading this post, I'm all for bloggers reviewing products as long as long as they are done in a way that benefits brand and blogger. I reviewed a Lego Storage Head for John Lewis last week and the review is sitting on the first page of Google


    A great point re publishers. Thanks

    You can switch filters on with RS now. They brought that in a few months ago.
    A very valid point about PR's spamming too.
    Thank you.

  151. oh My what a lot of replies to read through . I am a Mummy blogger who now mainly does reviews. I look after extended family and work on the reviews with my best friend.My blog was initially started up as me and hubby wanted to document our journey trying to conceive.At first i did email a few companies of products we really liked, but now have emails daily offering products. We do pick the products we could use and often turn down products as they aren't relevant to us. On the other hand i don't think it is blagging if you work hard on the reviews. I never buy a product unless i've read reviews from people on it, and often the items we review are lower priced items.The companies would pay a lot more than a 'sample' to other means of getting their product out to their target audience. I would like to add that i also get lots of spammy emails asking me to do a post about their company with no payment or product....and on occassions if its something relevant or i like i have done .

  152. Sian, sorry for the delay in responding to your question. I have most definitely seen an increase in PR emails, especially in the last few weeks though I do think it's because of Christmas. What I will say though, is because I don't do reviews I don't tend to read a lot of them. I know to some bloggers this is unforgivable, but I honestly haven't got time, especially when I'm writing. Some items look good but the majority are items that are of no use to me whatsoever, like potties, lego, young children's toys, days out in the south of England and many more I can't recall right now. I do feel that when PR's send out these emails with regards to reviewing products of no use to the blogger, they have most definitely NOT done their homework. It doesn't take long for someone to add an "About Me" page on their blog and it doesn't take long for a PR to read it. If a blogger is interested in doing reviews then this should be an important page they create in detail, in order to attract PR's in droves. Every time I turn down an opportunity to review a potty for my almost 12 year old daughter (smile), I wonder if someone who would have loved to review it has missed out. PR's need to do more homework in my humble opinion.

    Thank you for your response to my comment,
    CJ xx

  153. Came across this posting via the Handpicked social - very interesting...I'm throwing a question out there - do you review everything that is sent to you?

  154. Its people like this that give us mummy bloggers a bad name. Yes some people review products and do a pretty damn good honest job of it.. but jeez!  I blog for me. So in years to come i can look back and remember all the 'little things'..that dont seem all that important at the time but actually are. If people are actually blogging for 'followers' or 'free products' my advice would be dont.
    I know where your coming from, the amount of blogs i find now that are full of reviews and giveaways is ridiculous. What happended to a good read? Everyone loves a freebie every now and again but really.

  155. This post was written before I even started blogging. I'm surprised this has been going on so long. I had no idea that "reviewing" was so big within blogging, until I started to get approaches.

    My blog was set up purely to write about my family, but I have to admit, I have started to accept too many offers recently. Therefore I have a backload of posts to write up and I'm pretty annoyed at myself actually. I imagined I would sit down every evening and write about each day with the kids, but I have lost that and need to reclaim it.

    I have definitely learnt to say, "No!".

    In the beginning, I was so flattered that anyone had heard of my little blog so would say yes to reviewing a pencil. Now, I know I have to look at worth of item to my family (not necessarily cost) against the time it takes to review. I try to only agree to something that I would have been writing about anyway, days out to my local attraction, a cake if it is a special occasion etc and Izzy did get a much needed carseat which we were stuck without. I put in a lot more time and effort than the item is worth normally, however, being skint, I would not have been able to afford those extra toys, clothes etc for my kids anyway, so it is appreciated.

    However, I do sometimes wonder if I should occasionally approach PR's myself just to help with the timing. For example just after I buy myself a new pair of trainers, I get offered a pair to review. I gave the bought ones to my sister so she could run with me, but it made me think should I have put out feelers before buying my pair "just in case".

    Thanks for tweeting this and bringing it to my attention, I hadn't heard of Response Source before.

  156. Such a shame. Did anybody seriously start a blog just for free stuff? And if so have they got a well read and successful blog?

    I think not.

    I am not sure it is just mummy bloggers though, what about travel bloggers? or hotel reviewers? They can also be pushed aside by teh blaggers.

    And you are right, blagging is on the increase. And I don't like it either.

    I do reviews, I like doing reviews. Yes, I have had the crap approaches, including today being offered a £1 box of chocolates to review but I take time over my reviews, I do them because I think the product is relevant to my home and my blog.

    I would never accept something that I then had to give away or sell, simply because it was free adn I thought I could make money out of it. I know that many do. And that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Blogging should be about content. Bloggers wanting to create, readers wanting to read it. If that means it is a review of something, then great, but if it is borne from a begging email / post on Response Source / twitter, then it is not on.

  157. There are many people who start a blog just for the free stuff and indeed, not just mummy bloggers but as a nursery product pr, it's their approaches I witness on a daily basis.

    Re your £1 chocolates... there will always be a blogger eager to take up the offer. To me, that says my blog post is worth £1. It isn't and if I wanted to write about said £1 chocolates then i would go out and buy them.

  158. I want to share a great testimony on this website on how great Dr.Azuba help me in falling pregnant,me and my husband have been trying to have a baby for over 6 years,but they where no luck so we decided to contact the family doctor and after all the test have been done,he said to us that one of my fallopian tube is not functioning.then one day i was in the office when a friend of mine who have the same problem with me, fall pregnant after she contacted Dr.Azuba.she directed me to him and when i contacted him through is email and he did the purification on the pregnancy spell and in 8weeks time i was feeling some how and i want to meet the family doctor who told me that i m pregnant.if you know that you have a similar problem like this and you want to be pregnant you can contact Dr.Azuba via,or cell phone +2348149271063

  159. hello i am from the USA, i want to share a testimony about the great spell caster who brought my lover back to me after three days of casting the spell, i have a little misunderstanding with my lover and he got agree with me and left me for another woman, i tried all my best to apologise to him and bring him back to me, to no avail nothing work out, i cried all day and night because i have missed him so much and need him back to me but he is not giving me the chance, on one faithful morning, i was on my fb account talking to an old friend of mine, i explaned everthing to her off what i am passing through, she told me not to worry about anything that she has encounter the same problem with me before that she is going to direct me to a great DR who helped her before in bringing her divorce husband back to him, he told me about great DR.PROPHET ELVIS ODUMA, he told me that his work is sure and guarantee and his love spell is the best and last forever, i took dr details from her, and i contacted DR, we both spoked on phone and chat through email also, he told me that, he don't charge for his spell works but there will be materials needed to cast the love and return spell on my lover and i will be the one to provide the money before it will work, i said no problem i send him the money after 24hrs he told me that he has through with the work that the next day my lover is going to come back to me and kneel down before me and beg for forgiveness, i beleived him and have faith on him, i was so flabbergasted really the next day according to DR words of wisdom and courage my lover run back to me and beg for forgiveness on his kneels and i forgive him, it has been going to two months now we are not having any problem no quarrel or misunderstanding anymore, i am sharing this on the internet because i know there will many people also out there having same problem with thier relationship, i am advising that you should not loose any faith or hope that this DR is out there and willin to help anyone who seek for his help. contact DR today via |
    You can also read more about him today via his PHONE+237055176617
    you can also contact me if there is any question to ask about great Dr


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Appreciated as always. xx


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...