Opinion: a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter *
To the reader, blogging looks like a glamour whirlwind of events, photo opportunities and press drops. Yes, bloggers get products for consideration, attend events and are even jetted away on press trips. I have been lucky to do all three and this year in particular, I have been very fortunate to experience some really once in a lifetime opportunities. For some, what was once a hobby, has fast become a career and for the most part, blogging has changed how we source our information on cosmetics, food, fashion and so much more.
However, there is one thing this year that I feel has been quashed quite a bit and that is dissenting opinion.
In October 2013 I set up The Beautiful Truth, as at the time I had bought a number of items that had been recommended, that turned out to be cheap makeup that could be found on eBay for €3! I set up my blog with the intention of giving two sided reviews, as I found that even back then it was something that was lacking. For the past 4 years, I have given my opinion both good and bad . While I always say when something doesn’t suit, I can count on one hand the amount of products I have out right slated. The reason for this being that most things I don’t like, is down to preference rather than something being wrong with the product itself.
When products are sent to a blogger, they are sent for consideration. When a brand gives a blogger something to try out, it doesn’t guarantee a review or even coverage on social media. Most will mention it on their social media and a lot will review, but samples do not guarantee coverage.
I once had a brand call to my school to try and get their product into my hands. I was called out of my classroom to meet this person and they tried to engage me in a “quick chat” about their products. As a professional in the workplace, they were quickly told where to go and asked to leave . However, for the following months, they harassed me again and again with with emails and even went so far as to say they would blacken my name if I didn’t showcase their products. This all happened at a time when I was in hospital after major surgery and even though they were told as much, the harassment continued until I said I would post the products back and would take it further unless they stopped!
As hard as that one was, I brushed it off. It annoyed me more than anything else, but it didn’t effect how I ran my blog.
Before I continue, I think it is worth adding, that 99.9% of brands and PR companies are amazing to deal with. They don’t hassle. They don’t send scathing emails and messages but instead they understand that opinion is something to be valued. A two sided review is not seen as a bad review. A good two sided review shows that while something might not work for one, it could be a holy grail for another.
This year however, has seen a rise in “brand preservation”. In 2017, I have lost count of the amount of businesses, brands and people that have tried to censor my opinion. I have had emails and messages sent, insisting that I change my review so that there is no negativity surrounding a brand. I have been taken off PR lists for not fawning over the latest must have thing and it even went as far this year, that I was told legal action was being taken for a review I had done. Now, I probably am someone who needs to choose their words a little more carefully and diplomatically. However, opinion is opinion. It is someones views on something. It is not solid fact but rather how they view a product etc.
I was once invited out by a major brand to view their new store. I was quite heavily pregnant at the time and explained that I wouldn’t be able to stay for too long. This was not a paid gig, but rather I was told it would be a good way of building a relationship. Bigger fool me. The brand showed so little respect not only to me as a blogger, but as a heavily pregnant woman. The manager who had not come to work that day and had not arranged a replacement to show me around. Instead a junior staff member half heartedly pointed at things here and there. She had so little interest for me or what I was doing and at one point turns and said, “what’s your little blog called’. Que rage, or even worse, pregnant woman rage. When finished, sure turns and said, “sure that’s it. see ya.” No thank you, no nothing!
The Beautiful Truth is known for calling a spade a spade. I am not one to hold back, but lately I have asked myself why I bother. The latest thing to have me question why I do this, was a large brand insisting I take down a review because I had given one negative to a product. They failed to contact me when I had given a number of glowing reviews on products I genuinely loved. Instead they insisted there would be no negativity surrounding their brand. They insisted that any further issues I had with products be email to them rather than addressing them in a review!
There are lots and lots of brands that see negative feedback as a positive thing. If you have sycophants telling you how wonderful your product is all the time, then how can you improve? There are plenty of brands that like to hear abut where they are going wrong so that they can produce better product. Unfortunately not all see it this way and instead see it as an attack! Should they not see the thousands and thousands of bloggers as free focus groups?
I have often wondered about the reviews that are placed in magazines and newspapers. Do said brand representatives contact those publications to ask them to change what they have written or delete it? Do movie studios contact the Irish Times when they give a 1 star review? Have we gotten to a point that we can no longer write what we really think? I have yet to see a retraction in any publication for a bad review of a product but I and many other bloggers have been asked to take down said reviews.
Recently I put up a post on Facebook about a new product launch. There were hundreds and hundreds of people disagreeing with the product release. I left the comments there, as they were all opinion based. I began getting messages giving me hassle for leaving them up there. Again, I left them there, as I value people’s opinion, even if I don’t always agree with it. However, once the gossip and slanderous comments started, I couldn’t leave the post there. I may not always agree with what you have to say, but I will let you have your say. However, when it comes to idle gossip, I will delete posts.
It has gotten to the point in society that people’s opinions are being censored over and over again. People on social media follow pages and groups that reinforce their own idea of the world and their values. When they come up against people who differ in their values and beliefs they try and block them out. How did we get to the point that we are no longer allowed to disagree with peoples opinion. Have we become that boring?
At the start of 2017 I promised myself I would push out of my comfort zone. 2018 is about zero bullshit. Integrity is more important to me than any paid work, affiliate link or numbers of Instagram. I have spent over four years building up my blog and no pushy brand who are all about “brand preservation” will knock me off course. As I said at the start, The Beautiful Truth was set up to give honest reviews and I am most certainly not about to change that.
Remember conflict is not always a negative force. It keeps us in check, it keeps us balanced. If everyone gets a medal then nobody wins.