Friday, 30 April 2010

Cosmetics Contemplations: On Being Pampered Press

Occasionally, thanks to this little bit of bandwidth that I take up, I get invited to nice events. The majority of them, sadly, I am unable to attend (due mainly to either location or to work commitments or both), but occasionally I am able to say "sign me up!" with the appropriate amount of gusto. So far it's been worth it every time (err, for all of the two times I've actually been able to go). The first time was in January 2009, when I attended the launch of Lancôme's Génifique. The second time was just yesterday (Thursday 29 April 2010), when I was invited to the St Martin's Lane Hotel in West London for a Pampered Press Day.

There was plenty of fun injected into the day (though saying that, it was more of a drop-in event) including tours of the VO5 and Champneys ranges, as well as chances to try out Salters products, such as a portable massage chair and a sublime massaging eye mask. The products exhibited were suitable for all budgets and it was a great chance to get to grips with some of them and to meet some experts. Donna from Champneys was especially helpful, offering a couple of exclusive tips, such as rubbing exfoliant into dry feet rather than doing it in the shower, and cleaning foot files with nail brushes to extend their life. Fuel PR were also very much on the ball, and the fact that they were offering round free cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery only sweetened the deal. The goody bag that members of the press were given to take away was also pretty astonishing: as well as containing another free cake, and a copy of The Devil Wears Prada on DVD, it also included a set of VO5 straighteners, a Champneys manicure set (as in an electric one with lots of different attachments) and a homemade ginger body scrub.

More seasoned members of the press that I have met are rather more blasé about this outpouring of hospitality and gifts that they receive at each of these events. Maybe I'm just too new to this, and so maybe the novelty hasn't worn off yet, but I never cease to be amazed at the amount of value that is placed on our presence (particularly bloggers). By 'value', in this context, I do mean monetary value: companies are apparently prepared to throw hundreds of pounds' worth of stuff at just one person in the hope that it will boost their sales and reputation, even when the person in question is not particularly influential (I'm no Lauren Luke, and there are plenty of beauty bloggers, and bloggers in general, who are far more popular in the blogosphere than I am).

This generosity is not only limited to press events (of which, as I have said, my experience is fairly narrow): I, and other bloggers, receive several samples from beauty companies on a fairly regular basis, many of them full size, and many of them worth over a hundred pounds. In addition to the products, certain companies also put out particularly lavish press releases, not just by email, but also by normal post, printed on very glossy high-shine paper (although to be honest even the word 'paper' feels paltry in describing these things; many of them put fancy wedding invitations to shame and some of them are more like books). This must all add up, and again, I'm slightly perplexed as to why companies are prepared to throw thousands or even millions a year at this. This is also only the tip of the marketing iceberg, with companies shelling out eyewatering amounts of money for advertising in newspapers and magazines, on billboards and on television.

However, it is this particular depth of the advertising ocean that precisely explains why companies throw so much money at bloggers in particular. Even if one of us alone is not especially influential, as a collective we can perhaps have a more significant impact, and the cost of buttering us up is probably relatively little compared to the costs of advertising on a grander scale. We are not paid to advertise (usually - and by law in the US you now have to make it clear if you are), but even exposure and review, whether positive or negative, is worth more than you can put a price tag on.


floyd13 said...

Interesting take really - if you write about something and can make a difference even if it is to just one peron then the ripple effect takes over and this is more powerful than a one day article in the paper.. I came across an article on the website - job? competition? or clever marketing? but the blogging effect is important t these national companies so be proud you can be heard you are worth the time and the goodies..

Serina said...

It's Serina from TSR!
It seems that you put alot of time into your blog :)