Should Beauty Brands Work With Bloggers?


Yesterday, Total Beauty CEO Emrah Kovacoglu ignited a firestorm in the blogosphere and on Twitter thanks to his most recent CEO Outlook newsletter, titled Beauty Brands Should Not Be Working With Bloggers... Essentially, Kovacoglu drives home the point that in this era of "Blogola" and FTC attention, it's dangerous for brands to work directly with bloggers and that it's more beneficial to rely on a liason to send products for review (that would be the Sneak Peek program, offered by Total Beauty, in case you were wondering).  In part, he says:

"We have developed a community of vetted bloggers who are impactful, truthful, and not compensated for their posts/reviews -- and we continue to monitor that community. We guarantee to get your products in the hands of the right bloggers, and that they will use your product as recommended, post about it on their blog, and review it on What we don't guarantee is whether it will be a positive or negative review. That fate falls upon the performance of your products."

As both a blogger and a social media professional, I have a pretty unique perspective and I disagree with Kovacoglu.  At Attention, I work with some of the leading beauty brands in the business and consistently, we counsel them on the value of building relationships with beauty bloggers and on the importance of continuing a conversation once it's begun.  On the other hand, Total Beauty's Sneak Peek program sends bloggers (there are well over 100 that are part of the network, though fewer participate in this program) packages of products (with no regard for whether they're a good fit for that blog), no press materials to give context to the product and no contact information for anyone at the brand. That isn't relationship building, it's one way communication (or as I prefer to call it, the antithesis of social media.)

Kovacoglu's CEO newsletter also stated that "However, whether you are a professional journalist or a blogger, publishers have a responsibility to hold true to ethical standards in journalism. It's not worth ruining a reputation or selling out in the short run for small amounts of money or free products."  

The beauty of the blogosphere in its diversity and here, Kovacoglu disrespected the network of bloggers that he created. Among the beauty bloggers that I know personally are lawyers, dermatologists, journalists and published authors.  To imply that they would "sell out" for free lipstick is absurd. In fact, if anything, bloggers are less inclined to cover a sub-par product - they're not as dependent on advertisers as traditional magazines are.

In case you were wondering, Kovacoglu DID respond to the uproar he caused about 12 hours later. His chosen communication vehicles? A mass e-mail to network bloggers (that was clearly cut and paste from separate documents) and a YouTube video with comments and ratings disabled. Essentially, he made it clear that he's not interested in engaging in a conversation. Yet again, this is one way communication. 

Several Total Beauty bloggers have posted editorials responding to yesterdays newsletter - to read a few, click herehere or here.

What do you think of Kovacoglu's editorial?



sandandmargarita said...

Dina, this is very well said. Love it.

askalisonb said...

I am as concerned with the FTC's plan to target online content and dumb down what we do, but I plan to provide the best quality content that I can, as I have always done. I hope that my readers will continue to trust me, and that my contacts will continue to feel confident about working with me,
I do NOT accept advertorials, and I don't write about anything I haven't personally tried. However, I want to address the change is coming and I'd rather be up front -- as I've always been. So I am re-vamping my "About the Advice Sisters" statement on the What Works column, starting with the July/August column that will go up next week at . You can also read my longer post about this issue, and Total Beauty's official response to it, here:

Lauren-Second City Stle said...

Perfectly said Dina. I couldn't/wouldn't change a word or add a thing. Thanks for speaking for all of us! Since you are on both sides (PR and Beauty Blogger) you have a more honest and realistic view. Kovacoglu disrespected the very people who he needed to make his business. Shame in him.

The Beauty Alchemist said...

Very well said, and great coming from you as you know both sides. We all know many of the same bloggers and we also know how hard we/they work on our sites. Also that we do not take our reviews lightly. There is no "selling out" . Thanks Dina.

mikemcroberts said...

" press materials to give context to the product and no contact information for anyone at the brand." This sounds like a commendable attempt at obtain editorial review without advertorial infiltration (can you say Wired magazine?).

Beauty411 said...

I appreciate your perspective,as someone that knows both sides of the issue. One of reasons I value my relationships with beauty publicists is that I have someone to turn to when I have questions about a product, or a question while I'm testing a product, which happens frequently. And sell out for a lipstick? Give me a break. I work 60 - 70 hours a week in a high pressure sales job. I put another 20+ hours a week into blogging, trying to deliver quality content. Thanks for adding your voice of support! :)

bectemp said...

Dina, as usual, you are an utmost professional, even in writing about the current TB debacle. For personal reasons, Jamie and I have resigned from TB, but Emrah's tactless letter throwing bloggers under the bus would have been the last tire mark for us.

Keep your voice loud and strong. :)