To Product Review or Not

I am BACK from a few days away with the boys and of course, HB, in the Big Apple. We had a blast, ate too much, and it was a totally different experience to see NYC through the boys’  eyes (and cheaper because I had little time to shop).  I assumed that today would be a cutesy synopsis of our trip and the ‘stuff’ we liked complete with adorable family photos.  Not so much.


Note to self:  This is precisely why editorial calendars don’t work for me.  When a mood strikes, I need to follow it.


Anyway, you will have to wait for the NYC review as something more pressing came up between leaving the window of Good Morning America in Times Square and arriving home.

Something that upset me to the core and marked my reunion with the dogs and home less than satisfactory.


Some background information – Lately, I have been struggling with the question:  To review, or not to review?  Or possibly better stated, Who, When, Where, and Why to Review?  Yes, I am talking about product reviews on the blog.


I even said as much on a post by Liz Gumbinner detailing how companies should reach out to bloggers professionally AND the responsibility of bloggers in turn to generate quality content (novel concept, huh!)  I commented:  lately, I am on hiatus from reviews – I just feel like my lack of sincerity shines through and I hate that. I am trying to refocus on who, what, where and what I will review…Liz agreed this was a good idea, and who am I to argue with Liz?


A year ago, I created a category – groovalicious gotta gets – for products that I actually USE and LOVE.  Not baby products (I do not have babies), not toddler toys, but MOM-oriented products.  Products for the ever-busy mom who is trying to multi-task (which we know only happens 1/4 of the time).  Somehow between then and now, I started to receive requests to review all sorts of products from companies, big and small.  Some of them have been a natural fit for this blog, others not really.


Of course, I discriminate when deciding which products to work with and not, however, as of late, I feel that it is not enough, so I have been on review hiatus.  This is more to clarify guidelines for myself and make strong, clear business goals for the blog that reflect my personal preferences for reviews.


So, I took a break.  Took a much-needed break, and I was feeling more secure in my policies AND THEN THIS happened.

What is THIS?  Well, as I was riding home from NYC yesterday (in the passenger seat in TRAFFIC), I received an email that a blog reader had not received a giveaway  they were promised.  Just to let you know – I am the type of person that if I owe you money, I hunt YOU down to give it to you.  Hearing that a product that was promised but not delivered felt like I was slapped in the face.


Luckily, I had laundry and grocery shopping to keep my mind slightly occupied while I thought about what to do.  I went to yoga and breathed, and coincidentally, the yoga teacher instructed us to leave behind our week so far (thanks Karen).  Feeling much more rational and centered following the class and some time roaming the grocery store, I remembered a set of blogging principles for the blogger  (because we need standards too) by Nancy of Hip2Housewife in which the following rule applies to my scenario:


Do Treat Brands with Respect – If something does go wrong when you are working with a brand, don’t immediately eviscerate them on twitter or on your blog. Give brands (people!) a chance to rectify whatever is wrong, ask yourself if you’re being reasonable and professional in your complaint.  And if things still stink?  Have at ‘em.


I like Nancy and I loved this post, and sometimes what we need is a little reminder from someone we respect on what to do.  That is exactly what I needed, and I emailed my contact for the brand at 10 p.m. and woke up to a response.  A mix-up, a shipping issue, but the brand is on it.  They wrote to me and my readers apologizing and wanting to make it right.


There you have it.  Problem solved.  No need to eviscerate.  No need to go crazy.  Most important, my new-found comfort with doing reviews – on products that I adore, believe in and find myself more often than not remains intact.

In addition, I would add Give Yourself Some Breathing Room to blogging principles and tactics.  Take time to think before acting (something that we should do most of the time anyways).

You can believe that my word is strong, my opinion cannot be bought, and I am a pretty discerning consumer.  When something is so marvelous, I need to share.


Take for example, my cruise on The Allure of the Seas.  As I state in the post, before Oprah picked the ship, before it was built when it was just a sketch, I wanted to go. Cruising brings back so many childhood memories of my dad that it is something that I love to do with the boys.  I went on the boat, wrote a review, and a year later that review and photos is alive and kicking (sometimes I am mystified by the number of page hits it gets).  I was not compensated for the review, but it is/was something that I really LOVED and the writing results are proof in the pudding.

It is a win/win and everyone is happy.

As long as I hold up my end and continue to be genuine, I feel pretty confident that I will work with only brands that live up to the high standards that I set.

I am kinda glad that I had this little snafu.  Sometimes we find strength and conviction in the oddest place.  Looking forward to bringing you more recs.  RB


{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Michelle April 12, 2012, 5:58 AM

    I think that product reviews are very helpful because of the variety of opinions available out there. Occasionally, I will search for a product and write ” scam” beside it to see if there are any scam alerts on the product. This can be interesting because some search returns are just trying to sell another product. You really have to evaluate your returns.


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