Whenever I approach a potential project, be it blogging, product reviewing, a web page or a news story, I have the mindset that whomever I am reporting to should and needs to proof my work.
I think this way because I’m a writer, it’s who I am. No project goes published without a second set of eyes on it. (Except of course when I’m blogging on my own sites). Without a second set of eyes, I may be getting the message wrong, I may have made an error in grammar, spelling, or tone.
As a writer, I don’t want that. As a business person, I can’t afford that.
In 2008 I was called upon to consult with a company that would eventually become a client. I sat in a room and listened while other consultants shared their viewpoints on blogging, reviews, and writing. The overwhelming sentiment of the consultants was that they don’t clear a questionable review or article with the client before pushing it live.
Stunned. Stunned I say.
I voiced that I sometimes DO in fact go back to the client if I find that what I’m writing may not be the tone or the result that they want out there.
See a client/blogger (writer, consultant) relationship is important. It’s GOLD. There’s no reason not to go back to said client and say, “this has been my experience so far with your product/service,” and do it before you publish it.
It’s about getting your facts right.
This is especially important with product reviewing. I’m not going to tell every blogger how to do their job but if you are finding more negatives than positives and you still want to publish your review, it can’t hurt your reputation with the client if you approach them and say, “this is what I’ve discovered so far,” and let them look over the issues you’re having. You might be surprised to find out that:
- The issues are part of a bug fix the company is working on.
- You’re not using the product correctly.
- You’ve just discovered something that the company wasn’t aware of.
But how do you know if you don’t take your concerns to the client?
This would be like me publishing a news article without doing the leg work to find out the facts on what I’m reporting.
Damaging. Both to myself and my client.
Don’t misunderstand, if you’re loving the product or service and have no major issues with it, then simply hit publish. In cases such as those, you go back to the client, thank them and offer them the link where they can see the post live. Let them know that you’re happy to work with them again. You never know what might develop.
On the same hand, if you have major issues, then there’s no harm in take your concerns to the client; outline what your issues are and ask if they still want the review published. The client may say no, don’t publish that and just thank you for your feedback.
Do you always have to do that for a product you aren’t overjoyed about? No. Of course not. But if you want to work with that company or brand in the future, you have options. You can ask for feedback or you can simply say “this wasn’t a good fit but please keep me in mind for the future.”
Don’t be surprised though if the company comes back anyway and wants to know why you didn’t like said product or service.
When it’s a Paid project; it’s content writing.
If you’re working with a company in any paid writing capacity (as they control the outcome of the project); it’s even more important to give the client an opportunity to review your work and provide you with feedback; especially if you want to work with said client again.
It’s not about publishing a positive review or post about a product or service. It really isn’t.
It’s about building a POSITIVE client relationship. A client will respect you far more if you’re honest with them and value helping them build the best product or service they can offer.
So why am I telling you this?
Well, for one; I think you need to know. If you’ve just started blogging and reviewing products and you want to be the blogger that companies will call on; set the standards now.
And two, I attended the Blissdom Conference a couple of weeks ago. It was both refreshing and validating as a blogger and as a business woman. I know that I’m on the right track. I no longer obsess about how I write my reviews or how I want to work with clients. It’s also prompting me to make some changes this year in regards blogging practices with brands.
Feedback is a good thing. It’s a valuable part of the brand/blogger relationship. It’s also vital to the success of the relationship (in my opinion, that is).
You might disagree with me. You might tell me that you don’t have time to go to every brand whose product or service you have issues or concerns about; you might say that you’d rather not publish a review that you couldn’t be 100 percent positive about (in some cases, I might argue with you on that)… Regardless, that’s your right as a blogger. It is YOUR BLOG after all.
However, if you see the potential for a beautiful relationship to bloom between you and a company; then why not take a more professional stance and give the client a chance to address your concerns.
You never know, letting them address product concerns could result in a very honest and brand positive (ie “I spoke with so-and-so at X brand and they assured me they’re working to fix this problem”) experience for the both of you.
I realize that time is money and we’re already pressed to get our to-do lists done in under 24 hours, but the extra time you take may take you far beyond where you ever thought you could go.