I was at my second BlogHer conference, attending a session about doing reviews when I raised my hand and asked, “Why is it that I never read a bad review on a blog?”. At the time I’d found fairly consistently that if a blogger had been given a product for free, the review was glowingly positive.
The answer surprised me. The review bloggers told me that if they don’t like a product, they simply let the PR person that sent it to them know, and then the blogger did not write a review at all.
I was shocked. Then I got irritated. After all, if there were a bunch of terrible products out there, I’d love to know so that I can avoid purchasing them. I asked the bloggers about that, and to a one they said they did it out of respect for the PR professionals they worked with, and because they didn’t want to be known as the blogger that trashes the products.
This has changed a bit in the last two years; many bloggers now feel comfortable writing less than favorable reviews, or at least mentioning one or two negative points about a product along with the positives. I think in 2009 we were still ramping up the bloggers-as-product-reviewers machine, so everyone is a bit more comfortable with where they stand.
Yet there is still no doubt that I don’t read a great number of negative reviews. I’m not someone that does a large number of reviews myself because I don’t really enjoy writing them, and (you may have noticed) it’s nearly impossible for me to not share my opinions when asked. Hell, even when NOT asked.
But I do understand the motivation to stay on the positive side. Right now I’m on a brand-related trip (staying in a resort to review a new feature here) and there are a whole lot of things I don’t like such as the terrible buffet, the constant ambient music, and the terrifying automated story hour. When I wanted to tweet about the story hour thing, I found myself whipping out my phone and then pausing over the touch screen, compelled to edit my thoughts. I didn’t fully edit them, but I did add in the caveat that the kids all LOVED the crazy animatron story hour. So I guess what I’m saying is that I definitely can’t judge folks for keeping their negative thoughts to themselves.
Does this hurt our credibility, though? Do PR professionals focus on mom bloggers because it’s a fast way to get positive buzz, unlike more traditional media outlets? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and what your practices are when it comes to negative reviews. Do tell!