Thursday Chats – PR Packages

Lately, I’ve been thinking of starting a new series called Thursday Chats, where each post focuses on different issues within the beauty community. I first discovered makeup videos about 10 years ago, when I was in university and stumbled upon a (now OG) beauty guru doing makeup on YouTube. Since then, watching videos and reading blogs about makeup has become a hobby ever since. Two and a half years ago, I decided to join the beauty community even further by starting my own blog. Blogging and making beauty YouTube videos has changed significantly in the last few years, and I would love to have a discussion to see what everyone’s else’s opinions on some of these things are.

I thought I’d start the series off with what is probably the hottest topic in the beauty community these days: PR packages. Let me be clear about something right off the bat: while I don’t really receive much (if at all) PR myself, I have absolutely no problem with other bloggers receiving them. Unless a blogger makes a lot of money off of their blog and/or is somewhat well off to begin with, it’s impossible to continuously buy new releases to review without slowly depleting your savings.  It’s a win/win situation: PR samples are a great way for bloggers to get new releases without having to spend as much of their own money, while the brands get marketing for their products.

While I think that PR samples certainly have their place and function within the community, I see them as a good thing with unintended consequences:

Overload of Products

Some bloggers, particularly the big ones, get more products than they would ever have time to review on their blog and/or videos, so they end up only talking about the more hyped-up products while all of the others are cast to the back of  their drawers. It makes sense for brands to send their products to the bigger influencers, because they have a wider reach. However, when every brand is sending PR to the same influencers, they become overloaded with products and may never be able to feature everything they get. This somewhat defeats the purpose of influencers receiving PR.

Related to this topic is the fact that I don’t understand why brands send their entire collection of new releases to influencers. I do understand sending them all of the “main” products in a launch (eye and/or face palettes, primers, or even the entire range of lipsticks, etc.), but besides being able to package all the makeup in cute PR packaging for aesthetic reasons, is it necessary to send a single blogger every concealer and foundation shade in the range? To me, sending them the three or four shades that are around their shade range would suffice, as the other 98% of the foundations that don’t match their skintone will just end up sitting in their collection collecting dust.

“Unboxing PR Packages” Videos

In the past year or two, there have been more and more YouTubers doing “Unboxing PR Packages in my PO Box” videos. I used to watch them, but then I stopped for several reasons. For me personally, I don’t get what one would typically think of as “jealous” over the things they receive, but I do think to myself that it would be nice to receive that much free makeup. However, I feel almost…embarrassed, when I see YouTubers open PR packages excitedly, and literally tossing the product aside to move on to the next package. It just seems like so much excess, so much consumerism, and so much waste. Receiving PR packages is not a given or a right; perhaps these bloggers are truly grateful for what they receive, but sometimes it doesn’t really translate on camera. For someone like me who can afford to buy makeup whenever I want, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can only imagine that it doesn’t sit well with younger audiences or people who save up for along time to treat themselves to a makeup product that they’ve been looking forward to owning.

Who to Trust?

This is a tough one because I think we all inherently want to trust what we’re watching, but these days it’s getting harder and harder to tell which reviews are genuine and which are for PR (if they don’t outright disclose that they received it in the mail). For older viewers or readers, it’s not as much of an issue because we’re a little more aware that we’re possibly being marketed a product, we know how to do our own research outside of YouTube or by reading more blogs, and we’re also more honed in to our own tastes and preferences. Just because one influencer says they enjoy a product, doesn’t mean we always blindly follow their recommendations. However, a lot of the big YouTubers and bloggers have young followers who are more impressionable, and they see these influencers as friends. Bloggers may speak highly of expensive products they got for PR, while their teenage audience is using their own hard-earned money or allowance to buy these products that may or may not even be good quality. I know that parents are responsible for what their children watch, as well as teaching them the value of money, but as a non-parent, I can imagine that it’s easier said than done when someone they idolize tells them to go out and get a product.

I think a lot of people have been realizing it’s more difficult to trust the bigger influencers, and as a result, have been turning to smaller influencers (or “micro-influencers”) who blog or make YouTube videos as a passion. However, people have been saying that brands have started sending micro-influencers products because they aren’t used to getting PR and are therefore more likely to give positive reviews. To be honest, I don’t know if this is true or not, but the theory does have some logic to it. Either way, this has made it difficult to know which reviews are legitimate and which are are positive reviews only because they were gifted items.

Those are my thoughts on PR packages! What do you think of them? Are they a good thing, bad thing, or a little of both?

Credit for featured image: Ivory Mix


21 thoughts on “Thursday Chats – PR Packages

    • Hmm, interesting – I’ve never thought about it that way! Although I understand that most people perceive receiving PR as hitting success, NOT receiving PR doesn’t mean your blog or channel isn’t good quality.

      I do think that all the bloggers/YouTubers started their channels and blogs for fun, and that PR was an unexpected but welcome surprise for them as they got more popular.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It does sometimes feel a bit odd seeing all these big boxes and packages that the ‘successful’ you tubers (and bloggers I guess but I don’t see them as much) get. It does seem like, especially with foundation, the company could do with sending fewer of a product rather than the whole colour range when a bit of research would tell them the best products to send the blogger. It’s interesting to see the yotubers who do decluttering videos and how much of what they throw or give away is PR stuff that’s a shade they’ve never used. I guess it does make it hard to know which to trust but I tend to follow ones who say the things they don’t particularly like about products they were sent as well. I don’t mean fully negative posts or videos but ones who aren’t all about how amazing and fantastic a product it.

    I’ve had my blog for three and a half years now. I think I’ve had one PR package and I actually still use the things I was sent all the time but I do wonder if people thought my review wasn’t genuine because it was so positive. I have been tempted to contact companies about getting on a PR list as I don’t always have the money for so many new products but there’s always that feeling of coming across as feeling you’re entitled to a huge free package of makeup when really I’d be happy to get some cards or an email with info on products being released or those tiny samples you get for free.

    This ended up being a longer comment than I meant it to! Love the post though and the Thursday chats post style.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You brought up some really great points! Hmm, now that you mention it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a declutter video where they say “I’m donating/giving away these 15 shades of foundations that I received as PR because they don’t match my skintone”. Who knows, maybe they gave them away when they first got it. That’s a good point about trusting the ones that don’t only have positive things to say about a product, though!

      Aww, I can understand where you’re coming from, but wouldn’t say that people didn’t trust that particular post with your one PR package! When you’ve always bought your own products and come out with honest reviews, you’ve probably developed a good reputation as an honest blogger. I totally know what you mean about feeling entitled for asking for free products – I know I would feel iffy about doing that too. Like you said, maybe asking for samples might make you feel less guilty? haha.

      Thank you for sharing your insight on this subject!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know that one of the YouTubers I watch (JAMbeauty but I think she’s changed her username recently) has said that quite often with lip products she got a load of colours and most of them are ones she’ll never wear. I think I remember her saying similar about some foundation but not sure if that’s in a declutter or a PR unboxing.

        Yeah, it does feel odd asking for things but I’m trying to work out a way to word it so I don’t feel awkward about it but start to make connections, if that makes sense, rather than asking for free stuff.

        It’s an interesting topic to read opinions about.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m watching only a few youtubers – a few because I trust them, and a few because their videos are pure pleasure to watch (although all they talk about is high end and I won’t be able to afford that in the near future). I also don’t mind unpackagings, especially on Insta stories – I’m probably as excited as the person opening them 😀

    About the packaging situation.. I’ve always wondered why they send so much make up to youtubers, yes an entire collection of lipsticks is okay, but 50 shades of foundation?! No, thanks. I also hate it when there’s a huge box filled with paper or other stuff just for a single lipstick. It annoys me so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh, I actually like unboxings on Insta stories! They’re usually short and sweet. The ones I can’t do are the 10-15 minute ones on YouTube. Haha, I also watch YouTubers who talk about high end products only too – it’s nice to live vicariously through them!

      Agreed on the lipsticks vs foundation. I actually like it when they receive all the lipsticks because then they can swatch the entire collection for us. I also agree on the actual packaging for the PR – like when they come in a massive heart-shaped (or whatever shaped) box. I know it’s cute and I’m all about the packaging, but WHYYY.


  3. I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years. I’ve gotten PR sent to me here and there but nothing on the scale of what the bigger YouTubers get. Some of these girls are getting packages sent to them every single day. It’s insane. I stopped watching “PR Haul” videos because I’ll admit I started getting a little jealous. I know I’ll never be on the scale as these girls (the makeup companies tend to focus on the young 20-somethings mostly, so me in my 40s is probably “too old” in their eyes). I’m super thankful for the PR I do get, though I have to claw and scratch my way to getting it.

    But I agree sending like a whole foundation or concealer line is wasteful. Send a few shades in that person’s skin tone range and that’s it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As a blogger, it might be tough to get the same amount of PR packages as the big YouTubers, unless you do YouTube along with it. Then again, who knows. How have you gotten the PR that you got in the past? Do you reach out to companies, or do they reach out to you?


      • Sometimes I reach out to companies, sometimes they reach out to me. Sometimes stuff comes from Influenster and I use a site called Brand Backer to apply to campaigns. I’m signed up with a few other sites that match content creators with companies but I haven’t been accepted to any of their campaigns yet.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I really dislike unboxing PR package videos! At first, I was intrigued when they would show some of the PR literature or product information, which was helpful. But it’s spiraled into showing off and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe it’s jealousy? I don’t think so… it just feels wrong in general. When they show heaps of products, it loses meaning.

    YouTube gurus have definitely a hit on credibility in my books. I want to be able to relate to them but I really cannot trust people who make a living being an “influencer”. If it’s a hobby, great, but when your livelihood depends on it… I think people don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think it’s necessarily jealousy that you’re feeling! Maybe it’s just thinking that a PR unboxing video is rather useless and a bit distasteful, haha. I mean, literally what is the point of them to us as consumers? Look at all the stuff companies send to “gurus” for free?

      I think you’ve hit it on the nail with the whole “not wanting to bite the hand that feeds them” thing. I do understand it from a income-earning point of view. Positive reviews = income from collaborations, sponsorships, etc. plus free products. Negative reviews = no sposorships & taken off the PR list. But because of that, the point of watching beauty YouTubers is completely lost, because now we no longer get honest reviews.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  5. My opinion is more or less in line with yours. I have no problem with influencers receiving PR packages – it’s a win/win situation like you said, both for the brand and for the influencers themselves to try something new however, the appeal does wear off and quite fast. The other problem is that influencers no longer become relatable because they don’t have that same shopper mentality like a lot of us, especially when it comes down to price and priority.

    There is one thing in particular that irks me though. Because these influencers receive the same packages, they all end up making the same video about that particular product – like seriously? Out of all the PR packages that you receive, everyone makes the same video? I know they probably all have a slightly different opinion to each other but it’s so robotic and inauthentic! I fear that the beauty industry is becoming “fast beauty” because influencers emphasise so much on new product releases that old classics just get forgotten about.

    Overall, I think there is no need to make a whole video on “Opening PR Packages”. Unfortunately, it does get requested in the comments by younger audiences and youtubers just do what’s requested which is quite sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, I totally forgot all the influencers talking about the same product at the same time because they all received it together! Actually, that’s what kind of clued me in to the whole PR sample thing when the phenomenon first started…I started noticing that the influencers were talking about the same product at the same time, and thought maybe they just all bought it when they saw the hype. But then the same thing happened again and again…realized quickly that it was because they were being given these products for free.

      I don’t even know why younger audiences would request unboxing PR package videos? If I were in my teens, I would feel pretty bad that they got products for free and I didn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I kind of agree with what Hoi Yin said above. By sending a ton of PR packages, the companies are creating the hype by having the most popular influencers review them. None of the hype is organic or because the product is groundbreaking, or has something new to offer. For example, the new MUR concealer collection gained lots of organic hype because of the wide range of shades, not often seen in low-end ranges.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely – all of the big companies like Too Faced, Tarte, UD, ABH, etc – you already know their stuff is ultra-hyped up because of influencers. And yet knowing that, it somehow still gets most of us!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

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