Total Beauty Media's CEO Turns on Us

    Good evening, Dear Reader. I thought I was done, but then something happened I wanted to tell you about.

    Vanessa at Casual Lavish brought Total Beauty Media's newsletter to my attention, which contained a message from its CEO. I've been a part of the Total Beauty Network for a few months, but promptly ended that relationship after reading the CEO's letter. You may notice their logo is no longer on the upper right side of the page.

    Emrah Kovacoglu, Founder and CEO of Total Beauty Media, Inc., released his message that says:

    "Big numbers like this means big interest from ad/marketing/PR firms. In their fervor to court bloggers to write about their products, they're offering incentives -- from free products, to trips, to outright compensation. "

    Companies do send me samples to review. Those are trinkets. I have links on the "Online Resources" tab above to where I've previously bought the same stuff, and it's run me from $2-$5.50 each. The time that goes into swatching and photographing is worth more than the $2 - I do it to show polishes to you, Dear Reader. Trips? Compensation? No.

    Mr. Kovacoglu continues, saying:

    "Professional mass-media journalists are bound to these standards: objectivity, accuracy, truthfulness, fairness, public accountability, and limitation of harm. They're bound to presentation standards such as clarity, correct spelling, and formal dialect. But most bloggers are not classically trained professional journalists; they are individuals who had the guts to start talking publicly about an area of passion that had.

    Add in e-mail, texting, IM, Tweeting, etc., and the presentation standards in blogging are blurred. As in, it's acceptable (sometimes cool or funny) to misspell, cut corners, or not be as polished. That is what establishes your authenticity. 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. Bloggers must stay true to their readers. It's what will keep and grow the reader base -- and it's what drew brands to work with them in the first place.

    It is also the responsibility of brands, agencies, and companies like Total Beauty to hold our bloggers true to those standards."

    I tell you, he had me with him until the last part. I'm 37. No one needs to hold me to ethical standards, I live by my ethical standards. To imply that I'm in need of someone to help me resist the draw of $2 trinkets is ridiculous. But wait! There's more!

    "Now, back to why your brand shouldn't be working with bloggers. (Directly, anyway...) One of the things we encourage our bloggers and brands to do is work through Total Beauty for product reviews via our Sneak Peek program. The reason? 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

    We can ensure a buffer between their blog and brands, so that they are not penalized by a negative review, if that is what they truly feel. I've had many bloggers complain to me (three in just the last week alone!) that they sometimes receive products from brands they just don't like, but they fear if they don't review it (or review it negatively), they'll never hear from that brand again. "

    So many things are wrong here! Companies should not work with me? I was being monitored??? I think not. Guarantee the products are sent to the right bloggers? I'm prevented from giving my opinion on that. My thought is that the real reason is for this setup is that if bloggers work with companies directly, Total Beauty doesn't get a link, their traffic doesn't increase, and their advertising revenues don't keep going up. As far as complaining that one won't get freebies from a brand she doesn't like, that makes no sense. If a company cuts me off based upon a review, I'll go back to spending the $2-$5.50 for what I want and showing it to you. If a brand I don't like cuts me off, that means I get less crap in the mail that I'll never use.

    The bottom line here is that I do not need some commercial network pretending to dictate my ethics. I've been approached by companies asking me to sell you out, Dear Reader, and you know what? I didn't. Without you, there's no point to this blog, and I certainly don't need some imagined Big Brother to help me behave properly within that reality.

    I'm not alone in my feelings on this message from Mr. Kovacoglu. Here are links to others' reactions to this message:

    Tomorrow, I'll be less indignant and give you pretty pictures. Until then, Dear Reader, love and nail polish to you.

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