There’s been Twitter-chatter a-plenty amongst bloggers recently about who-gets-sent-what-by-whom, which is a direct parallel to what goes on between beauty writers, too. It’s oh so easy to feel your nose is out of joint if you spot another journalist wearing a not-yet-released colour or holding the latest swanky bag that went out as a ‘gift’ – you’ll know soon enough where you rank in a brand’s esteem when a paper press release arrives at your door without even a sample of the product, never mind the gift!
But in beauty-land, its not ‘you’ that gets the gifts or the deluxe samples, the lunches, the dinners and the trips abroad, it’s the publication you work for; you are only ever as good as your mag. At a launch recently, I was surrounded by women half my age all working for print press, and with them was an expensively fragranced aura of entitlement. But as many have learned previously, when you move on, so does your status.
At this same launch, I was talking to a fellow beauty editor (we are roughly the same age) about how we have been plugging brands literally for a decade and yet rarely, if ever, get invited on press trips. Now, I’m at a point in life where a press trip is massively inconvenient (kids, dogs and general life busy-ness) but on a couple of occasions I’ve been to small group launches where I am literally the only person not invited on a forthcoming trip and while the chosen ones are all abuzz with the excitement, I’m in the mortifying position of not being able to join in. Partially, those examples are down to poor planning by the PRs concerned, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to develop a thick (and hopefully wrinkle-free) skin in such matters, and also take it on the chin that I am never going to be elevated from minor thanks to major, f*** off, we-love-you-our-client-loves-you bag!
Some brands are exceptionally kind – I’ve never worked at a magazine; being freelance I put all my efforts into writing for papers, on-line and my blog with the occasional commission to write for glossies – and are generous, but on the whole it isn’t the jobbing freelancers who can one minute be writing for a circulation of 1m+ and the next for a niche publication with a fraction of that readership that get the material thanks. In part, this is because there are a lot of beauty freelancers around and budgetary constraints mean it is impossible for brands to gift as maybe they would like to do. And, the recession has certainly culled a great deal of ‘gifting’.
But it’s my view to that to be at the top of the tree and take a tumble is worse than to forever stay on the lower branches out of trouble. I’ve always got hope, but never expectation, and that, my friends is the key to gifting serenity.