Don’t feel you have to review everything you are offered just to establish an ongoing relationship with a PR company, just politely decline and hopefully next time something more suitable will come along. I think I got a bit carried away in the beginning so grateful that companies had noticed me, now I have been around the block awhile a 99p bottle of handwash doesn’t cut it, thanks all the same! Mind you a £1.99 one because its shaped like a squid might...
Although I would say I wish I had been more selective looking through old posts reviewing items worth hardly anything I do not think I valued the time it took me to take pictures (not very good ones back then, only marginally better now!) and write the post. For me though initially it was never about how much something cost more about whether or not my boys would (possibly) enjoy reviewing it. But its hard to keep that up, sometimes it makes more sense just to nip to the shops and buy the product yourself, then your free to write about what you want on your blog which is a welcome change at times. You have to be quite committed when reviewing; it helps to give the company a timeline of how long you take to write up your posts and if your saying yes to everything it can be draining!
Don’t worry about being honest in your reviews, my son did not like the Quaker Oats Oat So Simple so posed for a picture and then spat his mouthful on the carpet, so that was documented in my review (at seven he has more decorum now don’t worry).
I need not have been afraid to be truthful; companies have continued to work with me, lots more as my blog has grown. I try and balance reviews, because often even if my boys don’t like something a friend of theirs might.
In those first fledgling months as a new blogger I even felt pleased about getting press releases (now I almost always hit delete, but it can be worthwhile seeing if they have samples or budget if its something that interests you and would fit well with your blog). I really thought helping put up their press releases would make them want me to work with them again, “finally I am getting communication with a marketing company (yippee!)” – no no no…
For one it will be duplicate content for your site which lets be honest google does not like. Also some companies lead you down the garden path, promising the moon on a stick and delivering diddlysquat! I had one hotel review being dangled like a tasty carrot and I kept helping them and to this day it never happened, I got no closer to reviewing a gorgeous hotel and I wasted time I could have enjoyed with my lovely family instead (I hope they sleep well at night!).
Be firm, value your time and your blog space, going back through old posts and seeing a few press releases I was coerced into grieves me! Some approaches can be quite predatory, you can get lulled into a false sense of security and then WHAM! they have you agreeing to publish a press release every other day!!! But if you think it might be worthwhile by all means do it, some offers do come to fruition just be careful. Some companies are unscrupulous in their methods, others are genuine and lovely, just tread water carefully. If you don’t feel comfortable linking to something say so, your blog, your rules. See what they are after, links, exposure, be happy with whatever you agree.