That's the key here: you HAVE to love their product or else you are dead to them. Offer constructive criticism? Yeah, that's not why they sent you free stuff. Blog reviews are a powerful advertising tool. Just think about your running gear or favorite food products: how many of those items did you purchase because you read about it on a blog? Personally, I'm much more likely to purchase an item if it's reviewed by a blogger that I enjoy reading. Here's the kicker though: can you trust blog reviews? How much of it is tainted by instructions from the company's representative or the blogger's eagerness to please them?
Lately I've tried to restrict the amount of reviews I do on this blog, mostly because I grew extremely exhausted of the process of administering giveaways with 10 ways to enter. If a company wants to make people jump through hoops to enter a contest, well then I'm not hosting it on my blog. I won't even enter the "Like us on Facebook! Tweet about this giveaway!" contests on other blogs, so why would I have such a thing on my blog?
|My feelings on elaborate blog giveaways|
The last review that I did of the Ruff Wear dog hydration pack was an extremely pleasant experience. Working with the company was a breeze and I can honestly say that I will order from them in the future. They didn't provide me with guidelines on how to host a giveaway or give me a deadline on when to post a review. I was allowed to take an adequate amount of time to try out the product in a variety of settings and construct a well developed review. After that experience, I was like "Blog reviews are fun! Butterflies and puppies for everyone!"
That's not always the case. Recently I was contacted by Zensah to review some of their athletic compression socks. The last time I reviewed compression socks on my blog, it didn't go over well, but I've seen a ton of people wearing Zensah products at races and other bloggers claim to adore them. I already own CEP compression sleeves and I love them. I've PRed at races wearing them and I often wear them for recovery after a hard run.
|Look how happy these calf sleeves make me!|
I got the Zensah socks to review and since I was so politely informed that I had two weeks to post this review and it should be a stand alone post (oops), I wore them immediately and then for a run the next day. I can sum up my feelings on them in one word: Eh.
|Wheely Bug not included|
That's right, "eh". I didn't hate them, but they weren't even close to how I feel about my CEP calf sleeves. Maybe it's because Zensah sizes by shoe size rather than calf size like CEP, but they just didn't provide the level of compression that I want. I felt compression on the tops of my calves, but below that it just felt like I was wearing knee socks. I like compression on my Achilles, especially for long hilly runs, and these didn't provide any. When I take my CEP sleeves off, they leave even lines down my legs and these Zensah socks only left lines on the tops of my calves which proves my "not tight enough all the way down" point (to me at least). Also the foot part of the sock was problematic on my run and was bunching like it was too big and gave me a nice blister on one foot for just a 9 mile run. I will give them points for being cute looking socks, which matters more to some people than others. Also, they would be good for air travel or a long car ride since they aren't as tight. I guess, I don't really know since I avoid both of those things since I have a toddler.
I get that some people like less compression and enjoy these socks. I don't hate them, but I wouldn't buy a pair. Before I had agreed to this review, I had heard that Zensah will contact you and try to get you to change a negative review if that's what you post. I'm here to tell you: that won't happen. Not with this product and not with anything...ever. I'm not going to rave about a product and tell you to buy it when I didn't love it and I'm sure as hell not going to censor my blog content because some company isn't happy with my honesty.
Being told how to format my blog posting by a company that is providing me a free product feels like a slippery slope. In the future, I'm not going to agree to review anything that comes with stipulations on how I must approach it on my blog. I think freedom of speech and expression is a beautiful thing and it's one of the things that makes our country so great.
|AMERICA, FUCK YEAH|
There isn't a giveaway, mostly because I don't think a pair of my slightly used socks is a prize worthy of competition. Your gifts (if you've read down this far) are my golden thoughts and that amazing picture of Lincoln riding a fucking grizzly bear.
So here are your Cliffnotes: Kara: bitter bitch about getting free shit with a few strings attached, awash in first world problems. Zensah: mediocre level of compression, negative points for bunchy sock issues, positive points for cuteness factor.
Conclusion: Kara gets no more offers for free shit in her inbox. Don't worry, she'll always have that picture of Lincoln to comfort her.