“I got this package in the mail from (insert company or person here)” – this might be the only time you ever see these words start out an article on this web-site.
On many online cigar media sites that review cigars, for some reason there is this need to put in these words or some variation of it. What’s worse, I see many reviews start off with something along those lines. I have also seen non-cigar media outlets use these words on reviews, but to be honest, the it seems more of a common-practice with cigar media. While I do advocate freedom of the press and expression, I have to admit – I have a problem when a review does this.
First up, the review immediately loses my attention with words like this – especially when it is at the beginning. In my opinion, the review should have something that grabs my attention and get my interested in this review. I want to learn something in the review. When I first read a review with these words, the first thing that comes in my mind mind is the author got some cigars. I’m not getting any immediate knowledge about the product being reviewed.
I’ve had this discussion with several members of the cigar media and this has raised a few objections to my position on this.
Objection #1: It needs to be in there, you are supposed to disclose Samples
The answer is yes. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission does require this. Instead of using the words “I got this package in the mail” to satify this requirement, it can be made more of a point of reference. It is very easy to disclose that you got sample – a footnote or reference in the review listing “Source: Cigars Provided by Company XYZ” is much easier.
Many online media brands are paying for the sins of previous online media brands. Namely, those that have received (or even asked for) samples and never provided reviews for those cigars. It is this author’s opinion that that stating this up front in a review could lump someone who is doing all the right things when receiving a sample into the field of moochers.
Objection #2: Shouldn’t you thank whomever sent you the Cigars?
First up, I really don’t feel by writing “I got this package in the mail” that you are actually thanking the manufacturer. While I applaud reviewers explicitly gratitude for a product, I have more an issue when this becomes more of the focal point of the review. What really becomes more annoying is when a reviewer decides to take to social media and say “Thank you XYZ for the cigars!” or “Look what I got in the mail from XYZ!”.
To me a simple “Thank you” in an private email will suffice and is good form. When media takes to a PDA (Public Display of Affection), it immediately starts to show “look what I got”. It could raise questions on “why did ABC get a sample from XYZ and not me?” I’ve heard from at least one manufacturer wishing this wasn’t done by media. This was because the PDA led to several phone calls and emails by others asking for samples. As a result, this manufacturer has re-evaluated their policy on supplying media with samples.
I do believe in many cases, most media outlets are genuine with gratitude. However, there are exceptions where there is no doubt, it’s more about ego.
Objection #3: The cigar industry is different – it’s all about relationships
There is no doubt about it. The cigar industry does differentiate itself because the foundation is on the relationships. We’ve been very fortunate to build relationships over the four plus years covering the industry.
My response here is a simple question. By leaving out the words “I got this package in the mail”, will it damage the relationship? I will tell you, it will not.
Objection #4: You should mind your own business
Perhaps I should. But whether you are writing a personal blog or a more professional web-site, online media is being looked upon more closely. I do think there needs to be some degree of professionalism if you want to be taken seriously. In the end, I think leaving out the “I got this package in the mail” phrase or variant will do more good than keeping it in.