The battle between beauty bloggers and traditional media editors continues.
On Saturday, PopSugar beauty editor Emily Orofino published an open letter addressed to TrendMood founder Sophie Shab, in which she lambasted the ways Shab operated her beauty blog and Instagram account, which has reached 543,000 followers.
Orofino claimed that Shab regularly disregards the airtight embargoes that beauty editors agree to in exchange to review products before they’re released. According to Orofino, Shab posted photos of unreleased products from a holiday preview event over the summer, where Orofino had herself signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement that said she wouldn’t post or share photos or information around the products. (Most journalists refuse to sign NDAs, but the beauty and fashion media typically operate far differently.)
She said she also confirmed with Mac and Urban Decay that Shab leaked photos of products from two collections, the Mac x Mariah Carey collection and Urban Decay’s Alice Through the Looking Glass vault, before they were to be shared with the public.
“I hope that you’re ashamed of yourself — you’re not playing by the rules,” Orofino wrote. “If it is so important to you to know which products are launching ahead of time, you should have become a beauty writer, publicist, or, even better, someone who makes the products like a product development manager or chemist. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s more honorable than being the makeup equivalent of a paparazzo.”
Orofino and Shab did not respond to requests for comment.
Orofino’s open letter is the latest example of traditional media clashing with bloggers who have built their own personal brands outside of the ethics and standards established by media companies, which editors are beholden to. Vogue recently received industry backlash for publishing notes from fashion week in which Vogue.com news editor Alessandra Codinha expresses great disdain for the “gross” practices of fashion bloggers.
“Looking for style among a bought-and-paid-for (“blogged out?”) front row is like going to a strip club looking for romance. Sure, it’s all kind of in the same ballpark, but it’s not even close to the real thing,” Codinha wrote.
Vogue was immediately criticized for sounding hypocritical and out of touch with the times. Orofino, on the other hand, is receiving support in the comments and on social media from other bloggers thanking her for bringing Shab’s unethical behavior to light on a mainstream platform. According to commenters on the PopSugar article, Shab’s offenses go beyond releasing embargoed product photos and information early. She also allegedly takes photos from other bloggers and turns them into her own collages. When photo credit is given, it’s buried at the bottom of a lengthy string of hashtags.
One commenter, Teri Cosenzi, wrote: “As a beauty blogger and influencer, I have always adhered to the guidelines set forth within the community and would never think to break an embargo. I am also privileged to gain a lot of insider info, early product releases, etc.. The fact that Sophie doesn’t care and just releases this information while stealing images (otherwise known as copyright infringement) from other bloggers and influencers is downright disgusting.”
Where Vogue’s beef with bloggers came off as the bitter old guard feeling threatened by the new, Orofino touches on an important issue around bloggers and the ease with which they can forego disclosure, whether that’s crediting sources or sharing that a post was sponsored.
Still, some think that PopSugar, and Orofino’s, are playing the game by PR rules when they abide by embargoes. As one commenter pointed out, if brands hated the early press, they would stop sending products to TrendMood to be reviewed.
Wow this is bad. Journalists can play by PR rules if they choose, but shaming others for leaks makes you a shill. https://t.co/LaZEvSJsFQ
— Amanda Mull (@amandamull) September 30, 2016