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Sep 10 2011

Forgive me for I have … blogged.

Some of you may have heard about the blogger-offending piece titled “On My Mind: Move Over, Bloggers!” penned by Nails Magazine Executive Editor Hannah Lee.

I don’t get fired up about drama in the blogging or nail world very often, but I was HOT about this. I decided to wait until I was cooled down before penning my own thoughts about this offending article, and the editor’s response (it’s really not an apology).

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If you haven’t read the article, you can find the original here. The response is here.

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First, I must say. Nails Magazine is a trade publication for nail techs. I get that. It’s not intended to be read by bloggers like me, because it discusses industry trends that aren’t pertinent to my day-to-day job duties.

I get that because I spent years as the Managing Editor of a medical newspaper for a specific type of doctor. With no other education than having a BA in professional writing/journalism, and an MA in writing. Just like Hannah (read here a blurb about her background) my training is in journalism, and my goals were to grow and better the magazine and give readers the best possible product so they could find out about all the latest ground-breaking trials, FDA regulations, etc. I attended countless trade shows and my day planner was packed with meeting after meeting with companies who wanted to get their product mentioned in our publication and web site.

Granted, the “consumer blog” phenom is not the same in the medical arena as it is in the nail arena. I didn’t encounter too many people trying out medical devices and reviewing them and swatching them.

So, I have to say, I really, really get what Nails Magazine is about, and why they’d make suggestions that nail techs need to “take back” their profession and be the experts in the nail arena.

Because right now, we are putting them to shame – and it’s apparent by the number of responses Hannah received to her article and the follow-up piece.

I have a number of points I’d like to make to each of the offenses that Hannah puts forth in her article, so I’m breaking things down by section.

My Presence in the Press Room

In July/August, I was fortunate enough to receive press credentials to attend CosmoProf. This was not my first rodeo in the cosmetic circuit, but it was the biggest trade show I’ve attended since I was the managing editor of a trade publication. (Read my archived Cosmoprof coverage here).

I knew the drill, and I was prepared to work my butt off walking the floor, learning what’s new, and bring it to the reader.

I may not be a “professional,” or “paid/sponsored” blogger, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the skills to walk around an exhibit hall, use my award-winning journalism skills to interview company heads, and report to the public what’s going on.

Yes, I threw that out there - I’ve won three professional awards for my work in journalism. I started writing in newspapers when I was 15. I only went into corporate communications less than two years ago.

I’m not bragging, but since we’re being slammed as “polish junkies who are looking for free handouts of the latest collections from manufacturers,” I thought I might tell you a little bit about myself because polish isn’t the only reason I do BeautyJudy.com. It’s the WRITING and the experiences I get to have being a journalist in the new world of social media.

Part of being a journalist is bringing the reader balanced and up-to-date information. I enjoy being someone who goes and finds out what polish companies are coming out with next, and reporting it back to the blogosphere. I get thousands and thousands of unique visitors. While I blog for myself, and my own enjoyment, I blog what I think these fellow “polish junkies” would want to know; I try to provide what those thousands of visitors come to my blog to find.

“polish junkies who are looking for free handouts of the latest collections from manufacturers,” she said.

Do I receive samples from manufacturers of nail polish, nail art, and even cosmetic bags?! Yes. I disclose this. Have I received complimentary professional services for review? Yes. I disclose this. Just as I have also disclosed in the past that I am in no way a professional.

I also don’t know any bloggers who are blogging and looking for a sample handout. Just like it’d be unfair to generalize that all nail techs are ignorant to trends, it’d be rude to suggest that all bloggers are honest. I’m sure there might be some out there who don’t have best intentions. I don’t know those people.

Here’s my view on samples:

“Professionally,” samples allow me to bring you a wider range of products for view. Because I am a blogger that will look at a polish and think, “I have GOT to share that with everyone!” I can’t afford to do this all the time!

I view samples as a priviledge – a company does NOT have to send me samples of their product just because I blog. It has to make sense for them from a PR/financial standpoint. What will they get out of it?

Finally, samples are, for me, a tool in running my blog – that while I might not be paid for or considered “professional,” I try to RUN my blog professionally. The fact that a company is sending me samples shows they feel my reviews are professonal enough, respected and read by enough people to make it worth their while to shell out the product to send to me. And they know my reviews will be honest, and if I don’t like their formula, or their color is last season, I’ll say it.

Pecking Order

Hannah says, “I’m getting kind of tired of all these consumer bloggers online who are just infatuated with nail polish and post endlessly about polish and doing their own nails. I mean, sure, they probably help increase the awareness of nail care and new products (mostly polish), but I think it’s time for those of us on the professional side of the nail world to take back our place in the pecking order.”

Ok. I get it. But she calls us consumer bloggers, and that we “probably help increase the awareness of nail care and products (mostly polish).” THAT’S THE POINT, HANNAH. You said it yourself, you described us YOURSELF.

I’m not sure it’s my fault if a consumer publication contacts me and asks me if they can use my photo of a polish for an online trend piece, and publishes a couple comments from me about it.

If I was on Twitter I’d say, “#justsayin”

Misguided Advice

This comment was interesting, too – “the professional side of our industry needs to stay at the forefront and the DIY-ers need to take a small step back.”

I’m glad you’re telling them to step up. How about you contact all the media outlets and tell them to contact nail techs, too?

Maybe instead of “it’s time to step up,” you should be asking WHY are magazines and media outlets calling on bloggers for opinions on trends?

How can nail techs get out there as the folks who should be speaking to trends?

Because there’s got to be a better way than telling them to just get in touch with consumer press.

Telling a nail tech to offer themselves as spokespeople to magazines is a bit flawed. As a former editor, I’d be a bit hesitant if someone called me and offered to be an expert for me. Instead of telling techs to offer themselves as experts, why not give them actual advice on how to put together a PR plan and put themselves, and their salon, in view of consumer outlets in a consistent, professional manner?

I think simply telling a tech to reach out to offer expertise to a publication is lacking. They need a little bit more coaching and training. Kinda like doing a professional pedicure or manicure, right? You should know what you’re doing before you do it.

You don’t want DIY-ers to be mistaken for knowledgable about nail care and what not, but you want nail techs to be mistaken for PR pros? OK.

My Personal Experiences with Salons

Interestingly, today I have a lunch date with a girlfriend to go get a pedicure, and then have lunch. My salon? It’s full of women I can’t really talk with because they speak broken English. They are friendly. But they use a mini Dremel sander-like tool to sand away the callouses on my feet. And they don’t clean it in between customers.

Where are the nail techs who know what they’re doing? The ones that tell us how to take care of our nails? The ones Nails Magazine is supposed to speak to? Honestly? Outside of trade shows? I’ve only met a handful, and they were the women who were doing manis at the “Nail Files” show promotional tour in Atlantic City (read here). I still follow one of the techs on Twitter, and I love how passionate she is about nails.

I would love to see HER quoted in a magazine over me, or other bloggers, in fairness to Hannah’s point about nail techs taking back a professional prominence.

Oh, and one more thing. I can’t leave off without mentioning that last year, I went to get a pedicure while visiting my friend in Florida, and I had crackle on my fingers and the techs were gathering around, ooooohing and aaaaaahing over it because they’d not seen it yet. Really?

Pro Products in Non-Pro Hands

I recently used a pro product in a blog post, at home. CND Shellac Removal Wraps. To remove the professionally applied Shellac manicure I received at the CND booth at CosmoProf.

Nails magazine doesn’t specifically identify these as professional products we can’t access, but the truth is, I can buy the entire soup-to-nuts Shellac system as a nonprofessional. And use it at home.

There are beauty supply stores that open their doors to nonprofessionals, too.

I can’t justify those people who are not professionals and blog irresponsibly about using such products (although I haven’t read these posts and am not sure where to find them – although my CND Shellac Removal post might be considered one?! I will give you this – if I didn’t, I should have mentioned removal should be done in a salon.) but if it’s available to the public, it’s game for someone picking it up and blogging about it.

And I would rather remove my Shellac mani at home, personally.

Bottom line

It seems to me that Hannah isn’t thinking about the utility and place of a consumer blog. It’s 2011, and social media is alive and well, Hannah. We might not be pros in your eyes, but if you give it a 35,000-foot view, we’re tools for companies to get their product in front of consumers, we shepherd in new trends, and can influence not only the consumer but the industry. That last bit, I believe, is something that Hannah has probably learned the last couple days.

While we mostly discuss collections, color, nail art techniques and treatments that work for us, we’re not meant to replace the nail tech or their place in the beauty world. It’s not our fault we’d rather DIY than go to a salon where things aren’t hygienic and we aren’t meeting the kinds of techs for whom she’s writing and publishing.

There are many other points in the article, and the response (it’s not an apology, it’s a response because so many of us reacted), but I think I’ve stated my feelings and gotten it off my chest.

But you can bet I’m going to try to engage my nail tech today and ask a couple questions. Like, “do you read Nails magazine?” and “what do you recommend for peeling nails?” And, “what can you tell me about ruffian manicures?” OH, and I wonder what THEY can tell ME about magnetic nail polish?!

I’ll be sure to follow up in my blog.

  • http://judixo.blogspot.com Judi

    Judy, thank you for this well written article in response to what was written in Nails magazine. I’m proud to share a name! ;)

    You made a very valid point about your experiences at nail salons. As I read the article in Nails magazine I thought “who are these knowledgeable professional nail techs she speaks of?” At the many salons I have visited, the manicures I receive are indistinguishable from each other. They give me the same nail shape, try to sell me on a french manicure, and we hardly speak because we cannot communicate well. When I ask for the latest collection from OPI I’m taken to the general display. I ask for a half moon manicure and they don’t understand. They ask if I want a generic flower on my thumb instead.

    I personally would never have gotten into nail polish at all if it weren’t for beauty bloggers. I went from not painting my nails in a decade to owning over 30 polishes in a couple of months. What is the appeal? Simple: beauty bloggers are incredibly knowledgeable, personable, and truly *excited* about the collections and trends that come out. They have made me a consumer in a market that did not exist to me. How is that a bad thing?

  • http://tpfbunny.blogspot.com BunnyMasseuse

    Agree, nice article. If only Hannah had kept her head and her passion where they belonged and not channeled the anger that her pros and charged her up with she would have potentially written a better article.

    I don’t even think Hannah got the gist of what she was writing. I think she was trying to attack an article subject w/o feeling the same way as her readers, I could be wrong but we’ll never know.

  • http://www.peebeforepolish.blogspot.com Cristina@PeeB4Polish

    THIS is really a professional post, written by a professional person! I definitely agree with you, Judy. I have always shared my thoughts on my blog too, in a less professional way. First of all because I’m a criminologist and not a journalist, secondly because when I’m really angry I choose sarcasm and irony.
    It’s my manner to avoid bad language. :D

    • http://www.peebeforepolish.blogspot.com Cristina@PeeB4Polish

      I meant: “I have ALREADY shared”, not always. Sorry for the mistake. ;)

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  • Lucy

    Wow Judy! I’m very impressed with your credentials and awards. I’m more impressed with your response to this woman’s article. I totally agree with all the points in your post. This has really incensed so many bloggers and non-bloggers. It’s really ridiculous to think nail techs are going to start writing articles about polish, etc. I’d say the majority of people don’t have the time or money to start the same kind of research that you do. Do you think this article will inspire all the licensed professionals to do what Helen suggests? I doubt it.

  • http://www.polishinsomniac.net jbrobeck

    Linking this on my post, as you made so many great points that I didn’t discuss!!!!

  • http://beautyreductionista.blogspot.com/ Liz (Beauty Reductionista)

    Bravo! This is the best response post I’ve read so far. Thanks, Judy.

  • http://myownkindofgirly.blogspot.com Melissa

    I can’t wait to hear what you don’t find out about magnetic polish :P The industry really is evolving and some sure are scared about it!!

  • aaminahs mom

    well I have never nor will I subscribe to a professional nail magazine. I love you bloggers and i follow via GFC..BTW the magazines and newspapers are online..that says alot. I LOVE ONLINE DYI BLOGGERS!!! you guys always give me a heads up on whats on the horizon, and you seem to know more than nail techs when it come to hand/nail care,upcoming collections,LE, HTFs. nuff said keep up the GREAT work ladies!

  • DesertNails8

    Well said !!!

  • http://www.nightlynails.com/ Nicole

    Judy, this reads like a magazine article. Maybe you could offer Hannah a few tips on how to sound more professional, because her tone in both pieces was decidedly less professional than your response to these articles! You get a standing ovation from me, because between you and Mary, you’ve said everything I wanted to say, but I didn’t have the words for.

  • http://libbyspinkvanity.blogspot.com Kimberly

    Well said, Judy.

    I had to wonder about Hannah’s statement about nail professionals need to get into the forefront of their industry. This insinuates that these professionals are NOT in the forefront and that bloggers have eclipsed them as far as trends, new color and collection reviews and, most of what is going on in the nail care industry. I’d like to challenge the professional nail techs to investigate, review for themselves and continue to learn about their own craft.

    I had subscribed to Nails Magazine as a way to stay current with nail trends and products. However, I now totally realize that I don’t need this magazine to get that information. I follow marvelous, professional blogs (like the one you are reading right here) that teach me all I need to know.

  • http://minicolor.wordpress.com minicolor

    I’m “kind of tired” of Hannah Lee’s elitist attitude and her offensive generalization that all bloggers are “polish junkies looking for free handouts”.

    Shame on her for trying to pit members of the nail world against each other. There is room for everyone, and we should be sisters and friends, not rivals.

  • http://doliviajewelry.blogspot.com/ Diane

    That Hannah person sounds rather petty. I’m sure there was a way to fire up the nail technicians without insulting an entire class of bloggers, but she was incapable of doing that. I used to get my nails done professionally, but I’ve gotten rashes and cuts from the pedicures, and I found I could learn to do my own nails, including teaching myself how to do acrylic and gel nails. It was just as good as the salon, and I didn’t have to worry about their disinfection techniques, etc. They hardly ever have the latest seasonal polish collections there, and usually only carry OPI. I recently donated a large stash of nail items to a local beauty school, and their scholastic head was so happy to have extra polishes, and was happy and rather confused at my IBD gel items, since she was not familiar with the IBD line, and they didn’t teach gels there, only acrylics. I get a lot of use (and into pocketbook trouble!)out of bloggers like you who show all the latest shades and brands. It helps me make informed choices, like do I really need that 30th bottle of mauve? Anyway, keep up the good work, and ignore the “poopyheads” out there.