And so, many fill editorial ‘beauty cupboards’ for shared perusal by teams, or they swamp desks, bags and boxes until plucked out whenever relevant. Others – once seen, smelt or swatched – may be donated to charities. And a small minority, regrettably, risk being sold for personal profit.
This unethical breach of confidence has long happened in our industry, yet it’s on my mind now since hearing from PRs about a serial eBay seller flogging new stock sent to press. I share their concern.
It’s unlikely that the perpetrator is someone the products were intended for, but most probably a person with access to storage areas where samples wind up. Or, perhaps, it is a dodgy recipient of some products innocently ‘regifted’. (Although assuming it’s okay to give away stock raises other questions of conduct as, clearly, there’s a difference between a PR sample and a gift.)
Regardless, it’s our collective responsibility to prevent this kind of activity. It helps when publicists label products with “tester/sample – not for resale” stickers, and probe sites such as eBay for not enforcing these terms when they’re often shown in photos of the products listed. Also, press/influencers need to remember that samples become their property once received, whether they wanted them or not. Therefore, storage must be secure. Or when that isn’t possible, it should be marked as “private” in a communal space, or “not for retail purposes” once shared/donated.
It also builds the case for samples being available on request; something more common since home mailings rocketed. I imagine sought PR send-outs would mean greater chance of items being used as intended, and a little more certainty over their destiny.