Cultivate Blog

Posted by Madeleine Denebeim on 3/26/24 9:30 AM

This week, the Gifting Experts scrolled through “PR Haul” on TikTok and realized something significant was missing. When it comes to product seeding — aka, sending PR or influencer gifts in the hopes they’ll promote them on their social media — the stakes are high to leave a lasting impression on the creator and their audience.

With influencers often stockpiling packages before ultimately tossing or giving them away (or even selling them for profit!), we couldn’t help but wonder how effective product seeding is. We found sending hundreds of dollars worth of gifts for a 1-5 second feature as a creator flies through a mountain of gifts won’t get the same return as letting them select their gifts based on their personal tastes and preferences. 

There is such a thing as “bad PR”
Recently, a TikTok went viral, shedding light on the impact of thoughtless PR packages. Creator Olivia Marcus’ dismay upon receiving a wasteful package filled to the brim with plastic confetti from a cosmetics giant struck a chord with viewers. On top of cleaning up and disposing of the confetti, the gift was even more of a chore because the company never communicated with Marcus and sent it to an outdated address that she had to retrieve herself. Incidents like these can generate negative publicity for the brand and underscore a broader issue in gift-giving: the disconnect between what brands offer and what recipients genuinely desire.


PR can be done effectively but this is SO wasteful! #prhauls

♬ original sound - Olivia Marcus

In the age of social media, where every unboxing is scrutinized and shared, the importance of crafting meaningful experiences cannot be overstated. According to Traackr, 61% of marketers report that less than 50% of their product seeding gets posted to social media. It's no longer enough to simply send out lavish packages to get positive press for them; brands must ensure that their gifts resonate with the recipients on a personal level. 

“Personally, I want a brand to take the time to get to know me before working together. Watch my content, evaluate whether your products fit my personal style or needs, and check out my audience! In the end, it all comes down to authenticity. If I like the product, I’ll be more likely to post about it, and my audience will be able to feel my excitement.” - Naiomi Hearts, Influencer

The physical footprint of PR gifting
While some influencers' entire platforms rely on receiving entire collections and the luxury of that experience, the reality is that many are often disappointed or overwhelmed by the excess and waste associated with these grand gestures.  As popular as PR hauls and unboxings are, decluttering content, where creators consolidate their massive collections of free merchandise, rises in popularity due to unboxing spiking in Google search trends. 

The extravagant packaging and excess not only miss the mark in terms of personalization but also contribute significantly to environmental waste and pollution. With minimalism and decluttering content rising in popularity in response to audiences seeing top influencers rifle through shopping malls’ worth of PR gifts, the burden to change is put on the creators instead of the brands.

While some influencers remove their names from PR lists or donate up to 90% of their PR gifts to offset the constant influx of packages, the inevitable waste created is difficult to conceptualize. Because brands compete for the space to be featured on a creator’s account, they invest in customized packaging, often made with non-renewable materials or elaborate electronic features like lights and mini TVs. Not only are these extraordinarily cumbersome or time-consuming to recycle, but the burden is put on the Influencer to figure out how to dispose of the packaging… not the most impressive marketing attempt.

These examples ring even more true in moments like Charlotte Tilbury's mysterious campaign, in which Influencers were “surprised” when a luxe PR package was missing the actual products inside. Later, it was revealed to be a successful engagement campaign with hundreds of comments and stitched videos that solved the PR faux pas. It also caused audiences to question the environmental cost of generating short-lived social media buzz. 


Replying to @Merri Chandler THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED UPDATE 😂😭 #makeup #beautt

♬ original sound - Mikayla Nogueira

So, what's the solution? Enter the concept of choice
Instead of overwhelming recipients with an entire collection or every color variant, brands can empower them by offering them the freedom to choose. By allowing people to select the products they genuinely want or need, brands can elevate the gift-giving experience from mundane to memorable. 

Moreover, giving the gift of choice also has a practical benefit: it minimizes the risk of negative press and backlash. When recipients are delighted with their gifts, they're more likely to share positive reviews and endorsements, bolstering your brand's reputation and credibility.

In essence, sending gifts with choice isn't just about impressing influencers or garnering attention; it's about forging authentic connections and creating meaningful experiences. By embracing this philosophy, brands can transform their PR gifts from forgettable mail into genuine moments of appreciation.

After 14 years of providing unforgettable gifting programs, we’ve found that giving people a choice is the ultimate good PR. That’s why we've made it our mission to integrate this principle into every aspect of our gifting solutions.

 Whether expressing gratitude to a small team or aiming to make a lasting impression with grand-scale PR gestures, our curated collections on the turnkey Essentials tier of the gifting Platform provide the perfect starting point.

We understand that every person and occasion is unique, which is why we're ready to collaborate with you to step up to an Influencer-level gifting with our Premium Platform that guarantees a Return on your Appreciation.™ Connect with one of our Experts today to send PR gifts and leave a lasting impact on your audience that resonates long after the confetti settles.

Topics: Experts

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