Free Things Thursday: I’ve Got a Rotting Bunch of Coconuts

by Rachel on January 12, 2012

Welcome to a new section of The Life called “Free Things Thursday.” Inspired by the many “Three Things Thursday” posts floating around the internet, I decided this would be a way to handle the free stuff I’ve received that I’d like to pass along to you. I realized that I need to make a plan for this when I found a coconut rotting under my desk at work two days ago.

So, back in December, I received a huge box in the mail from a PR company. I opened it, saw that it contained another huge box talking about a new type of coconut water, but then…sort of forgot about it. Now, admitting this makes me feel like an asshole. I got something free and I didn’t even care. I know how that sounds.

The thing is, when someone offers you something for free, you want to accept it, because they’re so excited about it, you feel like you should be too. And I spend enough time at my job feeling desperate for the right influential person to write about us and working with our PR team that I really feel for marketing and PR people. They truly don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want free stuff and I feel bad being the one to tell them that. But it just feels like there are going to be strings attached as soon as I say, “Sure, send the honey-flavored granola water on over!” Then I’m going to have to write about it even though it sounds like something I’d hate.

It’s like, I got the memo that just because a guy buys me dinner, I don’t have to sleep with him (and I actually used that as an out once!) but I need to get better at the whole “no means no” thing when it comes to PR companies. Especially when I remind myself that I don’t accept dinner dates with guys I have no interest in dating. I generally always avoided the “well, gee, thanks for dinner!” [kiss on the cheek] point at the end of the night because I never wanted free food that badly. I really should take the same approach with PR people.

Anyway, so I didn’t open the box because I just haven’t ever really liked coconut water, and I was afraid that I would try it and I wouldn’t like it, but I’d force myself to write about it here because I’d think, “Well even if I didn’t like it, maybe someone else would, so I should at least share the wealth.” But then I’d get kind of pissy about how PR people sometimes think that their new crap is The Best Thing Ever even when it has absolutely nothing to do with my blog, and how it’s basically free advertising, which is kind of not what I want to be giving away if I want to be taken seriously. Maybe shilling possibly-lame free stuff on my blog is my new “No one is going to buy the whole cow if you give away the milk for free” (although I do give away the milk for free too, so to speak…to Eric, not to you guys). But then days ago, I started to feel guilty about my fear of feeling guilty and felt even more guilty about not giving away free stuff to you guys and pretty-much-free advertising to a company I didn’t care about, so I decided to open the box. (I’m really your classic “whore with a heart of gold.”) And…that’s when I discovered the rotting coconut.

Apparently, this PR company wanted to be clever and rather than just send me three bottles of flavored water, they also included a real coconut with the samples. So…that was why the box was so big. The coconut was now rather soft and moldy and musty and I was amazed my whole office hadn’t started to smell. And then I felt even worse about the whole thing. I mean, I may not have been interested in the water, but I totally would have taken the opportunity to hack into a whole coconut if I had known I was getting that for free too.

My point is, free stuff and giveaways stress me out, and admitting that makes me feel really spoiled, which also stresses me out, but, well, now it’s out in the open, and my new plan to handle them here once a week (ish) makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing. As does giving away stuff I’m truly excited about it, which I’ve been trying my best to do (because not all products and the people who make them are bad!) and I will be doing more of next week!

But tonight, on our inaugural Free Things Thursday, I simply have some winners to announce.

The winner of the Mason Jar Cookies giveaway (yes, from a month ago…I told you giveaways stress me out) is Aleksa!

The winner of the Serve giveaway is Lizilla!

The winner of the CultureMap Fashion on Sale giveaway is Cathy Showan!

Ladies, I will e-mail you tomorrow morning with details on what to do to collect your prizes.

And to the company who sent me the free coconut…I’m sorry that this is the best I could do in writing about your product. Next time I won’t be such a tease.

Please tell me what you guys think of free stuff on blogs and giveaways! I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bridget January 12, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I had no idea a coconut could go bad.

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2 Dallas January 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm

I’ve always wondered why you don’t have more solid advertising on your blog? I feel like your pageviews have to be pretty high? (I have no idea about selling advertising but money is nice, right?)

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3 Emily @ Relishments January 13, 2012 at 5:01 am

I love this. It’s only semi-recently occurred to me that I don’t have to accept every free thing offered to me and I really shouldn’t accept product to review if it has nothing to do with my blog. If I wouldn’t eat it otherwise, why would I eat it just because it’s free?

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4 alex January 13, 2012 at 6:32 am

I want the coconut water. Is that weird?

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5 Jacki January 13, 2012 at 10:25 am

So, firstly, I like that you’re owning this first-world problem. (“My point is, free stuff and giveaways stress me out, and admitting that makes me feel really spoiled, which also stresses me out”) It’s endearing, lol. But it’s also a really important realization. You don’t have to accept/review/love something just because a PR company offers it. It’s okay.

Secondly, I like free stuff and I suspect I’d probably run into the same dilemma if people tried to give me free stuff for my blog, which so far isn’t visible enough to have that situation going on. (*Sigh*) I would be so flattered and would feel the need to accept no matter what, and would definitely need to learn to draw boundaries. Actually, I found that with guest posting. I put out a call for guest posts and some of the ideas my readers pitched were just not right for my blog, and it was hard to admit that because I didn’t want to seem mean, or turn down the offer, etc. But, it has to be done. You have to manage and protect your brand.

And thirdly, I think Free Things Thursday is a good solution!

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6 [SMASH] January 13, 2012 at 10:56 am

Everyone raves about how good coconut water is, but I’ve yet to try it.

I think that, when done correctly, a giveaway on a blog is good. BUT I know a lot of “bloggers” [and I use that term as loosely as possible…] who do it just for attention/follows. Sure, part of it should be to get more traffic to your blog and promote your brand, but still… Some chicks give away the most random shit just to be the most popular in that blog circle. Annoying.

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7 deva at deva by definition January 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

I think giveaways on blogs are pretty cool – as long as the giveaway is something the blogger would use themselves, AND that the giveaway is being done well. I don’t like giveaways that require more than a comment to enter – for example, the giveaways that ask you to like something on facebook, then to follow something on twitter, then to tweet about it, or blog about it. I’d rather just leave a comment.
I’ve never done a giveaway on my blog, and have not really been given the opportunity to do so. If/When I do get a chance, it would probably be something I’d use or buy with my own money, given the opportunity, or something I was given the opportunity to try (because I was curious about it), and enjoyed.

I feel like I’m babbling, so I’ll stop there.

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8 Kavi @ Lab to Fab! January 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Love that you had a coconut under your desk and had no idea! A friend of mine, who was living in Hawaii at the time, once sent me a whole coconut… no box, address written directly on the fruit! I think giveaways are a fun way to get readers involved, as long as it doesn’t become too stressful on your end.

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9 Nicole @ Giraffelegs January 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

So what does a bad coconut smell like?

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