#BloggerBlackmail vs #hollowmacaron

I’ve written before about writing negative reviews when brands fail, and how bloggers are flipping nightmares sometimes.

So what did I see this morning during my usual morning twitter browsing? Those very posts in action. And as it’s now trending and a lot more people than bloggers are going to be wondering what the hell has gone on, here’s a run down.

If you’re not a blogger, please, please don’t think we’re all like this. We ain’t. Lots of us write for the sake of writing, and we don’t all need freebies to do that. Freebies are a flipping awesome perk of what is, for most of us, a fun hobby.

A blogger had arrived at a bakery over the weekend and been offered a typical customer’s experience, coffee and macarons, to review. Taken aback the red carpet wasn’t rolled out, the blogger then asked for three boxes, worth £100, of foody bits instead.

Cringe. Utter cringe.

When the blogger was told she could have them if she paid for them, the blogger apparently insinuated the review was going to be written one way or another, before taking the freebies she was offered in the first place and slagging them off over social media

EDIT: When I first wrote this post, I didn’t realise the blogger named and shamed. I thought she’d taken the high ground and had photographed the food without letting everyone know who the bakery was. I can see now she named the bakery from the off which prompted the bakery to respond. In addition to this, hashtags were scathing and the retaliation from the blogger for not getting her way was childish. In my opinion, the bakery was justified in their reactive blog post.

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Fearing a bad review, (the blogger herself has said she fully intended to write one but after she’d had time to reflect decided against it) the brand then posted an preemptive explanation, labelling the blogger insignificant and mentioning her by name, stating they were feeling they’d been held to ransom – give her what she wanted or brace themselves for the storm.

But rather than explain what happened in a neutral way, the bakery took the defensive and got personal. Not the best way to handle it, but they were dealing with childish behaviour, remember? Their brand, staff and products were brought into disrepute and they needed to set the record straight – this wasn’t a disgruntled customer. This was a blogger who didn’t get her way.

Perhaps as a blogger I should take a fellow’s side, but I can’t. I feel like we’re all being tarnished with the same brush.

Bloggers can be entitled sometimes. How much more entitled can you be to be offered a coffee and a selection of treats, a standard customer’s experience, REJECT it, and then ask (oh the cringe, it physically hurts thinking about it) for THREE BOXES of treats? And then bitch when that was refused, stating that the products weren’t up to standard when whims weren’t indulged?

Good job they didn’t give her three boxes, as she’d have been gutted to be loaded with hollow macarons, right? I bet they would have gone straight in the bin *eyeroll*

I hate seeing bloggers act that way. A small business in a competitive industry in an area of London where rates are ridiculous doesn’t need to be told off by a girl with a keyboard and a camera who places an extortionate amount of value on her very average blog. As much I’m really, really, not a fan of Slutty [Recipe Name Here] by The Londoner, she can afford to be offered the red carpet. She can.

So I decided to leave the blogger a friendly comment and see what she thought. I think the points stand for all bloggers – let’s all act professionally, communicate our requirements beforehand and, if we want to be seen as professionals, act like damn professionals when it inevitably goes wrong.

Oh, and to the bakery, enjoy the free link juice, no payment needed!

To the blogger, I had linked you in this post however after seeing your name and shame antics after not getting your way, I don’t feel your actions are what I want my little slice of the internet to be associated with. I see you also haven’t posted my comment below on your post, and have chosen instead to approve those who seem to agree with you. Your prerogative, of course.

I can’t imagine this will be posted, but hopefully you’ll be able to read and digest (pun intended) this: it’s not up to anyone to determine a small business’ budget for reviews, nor is it a blogger’s place to impose their blog’s so-called worth on anyone else.

They offered you products for you to get a good experience of their brand – pretty much what Joe Public would experience had they popped in for a cuppa and a mallow. That’s what you claim to be offering your readers, right? A genuine experience?

Instead, you’ve made unreasonable demands of a small bakery in the guise of ‘because I’m worth it’. In actuality, you have a domain authority of 25, a fairly average (if not low, by other bloggers (and my own) standards) SEO score, and certainly not one where you can start making demands for products in the hundreds of pounds despite your thoughts on ‘[having] the right to value’ your blog. As an example, I wouldn’t be able to offer you a review of anything until you hit at least DA 28-30.

As much as it might take you eight hours per post it takes considerable amount of time and skill, not to mention employee salaries and overheads to make each product, each macaron, each mallow. You insinuate from your post your time is worth more than theirs. Is that accurate? Or fair?

After not being indulged by the brand on the day, you took your frustration at not being given loads of free stuff out on social media and publicly shamed the business and its owner, which could seriously damage their reputation. All for you not getting an excessive, in my opinion, amount of freebies. Your tweets have since been deleted – an admission of your overreaction?

You say the baker is bullying you. In actual fact, they wouldn’t have posted it at all had you reacted reasonably. The review the brand has left is in reaction to your own actions, a defensive move on their part to explain why someone has slated their goods.

I don’t agree with some of their comments, no, and I think what they’ve said is tactless. But really, you’re the issue here.

You didn’t email your contact back after your review stating the freebies weren’t enough to give an overall option, and can I come back for a revisit where I will require a red carpet, gold mallows and coffee from the faeces of a Peruvian jungle cat, or whatever else your requirements were, no. You didn’t email your concerns over staff and their lack of knowledge of your visit. You didn’t give them a chance to right the wrongs you feel were committed, in private. No, you trashed their products and their stock levels publicly where your readers would see. With the intention that as many of your readers saw and sided with you.

I am a blogger, and I am also in PR. I have been blogging for three years and have worked with bloggers for over four years. I have a blacklist the size of my arm of bloggers who feel having a DSLR and a keyboard makes them as valuable as Stylist or Time Out.

You are not a magazine with a huge circulation or readership. You are someone with a blog, like me and all the other someones with a blog, and as such you are free to value your time as you see fit. However, how you value your blog isn’t how a good proportion of brands and PRs will value it and maturity and professionalism would dictate you react with grace when being told their budget doesn’t extend to your demands.

I am a blogger, feel free to have a look at my blog if you’ve not heard of it before, and you will see I will defend bloggers and their rights to be taken seriously in an ever-competitive online world. However, I cannot excuse malicious behaviour from bloggers. The brand sees it as blackmail, and I’m inclined to agree. What’s worse than the damage to your reputation, which doesn’t bother me one way or another, is that it makes all of us look bad.

I ended with a bit of crisis management advice, and left it at that. What do you think? Am I being fair?