#BloggerBlackmail – Thoughts From A Blogger

BloggerBlackmail

BloggerBlackmail

Another day, another blogger drama … ok, I might be exaggerating a tad. But when a disagreement between a patisserie shop owner and a blogger began trending on Twitter today you know it’s a debate that needs to be had.

For those not in the know, long story short – blogger emails patisserie and asks for free product to review on their blog. Patisserie owners accepts request on own admission that they were hoping for the link to their website for extra SEO juice. Patisserie prepares a gift bag with the standard goodies they gift to bloggers. Blogger arrives with friend and is not happy with just 8 macarons and a cup of tea. Bloggers asks for 3 boxes of products totalling £100 retail value. Staff refuse. Blogger gets cross and leaves threatening bad review. Blogger comes back to buy some product then goes on Twitter and Instagram to slate the patisserie. The owner blogs about this experience citing #BloggerBlackmail. Blogger responds with own post pretty much confirming the details of the encounter but states that it was fair to ask for that value of product as she spends 8 hours work on her blog post. Blogger has deleted the social media posts criticising the patisserie. Twitter erupts with debate.

macarons

So here are my two pence worth as a blogger with over 5 years experience on both sides of the fence:

My first reaction was, jeeez… not ANOTHER blogger being a massive blagger. I’ve seen this kind of behaviour at a few events and it makes me very uncomfortable. Just because you’re a blogger doesn’t entitle you to anything. It incredibly unprofessional to slate a company online without talking to them privately first to try and resolve the issue.

My second reaction was, jeeeeez…. the owner was pretty harsh with some of her comments about the blogger.

In short, both parties have not come across very well in this.

The thing is ‘blagging’ in itself is unethical, unprofessional and undesirable. That is, blagging full stop. If you really want something, pay for it yourself.

However, I do strongly believe in the value of bloggers. They are recognised as influencers both to their readers and search engines (as the patisserie owner knew). There is an opportunity for an established blogger with the readership and authority to back it up, to approach relevant companies and discuss collaborations. There is a fine line between blagging and knowing your worth. Therefore it’s up to the blogger to set out what their worth is and why (being a blogger is not enough, you need stats or examples of benefits to the business).

As bloggers we need to set out clearly our own Terms & Conditions and if things go wrong behave professionally, not lash out online. Sure, sometimes a company is at fault, it happens all the time. But the best approach is to call or email them to address your concerns and why your experience was not great. Give them a chance to resolve or compromise on the problem.

I would only post negatively online if no further resolutions could be reached privately OR if it was vital for my readers to know about it.

I have had way too many conversations with brands saying they were put off working with bloggers after a bad experience. I have had long conversations trying to turn some business owners around to working with bloggers, reassuring them that we are not all that bad. That makes me so sad! So easily bloggers get tarnished with the same brush. We need to keep it professional if we want to be taken seriously as an industry, as a community.

As bloggers we are in a position to educate and share our understanding of the online world with businesses. Sometimes things go wrong, sometimes it’s the brand’s fault, other times it’s the blogger.

But if you hold integrity & professionalism at the centre of everything you do as a blogger bad scenarios can be avoided (for the most part).

Top Tips for Blogger/Business Collaborations

* Communicate, communicate, communicate – set out exactly what your expectations are and agree on them beforehand.

* Understand SEO is different to PR – if you want to understand a blog’s influence on Search Engines check on OpenSiteExplorer.

* For PR purposes look at engagement across blog and social channels.

* Be professional at all times – as tempting as an emotional reaction might be, cool off first before responding.

* Know your value and negotiate that effectively before proceeding

* When things go wrong try to resolve privately first before hitting social media.

If anyone is interested I wrote a Code of Ethics for Blogging – have a read here.

What are your thoughts on #BloggerBlackmail?

Other good reads from SixOutofTen, Thou Shall Not Covet and I Am Typcast.
This post was mostly collated from a series of tweets I shared on the matter earlier today:

 

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10 Comments
  • Amber

    Reply

    Nail on head. I think both sides behaved pretty terribly in all of this. I know the blogger has tried to spin it as “they wanted me to do hours of work in exchange for a few macarons”, and normally I’d agree that was awful, but the fact is, yes, she has the right to decide what her time is worth, and ask for whatever she feels is fair compensation, but the brand also has the right to say no, which is all that really happened here. If she’d just walked away and chalked it up to an opportunity that didn’t work out, fine, but instead she set out to maliciously destroy their reputation by naming and shaming across her social media. Everyone seems to be glossing over that by saying, “Oh, she admitted she shouldn’t have done it, and she deleted the posts!” as if it was no big deal, but even in her own account, her behaviour comes across as pure spite, with her getting “revenge” on them by saying, “right, I’ll show THEM!”

    With that said, while I’m not surprised the brand were upset by it, and I think they were right to post a response, they posted a particularly nasty one, in which they resorted to name-calling in their own “getting revenge” post. For me, the cutesy post didn’t do much to hide the malice behind it, and they came out of it looking pretty awful too. How not to do the internet, I guess!

    • Elizabeth

      Thank you Amber. I’m glad you agree.

      Exactly as you say,

      “she has the right to decide what her time is worth, and ask for whatever she feels is fair compensation, but the brand also has the right to say no, which is all that really happened here.”

      There is plenty to learn from this encounter I reckon.

  • Wendy England

    Reply

    Nailed it!

    I managed to avoid this drama, I just can’t deal with people who feel they are entitled just because they have a following. Be humble people, it goes along way.

    May I ask how you got that tweet box on your post? That is such a good idea for quotes!

    Wendy Xx

    http://www.bumpkinbroke.com

    • Elizabeth

      The tweet embed was directly from Twitter. You click on the three dots under a tweet and there’s an ’embed tweet’ option. You just copy and paste the tweet into html mode and publish. 🙂

  • Emma

    Reply

    I totally agree with everything you’ve said.
    I’ve had bad experiences with companies and I’ve just got in touch with them and explained that the product/experience wasn’t right for me and where possible have returned it. In some cases the company have then replaced it with something they feel would be better for me.
    It’s all about communication – making sure that you both know what is expected of you and what you’re getting in return – and it always has to be about not taking on something that isn’t right for you.

    • Elizabeth

      Yes, yes and yes. I think we’ve all been in positions where a collaboration didn’t go to plan. There are better ways of dealing with it then trying to destroy anyone’s reputation.

  • Caroline

    Reply

    As both a blogger and small business owner I can see both sides to this – I agree it doesn’t appear anyone came out of it looking great. As a blogger I have never asked for freebies from companies, for reviews I usually review products I was buying anyway and if I have ever received anything for free I’ve always been really grateful! From a business point of view, it’s an expense to give products away from free so I’d be upset if somebody didn’t like what I’d give them (because it wasn’t of enough value) and if they weren’t happy then to speak to me privately! It is a shame bloggers have a bad reputation as blaggers as we are not all like that!

  • Bjorg

    Reply

    Love this post as I completely agree, everyone looks a bit silly here! As a PR for a smaller company I would love to see posts from bloggers point of view on how they like to be approached, what expectations are etc as we have in fact had a couple of not so great experiences with bloggers (nothing like this though, just difficulty contacting, not showing up when agreed etc) so have focused more on journalists. I really value bloggers and want to ensure I’m doing my best to keep relationships positive!

  • Alison

    Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. Both sides came out of this looking unprofessional and unpleasant. Hopefully some lessons have been learned; I know there have been some very interesting discussions and I feel if the two original parties haven’t leanred anything from this, at least I have. #brilliantblogposts

  • Kelly

    Reply

    What I don’t think anyone has touched on, is that bloggers don’t understand the value of a business; they value their own time as a blogger. It may be that a large hotel chain can offer you two afternoon teas worth £100 however to a small business £100 can be huge especially if they are starting out and this is where the blogger concerned got it all wrong.
    I think the blagging needs to stop and bloggers need to step back and actually understand the value of their blog to brands i.e. if I get free stuff will I be able to provide the brand with sales rather than the give me give me give me scenario we are currently seeing everywhere.
    xx

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