My Reaction to #BloggerBlackmail


Another post was going to go up today, but that has since been rescheduled in favor of my take on #BloggerBlackmail.

I may be slow on the uptake, but I didn't want to jump aboard the bandwagon before I could fully formulate my thoughts. In this fast moving world, by today the hype may have already died down and is totally yesterday's news, but I think it brings up some pretty important issues within the blogging community at large.

So, if you're not a UK blogger or you've been living under a rock, I'll recap the details. Basically, a little local London patisserie (which sells amazing looking cakes, btw) called Anges de Sucre had a blogger approach them for a review. They invited said blogger along and there seemed to be a dispute over what the blogger expected to be given and what was given to her in exchange for her review. Anges de Sucre explains that they gave her a gift box in addition to some hot drinks, whilst the blogger states that they were only giving her two teas and expected her to buy any other treats. What ensued was the blogger taking to Instagram to slate the business and their products and then the business, in turn, naming and shaming the blogger.

You can read Anges de Sucre's take on the issue here and the blogger's here.  

But who was really in the wrong? Should bloggers expect freebies as compensation for their time when they so often are not paid for their work? Should business expect bloggers to pay for their services to review to in turn bring in more business? The blogosphere seemed split, however it is pretty clear from networking (and my own personal policy) that most bloggers don't work with brands for free. And any brand that asks you to put out your own money to give them extra publicity typically earns their email a prize spot in the bin.

The issue to me seems pretty plain: miscommunication and childish behavior on both of their ends. If the blogger expected a certain compensation, she should have stated it from the outright. However, if the bakery did, indeed, not offer any compensation other than hot drinks, that is a bit ridiculous. You cannot expect someone to come to a party you have invited them to and then be requested to purchase items. I understand that a lot of people feel as though bloggers are greedy, but I don't feel that is the case. As bloggers, we are often invited to a variety of places during the week. Those of us who hold other jobs or do other things with our time do need to be compensated in some way for attending. It's not that attending parties is a chore, but when you're invited to several at once, it simply isn't possible to pay out of pocket for every little thing.

The thing is, as bloggers, no matter how small or "insignificant" we are (Ange de Sucres was pretty charming in calling anyone with a smaller following "irrelevant") can be a huge asset to brands, particularly the ones we love and have an ongoing relationship with. Although I've never invited myself to an event, I don't think Ange de Sucres should have accepted had they not been willing to compensate. But I also don't think the blogger should have complained about it in such a public manner.

TheDrum.com put it nicely with, "Bloggers can be huge brand assets. When you get the right blogger paired with the right brand it is a beautiful thing. It shouldn’t just be about one-off reviews, but an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship where that blogger becomes a brand ambassador. Someone who promotes the brand organically not because they are continually being compensated in some way, but because they truly love the brand."

 In the end, they were both trying to take each other's business down and for what? £100 and a childish vendetta? Please!

 In the end, bloggers shouldn't work for free, but shouldn't be demanding freebies either. And I'm afraid both came out of the situation losers (despite the fact that those macarons look really effing good) and extremely unprofessional....not to mention difficult to work with to boot.

What are your thoughts?


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7 comments

  1. I am so fed up of hearing about this story. They're both in the wrong as it should of been discussed and agreed before the blogger turned up for the review. I prefer freebies for posts rather than cash but I would never demand them. The bloggers attitude is all wrong but if I travelled to London for 2 teas then I may be the same.

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  2. There is this thing, I am sure both of them have heard about it. It's called a contract. One that should always be created and signed off by both parties before participating in ANYTHING business related. At the end of the day it just goes to show you that both of them are poor business managers. Even if the store gave them TONS of traffic.

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  3. I wrote a similar post yesterday Anna. They are both in the wrong.

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  4. "Blackmailing trolling blogger aside, if you are also a blogger reading this please don't feel like you can't approach us!" - oh yeah, the way they talked about this blogger would really make me want to reach out to them. Also the way they talked about expecting a positive review from that blogger made me feel uncomfortable - as a business owner I always HOPE that people I send products to will have nothing but positive things to say but I NEVER set that as an expectation. I totally agree that both seem to be in the wrong and are acting like children - it's embarrassing. They BOTH should have set clear expectations from the beginning as far as what was expected from the blogger and what the bakery was willing to give.

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  5. I agree with you, they both acted childless.

    I'm so tired of companies reaching out to me and asking me give them promotion for free. I don't understand why they do that-you don't work for free, why should I?

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  6. I agree that they both reacted poorly to the situation. As a local Nashville blogger who focuses mostly on restaurants in town, I will say though that I very rarely receive comped meals for my write-ups. I feel as though asking for a free meal in exchange for a positive review compromises my integrity. Now, I typically will never post bad reviews on my site. If I don't like something, then I won't write about it at all. My site is meant to offer recommendations, not reviews. If a blogger promises a restaurant a good review in exchange for a free meal, then that means their opinion is compromised and integrity is thrown out the window. So, I typically don't let restaurants know that I'm coming in advance. I tend to show up with my camera, pay for my meal, then write about it and tag the restaurant on my social channels. That usually (but not always) results in an enthusiastic reply from the restaurant and a retweet or a mention from them which brings me pageviews, and I view that as my "reward" for writing the post. The only exception is when restaurants invite me out to blogger events where they are hosting a free dinner of some sort. Of course, then I'm willing to receive a comped meal and will choose to write about it based on whether or not I liked it. (And I will always let my readers know that it was an invited event.) I'm not saying if I did show up to a restaurant with my camera and they wanted to comp my meal or even just my dessert that I wouldn't take it. Of course, any little freebie is a fun perk, but I just don't think I could ever flat out ask them to comp my meal for me. On the other hand, as a business owner I would never write a scathing post about a blogger who I feel reacted poorly to what I offered them. It only draws more attention to the situation that should have never occurred in the first place. haha.

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  7. I had somebody we were working with promise something and then deliver something entirely different and then lie about it what they had promised even though I had an e-mail clearly standing what they had promised. Since they refused to make good on what they had promised, I advised them that I could not recommend their services to my readers because if they did not deliver what they promised to me how could I be sure they would deliver what they promised to me my readers. However, I chose not to badmouth them on-line either. I chose just not to discuss them at all.

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