The big story of the week (is it really only Tuesday?) is #bloggerblackmail. If you’ve been under a rock, then the basic story is that a blogger contacted a bakery, wasn’t happy with what was offered, requested more, was declined, blasted the bakery on social media and both sides then wrote about it (and not in the best light ever). If you want a more detailed version, head over to Six out of Ten where Laura has explained it well.
So how can bloggers (and brands!) avoid falling into this sort of situation?
First, make sure you have the exact details planned out. From the blogger perspective, then you know exactly what to expect, whether it’s worth your while going out to the venue/doing whatever the project involves. For the venue/brand, they know what they’ll be getting out of it, and if the person you’ve been speaking to isn’t there when you visit, then at least you have it in writing to show to whoever what you’ve been promised.
Stay professional. This is probably why the story has blown up as it has – because neither side has been especially professional in how they have dealt with this. The blogger requested what many have said is an extortionate amount of product to review, then when she was turned down, slated the bakery on social media. The bakery isn’t totally blameless in all of this, insulting the blog name and audience size.
Think before you post – it’s so easy to tweet a snarky response or snap a photo and write a negative description, but take a deep breath before you post. Remember that each post, each tweet, each Instagram picture can and will be viewed by others as a discrete item – you might tweet something super negative, then an hour later reconsider and tweet something positive, but because of how social media and search engines now work, someone searching for that item might only see your negative post.
Talk to each other! So you go to a venue to try out their afternoon tea, but it’s nothing like you imagined or promised, and actually, you were pretty annoyed about the shape of the teacups. Instead of just posting the article and fanning the flames of anger on social media (“omg how can you drink from a square cup” “right angles are so right!”), a quick email to the venue and you can discuss whether it’s the right thing to post about (maybe those cups were on loan, and that’s not the normal crockery?).
If you’re a small business who hasn’t worked with bloggers before, don’t be afraid to ask others for help. There are groups around in most cities that offer small business advice – and on the blogging side, we welcome small business owners along to #blogclub to learn about blogging and meet local bloggers, because at the end of the day, it benefits all of us to work well together.
As a blogger, consider the company that you are approaching or that has approached you. The smaller businesses may not be able to give you hundreds of pounds worth of products and services, but building a relationship with them could be more beneficial to both of you in the future. Of course, there is nothing stopping you reviewing the product and paying for it yourself! This could also lead to future relationships, both with the business that you review, and others in the area that can see what you do.
Small business owners, brands, PR people and bloggers – what would you recommend?