Taking the Biscuit - My Thoughts on #BloggerBlackmail

August 17, 2015

'Cos the bakers gonna bake, bake, bake, bake, bake; and the bloggers gonna take, take, take, take, take...

The latest delicious debacle on the tip of everyone's tongue (social media, anyway) is #BloggerBlackmail - a real 'Let Them Eat Cake' controversy in which brand-blogger relations turned frosty (frosting?). Summary: food blogger Wrap Your Lips Around This emails patisserie Anges de Sucre asking to sample their sweets in exchange for a review. Patisserie agrees, hoping that the backlink from the review would improve their SEO ranking. Blogger rocks up (+1) and feels the patisserie's offer of one hot drink and a selection box of 8 macarons and marshmallows doesn't cut it, so instead asks for "£100 worth of stuff". Patisserie declines, so blogger allegedly threatens to slate Anges de Sucre, which she follows up with unflattering Instagram posts and Tweets. Patisserie replies with their blog post 'Blackmailed by a Blogger', dubbing the blogger a #ModernDayBloggerBandit with a pornographic-esque moniker. Blogger bites back with 'A Bullying Bakery'crying character assassination. As of yesterday, the #BloggerBlackmail has been rising through the ranks of Twitter like a perfectly formed Victoria sponge. Not since the Baked Alaska fiasco of Great British Bake Off 2014 has cake been so exciting!  

To all the non-bloggers reading this, I hear your eyes rolling to the back of your heads. As it stands, blogging is a relatively new and hence little-understood form of media (even some bloggers are unclear on the exact guidelines for receiving services and goods in kind). Bloggers have suffered a bad reputation as entitled blag-gers who want to have their cake and eat it, all for seemingly little-to-no-work (how much works goes into a blog post anyway? A lot, you'd be surprised). I thought I'd weigh in with my thoughts on #BloggerBlackmail, because, you know, cake. And, um, industry insight (but mostly, cake).

 Cakegate - My Thoughts on #BloggerBlackmail

1. First of all, I think BOTH parties were in the wrong. This debacle could've been avoided if both brand and blogger had communicated better. Blogger wanted XX in exchange for Y, but didn't make it clear to brand. Brand wanted Y, but only planned to give blogger X. Both sides thought the other took the biscuit. Then the blogger went further and got snarky, to which the patisserie defended themselves with a less-than-professional blog post (however you sugarcoat it with adorable photos of lavish cakes and twee pastel graphics) - the 'her blog name sounds like a porno' remark was so unnecessary. 
2. Bloggers - always be upfront about how much you’d like to be compensated for your work. Leave no room for second-guessing or misunderstanding. Name your price, negotiate if you have to, but feel free to walk away if you don't think the deal is fair. Likewise, brands - feel free to decline. It's basic business sense to only enter a 'contract' when both parties are on the same page, and know exactly what the terms are. You wouldn't take out a loan without first finding out what the interest rates are, would you?
2.5 Naming your price as a blogger is only applicable if the brand approaches you to ask what your rates are. Wrap Your Lips Around This approached the patisserie herself, so really, the blogger is reviewing the pastries to add content to her own blog. In which case, just take the 8 macarons offered and be grateful that the patisserie is helping you out on your quest for blog fodder.
3. The patisserie felt their offer of 8 macarons was fair, as the blog is, in their words: "insignificant". I don’t like the phrase insignificant, because its so subjective and frankly, insulting. So if you, as a brand approaching a blogger (in this case it was vice versa), want to pay for what you get? Allocate a different budget for different bloggers based on the exposure they can bring in. That said...who the fudge eats £100 worth of pastries in one sitting anyway?! I’d accept the 8 macarons the patisseries are offering, plus my usual writing fee (minus the retail value of 8 macarons)
4. Both the blogger and the patisserie should have settled the matter privately. Naming and shaming, and airing your dirty laundry on social media does get publicity (is there really no such thing as bad publicity? I think there is) but in a professional context, that should’ve been a last resort, if at all. Mud-slinging is a tactic best reserved for school grounds, and besides, two wrongs don’t make a right. 
5. Can we please stop calling review samples for bloggers ‘free stuff’? There is no such thing as a free lunch. Merchandise, services, and samples in exchange for a write up (which costs travel, time: editing, writing, photography, and resources ie. camera, lenses, editing software) is payment in kind. Full stop. 
Of everything that could've risen out of cakegate - raised awareness of blogger/brand expectation when it comes to compensation, how dissatisfaction should be managed discreetly and professionally , the difference between a macaroon and a macaron etc., I'm ashamed to say that my favourite slice of the #BloggerBlackmail backlash is the hilarious tweets that have flour-ed (flowered. No? OK) after it went viral:

If you haven't already read the #BloggerBlackmail saga, here are both sides of the story: 'Blackmailed by a Blogger' and 'A Bullying Bakery'. So, where do you weigh in? Do you think the blogger wanted to have her cake and eat it too, or do you think the patisserie is taking the biscuit? How would you have handled the situation, as the brand and/or as the blogger? x

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