If you were on Twitter yesterday you’d have noticed that #BloggerBlackmail was trending and everyone had an opinion on it.
To summarise for those who haven’t dived into the debacle head first, a London bakery posted on their website naming and shaming a blogger who they claimed “blackmailed” them by threatening a bad review after not getting what she wanted.
The blogger Instagrammed some snarky comments (which she's since removed) and the bakery responded with the post saying she wanted too much for free.
There’s been a lot of back and forth on Twitter between brands, bloggers and more; who’s right and who’s wrong. Team Bakery or Team Blogger. As someone who has been on both ends of blogger outreach, they are BOTH wrong.
First off, the blogger reached out to the bakery in the first instance; she should have been clear about her expectations and the bakery should have been clear about what they were willing to provide in exchange for her time in review. When I’m reaching out to bloggers on behalf of a brand I always explicitly state what it is I would like from them in terms of output and what I can offer them in exchange for their work.
One of the biggest points being made on Twitter is that bloggers don’t get stuff for free, but are working for their reviews. I wholeheartedly agree. There is nothing wrong with a blogger being compensated for their work through an experience, goods or money. That doesn’t make them a blagger as some would suggest. There are “blaggers” within the blogger community who go out and ask for “free stuff” but those who provide quality content are nothing of the sort.
Neither party has behaved professionally; the bakery shouldn’t have named and shamed the blogger. Blacklist her. Don’t ever work with her again. Tell other brands you collaborate with not to work with her, but do it OFFLINE. It wasn’t something that needed to be aired publicly although I’d argue that they knew exactly the kind of coverage it would get them by doing so. Surely the bakery has had more reach from the so called “blackmail” than they ever would have got from a straight up review.
The blogger shouldn’t have posted those “sour grapes” posts on Instagram about the products she did take away. It isn’t professional and it doesn’t exactly make anyone warm to her. She was the one who reached out to the bakery in the first place; she should have been implicit in what she was expecting and not allegedly thrown a tantrum when she didn’t get what she wanted.
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.
Bloggers shouldn’t blackmail brands, but brands shouldn’t name and shame either.
Ryan Wenstrup-Moore is social media manager at Equator