Yours truly...

The food blogger versus the restaurant saga

[I’ll be talking about this as a PR point of view]

So much hoohah has happened within a span of 48 hours.

[The background] Ladyironchef (from now known as the food blogger) was invited by a PR girl from Private Affairs for a food tasting session some time back and he was unable to make it. The food blogger then informed PR girl on another date where he will be able to make it. PR girl then asked if he would be bringing another guest in which the food blogger said yes and he would be bringing another two guests. PR girl acknowledged him.

CHOPE!

How come PR girl didn’t tell the food blogger that the two additional guests would have to pay? While it might be industry standards to just bring a +1 to a food tasting session, shouldn’t PR girl not assume that the food blogger might not know the industry standards? She could have gently informed the food blogger that.

OLD MOTHER STORY: Last time when i was working in a PR agency, my colleague Jiayi and I were incharge of both the traditional and digital media for a certain beauty expo. I had invited a beauty blogger and she had asked to bring 3 additional guests.

Did I say no? I did not. I checked if they were beauty bloggers too, they were! I saw it as more mileage (but never to assume that you’ll get guaranteed publicity okay!) and to my advantage and I told her to bring them by all means. Jiayi and I were more than happy to host them. Hey, why not? I get more bloggers to add to my “database” (such an ugly word but you get what i mean) and I might even get more coverage out of it.

And you know what? All of the guests blogged about the event. It was a win-win situation.

In any case, if the restaurant could not (or would not) be able to cover the costs (or include two more guests), gently tell the food blogger (or any other blogger) so. [If it was me, I would have gently told him the restaurant could only cover him and his guest but we’ll be more than happy to offer a 10% discount to his 2 other dining companions.]

[My (as a blogger) take] Many a times when I was invited for events, I would ask the PR person if it’s possible to bring a guest or two. I have had situations where the PR person would gently tell me it isn’t convenient to bring said guests. Did I take offence? Not at all.

[Okay, back to PR take] So not only was this not handled well, (I’m not saying the food blogger has no fault in it, he does too. He should have clarified with said PR girl if it was fine bringing the two additional dining companions and not tossed his credit card on the table), the PR girl FAILZ by not informing said food blogger and did not do her job well to ensure such negative publicity is not “leaked out”.

The question is: How did the (other) food bloggers and media find out about the whole situation? A PR person’s jobscope is to manage reputation, and salvage the brand image and name, no?

What I see is that this is a huge misunderstanding. While the PR girl has FAILZ in not informing the food blogger about the additional guests and the food blogger may not have have responded in the most desirable manner, shouldn’t this NOT be publicised? Naming (or shaming in this case) the food blogger (or any other journalist) isn’t going to help you gain cookie points with them. You’ll never know when you might need/meet them again.

Well, unless this kind of publicity is the kind that Private Affairs like to have about their restaurant? And here I thought publicity about one’s food was supposed to be the best kind of publicity for a restaurant.

Perhaps I should add this in my How to engage a blogger? post.

p/s: I’m not going to talk about how the other food bloggers posted about Ladyironchef. They probably did not know better after hearing just a one-sided view from the restaurant or whoever who spoke about the incident.

Comments

  1. not only did the PR person of Private Affairs fail to inform the food blogger that additional guests will have to pay, the restaurant (or can I assume it’s the PR girl?) also went ahead and carried tales (untrue, mostly) to ANOTHER blogger who has no part to play in this ‘private affairs’ (pardon the bad choice of words) between this victimized food blogger and the restaurant.

    WAH WAH WAH. Wait. is that PR “industry standards”? cos i sure didn’t learn that in school nor at work.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Reply:

    Totally agree with you, Daph!

    I think it was very unnecessary of the two other food bloggers to comment on the issue. It’s not like they witnessed the whole incident; how could they point fingers? If I were either of them, I wouldn’t know where to hide my face now…

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    I felt that the incident should not have been spread to others.

    [Reply]

  2. Regarding the incident, personally I feel that it’s really blown out of proportion, I feel that as bloggers you all also have a lot of experiences dealing with bad or stupid or senseless comments so I hope that you all won’t be affected by those naive people who do not know the ingredients but say they know how people bake it.

    The more discouraging thing I feel that it’s when your fellow blogger slams another without 1st looking at facts and jumping to conclusions.

    To be truthful people should accept that blogging has somewhat taken part of advertising rather then the conventional ones we are used to, its the new media world people! And advertisements don’t come cheap! If you as a franchisee wants to use bloggers blogs for advertisements, you should know that there is a fee or a token of appreciation involved!

    There is nothing free in this world, and you wouldn’t have ‘invited’ the blogger if you’d thought blogging is not good marketing.

    So please people, stop going around spitting. You never know when you’ll get spitted on for something people never justify.

    Sincerely & Truthfully,
    Leon Lim

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    Thanks for your comment Leon. The whole situation started because of a miscommunication really and should not have ended up to this sorry state.

    [Reply]

  3. Is it common for restaurants to comp “wine” as well?

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    Once when I went for food tasting (I was writing for a magazine back then), alcohol was included though. Not too sure about the arrangement between Ladyironchef and Private Affairs though,

    [Reply]

    Princessa Reply:

    It’s not uncommon that it’s accompanied by wine.

    [Reply]

  4. Yeah, I agree with you on most of your points! 🙂 Hope this incident will not cause people to have negative mindset on bloggers

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    I think it’s too late for that now…

    [Reply]

  5. Assume makes an ass out of u and me. Seriously how did all these people get their jobs ?

    Totally agree with this post ! LIKE !

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    Assumption does casues a lot of misunderstandings. sigh

    [Reply]

  6. Interesting. Yes I agree that most news stories these days adopt angles that are most intriguing and ‘sellable’ to attract eyeballs and attention.

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    In this case, it might have backfired for them.

    [Reply]

  7. Whether the PR lady did a proper PR job is one matter.

    The more important issue is, you go eat at a restaurant, be expected to pay for the meal, unless the host EXPLICITLY says no need to.

    To “expect” free food is kinda like cheapskate. To accept an offer of free food is another situation altogether, and this is a case of expecting free food rather than accepting an offer of free food.

    How can one assume the food is free w/o confirmation and then get upset over his own miscalculated expectations…. and worst is expecting the free food to extend to his guest.

    Food blogger should pay for the food in the first place, only then they can make an unbiased and objective evaluation of the food.

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    Both parties should have clarified. But because I’m writing this post as a pr person’s pov, I shared of how I would have handled the situation…

    [Reply]

    Kpo Reply:

    hmm.. I feel that the PR is not obligated to inform someone that they have to pay for their food..

    Unless, in the invitation, the restaurant explicitly says “You’re invited to a *Complimentary* dinner/lunch/watever”.

    Being invited to a restaurant doesn’t automatically imply free food. Being invited to car show doesn’t imply walking away with free cars..

    Then, if the offer is not extended to the guests, the PR have an obligation to inform.

    That’s my opinion wrt to the PR handling part..

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    Most (if not all) invitations coming from the pr manager/agency would be complimentary, especially for food tastings but of course the blogger/journalist has the right to decline the “treat”.

    Yes, you are right, being invited to a restaurant does not imply free food but if it’s a food tasting where you are invited to blog/write a review, is usually for free.

    It’s good hearing a different opinion. Helps to understand the different takes too.

  8. Well said.

    The strangest part is they already said invitation for him and a companion. Even if the 3rd and 4th person must pay, why did they not waive Brad and 1 companion’s food? Doesn’t make sense!!

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    Yeah, I’m a bit confused about that bit too.

    [Reply]

  9. Good post 🙂

    The PR person should have stipulated all the details as it’s part of her job. Having the story then publicized to make Brad a villain is what really makes me angry.

    I hope the restaurant, PR company, rumor mongering jealous bloggers get what they deserve…

    You just trashed a perfectly good guy’s name.

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    the restaurant has just issued a press statement. have you seen it?

    [Reply]

  10. I definitely think this is a good case study for Journalism and PR 101. Thanks for looking at this situation from the PR point of view, and really to look at a situation objectively from different angles, before faulting anybody. Cheers! 😀

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    No worries. Tried my best. Just thought the whole thing was a PR nightmare.

    [Reply]

  11. I agree with ur opinion Nadnut. =)
    I was first approached to join a product launching (my first as a blogger). When the PR/Marketing approach me, then she immediately tells me that i can bring 1 guest as a companion. This blogging assignment involves a 2D 1N stay. Thankfully the PR informed me otherwise i would go alone. So i think basically the PR should provide clarification before conclude any issue.

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    Communication is key. The lack of communication can cause misunderstanding, assumptions and basically cockups. Like in this case.

    [Reply]

  12. hmm my opinion is its both parties at fault and cause of mis communication. This happened to me over some projects with some group mates too. ya, the person who invite the blogger should have inform him but at the same time, no matter what,the blogger should also ask bout it and not kept quiet bout it even this is how the invitation works in the industry..

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    Yeah. Both parties should have asked/clarified. But imho, the PR girl should have informed him, after all, she is a manager, with probably years of experience and would know better.

    [Reply]

  13. As I’ve commented in Esther’s post as well, I would like to bring some points to you to ponder upon.

    “… shouldn’t PR girl not assume that the food blogger might not know the industry standards? She could have gently informed the food blogger that.” –> Similarly, shouldn’t Brad not assume that Melanie knew what was on his mind as well? (i.e. it was going to be a free meal for all 4 of them)

    “Many a times when I was invited for events, I would ask the PR person if it’s possible to bring a guest or two. I have had situations where the PR person would gently tell me it isn’t convenient to bring said guests. Did I take offence? Not at all.” –> Have you ever considered the fact that perhaps Public Affairs had thought when Brad mentioned he was bringing 2 other additional guests (apart from the one guest that Melanie asked if he was bringing along), these 2 guests are going to be paying customers? I mean, it could be that Brad wanted his friends to eat with him/for company, so he brought them along. When Brad mentioned this to Public Affairs, he failed to clarify with them whether these 2 additional guests need to pay for their share. Similarly, Public Affairs did not explicitly say so that they will need to pay for their own food. Moreover, Brad merely mentioned it to Melanie, he did not “ask” per se. And when you mentioned the PR lady “acknowledged” it, it could mean to her that these 2 additional guests were going to pay. Both parties (Melanie & Brad) did not clarify this.

    For the bill, have you considered that perhaps Public Affairs was unaware that Brad was the food blogger, so under normal circumstances, it is not wrong to bill for all 4 of them. (Afterall, I don’t think the person in charge of the billing was aware the restaurant was expecting a food blogger. Even if he/she did, it is not his/her fault of being unaware that Brad was the one.) Indeed, here, Public Affairs does need to bear some responsibility. However, even when Brad was presented with a 4-pax bill, he could have politely asked for clarification, instead of instantly blowing his top. He could have handled the matter in a more composed and dignified manner.

    Another thing, I admit I don’t know much about how you bloggers blog about reviews and events. Similarly I’ve no idea how things work for Public Affairs and its expectations of food reviews done by bloggers. But I feel that before you even accept to do any sort of reviews/attend any events, know what YOU as a blogger is EXPECTED to behave. It is no excuse to quote the reason of “Oh it’s a NORM for us bloggers…. blah blah”… What’s NORM to you, may be otherwise to others; different people/companies have different expectations. As you may not know what others expect of you, do not expect others to know how things work for you bloggers as well. If ever in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to ASK and clarify…

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    The PR girl/restaurant who is conducting the food tasting should take in mind any bloggers or journalists may not know what’s the norm and inform them in advance.

    This is afterall speaking from the PR point of view.

    [Reply]

  14. Fair and intelligent post. The big takeaway from this episode for bloggers – never take things for granted and make assumptions- always seek clarification. As with many ways of handling situation, always be guided by one’s inner moral compass and I am sure most of us have one…..

    [Reply]

    nadnut Reply:

    Yeap. Assume is making an ass of u and me.

    In this case, it certainly rings true.

    [Reply]