Commercial cheapskates win no friends around here.

Danger 1-2The rant

This time, it’s the dismal treatment dished out to the blogging community by some communication business ‘experts’ that has me in a lather. First I’ll rant then I’ll produce the evidence. Some of you might do this stuff professionally. I know that for sure, most of you do it more professionally than I do. Some of you even earn a living from blogging. I don’t. In my other life, I run a communications company. (Go on, click the link.). When it comes to digital strategy, engagement and audience building, we know what we are doing. We also know the value of ‘influencer endorsement’.

That’s why I get pretty peeved when weasel companies approach me in my food blogging role and offer me derisory inducements to promote their event, product or service. The behaviour brings to mind the Spanish Conquistadors trading their journey worn underwear for jewels with the ignorant natives on the New World. It is cheapskatery and poor practise. It needs to be exposed for what it is.

The evidence

Until recently I have managed to laugh off most of the offers. Of late, I have had email offers of:

Cheapskate 1 – The advertising offer
£70 Sterling (no less) for permission to advertise on my blog for a year.

Cheapskate 2 – The sponsorship company
£85 Sterling to provide “editorial endorsement” for another product. An extract from the email with the brand hidden to avoid their embarrassment;

I am writing to you, because we are running a new sponsored article campaign for XXXX, this time XXXX promotes the final match of XXXXX 2013. XXXX has created a new video called “Road to the Final”. The post will include a video and some editorial content consisting of your thoughts of the video campaign over all.We would like to offer you £85 (around 100 Euro) for the mentioned sponsored article. 

(Wow, “around €100” for producing a video, writing an article, posting a blog and selling my soul.)

Cheapskate 3 – The food festival
But things got worse with a recent food festival in Dublin. It started with an innocuous enough tweet;

@conorbofin Hello Conor, would you like to go to the XXXX in Dublin? DM me your email!

I ignored it, as I had been to the event a year previously and found the concept not my bag. However, a couple of weeks later, blogging daughter received a similar tweet. She liked the idea and responded. The sender went on to suggest that a father / daughter food bloggers thing might be good for the event. Tickets would be on the way to us. In return, all we had to do was blog about the event before, during or after. If we could shoot some video and share that socially while we were there, that would be good too. Daughter thought this was fair enough, we could do a post and ignore the additional social sharing stuff and that would be OK.

I relented and we decided to go, despite the addition of the Wife, other daughter, and a boyfriend as paying (me paying) gusts. Then came the follow-up email saying that “there is always a price”. We would have to provide links on our blogs to the sponsor. All this in exchange for two tickets to an event and roughly €20 in non exchangeable event currency for daughter and I. We changed our plans and the event went on without us.

On reflection, it was the gradual reveal of more and more terms and conditions from the original “Hello Conor, would you like to go to the XXXX in Dublin?” that really got up my nose. If we had been offered tickets, we probably would have gone and may even have had good things to say on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Vine and even perhaps, here on the blog.

But all this above pales into insignificance beside
Cheapskate 4 – The Cookery Programme
The production company for a very popular cookery show got in touch with blogging daughter and I. They invited us to appear (on the side) on the celebrity version of the show – in their words (names hidden to mask their shame);

“We are looking to invite some of Ireland’s most influential people that are involved in the food business. I wanted to check if this would be something both yourself and Lucy would be interested in attending as two of our guests and if so what would your availability be like.

We would like our guests to talk about the food in detail and voice their opinion on various elements of each dish. This task will be filmed as part of the series on Thursday XXth YYY. You would need to keep the full day free.

Let me know what you think. I look forward to your reply.”

I consulted with blogging daughter and we agreed it would be fun. I re-arranged a couple of meetings, marked myself on the calendar for a day’s holiday and responded in the affirmative. This was confirmed with a “Thanks Conor, I will be in touch soon regarding this event.” The next day, I got a mail that simply stated;

“Hi Conor,

At the moment the list is at full capacity but can I keep yourself and Lucy’s details on it if some extra people are needed?

Kind Regards,”

Daughter and I were both a bit disappointed and thought the behaviour pretty shoddy. However such is life. But they didn’t leave it there. They wanted to prove their total self-serving cheapskatery. This week, I got a mail from another person in the same  company. It reads as follows;

Hi Conor and Lucy,
Hope you are both very well and don’t mind me putting you in on the same email! My name is PPP and I am working for a TV production company called YYY. I am presently working on series three of XXXX and I am contacting lots of lovely food bloggers, cookery schools, farmers markets, artisan producers etc., asking for some help with our applications process. We will be opening up the application process to the show next week and I was wondering if I was to send you on a short blurb and a link to the website, would you be happy to share it with your readers on your blog? A Facebook post and a few Tweets could also be great!

We are really looking for the best of the best out there, and the people who apply are what make XXXX! Of course, if there is anyone you know personally who might be interested, do tell them we are going to be open for applicants very soon!

If you are happy for me to send you on the information, do please let me know! Once I hear back from you, I will send you on all the details as soon as the applications go live!
Looking forward to hearing from you,

Now why do I not feel like sharing the love? Are we Irish food bloggers just a bunch of saps who look like we will do anything to promote anybody else’s commercial enterprise in return for either a pat on the head or a derisory payment? I have occasionally been accused of being a bit of a cheapskate myself. But, I’m not that cheap. I think I’ll cook a meal instead.

Now, if any of you global food giants want to make me a decent offer….

If you are interested: I took the picture on my iPhone while on a cycle through the Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains. They don’t suffer cheapskates in Wicklow, oh no they don’t.

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Latest comments
  • In my neck of the woods, we call that a bunch of BS. Glad they made you stick to your guns. 😉

    • Thanks Adam. I hope all goes well over there.

  • Hahaha- some of the requests are ridiculous to be fair!!

    • Too true but I suspect that if I am getting them, so are most other out there. I don’t think I’ve cornered the market.

  • I’ve been getting these too … haven’t bitten yet 🙂

  • Yes, I’d rant too if I were you. What a bunch of time wasters.

    Meanwhile … you cycled up to the Sally Gap?! I take my hat off to you.

    • One of the nicest cycles you can do in Wicklow. Mind you, you need to have eaten well before hitting the road.

      • I’ve done it in the car and stopped off at – what’s the name of that pub? But never done it under my own steam.

        • Johnny Fox’s. I’d be well on the way home when I get there.

  • Said food festival is a complete scam anyway, you’re better off having nothing to do with them.

    • Hi Stef, sad but probably true. Definitely not my idea of fun.

      • I think the problem here is that a lot of PR people think of food bloggers as a soft touch and unfortunately they’re probably right. I’ve read enough uncritical product ‘reviews’ to know when something’s up and it just devalues the particular blog in my eyes. In fact, a few blogs I used to follow slowly became more like advertisements and I just stopped reading them; as you say, there’s always a price to pay!

        • Too true Stef. I did a post a while ago on probably the biggest sell out in food history. Knor were involved. Given what I do during the day, I have no issues with commercial involvement. It’s the trying (and often succeeding in the short term) to outsmart the blogging community that gets my goat.

        • Yeah, I’ve absolutely no problem with people having commercial deals as long as they are up front about it and it doesn’t compromise the content.

          As for Mr Knorr, the less said about that shill the better…

  • One company wanted to write posts for me in order to incorporate the gambling company into my cooking blog. And they kept after me for quite a while… Crazy. Did the Spanish conquistadors really do that?

    • Hi Mimi,
      Perhaps not. But they did rip the poor Americans off big time.

    • I’ll bet you didn’t do it!

      • Hell no! I don’t think I could live with myself! But they’re very bold, aren’t they?!!

  • I’ve had people selling food via websites suggest that my readers might want to know about their services. When I responded that I’d need to try things before recommending them they went surprisingly quiet 😉

    • I think they are sending that stuff to me MD…

  • Yikes. Cheapskate is right! And I have to think that these guys don’t read what they write before they send it. What a load of BS. And one heck of a mine field for those of us that do want to make a living at this someday. And for those of us that just want to blog and have fun that is really annoying.

    What is your daughter’s blog?

    • Lucy is at http://www.decidedlydelicious.com. She has slowed her posting due to studying for her masters as well as lecturing in the digital space in college. Mind you, I need her to do a rhubarb crumble this weekend. Posting opportunity!

  • Now I recently did a post on a food show. This one held by the distributor that we buy food from for the winery. Not solicited and they were not informed that I wrote a blog on the show…

    There is another blog that I follow who has been approached by numerous companies to test their products, which she receives for free, and is required to write about in exchange. While I enjoy the humor in her posts I do not like reading “commercials” about products in this way. If I find something new I will try it on my own, and if I like it I will mention it in my blog.

    My dad would call this kind thing which you feature in this post as “a racket.” There are always strings attached, which one does not discover until one gets involved…

    Great post Conor!
    My best – Barb

  • Agree fully with you! Saying that it’s not the worst complaint to have, getting loads of offers 🙂 Good on you for being true to your blog though.

    • Too true Evan. It’s just that the offers were not for a sports bag full of folding.
      Best,
      C

  • Well put, Conor. You are certainly no fool nor a cheapskate (although what conscientious persona hasn’t been accused of that?) so I applaud your efforts to not let these cheapskates bamboozle you and your daughter. Very wise advice, indeed.

    • Thanks indeed Tommy. Amazingly, I have had three new blog followers today, all with FB accounts, all touting “make money from your blog”. I seem to attract these types!

  • As a fellow professional, I too wish to withhold my whoring until the rates improve.

  • You mean to say you haven’t spent untold hours on this blog over the last few years just for the benefit of some other commercial organisation? You’re a hard man Conor! I imagined that all you naive Oirish folk were just waiting invitingly (possibly holding your ankles?) for these kindly approaches of any passing corporate.

    • Yes Adam, but never the ankle holding. That would be hard to do while holding on to our morals.

      • Morals and cooking & blogging skills. My, my, you’ll be demanding respect next. Staggering they think that people who are able to produce something they want to affiliate with their business, in addition to running their own company, will be so naive.

  • Way to go, Conor! A fine rant is good for the soul. I once got quite a few “offers” but that was early on, when I posted more often. Now I get one every now and again and I don’t even bother responding. I’m usually so far behind getting to everyone’s posts that I’m not going to waste time with them.

    • Your attitude is probably better for one’s health too John. I sometimes wonder why I let this nonsense get under my skin.

  • We should just come together and cook a world’s most horrible stew to force feed these companies. Yeah, something like we see in Fear Factor. Then we post it. 🙂

    • Too good for them!

    • So funny. I was reading some comments via email this morning, and then my next email was ************!

  • Good rant! How very kind of you to hide the names of the cheapskates, Conor. I also have to deal with this kind of obnoxious behavior at work. The latest one was an e-mail of a company that wanted to sell their services. They had already set a date and time for me to meet with them, as that time slot was the only one that all of their experts could join. Mind you, they sent this e-mail after my secretary had already kindly advised them that I would not be interested in meeting with them.

  • People will always test others´ limits. But I wonder how you responded to all those offers, particularly the second or third approaches… it´s hard to keep our manners when others assume we´re basically stupid and don´t know one thing from the other.

    • Too true Paula. Some tell me I should bite my tongue in these situations. I prefer to release the pressure.

  • That TV Production company – WOW

    Completely ridiculous!

    • Sadly, it’s how a lot of them operate. They tend to be very introspective. Not a good combination with creativity.

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