#Bloggerblackmail: Managing expectations

by | Aug 18, 2015 | Public Relations, Social Media

On August 17, 2015, #bloggerblackmail began trending on Twitter after an unfortunate miscommunication between London bakery Anges de Sucre and a blogger at wrapyourlipsaroundthis.com.

A few months ago, Mehreen—a Food & Lifestyle blogger at wrapyourlipsaroundthis.com—approached Anges de Sucre with a proposal: macaron and marshmallow samples, in exchange for a review.

Without any other particulars established, Anges de Sucre invited Mehreen to visit the shop, take some photographs, and have a few treats. The bakery prepared a small gift bag with one s’more, one macaron and one marshmallow — an exchange they felt fair based on the details swapped prior to wrapyourlipsaroundthis.com visiting the shop for its review.

As a well-versed blogger, Mehreen says she’s accustomed to receiving an equal exchange of goods in exchange for her blogging service, which includes visiting a shop, photography, photo correcting, and the composition of a review to be featured on wrapyourlipsaroundthis.com. This process can take upwards of eight hours to complete, she says, thus the Food & Lifestyle blogger maintains that there’s a certain expectation regarding the value of goods exchanged. And a small-sized sample was not, in her mind, an equal exchange of goods — more product would be fair.When Anges de Sucre refused to give away nearly 100£ of free product, they worried that Mehreen would write negatively about both their store and product because of the altercation (according to Anges de Sucre’s blog).

According to Mehreen, she then purchased one macaron and one marshmallow, and left. Later that afternoon, she posted pictures with negative comments on her Instagram feed (which have since been removed), causing Anges de Sucre to retaliate with a blog post titled “Blackmailed by a Blogger”.

After the post and #bloggerblackmail went viral on Twitter, wrapyourlipsaroundthis.com wrote her own online response.

Aside from being an unpleasant experience for both sides, this is also an example of brand ambassadorship gone wrong.

Brands know that customers sometimes read blogger reviews before purchasing a product, and they understand the importance of maintaining positive working relationships with these bloggers. But two misconceptions have come from these evolving relationships: some bloggers have begun to expect free product in exchange for their review, and, conversely, brands now expect positive reviews in exchange for free product.

Brands and bloggers can mitigate mutually assured damage caused by poor communication by following these simple steps:

  1. Establish expectations: In initial communications, it’s key to establish expectations with regards to the review. When will the blogger be visiting the shop? How long will it take to compose the article? What are they expecting, if anything, as compensation? Is the brand expecting anything from the review? What is the brand willing to provide? There’s a fine line between fairly compensating a blogger for their services, and trying to bribe them for a positive review. Therefore, it’s essential to iron out all of the specifics and expectations in writing prior to the blogger beginning the review process.
  2. Maintain expectations: Throughout the process, both brands and bloggers should maintain the expectations outlined prior to the review. It’s integral that both parties uphold their promises, and should conditions change, work to establish new, mutually beneficial expectations. By keeping the line of communication open and working together, instead of as two separate entities with their respective agendas, the review process can be as smooth as possible.
  3. Manage expectations: No one can force a blogger to write a positive review, so it’s important for brands to manage expectations once a review has been written. Regardless of whether the review is positive or negative, brands should hold their heads high and take any feedback as a chance to improve their business or product. But there needs to be a mutual respect between the brand and the blogger, ensuring that any negative feedback is written tastefully and with the company/customer benefit in mind.

Sara Chisholm