Will All PR Firms Now Ask Bloggers To Share Their Stats?

Over on SideDish, Nancy started a good conversation about how some bloggers operate with a sense of entitlement and skirt FTC rules about divulging freebies. The conversation started with a post about a “food writer” who schemed her way into a free multi-course wine dinner. Then, yesterday, Nancy let us know that something rather remarkable had happened. In response to Nancy’s post, a local company called Strauss Marketing sent out an email to bloggers it works with, asking them for data. The note read, in part:

In light of recent events and blogs, notably on D SideDish at the end of last week, we are taking a step back and looking at how PR professionals and bloggers can better work together taking into account FTC guidelines. Several of our clients read the blog and comments, and have asked us to find a way to better evaluate their business decisions on offering complimentary products/dinners/experiences. As a service to them we are asking that you please submit your most recent numbers on readership so that we may keep that on file.

Strauss Marketing is to be commended. There are a lot of folks out there writing about food because they are passionate about it and have something to say. If they garner an audience and communicate with it in an ethical manner, then they deserve a seat at the table. Their contributions make for a more informed dining public, while at the same time providing an efficient marketing channel for companies that know how to use it. But there are also a lot of charlatans out there who are only interested in a free meal and an ego stroke. These people deserve only to be kept on file.


  • Rae

    We’ve asked for VPM’s and other stats for about a year. A much better way to understand impact and discern how best to approach these relationships.

  • Amy S

    I would like to clarify that the dinner was never free, it was a monthly dinner held for paying guests. The food writer came to the restaurant a few days before and said she wanted to come to the dinner. In our business, that is a reservation, not a comp. She did return the day after the dinner to pay the bill (plus tip). So have a care, commenters, in what you say about her.

    It was a paradox that Nancy was there to witness what transpired. Most distressing was the issue of the assumption of “free”. Until presented with the check at the end, there was never a question on her part if the dinner would be comped for PR purposes. She even told our GM she though it would be. We are asked frequently for comp PR seats, it’s a situation we know how to deal with. This was assumed, never asked. It could have been worse, it could have been some undercover critic covering the dinner instead of NN. Gad.

  • Bill Marvel

    Great mystery why bloggers are not bound by the same ethics ad newspaper writers. It goes without saying that bloggers need to share this information not only with PR firms but with their readers.

  • Jeffe

    All of this is embarrassing.

    Make a reservation, eat, drink, pay.

    If you can’t afford to eat then starve.

    Then go fuck yourself for being so lame.

    • @Jeffe: If no one has locked down the trademark for a food blog called Eat, Drink, Pay, claim it now.

  • TLS

    @Amy S: The blogger states in her write-up on Sevy’s that in haste she left her wallet at home. You are saying she came with the expectation of a free dinner. This just gets more embarrassing for her by the day.