My last post seems to have upset a few people. I received a lot of emails and messages about it, many of them from bloggers. They ranged from mildly miffed to incandescent with rage, the majority falling somewhere in between.
On foot of the apparent confusion about the points I was trying to make, I thought I'd clarify my position.
The relationship between bloggers and restaurants has changed considerably over the last few years. In the UK it is not unusual for food bloggers to be flown off to exotic cities and destinations in return for reviews of their experience. This practice operates on a smaller scale here, with bloggers mainly being invited to dine in restaurants in return for a review.
I can see all sides of this relationship as I organise PR events for some clients, I used to operate a restaurant, and now I write a blog.
I have no difficulty with bloggers being invited to restaurants or events. If I invite bloggers to an event, I do so with a completely open mind. If they attend, enjoy themselves, and write a good review, that's the best case scenario. If they do not enjoy themselves, then I would have no issue whatsoever with them expressing that view on their blog. I have far more respect for those who give their honest opinion.
I believe strongly that in order to exercise your right to express your opinions on a public forum, you are duty bound to be honest. You should also declare that you are an invited guest. People may rely on the information you provide, so as a minimum you should be truthful.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence about bloggers approaching restaurants looking for payment in return for a positive review. The reverse also seems to happen. Either way, both parties should hang their heads in shame.
I know from experience that there are PR companies out there offering x amount of positive reviews on Trip Advisor as part of their package. They should also be ashamed of themselves.
In summary, if you have a blog, the absolute minimum people have a right to expect, is that you declare when you are an invited guest and that your opinions are honest. If they are well written and well informed, then so much the better.
Hopefully this clears up my position on the matter. Please feel to use the comment function below or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to share your views.