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Bloggers v Journalists: Strauss Marketing First Local PR Company to Request “Numbers” From Bloggers

Thanks to all of you who participated in the two SideDish discussions (Bloggers v Journalists and Restaurants Beware of Food Writers who Expect Freebies). I thought the two posts brought up some great points and readers conducted an intelligent discussion. Apparently the restaurant industry and PR agencies took note. And I think we’re about to see some upgrades on how business is conducted.

Last night, someone forwarded me an email blast sent out by Nicki Patel at Strauss Marketing . She addresses “the people we normally deal with.”

Hope your week is off to a great start! In light of recent events and blogs, notably on D Side Dish 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. You are welcome to send over Google analytics, subscription numbers on feed burner (or other reliable sources), or any other tool you may use to track your readership, etc. Also, we know that some of you write not only for your blog, but occasionally for other publications as well. Please include that information so we are able to effectively pitch you on items that are appropriate and refrain from flooding your inboxes.

We know that is not a hard and fast number to base decisions on, but it is a start for us to be able to explain to our clients why offering up products/dinners/experiences is a smart idea. Thank you for your help on this and we hope to continue working with you in the future!

Kudos to Strauss Marketing for opening the door. “We felt your blog post addressed a situation that we deal with on an on going basis,”Patel said. “We saw this as an opportunity for us to address it as well.” Patel told me this morning she has already received “stats and information” from some on the list.

Hopefully the market will correct itself and restaurateurs won’t have to fear negative reviews from unaccredited bloggers and PR professionals won’t have to accommodate every person with a blog. There is a happy medium, or shall I say media, out there waiting to give you your money’s worth.

  • allison

    As long as they know to require a screen shot of the analytics over their specified period, it sounds like a good move. I learned to NEVER take a blogger’s word for it on their stats. Some are truthful, but the ones that want freebies usually aren’t.

  • FOH Manager

    Great topic here. There are far too many “socialites” and “writers” who stick their names on a blog and charge outragous prices to be assoicated. I know the PAs, the socialites, the PR people and even ass-kissing restaurant people like me who think that getting a famous face in the seat makes a difference, or having someone with a smart phone take a photo of their dinner and post in Instagram makes a difference. It doesn’t. As someone said, it’s the regulars who dine on a Tuesday night who make your business.

  • A Dallas Blogger

    A few years ago the Dallas Zoo decided to promote progress on the new Savannah exhibit by producing video shorts they called Zootube. They were nicely done and I love the zoo so I shared the news. I wasn’t prepared for the spike in hits. Zootube, it turns out, has a different meaning in certain cultures (like all of Eastern and Western Europe). So, all those hits that come to SideDish from overseas tonight? You have me to thank for it now.

    Numbers can be misleading without analysis.

  • Kirk

    Allison is right. Unless someone requires objective verification and analytics of visitors to the site, with verifiable stats on page visits, time on the site, etc., some bloggers will provide exaggerated or invented data. It would also be interesting to see what kind of revenue some of these bloggers receive from the “ads” on their sites, and a verification of whether the restaurants advertised actually contracted for the ads.

  • JTT

    BRAVA! BRAVA! BRAVA, Nancy! This is the sound of a standing ovation, from many people in different industries: restaurant service, PR, media.

    Strauss PR has set a precedence that other PR companies will shortly follow. This is a change for the better.

    NN, you’ve help the industry evolve. You made history…. Don’t let the naysayers minimize what your post accomplished. From one individual in the industry for many years from a family who has been the industry for many years, who actually KNOWS many chefs and owners, who tries hard to represent their concerns: THANK YOU. (That’s not the “entire industry” but it’s a pretty good effin representative sample)

    So now, next task: who is going to design your Industry Superhero/Avenger ensemble? Cape? Mask? Wonder Woman tiara? Wine Glass in Hand?

  • The Guy

    Well, as Harvey Keitel so eloquently put it in Pulp Fiction, “..let’s not start ****ing each other’s ****’s quite yet.” However, it is a good first step and I’d to see a) how this progresses locally and b) whether other major markets pick up on this or start moves of their own. Statistical verification and analysis will be needed. In the meantime, thanks Nancy.

  • Scott–DFW

    If you’re on the take, you’re on the take, whether you have three unique vistors a day or three hundred thousand. It makes good business sense for restaurants and PR firms to verify traffic stats to ensure they’re getting enough bang for their buck from their food writer accomplices. But it would be nice to see fewer food writers–professional and amateur–colluding with publicists at the expense of their readers.

  • Logan

    I had to go check out zootube…interesting.

  • Real Journos Pay For Their Food

    I’m sorry I missed the initial post, but as this has just come to my attention, I’d like to add this: Apparently the biggest “vs” here is that journalists, real journalists who work for legitimate publications you have heard of for more than the last 3 years, are not supposed to accept ANY “products/dinners/experiences”. It’s not a general guideline, it’s a RULE.
    I would posit that another way to handle the influx of bloggers looking for freebies is not to offer any.
    As soon as it is known that that blogger has no integrity and is in it for the freebies, he or she WILL loose clout and influence, and him or her giving a bad review based on the lack of freebies won’t be such a threat to the establishment.
    The bloggers vs journalists gripe really is not a subtle difference between old and new media, or between generations. Legitimate journalists have to live up to the reputation that gets their company that “accreditation”. Anyone demanding that they as a blogger be given freebies is exactly the blogger you should not be giving such products, dinners, and experiences to.

  • Bev – Urban Epicurious

    Great topic! For what it’s worth, a legitimate blogger will have a Press Kit. This is common practice in major markets all across the country. I’m surprised more PR people don’t know to ask for one and even more surprised that no one has mentioned it in this article.

    The Press Kit should include the blogger’s bio, the name and url of the blog or publication they write for, the topics they cover, audience demographics, traffic & analytics, social media accounts & follower statistics, their Klout score, as well as any other relevant information like any partnerships they have or any special services they provide.

    More importantly, legitimate bloggers form long-term relationships with PR companies, they don’t befriend them in an attempt to get things for free. If you are a restaurant owner, event planner or a PR company and you receive a request from an unknown blogger, Google their name. If you don’t see plenty of relevant content in the search results – RUN!

    Even if you do like what you see in the search results, don’t stop there. Check them out, go to their blog and read a few of their articles. If you wouldn’t want to see an article about your client on that blog, it may not be a good fit. Some may write a lot, but are very negative and may not reflect your client in a professional light. But always ask for a Press Kit, it’s just a good business practice.

  • Bev – Urban Epicurious

    Also, KUDOS to Strauss PR for asking for stats!

    As a blogger, I’ve seen some crazy things happen and it upsets me when I see another blogger (some who don’t even have an actual blog or even write at all) take advantage of others. Hopefully this article will help with that.

  • InsideEdition

    This is a great start to helping the slimy situation. I’ve enjoyed reading all if the different view points and opinions. I agree with those above that say it will be hard to verify but Bev makes it sound like its done in other cities. Maybe a call to some of those agencies would be helpful.

  • Pingback: Will All PR Firms Now Ask Bloggers To Share Their Stats? | FrontBurner()

  • Nancy Nichols

    RICHARD S POLLAK, I’m sorry but I have deleted the two comments you left. I’ve learned that you and Mr. Doyle have a battle raging between the two of you and I’d prefer you fight it out on Facebook or face-to-face instead of here.

  • event chair

    Please….all Publicists for non-profits: quit give free seats to bloggers. If a bogger does not write for a publication then don’t give them a comp seat at an event. THIS HAS GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL