Thursday, 22 March 2018

"We Don't Work With Bloggers" - How a rude email showed a huge (and continuing) lack of understanding of the blogging community - A ReadItTorial

This week's ReadItTorial came from an incident that REALLY put my back up this week. It all stemmed from an email to a company who (without naming names or going into too much incriminating detail) responded to a very polite inquiry with what amounted to a digital slapdown.

The original email was a simple "Do you provide press or review kits? If so, we would love to write about one on our blog."

We don't often send out emails to companies, but from time to time it's always worth a try - and most of the time in the past we've always received a favourable response.

The response in this case was far away from favourable, it was downright rude and just contained the two lines.

"Dear Customer" (note the impersonal response here - I had actually included my full name).

"We don't work with bloggers"

...and that was it. I expanded the email expecting to see perhaps an attached press release, links to the site that the product was being sold from, at least a sign-off with a customer representative's name but no, that was it.

Normally in my line of day-job work I brush off rude emails like this (and yep, as anyone will attest when you work in any line of technical support, you get a LOT of rude emails on a daily basis) but in my 'pseudo-alter-ego' book blogging life, we have never had a response like this before.

Companies either politely decline, or respond favourably and happily send us review copy or kits with a few provisos that we'll actually write about the 'thing' in question.

The real irony here was when I went to their site to check out the 'testimonials' section, expecting to see a lot of reviews from big posh broadsheets, well-established websites perhaps, but instead found a handful of customer testimonials from Facebook users instead. So there you go folks, random facebook opinions are worth more than blogger opinions, apparently!

As usual, I went onto Twitter to have a whinge and a whine about it and was universally met with a sympathetic ear (mostly from authors who we've been lucky enough to review books from in the past).

The email response really smacked of sheer ignorance, a complete lack of understanding of what bloggers do - and what an honest review can lead to. I don't want to sound like our blog has any sort of widespread reach or influence, but in general we've had some great feedback on our reviews and feel like we're sticking to our policies of being honest (brutally so at times) and not just in it for some sort of freebie grab.

I think there's still a hardwired perception that this is what a lot of bloggers are in it for (and we've written about that perception of blogging in the past). There still seems to be a real lack of appreciation with some companies on how much time blogging takes, how articles are crafted and written, and most of all the reason people choose to write blogs in the first place.

It's more than just sharing an opinion. It's also about a shared experience with your readers, those golden moments when you get a piece of positive feedback when someone tells you that your review 'sold them' on a book or an item - and then further feedback from them telling you how right you were. That's the real reward, that's definitely what we're both in it for and as C gets older, it's become more and more important to her to think that her opinions on books are appreciated by other people (I think this is the precursor to that teen 'need' for validation and identity far wider than your close circle of family and / or friends).

We're not the sort of vindictive folk who would rubbish the company by name to anyone who'll listen (I've made sure that I've not mentioned the company by name in any of my rants) but boy oh boy I'll keep that email around to remind me that no matter how polite and pleasant you are, or how well-meaning you are, there's always someone who just doesn't get that at all.