Thursday, April 11, 2013

What whisky vendors want from us – Blogging for us or them?

Here is a quick post I will open up to any members, non-members and other whisky bloggers (that may be reading this) about what your experiences have been in recent years with blogging becoming such a integral part of the promotions/advertising/social market.

Over last 12 months in particular our little club blog has been gaining some interest from whisky vendors in one way or another as we keep getting sent press materials for new releases, information about awards and so on from all walks of the whisky industry. This is all well and good and I like to read about it but the big question is "Who are we writing for, what do we get out of it and should we get anything out of it at all?". I am not asking for free bottles of whisky or cash for comments but it certainly seems strange that there is this expectation that we amateurs will do something for nothing while most of this whisky we are sent releases on is financially well out of the general public's reach. Simply they, the vendors, want free marketing and will craftily try to get it. With that comment it draws attention to why our club exists in the first place and that is to experience something we generally cannot afford. Possibly my opinion is skewed because our clubs blog site is specifically for our clubs members but I am sure we do not present ourselves as a free for all promotional website. We as a whisky club are not a magazine, we write not to gain attention or sell subscriptions, we write for ourselves as an extension of our communications with other club members .

At other times we have been offered tastings or have samples sent to us (more often this happens after a press release has been sent), only to find they never arrive with no further communications or at the last minute had the pin pulled. Why does it fall through? From my experience it always appears that it is the size of our club that matters more than anything. A vendor may find our blog site, not research enough to really know about us, but see we rank high enough, and so instigate a communication. We always set our terms though when talking about receiving whisky samples: If we choose to write about it then it will be at our discretion and uncensored while we will always disclose who and why the sample was provided.

Then in other cases whisky vendors have not liked what we have had to say and have puffed out their chests, screamed, shouted and vented in some very unprofessional manners. In the end does it really matter… If your product is bad then we as a consumer have a right to say it just as much as if we love it. Correct? So why do they carry on so. All they do is make themselves look like fools.

So there is 3 primary things that we get approached about by vendors from time to time that can impact what we sometimes blog about:

1. Free advertising – You write about whisky that means you must want to write about us too.

2. Tasting samples – Try before you buy or buy before you try.

3. Having our say – Amateur opinions that can outweigh any professional comment.

So really where am I going with this? Getting a bit lost I think and trudging up mud. In returning to the original question about "Who are we writing for, what do we get out of it and should we get anything out of it at all?", well that can only be answered by you and what you want. From my point of view in answer to the first part of the question, for our clubs site we write for ourselves and the return is our network remains strong and honest. In answer to the second part of the question my opinion (not speaking for any other club member) is a resounding NO we should not get anything out of it because we already control what we say, when we say it, and how we say it. If a vendor would like us to review an article or sample their product and comment our thoughts all well and good, as we will always be happy to accept the challenge on our terms.

In finalising if you would like to share your own experience please comment or even write us an email. For me I thought it something to share especially for those thinking of starting their own club or blog and not sure what comes with the responsibility (something we are still learning about also).

The Baron