There has been an ongoing discussion in the food blogging world for a while now about ethical blogging and in particular, the subject of disclosure. It was debated with fervour at the Eat.Drink.Blog. Conference I attended in 2013 and since then I have seen many blog posts, opinion pieces and some fairly strong debates in social media about the topic. Most of the discussion has been around whether bloggers should clearly disclose if their post is sponsored, is paid for or is as a result of a freebie. For the record I have a disclosure policy that marks inducements with an asterisk* at the start of the post and a clear disclosure statement at the end. This policy is located on my ‘About TIFFIN‘ page.
Whilst the topic of disclosure is an interesting one, there are other aspects to ethical blogging.
Our standards and values are heavily influenced by how, when and where we grew up and what has happened to us along the way. Values are an intrinsic part of us. They make us who we are and influence how we behave. These values and standards are reflected in our personal blogs. For example, whilst I’m OK about doing recipes with meat in them, you won’t find a meat based recipe on a vegetarian blog and the blogger is unlikely to be interested in reviewing a steak house. Sometimes these values are clear and evident in our own head and in our written voice. At other times, they are hovering in the background, looking over our shoulder.
Promoters, PR companies and businesses often look for blogs that align to what they are promoting. It is unlikely that a company would contact me to test their baby products as my blog is about food, not parenting. Sometimes businesses contact bloggers with a product they would like the blogger to use and review, hoping to promote it to their readers. A few weeks ago a PR company contacted me on behalf of Barilla Australia, offering a range of pasta samples. Whilst the product is a good fit with my blog, the values of this organisation are not. I chose to draw the line. Below is my response. (click on the photo for a larger version)
I received a brief and professional response from the PR company, wishing me the best with my blogging and promising to pass on my comments to Barilla.
TIFFIN is a reflection of who I am. It’s my 24 hours a day/7 days a week online presence. I am glad that I stood by the courage of my convictions, even if it was only in relation to some pasta samples. It provided an opportunity for me to reflect on my brand values and to also call out discriminatory behaviour.