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Drawing the Line

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)

Tiffin Barilla refusal

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.


18 comments… add one
  • Maria April 15, 2014, 7:36 pm

    Kudos to you Fiona, your integrity is truly admirable.

  • Shannan April 15, 2014, 8:35 pm

    Well said! Good on you.

    • Fiona Ryan April 15, 2014, 10:05 pm

      Thanks Shannan. I haven’t forgotten that I need to email you. Just slack!

  • Lizzy (Good Things) April 16, 2014, 9:46 am

    Nice one, Fiona.

    • Fiona Ryan April 20, 2014, 10:13 am

      I missed this little comment…Thanks Liz and thanks for including in your ‘top read’s list!

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook April 16, 2014, 9:59 am

    Absolutely agree. I’ve just stopped going to my regular coffee shop at Southbank as I discovered they use cheap and nasty Coles brand milk. My cousin is a dairy farmer so this is my little way of supporting her.

    • Fiona Ryan April 20, 2014, 10:15 am

      Thanks Mel. As the song goes: “From little things, big things grow’.

  • hmscat April 16, 2014, 2:28 pm

    Nicely written Fiona and I totally agree.
    Also, good for you Mel re: the milk. Independent coffee shops should always support the local milk industry. It’s a no brainer!

    • Fiona Ryan April 20, 2014, 10:16 am

      Thanks Heather. You’re both right of course about independents supporting independents. I’ve never thought about that so will ask a few more questions.

  • Tamika April 16, 2014, 3:50 pm

    I’m glad you replied the way you did Fiona. I completely agree, love is love. Have enjoyed the blog so far 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan April 17, 2014, 10:19 am

      Thanks Tam. Welcome to the blog and thanks for subscribing. I appreciate it xx

  • Francesca April 18, 2014, 9:19 am

    Well done re Barilla. And also thank you for being so transparent with regard to your disclosure policy. I wish others were as transparent.

  • My Kitchen Stories April 22, 2014, 6:40 pm

    Well said, is there really people that are so archaic in the world still?. I have been glad myself to not be approached by Barrilla for this reason. It would not suit me anyway as I work at an Italian wholesaler that has real pasta. Congratulations for your stand. I was approached by Ingham with Turkey products and I refused those samples as I abhor their treatment of Turkeys and poultry in general. I never heard back from that PR company. We have to stand up for our beliefs. You correctly stated that our blogs are 24/7 both in internet presence and in the time we put into them.

    • Fiona Ryan April 22, 2014, 10:10 pm

      Thanks so much for your words of support and encouragement. I’m glad to have shared my ideas a with readers and also interested that you have also kept true to your own ethics. Thanks for taking the time to cooment too. xx

  • Jan Rhoades May 12, 2014, 8:07 am

    Thanks for pointing me in this direction. Yes, I had missed it whilst OS. I’m proud of you and probably more than you will ever know or realise. I love you.

    • Fiona Ryan May 12, 2014, 10:43 am

      I thought this may have missed your attention. I call it as I see it.

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