Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: My Food Bag: is it any good?

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lilith __,

    Surely it’s naive to think journos don’t get free samples to review? Book reviewers don’t buy the books.

    The irony there is that it's not uncommon for editors to hand over review copies of books and tell their poor reviewers that is the payment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    By getting the service for free, you’re not reacting to the service as it would be for someone who was paying for it

    Same goes with almost every review - even with restaurant reviews, it's the magazine (generally) not the author paying for it.

    We're smart enough to be able to work out whether we 'felt' we got the prescribed value for it, whether it would be worthwhile doing it again, how much it would cost... it was definitely a talking point in our house.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    The debate has been about the issue of journalists getting freebies, but it seemed to me that most of the tweeters who trialled food bags weren't actually journalists. They were more personalities - radio hosts, fashionistas and socialites. The kind of people whose spare rooms are already full of goodie bags from events past. They did some cooking the first night, tooted about it, then by the second night - ooh, shiny! - something else had grabbed their attention.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Surely it’s naive to think journos don’t get free samples to review? Book reviewers don’t buy the books.

    The irony there is that it’s not uncommon for editors to hand over review copies of books and tell their poor reviewers that is the payment.

    Seriously?? No wonder book reviewers get so angry when they don't like a book....

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The irony there is that it’s not uncommon for editors to hand over review copies of books and tell their poor reviewers that is the payment.

    When I was a young 'un, it seemed outrageously wonderful that I could see movies for free and keep CDs that I was reviewing. And back when CDs used to be valuable, there was the old trick of selling them at Real Groovy.

    But on the down side, it did encourage me to think my writing wasn't worth anything more than the price of a movie ticket.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    They were more personalities – radio hosts, fashionistas and socialites.

    hopefully that looks more quote like than my previous attempt.

    I struck this on a certain PR gig I did. Marketing set up a “launch” and invited thought leaders, celebrities, fashionistas and the like. They spent a lot of money getting them along, gave them devices and things to play with and … it all disappeared into the ether. Not one of them had any interest in talking about the kit at all.

    This also is a risk for such strategies, that and having an angry PR fellow shout at you for wasting an opportunity on fluffy bunnies.

    EDIT: many edits for the dumb

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • simantics, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Did we all go to the same Lotusphere conference? I got to hear Sir Tim Berners-Lee speak about open and free internet around the same time as SOPA and that's the story I came away with from the conference.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    The kind of people whose spare rooms are already full of goodie bags from events past. They did some cooking the first night, tooted about it, then by the second night – ooh, shiny! – something else had grabbed their attention.

    Goodie bags are an odd thing -- although they generally fill a secondary PR purpose by being filled the other products the same PR firm is representing.

    Bridget Saunders wrote a great piece a while back on how to become a celebrity, as that term is defined for the purpose of PR launches. It takes a bit of work -- you have to respond to each PR approach, and show you're a good soldier by turning up at the launch of some bloody thing on a Tuesday night. And if you're not invited, turn up and glad-hand the PR people.

    I confess there's the odd one (whisky tastings and champagne marque events) that I've thought, ooh, I wonder who I'd have had to grease up for that. But mostly, it's about turning up for indifferent wine and nibbles and getting your picture in the paper.

    It probably makes financial sense for some folk ("celebrity" is actually generally a poorly-paid job in NZ) , but I'm amazed at the number of people who could clearly be buying their own drinks turning up to eat stale sushi on a rainy night. I think it's a social thing for most of them -- they know all the other people who do the same thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson,

    I just posted this wee note on Dylan's blog which I found fascinating. Now to catch up with the rest of this thread.

    Hi Dylan,

    FWIW I think twitter is a glorious place to have a debate. And a place where doing so works remarkably well. I expect John Drinnan also thinks that, but don't know. Its an interesting question.

    I disagree with Deborah Pead and Stop Press and Russell Brown that #ad tag should not have been used in this case. An inducement is an inducement - gift or not. That said I don't feel that inclined to debate it ATM. Too much else to write about :)

    At Scoop we started using #ad with our @scooptechlab activity before Christmas and we intend to continue to do so. At times you do forget however and it would be very hard and a bit stultifying to make contributors do so. Deborah Pead herself possibly ought to have used it on some of her MFB tweets and may have done so.

    One thing for certain the debate on this question is far from over.

    I have taken to using #notanad tags for tweets that look like #ads but which aren't.

    And either way the cookie crumbles at the ASA in the long run - the "Tweetnami" incident which you have usefully reported on in this series of blogs has given us a very nice working example to debate the next time the issue arises.

    Alastair Thompson
    Editor
    Scoop

    P.S. What TV program do you work for? Read your lengthy response to Cate Owen.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alastair Thompson,

    But what you're asking for there is telling people who've merely received a product for trial what they're allowed to write. You're actually contracting them. If I get involved in a discussion about the product, do I have to use #ad? Even if I say the product sucks?

    @scooptechlab is really quite different, in that you're explicitly contracted to deliver words written by a handful of named individuals in exchange for money -- and they're contracted to deliver those words, in exchange for cash and the free (and valuable) product. It's just not the same thing as sending out some trial product.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Alastair Thompson,

    I just posted this wee note on Dylan’s blog which I found fascinating. Now to catch up with the rest of this thread.

    Okay, well for context then, here is the response I posted there:

    Thanks Alastair,

    As far as I can tell the ASA seems to be quite specific that #ad is for “paid” tweet. I’m not sure anyone is actually paying for tweets in NZ, but it’s possible I guess. In general I think as long as there isn’t a pre-arranged expectation of promotion or, especially, an agreement about the nature of that promotion this is just run of the mill PR/marketing – give things to people you think will like them and hope they talk about them.

    Perhaps this is all a bit like pornography, we know it when we see it? None of the tweets I saw felt especially “addy” to me.

    As for the TV show – well that would be telling, but a little Googling will probably reveal, I have done a reasonable bit of publicity around it and I’m the most prolific Dylan Reeve on the internet :)

    And for completeness, the post on Cate's blog in question is on personal branding online...

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    In my humble opinion, having sampled the cuisine from the likes of Ramsey, White and Conran* in my London days, I think it's brilliant that http://www.myfoodbag.co.nz/ are bringing equally good food to humble NZ homes. Their products combine the best and freshest ingredients with the technical innovation that enables every home cook or microwave artist to achieve top class results. A must.

    * Well, their sous-chefs.

    Ms PR Pead: is this enough? Just email me and I'll let you know where to send the free food. Oh, and I don't do celery. Or courgettes.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    I’d note that in book reviewing for academic journals, being paid by keeping the review copy is absolutely standard practice. But there at least (i) reviewers can self-select for books that are in their own areas of interest; and (ii) the cost of most academic books is high enough that, if it’s something you were thinking of buying anyway, it does end up valuing the writing reasonably fairly.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Aha so now I think I am about to join this debate :) First point I will make is that #ad usage or not is a more complicated question than it appears at first glance. The following are top of the head thoughts. And not yet fully structured. I suspect true view on this is that I am yet to fully form a view.

    With those disclaimers in place. Here goes.

    Yes @scooptechlab is different and is definitely caught that is why we used it - and included disclaimers.

    That said, with #myfoodbag what Deborah and her team did was execute an online social media marketing campaign using inducements in the form of food. It was an advertising campaign and I am sure Pead PR was paid - so on that basis at least it counts as advertising.

    I think one of the questions you need to answer when using #ad is who is the publisher? In Techlab's case that is Scoop and so me (as editor) and @scoopNZ are definitely caught.

    That said not all Techlab are paid beyond receiving a free device. Nevertheless we will still encourage all of them to use #ad when talking about the specific pieces of content that they are "contracted" to supply if there is a marketing purpose behind the existence of the content - i.e. it is part of a paid advertising campaign.

    In this case Pead PR are publishers of their own tweets, but not of the giftees.

    And for this reason I think some #ad tags might have been helpful in the #myfoodbag campaign. Perhaps on some of the tweets posted by Pead PR, and Deborah Pead herself.

    But at that point it then gets very complicated.

    Firstly it is not practical to expect #ad tag use to be mandatory on participants in gift driven editorial campaigns (certainly not very easily) and I do not think that is what the ASA had in mind with the #ad tag. And so on that basis the non use of #ad by Russell, Damien etc. is all good.

    The second difference between @techlab and #myfoodbag is that the former does involve contracted obligations of a sort whereas the latter did not.

    Is this a bright-line rule though. Does it depend on the value of the gift? What if though there is no contract there is an "understanding" that in the absence of a favourable blog + favourable social media comment no further "gifts" will be forthcoming from this brand, or this advertising agency, or this PR agency?

    Should arrangements like these be disclaimed?

    Does the fact that gift-giving has become so commonplace in terms of editorial placement organisation make a difference? Personally I think that this increasingly pervasive practice is a way that PR agencies are bypassing the need to purchase media exposure. This might be something that publications ought to be concerned about.

    And finally some remarks on book and gig reviews - which I think are different - but which raise some other tricky issues regarding #ad.

    Back in the day (and at some publications still) some book editors and arts editors paid for the books and tickets that they reviewed. I think some editorial organisations still have bans on junkets in place even now.

    OTOH with Book Reviews there is a contract of a sort - you get book so you write about book - so perhaps an #ad tag ought to apply. Ditto free reviewer tickets to gigs. However I don't think it should be in these instances and it certainly isn't standard practice to do so. Reviews are legitimate editorial not advertorial.And I think the main difference between this and blogger gifts is that there is an intermediary - the media publisher.

    The implicit contract in these arrangements is that the reviewer gets to say whatever they want. The gifting relationship is between the media publisher and the reviewer - not the book publisher and the reviewer,

    Al

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

  • Josie McNaught,

    "Time poor" - what on earth is that? The opposite of all that stupid bottled water that "gives you energy?"

    We are turning into a nation of food nutters: pages and pages and websites and words devoted to creating dishes that require expensive imported ingredients (panko breadcrumbs grrr) but the simple act of taking some of your "poor time" and going out and actually handling the food, knowing what is in season, and going through the simple act of cooking it at home seems to deeply unsexy.

    In Italy cooking a meal at home and sharing it with friends before you go out is a tradition. Here it has become some sort of underground activity. And god forbid if you cook home food for home - you have to replicate "cafe food" at home to successfully feed your friends. You don't need to come up with a 'restaurant meal' - you are buying into some warped philosophy if you do. You just need to buy some well-priced, in season ingredients and COOK THEM. Not assemble, not cajole, not make love to, but COOK. Yes! This requires time and intelligence and energy, but the physical and intellectual effort of shopping for ingredients (or hey growing them yourself) seems to pass you dumbos by.

    Stop getting all hot and heavy and thinking you are "chefs" you are no more "chefs" than you are lawyers, mechanics or plumbers. You are jobbing journos who are lazy when it comes to thinking about what you put in your mouths. $179? For that amount of food? Let's have a cook off and I'll cook enough food to a much larger group for longer - including using up the leftovers. And stop mentioning the silly company that delivered the food and giving them more free publicity - you food freebie whores!

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to linger,

    Book reviewing for academic journals is largely a social service, to ensure colleagues derive some attention for their efforts. You get bugger-all credit for PBRF and it often involves hours of work. Touting for expensive food parcels--that is another matter, I think that food banks have more social value, rather than another indulgence for the middle class.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    doors everywhere marked "cast members only" was indeed quite surreal

    Apart from that, I guess it was nothing like Parliament?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The irony there is that it’s not uncommon for editors to hand over review copies of books and tell their poor reviewers that is the payment.

    Which is why I stopped reviewing books in ANZ...

    For reviews overseas, they actually pay money as well as the book copy.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Alastair Thompson,

    I think there's an important difference between advertising and marketing. Spreading some foody love to social-media people is a marketing strategy: no one is compelled to write anything, and there's no reward for positive comments, or indeed for mentioning it at all.

    I'm all for letting Twitter sort out its own social niceties. We all hate spam, ESPECIALLY if we're not expecting it. I'd expect a sharp backlash against stealth advertising. But tweeps giving opinions on stuff they like and don't like? That's 90% of Twitter traffic. :-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Josie McNaught,

    "Time poor" - what on earth is that?

    People who don't have enough time to cook. "Time Starving" are people who don't even have enough time to eat. "Can't eat, tweeting", is "Time anorexic"

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    We all hate spam, ESPECIALLY if we're not expecting it.

    Some of us used to make a living out of it. If it wasn't for spam, my children would have starved.

    ETA: I was blocking spam, for the record. But if there was nothing to block ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson, in reply to Lilith __,

    I think the short version of what I was trying to say is this.

    People doing stuff for gifts probably doesn't need to be #hashtagged - but if you are in the business of organising/solicting twitter traffic and are being paid to do so then maybe this fact ought to be flagged as a matter of best practice.

    That said, as long as this debate continues to have some currency, not doing so will also remain a valid (and possibly effective) strategy.

    As for leaving Twitter to sort out Twitter's social niceities - isn't that what we are in the process of doing?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to BenWilson,

    If it wasn’t for spam, my children would have starved.

    It's actually quite nutritious, you know. Mash it, boil it, roast it, put it in a stew, put it in a sandwich, serve it on toast.

    Spam is also cheaper than a food bag. Not as cheap as a food parcel.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Emily (My, actual, real name!),

    I have to say I love the idea of my food bag. When I developed our NZ seasonal recipe app, Fast, Fresh & Tasty, a friend and I personally tested the recipes at home. At that time it was 100+ recipes (now we have 170+) and let me tell you a new recipe every night, even for someone who finds cooking a perfect way to relax at the end of the day, it was EXHAUSTING. So, I can see the flaws.

    But, I do love the idea of seasonal produce and getting people extending their normal cooking repertoire. #kindasortamaybeanaddforfastfrshandtasty

    Since Mar 2013 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • "chris",

    #totesanad

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

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