For many who read this blog, it is pretty evident that I do not pay for all the food reviewed on this blog. As someone who writes reviews on online, or indeed on prints, we sometimes get invited to food tasting/review sessions. I make it a point to put those posts in “By Invitation” category, there are already over 50 posts in there as of this writing.
Some insists that all reviews done via this matter shouldn’t be trusted as the writer did not pay for their food and got preferential treatments, hence they must be biased. There’s some sense of truth to it, but it isn’t the topic we’re discussing today.
Sometimes, the owner or a friend of the restaurants owner contacts myself for these reviews. Other times, it is the in house PR personnel who does the invitations. However, there’s also an increasing trend of restaurants hiring PR agencies to engage bloggers (and other media outlets) for food reviews.
In the last case, there’s money involved. Now I might be over simplifying things, but they usually goes:
Restaurant pays PR – PR gets bloggers to eat – Bloggers write reviews
The PR agencies might also have more detailed arrangements with the clients (restaurants), including numbers of free meals the restaurant is responsible for vs how many reviews (positive or otherwise) should turn up on blogs, number of unique hits, etc.
While it might sound like an awesome deal, free food and all, the reality is quite a bit different. Most serious food bloggers will haul along their SLR & other photography equipments; trying to enjoy dinner interrupted with many photo taking sessions and talking with the PR/restaurant owner; and of course, spend hours editing photos and writing the blog post after the meal.
All these can amount to quite a bit of work, and you could probably agree that the least a writer can ask for is to have decent dining partners to go with. In my case, it is Haze, and sometimes part of #porkgang.
So a yesterday there was this article from Fit to Post (Yahoo! Singapore) titled “S’poreans outraged over ‘free meal’ blogger“, basically stating that a food blogger – ladyironchef, and I quote – “demanded that he and his three companions be given free meals at an upscale restaurant”. The article also quoted several other food bloggers condemning ladyironchef of being a “freeloader” and “bringing down the good name” of them.
Conversations on Twitter and forums this one was full of people throwing in their punches while the said blogger’s site was down.
This morning ladyironchef posted his version of the story, which came out to be something I’ve sorta suspected. While his record was not entirely spotless in this debacle ( throwing credit card on table), I think that the PR consultant did a lot worse in this case.
The blogger did communicated the fact that he’s bringing 3 guests both on email and SMS.
PR consultant was not there during the meal
PR consultant did not advice the restaurant manager on the interview with Yahoo! SG
This is assuming the said PR consultant wasn’t the one who get the story out in the first place. Now that the blogger’s version is out, the PR/restaurant just made an ass of themselves, same goes with those who condemn the blogger without knowing the full story too (at least hungryepicurean put up an apology, bravo!)
Lesson from this story?
know both sides before condemning anyone
if an article cited blogs including those idled since 2008, read with a soup spoon of salt
food review isn’t all pleasure and no work
many PR consultants are awesome people, but just like bloggers, some of them are asses
p/s: for the invited reviews I find not worthy of recommendations, I usually skip the write up completely instead of writing a review on lousy food as I believe people visit this blog to look for good food and not having to sift through a lot of bad ones at the same time.
Anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave (cos you probably don’t use any currency in the cave) for the past year or so knows that we are in a massive economy slow down. The scary part is, most analysts agree that things will get worse before it gets better.
At times like this, it is usually advised that over spending isn’t such a good idea. So, take the bus/LRT to work, hold yourself off buying that sparkly new toys, not getting a new car, and of course, don’t spend too much for lunch.
But this does not necessarily means that you are confined to roti canai or mixed rice at Wisma Sentral if you work at KLCC, there’s the McValue Lunch! I’m sure most of you already know by now that McDonald’s is the first fast food restaurant to push out the RM 5.95 McValue lunch meals a couple months back.
The news is, there is now two other McValue Lunch line ups that had been in my wish list eve since I found out about this whole McValue promotion – Spicy Chicken McDeluxe (from RM10.55 to RM 7.95), and Big Mac (from RM 10.20 to RM 7.95).
I’ve been a fan of Spicy Chicken McDeluxe for quite a while now, the juicy spicy chicken is really one of the bests and actually quite unique to McDonald’s in our country, catering perfectly to our preference in hot food. It’s good to see this burger joining the McValue promotion.
Here’s the line up from 27th April onwards:
McChicken med meal – RM5.95
Filet-O-Fish med meal – RM5.95
Big Mac med meal – RM7.95
Spicy Chicken McDeluxe med meal – RM7.95
The McValue Lunch runs from 12pm to 3pm EVERYDAY and is valid for Dine-in, Drive Through, and even Delivery. I think a lot of people wrongly assumed that this promotion this promotion only runs on weekdays.
So I went to McDonald’s at KLCC’s 2nd floor food court with a buddy of mine the other day to try this for myself. We got ourselves 2 Spicy Chicken McDeluxe sets. (I do notice that the queue at McD in KLCC food court became quite a bit longer these days, not surprising since they offer the cheapest full lunch these days)
2x Spicy Chicken McDeluxe sets – RM 16.70 including tax
The best thing about the McValue Meal is that you still get the normal medium size drinks and fries to go with the burger. It was the same set, nothing reduced other than the price, a very very good value. Of course, it is still the great taste (I seriously think the spicy chicken is one of the best burgers out there) that I crave for every so often.
In conjunction with the McValue lunch, there’s also a contest that gives out an Apple iPhone for blogger!
The contest tagline is “Have you McValue LUNCH-ed this week?”, you can use the logo on your blog during the contest period (April 27 to May 31, 2009), and create a video or photos to express your experiences with McValue LUNCH in a creative way. Winner gets the iPhone 3G!
I was at the MySimplifieds bazaar attack event last Saturday as a beta-tester to their pretty nifty trading space online (do check it out). Each of us were given RM 200 to buy anything from Curve’s bazaar. Cheesie bought dresses and accessories, but dresses don’t look good on me and I’m not too much a fan of accessories. So look at what I got! A very cute little chef!
The very precise and compricated figurine costs me RM 200 after some hardcore bargaining. He is now standing at my garden, bringing me more food.
No, I don’t have a name for my little chef yet, I’m still wondering if he is really tanned Italian or a mamak in disguise.
You can read more about the event on Beetrice (who invited me), Prashan (who organized the whole thing), Erna (who benefited from my extra banana pie), or Connie (who is rather good looking)
I was checking comments on the blog as usual last Sunday and came across these two comments:
By chee hong on Oct 5, 2008 | Reply
hey KY , congrats la dude! i saw this blog post in on of the Star’s article this morning ..
By AkiraSabine on Oct 5, 2008 | Reply
Flipping through The Star as usual on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I happened to see a familiar name, KY! haha. “Hey, I read his blog” was my first reaction. Congrats!
I then quickly searched online and sure enough I found this article on the Sunday Star Metro compiled by Renita Che Wah, a name I could not recall.
my post appeared on the Star
The article (full screenshot) is made up of 3 sentences by the journalist, followed by 15 short paragraphs quoted directly from the Pantai Seafood entry I wrote on the 26th of May September.
Obviously I was feeling pretty proud to be noticed by the most read English dailies and have the paper used my blog post heavily in an article, I went out and bought a copy of the paper for save keeping too.
At the same time, however, I do find it a little odd that I was never informed prior to the blog being quoted. No phone call, email, or even a comment left on the blog. Pictures were taken directly from the blog and edited without my knowledge either.
To be fair, a previous blog post of mine on Kampung Atap Curry Fish Head was also used by the Star Metro over a year ago (link here), and the journalist did communicate with me prior to publishing. The difference is, this time around I was kinda caught by surprise.
I think the Star should consider giving me a weekly column instead. What do you make of this?
Haaaaaa! I finally can say that I have watched an English premiership team in live, not very up close and rather impersonal, but it was Chelsea FC vs Malaysia XI live, and I was in the flesh! All thanks to Heineken for sponsoring the tickets via the little contest I ran on this blog(results here).
Well, we reached the stadium just as the game gets started. The atmosphere outside the stadium itself was already very exciting, with loud cheering sound coming from within the huge structure. We had a bit of a delay (an entire half actually) as some of us had to collect tickets from the super patient yee hou who was running around outside the stadium. It took that long mainly thanks to the total collapse of Maxis’ network under the huge load. SMS took over 15-20 minutes to get through, and I had zero luck trying to put a call through after trying for at least 50 times!
But the important thing was we got in eventually. The stadium was pretty packed at the section we were in, sea of blue with almost no one wearing a Malaysian jersey. I put on my one and only national football jersey albeit from a different country (but hey, Vietnam is in ASEAN as well, so..)
The game itself was pretty interesting, and we certainly enjoyed ourselves. Our boys did pretty decent (losing 0-2) and fared better than the other two teams that went up against Chelsea in their Asia Tour. The Star did a much better review of the game which I’m not going to repeat.