This blog said no.

keep-calm-and-just-say-no-10I’m often approached by firms, brands and PR agencies with mostly the following sort of questions: “Can we send you “this” or “that” and are you willing to write something about that on your site and/or social media?”, “We love you blog and we want to give you the change to make some money in our affiliate program, would you like that?” or “We are so excited about this new “blabla” and we want you and your readers to be the first to get the whole story”. They expect an easy “yes, please” and are quite stocked if you first ask them some questions. Most of them don’t even bother to answer them.

Blogs are getting very interesting for brands owners and PR companies as they mostly have a solid fan base. They see blogs as an interesting advertisement channel. And I have to say many bloggers are more than happy to place these “advertorials” in order to gain readers, attention or “freebees”. There are even PR companies that specifically offer their costumers space on well known blogs. It’s an industry.

Am I holier than the pope?
Nope, I have also excepted samples from distilleries. The small difference is that I asked for them (about 60 requests where made) and that request was granted in 3 cases (Paul John, Alambik and Puni). I asked for these samples because I’m enthusiastic about the product or simply curious. (99% of the whisky’s taste and write about are paid for by me). So yes, I also participated in this PR thing. but not in all cases.

I was approached by some, among others, (new and old) auctioneers, online shops and sample pack creators.

Online shops
Most online shops want to offer an affiliation program, but when you ask them what the gain is for my readers or what good prices they have to offer they mostly don’t reply or tell you they are the best priced in the market with the biggest range of whiskies. But they are gutted if you tell them they are overpriced in comparison with Dutch online retailers. Some ask 35% more than the well known Dutch online retailers.
This blog said no.

The auctioneers want to gain a customer base and where offering very “special” and “rare” bottles and they told me it would be great for my readers if they could take part in these special auctions. I took a look in their lot’s on offer and found some strange bottles marked as “rare” e.g. The Highland park 18YO (new bottle series) they highest bidder paid €198,- for it, this while this is regularly available for €99,95. I know it’s the bidders fault to overpay for such a bottle but still, how is this bottle rare? And I see it as my obligation to prevent this stupid things from happening for my readers. The commission paid it quite high and in my opinion it’s just overhyping the already tense whisky market. Next to that I profoundly belief whisky is made for drinking and sharing with friends and certainly not for collecting.
This blog said no.

Sample pack creators
Than the flavor packs. This can be an ideal way to taste some new drams before you commit to a bottle. But, and there is a big but, most drams (not in all cases) in these packs are the bottom range whisky’s (not that they are all bad) and they ask top shell prices for the packs. You can easily obtain whisky’s to taste via a Bottle Share (amongst friends or via Facebook) or go to a whisky tasing/festival to learn about new whisky’s this is mostly a much cheaper option and in my opinion a more fun one. Just an example: A tasting pack of 5 simple drams costs €39,99, these same drams will cost you +/- €15,- via a bottle share.
This blog said no.

Even hotels, bars, travel agencies and restaurants offer kick backs, coupons (yep, even a trip to Scotland) for offering their services on our website. I said no to all of them as they don’t fit in to my goal.

So, way say no?
For a very simple reason: I have no commercial goal with my website.
My website started as a private online malt log. I hate searching for tasting notes in a heap of paper so I placed them in a website so I can easily search for my notes. Later I learned that it’s fun to share my notes with other enthusiasts and take part in online discussions about the flavours and aromas of whisky. I simply refuse to be a mere PR channel, posting a tasting note of a whisky is PR enough.

Will we say no to everything offered?
No, samples offered for tasting from distilleries are welcomed as long as they accept that I write about the whisky however I want. If I think it’s shite or overpriced or whatever I will say so on my site and social-media. If they want a honest opinion they are more than welcome to send me a sample.

A well, again this is just my simple opinion.