(File under ‘First World Problems’)
A Malt Lover’s Inbox Issues: The Curmudgeonly Moanings Of A Jaded Old Bastard
I realize this may come across a bit like the grumpy old man on the corner yelling at the neighbourhood kids to ‘keep off the lawn’, but there’s a little more to it than just being miserable. Bear with me.
Bloggers in the wider whisky world have a hard enough time staking a claim to respectability without opening the door to yet another questionable practice. So, speaking only for myself, but on a subject that is hopefully near to the hearts of many fellow (amateur) whisky writers, let me wade in on gently, so as to make as few waves as possible.
I could have just continued stomping around here, cave man style, grumbling under my breath and taking my frustrations out on the poor soul at the liquor store trying to pour the latest mangled, honey-flavoured-concoction-in-a-disposable-plastic-cup down my throat, but I figured maybe a more constructive outlet (or at least an outlet that only targets an appropriate audience) might be here on ATW. That’s what a blog is for, right? Sort of an ‘it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to’ thing.
It boils down to one central tenet: I do not want to help you brand ambassadors sell your whisky. It is not my job. And I do not appreciate the ways in which you’ve been going about it lately, filling my inbox with mind-bogglingly assuming sales pitches that don’t even ask if I’m interested in publishing your spiel, before closing with a ‘let me know if you need more for your post’ signature. Why would you think this is a tactful approach? Oh yeah…and have you ever actually read my site? What would make you think I am willing to regurgitate press releases?
Now here’s the deal…I don’t mind the email sent from sites I’ve signed up for. Part of the Ardbeg Committee? Of course I am. Friend of Laphroaig? Yup. Guardian of the Glenlivet? Absolutely. On the flipside, however, I’m pretty damn certain I never signed up for email from these Franken-whisky, cocktail-slingin’ blend houses and such.
Ok, ok, settle down, you say. Breathe deep and suck it up, buttercup. It’s just email. Click ‘delete’ and the problem goes away (at least untuil the next time). The thing is…until you’ve read some of the pushy-toned notes and assuming positions that get sent my way, you have no idea. Typically it goes something like this: Here’s our new product…here are a few recipes we’ve concocted that oh-so-cleverly use said new product…here are some hi-res images for you to use on your site…please let us know if you need more information for your (obviously imminent) post about our product…end transmission.
The lines between industry and consumer are so blurred right now, and lead to so much cynicism in the circles of knowledgeable whisky folk, that following this path seems like the last thing any blogger should engage in. But I’ll stop there. It’s not up to me to tell anyone how to run their site. I’ll stick to saying I don’t want that to be my M.O. around here. It boils down to perception (and some indignation, which we’ll get to in a moment).
I don’t have a lot of interest in those websites that are nothing more than press release aggregators. Quite frankly, it makes them look like industry shills. I can’t help but question intentions when I see this practice, irrespective of how much I like the individuals behind the sites. I simply have to question their motivations and their impartiality. Especially when it comes time to debate any sort of issue with them that comes back to consumer vs producer mentalities.
This very concept of blurred lines between the seemingly independent voices and the industry proper is one of the things that led to whisky demi-deity, Johannes Van Den Huevel, hanging ‘em up and retiring from the Malt Maniacs. Is it just me that thinks it’s a real shame when the founder has to step aside due to his creation becoming distorted? Granted this was one of a few reasons he gracefully bowed aside, but it was an important one.
As always (and going forward), if I choose to assert my opinion on something that seems like a ‘pitch’ to you (i.e. a festival announcement, a book or glassware review, an event notification, etc) rest assured it’s because I elected to do so of my own volition, not because of some bulk mail-out asking me to do a brand’s marketing work for them. Want me to do your sales and marketing for you? Send me an offer letter and a contract. It better be in the six figures and for a brand I support, otherwise please don’t bother.
Anyway…what it boils down to is an open letter to the industry:
Please do not ask me to help sell your product for you. I will not publish your press releases. And if you have something to send me, please do so in a slightly less assuming and authoritative manner.
I do hope your product sells. Truly. And I do wish you the best. But kindly note that this kind of ground-level-blitz advertising stuff will not be done through All Things Whisky. Ever.
The best you can hope for is that I try your product, like it and share some kind words on All Things Whisky. That does, of course, rest on the assumption that the product is worth spending money on. And no, please do not offer samples. Thanks anyway.
Best of luck,
All Things Whisky
I don’t want to be a contrarian, but while you said “file under First world problems”, you, who control the site, filed it under “Musings”
Skeptic, after many of your posts, I thought you might understand the intent of his message, and not take it literally…
Well a hearty “Bravo” for your stance. But we live in the age of obtrusive forwardness where there is no such thing as presumption; no such thing as being embarrassed by your arrogance in which one may approach subjects such as seems the case in the correspondence you receive. Decorum died some time ago – better to be aggressive and apologize if absolutely necessary but do so grudgingly. It started some time ago with Roseanne Barr and fostered itself in the Wal-Marts of the world to the point where you don’t have to be right or proper or respectful because the only thing that matters is your own perspective. Remember, everyone is special and what they think and how they present themselves if important and you’re only hurting their self-esteem if you criticize their approach.
and yeah, you kids get the hell off my lawn.
This must be why you like the “closed distilleries” so much.
It’s a badge of honour in some ways (at least you’re seen as important enough to bribe/co-opt), but still a pretty predictable industry move; having ruined the legitimacy of the professional whisky press by turning it into a marketing arm, producers then moved on to the bloggers (much as whisky fans themselves did to get un-spun opinion), something discussed on My Annoying Opinions (http://myannoyingopinions.com/2013/10/23/annoying-whisky-bloggers/#more-3631).In The industry’s main problem in this regard is that will freely claim to have “trust issues” with consumers, but will never acknowledge that those issues continue to be self created.
I’m not clear on the purpose of your post, although I do clearly understand its genesis. You’ve suggested those who send you those annoying media don’t read your site’s words so you haven’t gotten to them, have you? If that’s true the best you’ve done is vent or rant or whatever you call it where you live.
Name names. Help those of us on this side of the screen know who’s bothering you. That might, though it’ll be slight, have an effect.
Unsolicited mailings are annoying! Delete them. Throw them away. Vent when you need to. But get the perpetrators to stop? Not likely, but good luck.
(retired purveyor of single malt Scotch)
Venting…taking a wee dig at those whose sites encourage this…hoping the odd industry reader chances across it and realizes how fucked it is to expect me to do their work, etc. Just a rant. Kindly dismiss. 🙂
How you keeping, Bob? Yours is always a tempered voice of reason. Love having you ’round here.
I don’t speak for Curt, but the post did come across to me as more than just a vent/rant; to me, it was more about the assumption of support implied by the mass mailings, as if questions about if, why, or how much a blogger would want to help some rep sell a product were irrelevant because such concerns would be somehow silly or misplaced – “just contact me if you need more”. If that’s really what reps can assume about the majority of bloggers today, the reps might know them better than many of their readers – and that’s sobering in and of itself.
In 2.5 years of blogging I am yet to be sent any p.r. or approached to do anything or offered any samples. This might have something to do with it: http://myannoyingopinions.com/contact-me/
Curmudgeonly old bastard. 😉
You say that like it’s a bad thing.
Nope. Not even a little.