To start, I did not attend the “Great Northern Quarter Pizza Swindle” and until now have made very few comments or shown little interest in the subject; partly due to the fact that I am generally not a huge fan of pizza, frozen or otherwise.
As an idea, I too, initially found it funny. Now the facts are out and the storm has largely died down, I’d like to say may piece, as it seemed that from some quarters ‘bloggers’ in general were being maligned.
There was talk of how bloggers reacted angrily to being “duped”, something that I did not see from those I follow.
What has slightly irked me since however, is the grinning picture in the Daily Mail, of the Market Restaurant’s Gary Newborough, who, for a fee, allowed his premises to be used in this way.
The words “admits” “confessed” and phrases like “Gary Newborough had promised VIP guests a ‘taste of Italy’ and a ‘pizza with a real difference'” suggest to be that he knowingly set out to mock and deceive people.
I appreciate that it is hard times for all, and that the long established Market Restaurant is not enjoying the current success or reputation that it may have experienced in better times.
Despite this, even for whatever monetary gain they received from the Dr. and his people, I think it was, at least, unscrupulous for them to go along with, what could be seen as a cowardly and exploitative PR stunt, seemingly devised to mock those in attendance.
My twitter feed would suggest that some people seem to have taken some glee in mocking those “taken in” by the scam. Perhaps now that Gary has enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, he realises how easy is is to mock others and find fault? I’m certain I could go to the Market Restaurant and ridicule and make inflammatory comments about his food.
Gary justified his actions by saying, “'But they weren’t complaining when it was free and they were going through 36 bottles of sparkling wine that I laid on. It was just a bit of fun and it didn’t cost anybody anything to try it.”
To clear something up: few bloggers actually go anywhere for a "free meal" - restaurants do not give away "free meals"...
To state the obvious, the way it works it this: when restaurants (especially new or failing ones) truly believe that they have a good product and want to get this message out to a wider audience, they may invite the press, bloggers and alike in the hope that they will freely promote their business to their readership.
There is often an un-verbalised agreement that in exchange for being fed, said “foodie” will take the time and trouble to write about and share their experience. Of course, this “free advertising” can backfire when the ‘reviewer” has not had a positive experience.
One reason I personally no longer accept invitations from PR companies is that in my experience the “service” received (including food) is often different from that which the next paying customer through the door would receive - at the very least, those ‘on invites’ will often get the best seat in the house, extra smiles and special attention paid to their dishes at the pass.
An average post, including uploading and editing pictures and writing the text will typically take me at least a couple of hours, plus maybe an hour’s travelling time. Please consider as a teacher with my experience, I could easily charge in excess of £40 per hour for private tuition. Add petrol money and approximately £9 to park a nearby NCP, should I have chosen to attend the NQ event, I would potentially be out of pocket by a three-figure sum…
Simply put, the vast majority of bloggers write because they enjoy it and for the love of good food – not for ‘freebies’.