I thought it would be good to set up this page so that everyone is very clear about my policy when reviewing or talking about any item I’ve received as a gift. I’m not talking about gifts from friends but, for instance, books that I sometimes receive from publishers or authors. It could also include things like cooking tools or food products.
If I am going to review or talk about one of these items in a post I’ll indicate that I did not pay for the item and then refer the reader to this page for my policies regarding these items.
Having it on one page means that I can refer to this page without having to clutter posts with all the background information.
If I mention a recipe, talk about a cookbook or tool or ingredient without referring to this page it will mean that it was something I purchased on my own. If the item was given to me by a publisher, author, company, distributor, a PR firm, I received it at a conference or trade show or I acquired it without payment by some other method, I will indicate that in the post and refer the reader to this page.
I have a few rules that I follow when I get these requests.
- I make sure that the item is something I’m truly interested in; something I might actually buy on my own
- Presently I have well over 150 cookbooks – probably closer to 200 but I’m trying to pretend it’s not that many. The number is that low because I actively purge my cookbooks on a fairly regular basis. I don’t want them to take over my house, no matter how much I love them! So I don’t really need any more cookbooks
- I also have closets full of tools and am to the point where if I bring something in I’ll probably need to get rid of something else. I like the stuff I have and don’t really want to get rid of it so a new thing better be good! I’m not fond of one-use tools, although I will make exceptions to that sometimes
- The point here is that if I’ve agreed to have something sent to me there’s a good chance I may have a favorable review of it since I’ve already pre-qualified it to some extent but that won’t always be the case
- If I write about something that I did not pay for I will always share my true feelings
- You are my audience and my primary relationship. I have no relationship with any company and don’t owe them anything or feel obligated to any of them
- If I recommend something I want you to trust that I really did like it, whether or not you agree with me
- I used to do a lot of wine-tasting at one particular shop here in Seattle. Over time I learned which of the staff had tastes similar to mine and which did not. No one was right or wrong, but if I was looking for a specific recommendation I’d go to someone whose taste was more like my own. I think of this blog in a similar manner – and that actually goes for everything here, not just items I may be reviewing
- I may or may not write about everything I receive
- This is primarily due to how busy I am when the item arrives or comes into my possession and if I feel I’ve been able to give it a fair trial period
- It could also be due to feeling like there’s no use writing about the product once I see it and that could be for a number of reasons
Restaurants, Catering Companies, Etc
I pay for all my restaurant meals. Occasionally I am comped for some part of the meal or a drink but this is not because I am a blogger. Many/most people in the restaurant business here in Seattle do not know about my blog. However, I am out and about in this community a lot. So if I am comped it’s most likely as a little thank you for my continued business or because I’ve made friends with the staff. Would that cause me to write favorably about a place? It could. But that’s because I like places who recognize me and appreciate my business. I think that’s an important part of dining out. If it’s a place that I don’t care for – and that could be for several reasons – I probably won’t go there often, if at all, and so I probably wouldn’t be comped at those places. But I don’t always get comped all the time and at some places I never do. Not being comped doesn’t make me not like a place.
Occasionally I am invited to opening parties or PR events where the entire event is free for me because I am a blogger. In those cases I will mention those circumstances at the beginning of the post if I write about the event.
If I attend a conference or seminar or other event I pay my own registration fees. Sometime there are “goodie bags” handed out at the events. I guess you can look at these bags in two different ways: you paid for the event and the bags are part of the event so you paid for what’s in them; or they were freebies you received. If I write about anything I received in a goodie bag I’ll treat it as mentioned in the Products section above.
This policy is effective as of January 1, 2011. I’ve been writing this blog for nearly six years and I’m 99.9% sure that I’ve consistently followed the policies outlined above, although I did not have a policy page to refer to for all those years. But I’ll generally say something like, “I was lucky enough to be invited to….” or mention that a publisher sent me a cookbook, for instance.
If you have any questions or comments on this policy, please let me know!