I thought it would die down.
I was wrong.
It was such a non-event, a molehill inflated into a mountain over mismanaged communications. Kinda like that much smaller molehill involving a cake shop threatening to sue some blogger. Total non-event.
But til today, I am still receiving media queries about this restaurant-blogger issue, and I am still seeing it being sensationalised, as though there is nothing else more newsworthy.
I don't think I need to repeat what happened between Brad of Ladyironchef and Private Affairs (if you need details on what happened, you can read Xiaxue's exposé - probably one of the best out there).
However, there are two disturbing elements about this incident.
Disturbing Element #1: How one-sided media reporting has been allowed to get away scot-free.I'm still stunned by that piece of cowboy journalism from Yahoo Singapore - it fanned the flames of hatred by painting a most inaccurate picture of what really happened, based on only one side of the story. When I read it, I knew it was so, so wrong. The Brad I knew was nothing like that, and it must have been an invited review gone awry. Indeed it had been.
What that Yahoo(ligan?) blogger has done is incredibly damaging. You've added a lot of pain to someone's life, very unnecessarily, and for what? A few more traffic hits? Was urgency really more important than accuracy? No response from Brad, they say. And what was their effort at contacting Brad? Oh, just email. Dude, ordinary people were able to dig up Brad's phone number, home address and all, exposing all this on hate posts in forums and such. But above all, you had access to Private Affairs and their PR person Melanie, who had clearly been SMS-ing with Brad, so she had his number.
There has been no apology from Yahoo to this date for its lazy, erroneous reporting. The post in question still remains there, without any clarification update or link to its follow-up article (which was still pretty bad).
So what's to prevent them from doing the same thing again? And who will the next victim be?
Disturbing Element #2: How the media has come down hard on bloggers, but strangely, not on Private Affairs.The restaurant failed in so many ways. Firstly, in mismanaging expectations with poor PR - for example, if they had been too embarrassed to tell Brad his additional guests would have to pay, they could have handled it elegantly by offering him a token discount for the extra persons. But no, they stayed silent when told about number of guests coming. (OK, I know, Brad should have offered to pay too, among many other things he should or should not have done, but he's been blasted well enough)
Secondly, after the awkward incident, the restaurant immediately bitched to other bloggers and the press about their invited guest (technically semi-paying customer). How classy, especially for an upmarket joint. No matter how disgruntled you are with your diners, this is no decent way to respond.
But that's not all. It followed up with a most haughty press statement driving the blade further into Brad's back and "tsk-tsk"-ing at bloggers in general (calling for an association to set up policies for us all), while opportunistically cashing in for some fame and self-praise. Are they really in the hospitality business? I shudder.
Maybe we should rename this the "restaurant PR fiasco" instead of the "food blogger fiasco"...
But even though many in the online world are incensed by Private Affairs, in the mainstream media, the spotlight is pretty much on food bloggers - oh the greed, the arrogance, etc. It's easier to prey on individuals, it seems, than companies. Have there been any media articles remarking on the restaurant's PR tactics? Have there been any letters in the Forum section of newspapers criticising the restaurant? Please tell me, because I haven't seen any.
So anyway. There were slips by both parties, for sure, and that is one reason this issue has keen debaters who may relate to one side more than the other. But at least Brad has apologised for his behavior, which seems a whole lot less aggressive than that of Private Affairs.
There are also plenty of other issues and media pieces related to this. I will blog them separately.