Food blogging as a serious leisure started not so many years ago. From recipes to restaurant reviews, masses of people with interest in gourmet cuisine (and not only) began using blogs and social media to their advantage. But how has food blogging changed restaurant reviewing, and the relationship between food bloggers, food critics and restaurant PRs? Food bloggers (including Tripadvisor reviewers) have been massively critisized by Media, and it took many meetings and discussions with PRs to make them comprehend the value of social media and food blogging. Nowadays, food bloggers cover everything from culinary travelling – anyone remembers this piece Anastasia wrote in partnership with the Serbian Tourism Board? – to recipe developing and casual lifestyle food photography. Food bloggers have got their hands on the food and drink industry and it appears they are here to stay as people trust their opinions more than the opinions of career food critics!
Some believe that the rapidly expanding art of food blogging has made it accessible to everyone, putting the average eater’s beliefs at the forefront where it belongs; and others groan the massacre of a long-time, established profession by any self-proclaimed ‘foodie’ with social media access. Has this fundamental shift in the way restaurant reviewing is done today created a gap by which food journalists are eaten by blog posts? And if, such breast exists, is there a way to find common ground where quality restaurant reviewing may also be relevant to all palates?
With the growing popularity of food bloggers, I am here today to analyse why, I think, food bloggers’ restaurant reviewing has changed the food and drink scene and why food bloggers should be respected more for what they offer to their audience.
1// Legitimate food bloggers will have more influence on a local level, than the local newspaper the PR paid a five times higher fee to advertise their clients’ restaurant. In a world where the majority of people have their focus on strong visual content distributed for free, aka Instagram, the chances of a potential customer to find their favourite restaurant through printed media are extremely low. Instagram geotags and hashtags do all the job so food blogging has most certainly changed the way customers find the closest or of favourite cuisine restaurant, which really should make the PRs appreciate all the work that goes into blogging…
2// Food bloggers are a one, or two multi-talented, peoples business. They are the writers. the photographers, the dealers, the first contact point that their audience will reach on Instagram to ask further questions about the food, the social media promoters and the models (you have no idea what food blogging is unless you ate your dish cold because you had to take a dozen images of the food from every possible angle!). Unlike food journalists who have the restaurant images sent to their e-mail the next morning by the PR, food bloggers have to do all the work by themselves, and all this, while making sure they maintain the highest quality of professional standards!
3// Just because a blogger is not a food journalist it doesn’t mean that they don’t bring professional training and experience to restaurant reviewing. First to follow the food blogging trend, the New York Times employed food bloggers who wrote restaurant reviews more approachable to their readers. Not everyone can afford Michelin star dining, so before you pay a high fee to feature your client in the Press, make sure you understand the value of your local, informed, food bloggers first, who choose to educate themselves with serious reading on food production, preparation, cooking and presentation.
4// Blog restaurant reviews tend to be generally more positive than food critic reviews. A food blogger will most certainly focus on the positive aspects of the culinary experience and then give their discreet opinion to the PR who invited them to the restaurant, avoiding to destroy the online reputation of a business. Having said this, reputable and respectable food bloggers will not be afraid to raise their voice and explain what did not work well in the dish or direct their audience towards the tastier dish on the menu.
So what do you think?
Is food blogging problematic? Should food bloggers be respected by restaurant PRs and most importantly have food bloggers changed Restaurant Reviewing?
*featured image taken at La P’ti Follie restaurant in Edinburgh