I'm on the mailing list for the London Bloggers Meetup and was amused to see a recent event invite had been signed off "no shows will not be tolerated." As a blogger events organiser I know only too well the face-palming frustration that comes from bloggers who say yes to attending events only to cancel the day before, or even on the day, because they suddenly have terrible sniffles, a sick granddad, or it's pouring with rain. A quick browse through the Twitter feed of said poorly sick bloggers shows a different story; they're out with their friends, tweeting about being happy to have a day to do some blogging, or worse - they're at another blogger event! I'm sure this kind of selfish behaviour is frustrating for brands and PRs who organise large scale blogger shindigs too, but for me it's especially galling as I run small-scale ones, with twenty being the maximum number, and every absence is felt. Recently I ran three blogger workshops sponsored by Zazzle and Penguin Books, with space for only ten bloggers in each exclusive session. The day included lunch, all drinks and snacks, afternoon cake, tailored blogging advice for each person, one or more activities with expert instructors or speakers coming in, and a massive goody bag with way more than popcorn and leaflets inside. And these workshops were free of charge.
I only mention the ticket price of zero pounds to show you the sheer scale of arrogance and laziness that has now fallen on some sections of the blogging community. When I started blogging there were no free workshops, classes or conferences for bloggers. The only way to physically connect with lots of other bloggers in one go was to pay for a workshop, hope to get invited to a brand event, or to organise your own meetup. Fast forward three years and the blogging community has exploded in the UK. It was already saturated when I started, and now there's more lifestyle, beauty and fashion bloggers (plus bloggers in other niches) than brands know what to do with. Bloggers are organising their own events and blogger awards, brands are having to up their game and lay on not just drinks and cupcakes, but masterclasses and workshops. And don't bloggers realise how in demand they are, that they have the pick of events, that they can cancel at a moment's notice and do whatever the hell they want.
During my recent three workshops I saw it all - the blogger who was signed up with a blogger friend only to email me the day before and say she couldn't come and didn't know if her friend still could. I check their Twitters and see them planning a weekend away days before she emailed me. What even was that lie about not knowing her friend's plans? I had the blogger with the sick granddad emailing me on the morning of a workshop (there's always one of those) and the blogger who said she'd love to come over from Wales, only for her to not respond to my email checking she was still coming, and when I tweeted her she said trains were so expensive at the moment and had obviously had no intention of telling me she was no longer coming. For the third workshop I sent an email very politely asking all attendees to give me lots of notice if they can't come, as these workshops were just for ten people and it would be nice if another blogger could take their place and have this free, and hopefully helpful, experience. One blogger didn't reply even though I'd asked for place confirmations, she also didn't respond to my polite tweet even though I could see her using her Twitter. I emailed again mid-week asking her to confirm if she could come at the weekend, if not I could find another blogger at this stage. Nothing. Finally, an email on the Friday night before the workshop - "sorry this is uncool, but I have a work thing tomorrow and can't come." I usually just say a polite "thanks for letting me know" to Larry let-downs, but something in me just snapped, I had the "no shows will not be tolerated" level of annoyance expressed in the London Meetup email.
I emailed back saying it wasn't just "uncool" it was unprofessional, inconsiderate, and actually quite selfish to deny another blogger the chance of taking her place. Her huffy response was that I was 'ridiculously rude' and should treat people with more respect. I emailed one last time to point out that she'd ignored two polite emails and a tweet even though she was on Twitter, and really I can only treat people with the respect they deserve. Yes, I felt silly afterwards, why argue with someone with the social skills and professionalism of a gnat, but I really do feel like bloggers need a kick up the arse when it comes to decency and manners around events. Not all bloggers of course, thankfully the vast majority know what RSVP means and how to use an umbrella when it rains on the day of an event.
It's not just me feeling the blogger event strain - this is a great blog post from Annie of Annie Writes Beauty about a certain selfish type of blogger at her Southampton blogger events. I just wish the bloggers who feel no shame in cancelling last minute, especially at very small events (and especially when they know it's one or two bloggers organising it all, and not a huge team on the payroll of a brand) could understand the work that's gone in to that event, and also understand that they are holding a place that someone else could have had and maybe gotten a lot from it.
I asked Lauren who runs London Meetup what she meant by "no shows will not be tolerated" - what horrible punishment did she have in store? Would she name and shame the rudest of bloggers? HOW will she not tolerate it? I needed to know. "Just blacklist them," Lauren replied "What else can you do?" It's true, apart from sending an angry email (an utterly pointless exercise), blacklisting inconsiderate bloggers is the only way to make sure your next event is attended by the 'good' ones. For me, someone who works with brands a lot on blogger outreach and events, I will make sure they hear about the bloggers not worth contacting as much as I pass on the brilliant, lovely bloggers well worth working with. This isn't some kind of threat, it's more of a plea - don't be dicks, bloggers. Thank you.
EDIT - I can only apologise that I haven't been able to reply to comments, that some people haven't been able to leave a comment, and that some comments got deleted. I complained to Typepad, my blog platform, and after there days of looking in to it they said "we're not devoting engineering resources to Typepad connect comment." Wow - great service eh? But I'm genuinely gutted I can't reply to the interesting comments below.