Daily Archives: February 1, 2012

Banned from the cafe that does not exist yet

imageSometimes the comments on a blog are better than the blog itself.  This is a fantastic example of small business PR gone horribly wrong.

Brian Ward received some PR asking him to write about a new cafe opening in the area.  They offered him a free coffee card.

Brian declined the coffee card and blogged about the opening

The cafe was slow in opening so Brian blogged about it.  The owners of Stencil cafe started a diatribe in the comments section of the blog.

Brian re-iterated that he doesn’t accept freebies – not even free coffee.

Now he has been banned from visiting the cafe – when it opens.  Here’s the email:

Hi there,

The team here at Stencil have recently had a discussion about your article and poor behaviour regarding it. As a result of this we have decided to place a 6 month ban on you coming into the cafe when it opens up the road from the original planned location in just under a month’s time . However, you can work to over turn this ban with positive press on your blog. But as it stands it will be 6 months of not being allowed into the cafe or getting someone else to come in on your behalf so you can blog about it. Once the ban is up you are welcome to come in and PAY for your coffee or check out some of the fantastic artwork.

I trust this clears things up and I will notify you when the ban is up.

Kind regards
Phil and Christine
Stencil Cafe Team

The Stencil cafe team are still trolling in the comments to this blog post – and there are a fair few comments.  They don’t seem to realise that he doesn’t accept free coffees.  He doesn’t accept freebies…

He makes it really clear.  He doesn’t accept freebies

Are the owners of the Stencil cafe naive or clever?  All this trolling back and forth is a lot of free publicity for them.  All PR is good PR right?  the brand is getting mentions.  Awareness is growing pre-launch.  After all, the big brands do this to get attention.  It certainly seems to work here.

Or perhaps they are naive – expecting that bloggers will accept free stuff in exchange for a mention on their blog.  It happens to all of us.  Some of us decide to accept the offer, others don’t. It’s a personal choice.  Perhaps you have limits.  A cup of free coffee might be ok, but a free meal would be over the top.

But I think that someone needs to go back to PR school and learn some fundamentals of PR.  Don’t upset the customer.

Especially before you open your doors for business…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Flickr

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