MOMI LEARNS| Lesson from the Ellen Darby incident

Mar 7, 2018 | Live, Only Berlin

MOMI LEARNS| Lesson from the Ellen Darby incident

MOMI LEARNS| Lesson from the Ellen Darby incident

About a month ago, a blogger by the name of Elle Darby was publicly shamed on social media. Darby pitched a  letter to a popular hotel company for a free stay in exchange for social media promotion.  The hotel owner went public to communicate his disapproval.  This caused quite a drama; some fans defended Darby while others made fun of her pitch.

As a blogger, I’ve learned quite a number of lessons from the incident.

Though there is nothing wrong with the proposal, perhaps it was the way Darby wrote her letter.

“I would love to feature you in my Youtube videos/dedicated Instagram stories/posts to bring traffic to your hotel and recommend others to book in return for free accommodation.”

As I reread Darby’s letter, I could sense she is proud of her capacity to bring in traffic to the hotel as she promotes it on her social media channels.  But that promise must be the same reason that made the owner question the blogger’s credibility.  For one, the claim “to bring in traffic to the hotel” is quite insulting.  There may be other more pleasing words to use to communicate this promise.

Second, the correspondence must have been more pleasing if Darby included in the salutation the name of the hotel owner. 

Clearly, Darby failed to include the name of the hotelier.  She just started her letter with “Hi there,”  which I find too casual to establish respect.

Third, in her pitch, Darby was quite proud of her “over 87,000 Youtube subscribers and 76,000 Instagram followers.”  Though there is nothing wrong highlighting one’s strength, particularly the number of followers, still Darby concentrated only on herself.

She failed again, to be sensitive and perhaps research more about the hotel and its owner.

In his response to Darby’s letter, hotel owner Paul Stenson mentioned that they have 186k followers on their two Facebook pages, an estimated 80k on Snapchat, 32k on Instagram and 12k on Twitter.  Stenson likewise included he “blog a bit at”   Further, Stenson stressed that despite the given statistics, “that does not make him any better than anyone else or afford him the right not to pay for something everyone else has to pay for.”

The 22-year-old British Youtube vlogger also mentioned she “worked with Universal Orlando in Florida and it’s been amazing for them.”  

She failed to be specific on the “amazing” turnouts of the collaboration to somehow create an impression to Stenson. 

Lastly, Darby mentioned that as she “was searching for places to stay, I came across your stunning hotel and would love to feature in my Youtube videos/dedicated Instagram stories/posts.”

I believe this is the opportunity for Darby to showcase she did a lot of research about the hotel.  She may highlight the place’s great features and services rather  than saying “I came across your stunning hotel.”  Her letter only implies that she wasn’t aware of the hotel and just came across it as she did her “some searching for places to stay.

She clearly showed that she didn’t know anything about the hotel at all than being stunning. 

MOMI LEARNS| Lesson from the Ellen Darby incident

MOMI LEARNS| Lesson from the Ellen Darby incident (screenshot from the I was exposed (SO embarrassing) Youtube of Ellen Darby)

Lesson from the Ellen Darby incident

I just feel sorry for Darby.  The incident created quite a stir, with some looking lowly at the young vlogger while others hating the hotel owner for going public.  But the incident made me realize that in pitching for a collaboration, I learned to highlight what we could do for the brand and not the other way around.  Secondly, it wouldn’t hurt if we do a little research as we are addressing our proposal to business owners.  I believe they deserve to be addressed by their name and not by a simple “hi there.”

And to gain respect, perhaps we could attach a media card so the other party would know our value as well.  The media card will speak highly of us.   Lastly, I may take the advice of Stenson.  “To pay your way just like everyone else, and if the hotel believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade.”   That, I agree, would give any social media influencers more self-respect on their part.


  1. Kareen Liez Datoy

    I have read this story and I totally agree with you in all aspects. We have to remain humble and respectful especially in reaching out to companies. There were also people saying that it was not necessary to publicly shame Ellen. However, it served a lesson to many bloggers and vloggers.

  2. Nathalie

    Whoa! I only knew about this when I read your post. That was a big ouch for Elle Darby. *cringes* While I agree with you that she could have presented her offer better, the hotel owner took it to another level with that response. He could’ve turned her offer down in a less demeaning way too.

    I guess that’s one problem with social media right now, it’s so easy to destroy someone (even yourself in the process) with just a few choice words–words which would be there in cyberspace for posterity and shall be retrievable forever and ever amen. So we really gotta write with utmost care, because we never know when what we believe to be a common innocent thing for us pisses the hell off someone else.

  3. Louisa Mercado

    I can understand both sides of this story. I think you have a few good points and that the owner may have been put off by her casualness. I personally don’t see anything wrong making pitches s I’ve done so before though not for a free stay at a hotel. It really is about how it will beneficial for both parties.

  4. Gene Rose

    This was all over the place and impossible not to chip in our two cents as ”digital workers.” There were clear faults on each side but the most important one is probably the way she pitched. ”Hi there,” really sounds tacky as a greeting for a pitch letter. However, the way it was handled by the owner was a little tasteless too.
    I really think it was a mismatch and would not come to a collaboration.


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Motherhood, as I live it, is a gift not everyone can appreciate until she learns to truly live it. More musings and realizations, fun discoveries, and mommy tips at Momi Berlin's blog.

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