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 www.paulvstenson.com.” 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.
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.