MedWish International experienced a bit of backlash this week when they invited local food bloggers to review their big fundraising party but to do it while “refraining from eating and drinking.” Reviewing food without eating it would be the trickiest of tasks for the most seasoned of critics, but the tackiness of the move is what rattled bloggers most.
Last month, the organization that collects medical supplies to deliver to the poorest spots overseas invited several bloggers to its annual Band Aid Bash. The event is tomorrow and will feature cuisine from all three of Chris Hodgson’s food trucks— Dim and Den Sum, Hodge Podge, and Nosh Box.
“The Band Aid Bash would be a great event for you to come eat some great food while networking and
building new friendships,” the bloggers were told. They were given instructions on how to RSVP for media tickets.
To bloggers responding to the RSVP, MedWish politely suggested that perhaps they could promote the event on their sites—you know, to help sell more of the $150 tickets. Some did. “I had a bad feeling about accepting the invitation in the first place because I felt like I was compromising the purpose of my blog. My blog isn’t about advertising,” says Jill Sommer, creator of Cleveland Rocks Cleveland Eats. She says she never promoted anything before but made an exception because she thinks MedWish is such a worthy cause.
The Band Aid Bash sold out—it’s even oversold, maybe thanks in part to the bloggers who promoted it. And the thanks the bloggers got from MedWish this week was a note saying that because ticket sales were so successful, MedWish would not be able to afford to give the bloggers media tickets—they could come to the party, but not eat or drink.
“We messed up,” says MedWish Executive Director Josh Kravitz. “The media passes were offered prematurely and the revocation of them was also done in error.”
To Mr. Kravitz’ credit, at least he didn’t try to blame the gaffe on an intern. Also to his credit, all Cleveland media, including the bloggers, received a press release from MedWish today inviting them again to RSVP for media passes, and it’s assumed the passes will come with permission to eat and drink.