Eating and drinking my way through life and learning all the while

Right of Reply

As some of you may be aware a number of accusations have been made in a public post on the Supper Club Fan Group Ning blog.
Unfortunately, I am unable to respond directly, as my membership of the site has been suspended. With my right of reply revoked, I have decided to respond on my personal blog instead. I have been fully transparent in all of my discussions in this matter and have nothing to hide.
The first point I would like to make is that I am a Junior Account Director, so any suggestion that I am inexperienced in public relations is inaccurate.
The second point I would like to clarify is that I did not find the supper clubs I’m currently working with through the Supper Club Fan Group .
I have been an active member of the food community in a personal capacity for nearly two years now and have built relationships with many supper clubs, through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. I have even been fortunate enough to have become friends with a number of supper club owners. This was long before I became aware of the Supper Club Fan Group which I only found out about when the site’s founder introduced me to it at a Supper club event last November.
Wanting to combine my passions, I had thought carefully about how I could help add value to the supper club movement and support supper club owners at a grassroots level in my professional capacity as a PR. I had explained to the founder of the fans of supper club site when I met her again in January that, I did not need her to act as gatekeeper for or to introduce me to the supper club community. I had already drawn up a shortlist of potential clubs to support through my personal contacts and research, however, that I would like to couple this activity with sponsorship of the Supper Club Fan Group site. Unfortunately costs were higher than initially expected and we were not able reach an agreement.
I also asked her if she would contribute tips from her book to the company supper club microsite (anticipating a licence fee may be payable) and also asked if we could link to the site. Linking to the supper club website was declined, which we respected, and I withdrew my request re the book extract.
And that, as far as I thought, was the end of the negotiations, which was a disappointment as it could have been a very good collaboration.
As I understand the situation, an automated update from one of our supper club partners then appeared on the Supper Club Fan Group and included a reference to my client and appears to have been the catalyst for Sunday’s post. I can only apologise if it did infringe the rules of the site – however, neither I nor my company or client were aware that the update would appear and it was beyond our control.
The post which was subsequently posted on the Supper Club Fan Group blog was a real shock.
The personal accusations that have been levelled at me, my client and company are completely unjustified and have been very distressing, which is why I wanted to explain the history.
I’d also like to take the time to thank my wonderful friends in the food community who have all been very supportive and helped me keep my chin up over what has been an upsetting and demoralising few days.
One thing I have learnt is that a right of reply is extremely important, public disputes are rarely as they seem and while I don’t expect to change this person’s opinion of me, I would ask that people do take the time to read both sides of the story before deciding whether or not to comment, as these comments are incredibly hurtful.
Thank you,
Sarah

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0 Responses

  1. Sarah,
    Regarding comments that have been posted recently online, we are posting this to demonstrate our support for you and your work. We recognise that you are a consummate professional and take great pride in what you do on behalf of the agency and your clients.
    Your passion for the supper club movement, and your involvement in the online food and drink community, of which you have been a prominent member for some time, is respected by many. We sincerely hope that these latest developments do not deter you from pursuing this passion.

  2. Well done you for writing this dignified response which serves as a stark contrast to the tone of the initial allegations. The stipulation in the Supper Club Fan Group’s rules and conditions that ‘abusive language, name-calling, insults, harassment, spamming, flaming, baiting and/or personal attacks will not be tolerated’ was certainly lost on some people. And the fact that your membership was suspended smacks of censorship to me.
    There are always two sides to a story.
    Well done for giving yours.

  3. Hi Sarah,
    Having dealt with you in both your professional and personal capacity for over a year now, I would just like to say that I have always known you to be a decent person and, unlike a couple of PRs I have come across, completely bullsh*t-free.
    So I was surprised and upset to see the awful charges made against you (although obviously not as much as you were).
    I’m very glad you got to tell us your side of the story, but it is sad that you weren’t allowed to respond directly on the original post, since on that post, comments are being made which assume that everything related there is accurate and I’m sure these are just adding to your distress.
    I hope everything works out okay for you.

  4. I agree with what Dan said above. There was a fair bit of abusive language and personal attack about the initial post and the comments left by the author. And as for suspending your account so you can’t respond, that is not what social media is all about despite what the original author may have thought. Authenticity, something she is clearly big on, is about allowing debate, not stifling/censoring it to show only one view.
    I think your response is considered and thoughtful and importantly does not descend into a personal attack. Those of us who have known you (over the last 12 months in my case) know that you have a passion for food and supper clubs that pre-dates the events you describe by some time. And also that you have a genuine desire to help not hinder (or control) them. Good on you.

  5. Bless you Sarah – PRs seem to have joined that group of “it’s ok to assume they’re all douches” consisting bankers, estate agents, politicians etc!
    Well done for your dignified reaction – whatever the rights and wrongs, someone is definitely looking pissy about this and it’s not you. In fact your communication skills on display above are an excellent advert for the quality of your work.
    ps. Your blog is SO much prettier and easy to read than t’other… Yes, that is the type of mature comment you were hoping for?!

    1. Thanks everyone for your support at what you can imagine has been a very distressing time. I have received so many positive messages both publicly and privately, which has finally helped me find my smile again.
      Looking forward to putting all this behind me now and continuing to be an active part of the London food and drink scene.
      Big thanks all
      Sarah x

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