This week I felt vindicated as a blogger. Really, really vindicated for burning my bridge with VW back in May.
As bloggers, it can be intimidating to stand up to brands, especially ones that claim to be the #1 automaker. I felt entirely disrespected by VW as I’ll explain below, but as it turns out, I don’t think the company respects anyone. In case you haven’t heard, VW has recently been exposed as deliberately lying about emission standards on their vehicles. Despite claiming low emissions, vehicles were found to be polluting up to 30 times over the allowable limits. The scandal is expected to affect 11 million vehicles worldwide. The CEO has resigned as a result.
Back in March, I attended a drive event for Volkswagen new SportWagen. Though I’ve been to a wide variety of events as a blogger, this was my first drive event. Not knowing if I’d like it, or even more importantly, that my readers would like hearing about it, I communicated with their PR people that I didn’t usually cover events and couldn’t commit to writing a blog post about it. True to my word to every PR company, I only write about things I think my readers will like and I couldn’t guarantee that it would be a good fit.
One off events can be fun for sure, but I’d much rather partner longterm with a company than just write about one product whether it’s a lipstick or a car. As a result, I say no more frequently than I say yes. Road Darling is my passion project, not my job. It’s been that way for more than half a decade. As a result, I don’t feel obligated to anyone.
Flash forward to May, a few months after the drive event. I reached out to my contacts at VW to inquire about working with them on my road trip project. The response I got left me a bit confused and hurt. I was told more or less that they didn’t want to partner with me because I didn’t cover the event.
Obviously when brands give you free things or experiences, they expect coverage. This is why I try to be as transparent as possible in my commitment to covering a brand. Their response felt like a thinly veiled attempt at trying to editorially control blogger content. I’m transparent as a blogger and rarely commit to covering things until I try them firsthand.
So I burned the bridge. I told them to take me off their list, that I didn’t think they were a brand worth working with if they didn’t respect my transparency and held lack of coverage over my head.
And I’m so glad I did.