A PR firm approached the bakery for services, seeking to leverage its positive reputation for free catering.
Promotion and positive word of mouth are key for small businesses in order to expand their operations. Throughout the last decade, there have been a lot of changes that have happened in terms of marketing. In the past, marketing garnered promotions with the help of advertisements and reviews from genuine sources. However, with influencer culture, the whole game has shifted significantly with a lot of emphasis on social media. It has positive and negative implications as well. There is direct contact that can be established by small businesses with the influencers, causing a significant cost decrease in the whole process, but at the same time, there is also no regulation in the demands put forward.
Influencers can do promotions for some freebies or ask for a colossal amount of items that can become burdensome for any establishment. Unfortunately, Three Little Birds Bakery found itself in the latter situation where they were asked to cater for an entire party without any penny and just for the sake of promotions. Even while being pushed into such an inconsiderate request, they chose to respond in a befitting manner to get the message across and posted screenshots of the conversation on Facebook.
Three Little Birds Bakery is not a new player in this game and has been around for seven-and-a-half years. Its glowing reviews led to a PR firm reaching out to them for their services. Rebecca Severs, having been in this business for a long time, is not new to requests for collaborations from influencers and has also participated in them for promotions. However, this request was outrageous from every side, asking for a theme-based large cake, a smaller cake and 100 cupcakes.
The request was to supply for an entire party without any kind of payment. Moreover, the PR firm knew that the bakery was a small business and not a franchise, which made the whole thing even less empathetic.
Severs decided to reply in a sarcastic tone so that the message comes across and published the entire exchange on Facebook. She replied by saying, “I’m so sorry to hear that your client has fallen on such hard times they can’t afford to pay small businesses for their products. Unfortunately, as my mortgage provider doesn’t take payment ‘in the form of promotion on their socials’, and my staff can’t feed their kids with exposure on Instagram, I’ll have to decline your very generous offer.” Through this response, she wanted the influencer to realize that with this request, they are disregarding the efforts put in by her and her employees.
The post went viral with people shocked at the request and appreciating the reply. The PR Firm had to intervene by establishing communication with Severs, which she revealed in another post. People were supportive of Severs for directly addressing the self-centered demands of the influencer. Danielle Leigh Collins loved the sarcasm used by Severs in the reply and wrote, "Got yourself a new follower here, purely because this response is exactly the level of business-like sarcasm I aspire to." Kelly Clapperton expressed her frustration at the callous attitude showcased by the influencers, "We have this a lot. Influencers are VERY frustrating and most expect everything for free. It happens more often than people know. Like you say exposure doesn’t pay the mortgage!"