Closing the gap between F & B PRs and bloggers

I’ve been fortunate to have been invited by different restaurants who wanted bloggers to sample their dishes. As a blogger, I will admit that receiving these invites is really exciting – I won’t lie. And I do go to a few food tasting and opening events. I say “few” because I am not a food blogger but do want to highlight hip, trendy restaurants worth visiting from time to time.

(While I am thankful for every invite I receive, I am quite picky these days – as you know, the invites to eat do not come with a gym membership…)

A few days ago, my blogger friends and I were invited to an opening of one of the newest restaurants in town. The event was posh to say the least, complete with red carpet and display of interesting creatures straight out from a children’s fantasy book. It was exciting and I can’t wait how the night would unfold.

Unfortunately, our experience, in general, was a big let down.

In fairness, the food was great and I could’ve used a lot of adjectives to plump up a blog post about it however, the treatment and service we received was very disappointing enough to merit this long-ish, impromptu blog post.

I was busy that night, not to savor the food and exchange opinions with the bloggers in my table but busy to call the attention of the servers and ask if they can at all see us and why our table was without food that was served in other tables.

The servers and the waiters seem to act like there’s an invisiblity cloak hanging over our heads and just whizzed by us until we were too hungry to ignore them. I had to go around and find the PR who invited me (us).

The PR said when I finally caught her and introduced myself, “Oh, you’re the blogger I invited, please get busy with social media, write good things about tonight’s event!”

I replied, “Oh yes, I would gladly do that IF ONLY I had something to talk about…we are not served any food as we speak. We don’t have anything to share on social media.”

We were done talking about the ambiance, the music and the restaurant decors…

She apologized but said “you should have told me earlier!” (sounds like a lame defensive remark, really), pointing the fault to me/us why we didn’t complain earlier. 

It’s unfortunate when PR and blogger relationships turn sour (especially on first meeting!) so I have compiled a list of things that I wish PR people, especially those handling F & B accounts would bear in mind for a more successful relationship with bloggers:

1. Please don’t assume that bloggers only go to the event for free food.

…that you don’t care to check whether they came or not and meet them in person.

While there may be those kind of bloggers, some go to these food tasting events to genuinely check out the venue, the service and the menu. And want to meet the PR who invited them. It’s always great to put a face behind the email address.

2. Do not discriminate bloggers against print media people.

If you’ll invite bloggers and people from traditional print media, please don’t make the distinction and discrimination too obvious like placing bloggers at the back of the room and served LAST, if at all. If you really need to put more importance to print media people, then it’s best idea to not invite bloggers (if they will just end up looking like wallpapers).

We do not expect to be treated VIP, but only being served the main dish when all others are starting to finish their dessert is really off. No, I’d be honest – it’s upsetting.

3. Bloggers are not venue fillers!

There had been instances where bloggers were invited for an opening of a restaurant and they couldn’t even find where the PR is. There’s no one to greet them. The PR who invited is lost in the crowd, never attempting to make contact with the invited bloggers until the event ends…makes bloggers want to ask, “what are we here for?”

4. Do not send last minute invites.

Last minute invites mean something, and it’s not really pleasant or welcoming. Do not send invites to an opening event 2 days or one day or worse, a few hours before the event itself. Please see #3.

5. Do not pressure the blogger to write about the opening event of your restaurant.

I understand why you had to invite bloggers – to create a buzz around the establishment, the brand and maybe the opening event. Bloggers will happily post on social media real time (mostly Instagram and Twitter), sometimes only start touching the food that has already gone cold because they had to work first.

But a blog post?

…unless the certain blogger really wants to write about it but I believe that an opening ceremony is not a good and justifiable event anyway to cover to get a general view of the restaurant’s food quality and service. Typically a fair review is where  you are experiencing what the “real customers or clients” are getting when they visit. If you want the blogger to publish a review of the restaurant, invite him/her for a separate sit down where he/she can sample what you have to offer so he/she will be able to share his/her opinion about it.

In the end, we were served a basket of bread, water, some soft drinks for those who asked, a small plate of appetizers and the main dish that came only after almost everyone in the room (especially the print media people in the other side of the room) finished with theirs. And only after constant asking and finally, complaint.

PR stands for public relations. Unfortunately with most PR people I’ve met, the latter word seems to be the hardest one to perfect.

Meet up with Michael Hodson, travel blogger


Traveling. Writing. Writing while traveling. Traveling to write something.

I’d really love to do that. I mean, that would be the best way to live my life, for me. I am passionate to do both until the day I die, so to speak. So naturally, I stalk travel blogs and do a lot of arm chair travel as I am strapped to my 8-6 job day in and day out, 5 days a week. My first real life meeting with a travel blogger was back in 2010 when Kristin Luna of and she was amazing. I learned a lot from her and amazed at her stories. I also found out how becoming a travel blogger is not easy as it seems from the outside. It is hard work.

A few days ago, I had the chance to meet another travel blogger in person, Michael Hodson of Go, See, Write. I and other members of the media as well as few other bloggers met with Michael at Shayan Persian Restaurant, Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana.

Michael started his “blog”, or online journal, largely focused on sharing the story of his travels when he left his job as an attorney in the US in 2008 to circumnavigate the world without getting on an airplane. 

Did that get your attention? I bet he’s been asked “how?” a thousand times over.

Michael Hodson Go See Write

It was interesting to hear stories straight from the horse’s mouth, per se, than just reading about their experiences. And it doesn’t hurt that we were listening to Michael in a cozy Persian restaurant serving authentic Iranian dishes. If you haven’t been to Shayan and trying to fix that Persian food craving, this is a place to visit (it’s worth the traffic to Deira if you’re traveling from the Marina – though that can be solved by taking the Metro!).

Listening to Michael talk about his adventures, I still hope to travel as extensively as I can, taking the kids for sure. There are many travel bloggers/writers, most of them going to places solo. I would want to take the challenge of traveling with kids in tow (yep, I am crazy) to show people that, that too, can be possible. Go to far places, take photos, write, enjoy. Repeat.

new leaf

Turning on a new leaf

new leaf

Hi, there. Please welcome back my blog from the grave – it’s been down for more than 24 hours but with a great reason! If you’re reading this from a mobile or an RSS feed reader, please click to see the new blog design.

(I’ll write about the design process and the designer in my next post. Also about that cutesy hand drawn illustration over at the top right, see, see.)


I chose a shade of blue/green (teal?) and orange as the main colors. The blue represents the color of the sea (in the beaches here in Dubai) and the orange is the color of the desert sand. The brownish color in the previous theme is gone, replaced with two colors that pop.  I hope you like it as I do.

There are still few fine tuning that needs to be done but I have to get this back up before you all go away thinking the blog had been swallowed by the internet black hole.

I will still be tweaking some elements here and there and if you find a hiccup, please let me know!

Top photo credit

Someone stole my blog post, what now?

One fine day, I got this email.

Pingbacks are notifications you get from WordPress (and other similar blogging platforms) when someone links to a post on your blog. I get an email for every pingback and I usually ignore it. But this time, this Pingback is different.

It reeked nasty.

When I clicked on the URL to see how the outside site has linked to one of my recently published article, Introducing – The Carnival of Weekend Wanderings, this appeared:

I instantly recognize the image. This is the same one I’ve used in my blog post.

Scrolling down, I knew what happened: my content was stolen. Or rather scraped, posted on this blog to claim as their own. But wait – see the words…the have been substituted to be a little different than the original post, never mind the ridiculous grammar!

Further proof that this post is really mine? THIS.

The content thief did not even bother to take out my email address and only replaced “at” with “during” which made it look stupid.

Now, what would you do if someone steals your blog content and post it as their own? Do you ignore it and just enjoy the back links or do something about it?

I CAN’T IGNORE IT. Here’s what I did, aiming to let them take down that stolen content:

1. I confronted the website owner by leaving a comment on the website, putting the link to the original post and politely asking to take down the stolen content.

When I hit the “Submit” button in the comments and realized that my comment would never appear as went for moderation, I know I have to find another way to contact them – but the website had no “About” section nor any information of the content thief.

2. I contacted the host of the content thief website by using the IP address in the Pingback. You can track host information via

I found out that the content thief used Dream Host and there’s an email address to handle abuse so I wrote to them informing that one of the websites they’re hosting violated copyright infringement law.

Then I waited. And tweeted a lot about it while waiting!

In less than 24 hours, Dream Host replied to me:

The domain of concern has been taken offline until our customer can remove the allegedly infringing content per your DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notification.

I checked and yes, the website was removed from the face of the internet last week. They are back now though but have deleted two of my posts they scraped off from my blog. As for their other posts? There were a lot of stolen content before which appeared to have been deleted already as well. I am not sure that what’s left are not stolen content but whatever, as long as they’re removed mine.

Has someone stolen your content? What did you do?

Great read regarding this topic
What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content

The Definitive Guide to Blog Content Scraping & How to Stop It!

apparently everyone learned their lesson

Except me.

My boss summoned me into his dungeoncalled me again to tell me that my internet usage for December and January are a little bit over 1GB respectively and it is only my name that popped out in the list. Everyone who were reprimanded had either stopped using the internet (seriously, HOW can anyone not use the net for one whole day is beyond me!). Did I download or upload anything non-work related, he asks. Download, no but upload, yes, little bits of things called blog posts every day and browsing some sites, too. The boss said that it was ok to browse but define browse. What if the site I visit has a lot of images on it? Is it considered a download? He said that browsing was not counted for. He’s kidding, right? I could not have written a whole 1GB worth of posts the past month!

The list of employees misusing the net has come and my name is on the list (who knew these dorks the IT people are issuing monthly reports now!), or at least my IP address is there.Unless someone is accessing my net from remote, my boss says I should stop or be penalized again. They already got $300 last month!.

So, there. I will not be able to upload blog posts from the office from now on. Interrupting bloggy life, how rude!!

three days to go and it’s 2008

Don’t you feel that year 2007 passed by with a speed of a strong hurricane? Well, at least, that is how I feel about it. It seems like we just landed here in Dubai and now, in less than 2 weeks we’ll be one year here.

I learned so many things and I know I still have tons left to learn everyday. I look forward to another year, another summer (ick!) here in Dubai. At least though, next summer, we will be out of the country for a full month so that’s 30 days less of extreme heat. Travelling to Japan and to the Philippines for my brother’s wedding is what I most look forward to next year.

Also, I have to add that when I started blogging when we relocated here, I did not expect people to find me, read on beyond my first post and comment! At first, it felt like I was talking to myself but right now, I have at least 3,000 visitors per month since September (that is so few for established bloggers but my blog is less than  a year old so I think that’s overwhelming — but you know me, I sometimes exaggerate my feelings!) and more than 5,000 comments to boot! Who knew!

So….Everyone will be busy with the New Year festivities, I’m making this post short and wish you a happy weekend. To my friends in Japan, I envy your long vacation. I am only home on January 1st and the rest of the days, I am working while you enjoy lazying from today until the 6th of January!  You know my next line: Life is sometimes unfair.

Have a safe and joyous New Year everyone!