Entries tagged with “Sam Wilson”.


Pick_n_Pay-logo-19A17F34E4-seeklogo.com_The Sweet Service Award goes to Pick ‘n Pay, for their efficient Twitter service.  As the telephone number of the Camps Bay store had changed and is not provided by the Telkom voice which informs that the old number is no longer valid, I Tweeted the retailer, and received the new number within ten minutes!  The Camps Bay store has a new manager Grant Ross, and the store’s service has improved greatly since he took over, it previously having been one of the worst managed stores in the group.  Earlier this week I bought an sms bundle for a member of staff, but had been given a MTN data voucher, which my colleague put into the phone, not realising the error made by the Pick ‘n Pay till operator. Grant kindly replaced the data bundle with an sms bundle voucher. (more…)

Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism is much smarter than Cape Town Tourism, in that it understands that its members suffer greatly due to Seasonality in winter, and has therefore encouraged events to be held in the low season, a monthly event being organised to attract visitors to the wine valley.

In seven years the Franschhoek Literary Festival has become the second most popular event hosted in Franschhoek, with an estimated 11000 tickets having been sold.  Only the Bastille Festival attracts more visitors. The Franschhoek Literary Festival attracts mainly women, many from Johannesburg and Durban, reasonably well-off, and somewhat older. Because the Franschhoek Wine Valley has no hand in organising the event, we were surprised how many first-time visitors the village received this past weekend, and how few of them knew anything about the wine estates and wine farms in Franschhoek, and therefore how few visited them by car.  Particularly surprising was that the tourism bureau’s marketing office did not Tweet for most of the weekend, either to inform the thousands of visitors in the village about things to do, and where to eat and taste wine, or about fringe events like classic music concerts and art exhibitions.  The organisers see the Literary Festival purely as a book and resultant charity event, and have no tourism interest to allow the Festival to be of benefit to all Franschhoek businesses.  The newish Franschhoek Wine Tram and Bus would have been a great tourist service to delegates, driving them to their session venues, and so create awareness for this unique tourism product. (more…)

Twitter had a poor reception literally and figuratively at the Franschhoek Literary Festival on Friday, when its session ‘Trial by Twitter’ was so poorly booked that hordes of learners were bused in to save the organisers from embarrassment. This was particularly visible as the learners were late in arriving, making the start of the session late too!  Only 16% of the attendees, including learners, admitted to being Tweeters, and after an hour, almost none of the non-Tweeters were persuaded to convert to Twitterism!

The panel of four was led by chairman and Tweeter author Fiona Snyckers (second right), with Tweeters Sam Wilson (Social Media Strategist for Woolworths – right) and Julian Rademeyer (author of ‘Killing for Profit’, shortlisted for the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, and journalist – second left), as well as non-Tweeter and Business Report journalist Ann Crotty (left). Heavily dominated by Wilson, to the irritation of the audience, as she interrupted her fellow panelists continuously, the one hour session came across as a debating society type discussion pro and contra Twitter between Wilson and Crotty, with Rademeyer and Snyckers withdrawing from most of the discussion. Ironically Vodacom was overloaded at the start of the session, so that there was no 3G reception for the Tweeters present to Tweet the proceedings!

By far the most Twitter literate, Wilson sang the medium’s praises for it being her most important social media platform, her dominant source of breaking news (no longer needing TV or newspapers), and an important connection with friends and trusted knowledgeable persons. She does not follow Tweeters who annoy her (this was undefined), and praised Twitter as a ‘fantastic curative tool’. She explained that it is important to her to be one persona, business and personal, and that she should be able to express herself in both capacities, calling this her feminist right. She also multitasks, Tweeting while she was speaking on the panel, and reading what had been Tweeted during the panel discussion! Shortly after joining the company, she was addressed by Woolworths about her Tweets, she admitted, but told them that they should have researched her timeline before appointing her!  Asked whether she had changed her Tweeting habits when she joined the corporate, she was hesitant in admitting this, saying that she had made some life changes too at the time she moved to the company just over a year ago. Being a follower of Wilson’s Tweets, we can observe that Wilson certainly is less sharing about her drinking, and has vastly reduced her use of the f-word.  She did however Tweet from Franschhoek Literary Festival Director Jenny Hobbs’ home after the session: ‘You think you’re popping in to #flf13 for one event… and then you find yourself tweeting drunk from the organiser’s spare room’.  A number of Tweets on the drinking theme followed!

Crotty attacked Twitter for bringing even more ‘noise’ into her life, saying it was not for her, as she is used to 100 – 800 word limitations for articles, and could not communicate in 140 characters! Her criticism of ‘noise’ was countered by the fact that one controls who and how many one is following, but that could give one an unbalanced one-sided view of the world. ‘To Google more is to learn less’, she said!  It was evident that Crotty did not have a good grasp of Twitter, and Wilson had a go at every comment she made, challenging her in criticising a medium she had no experience of, having sent only a handful of Tweets and only having six followers.  ‘Living in an era beyond privacy‘ is of grave concern to her, having observed how privacy has reduced greatly over time.  She commented on the book ‘1984’, and said that instead of Big Brother following everybody, we are following Big Brother now, describing her view on Social Media!  It was noted how newspapers are obtaining story information from Twitter, and how articles have been seen just containing a Twitter stream!

An attendee expressed her frustration in following someone for their technical knowledge, who then would Tweet personal photographs of his/her lunch or rugby Tweets, which is not why she follows the person.  Wilson told her that huge numbers of people love seeing photographs of food, and what others are eating, which we can confirm.

While Woolworths was criticised for not acknowledging receipt of Twitter feedback, being slow to respond if at all, and for not Tweeting outside of corporate Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00 days and hours, Wilson shared that they are looking to be more Social Media interactive.  For example, a new online florist service which the retailer offers is used to send flowers to someone who has had a particularly bad day.

Snyckers warned about the legal implications of Tweeting what one wants to, and also of Retweeting defamatory content, as one can be sued for libel in both instances, as a lawyer at Webber Wentzel has recently written.  Rademeyer works in a sensitive field in his journalist job, and for family security reasons he reveals as little private information as possible on Facebook and Twitter, having recently received a death threat!  Alternatively, as a journalist, one can gather a great deal of information about a person one is researching, in their sharing of information about themselves on Twitter and Facebook!  Rademeyer sees Twitter as a ‘self-promotional‘ tool, and as a way in which he can interact with his readers subsequent to the book or article having been published.  He does not like Retweets of compliments.  Wilson said that self-promotion on Twitter is a no-no!  Rademeyer said he has a problem with journalists no longer sticking to their job description, with them expressing their opinions on Twitter.  Whilst news had a 24 hour time frame in the past, it is now ‘nanosecond news’. He did warn that the speed of news breaking means that it is wrong sometimes.

It was surprising to hear and sense so much resistance to Twitter, a number of attendees coming up to Crotty afterwards and telling her privately that they agreed with her views about Twitter.  If one does not get Twitter now, one probably never will!  Whilst the topic of the session was ‘Trial by Twitter’, Twitter certainly was on Trial, and did not perform well!  Wilson may have been to blame.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The organisers of the 7th Franschhoek Literary Festival have attracted negative attention to the 2013 event, taking place this weekend, before it has even started, with the announcement last week that no South African wine writer was good enough to win this year’s South African Wine Writers Award, sponsored by Boekenhoutskloof’s Porcupine Ridge to the value of R25000.

Organised by Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism (FWV), the media release to announce this slap-in-the-face news to all local wine writers did not offer any further explanation. What is not known is which wine writers entered the competition and why the judges John Maytham of radio station Cape Talk and occasional wine writer himself; BBC radio producer and author Duncan Minshull, with no apparent wine writing experience or wine knowledge; and Canadian VINES editor Christopher Waters did not find any of the entries to be of a high enough standard.  The winner and first runner-up were to have been announced at Essence (hardy known for its winelist!) on Friday, as part of the Franschhoek Literary Festival.  In its fifth year of the Award, past winners are Joannne Gibson, Norman McFarlane, and Tim James (who won twice).  The Award recognises technical quality and literary quality, the Franschhoek Wine Valley said in its media release when calling for entries, having to do a reminder call, possibly due to too few or too poor quality entries received.  Oddly the media release regarding the outcome of the judging appears to have been removed from the FWV website, and has not been sent by the PR agency of FWV, Smart Communication and Events, nor by its CEO Jenny Prinsloo, nor by the publicist Claire Richards for the Franschhoek Literary Festival, when requested!  This may be due to the amusement with which wine whiner Neil Pendock has written about this state of affairs (e.g. ‘SA wine writers; From Bad to Bizarre’), the only wine writer who appears to have commented about the poor quality wine writing, as judged by the Franschhoek Literary Festival judging panel!  Pendock cheekily suggested a course in wine writing for the Literary Festival after this fiasco!

The programme for this year’s Literary Festival is disappointing in terms of the quality and stature of the Festival, given the great authors who were invited in the past. Part of the reason could be that other Book and Literary Festivals have sprung up in Cape Town and in Knysna, since the successful Literary Festival was first conceived in Franschhoek.  The organising committee too may be to blame, having become rather arrogant, as we noted last year when we provided feedback to Literary Festival Director Jenny Hobbs, which she responded to with a curt ‘noted‘, unlike previous years, when she welcomed and discussed feedback. Leaking information to her infamous daughter Jane-Anne Hobbs about a Blogging workshop proposal for the Festival we had discussed with Hobbs snr, and mocked on the now defunct Twitter abuse account by Sonia Cabano, further demonstrated the lack of ethics of the Hobbs mother and daughter. No surprise is the inclusion of Hobbs jnr on the Festival programme!   Nepotistically Hobbs snr’s brother David Walters features in the Literary Festival programme too, with a ceramics exhibition ‘Words on Pots’ at his gallery!  Noseweek editor Martin Welz has managed to organise the first ever Franschhoek Literary Festival side event, with a weekend workshop at the Protea Hotel addressed by ‘activist experts’ Richard Young on the arms deal, David Klatzow on criminal prosecutions, Shaheen Moolla on the destruction of our marine life, and Mariette Liefferink on acid mine drainage and radioactive fallout.

Going through the programme to plan my attendance, I found little to excite me on this year’s programme. Twitter has one session dedicated to the fast-growing 140 character communication form, with past speaker and Woolworths’ social media practitioner Sam Wilson (8550 followers), writer/editor Julian Rademeyer (3500 followers), and Business Report columnist Ann Crotty (6 followers and still has an ‘egg’ profile picture, demonstrating what a newbie she is at Twitter!).  Blogging still is not recognised as a writing form by the Literary Festival organisers.  Alexander McCall-Smith probably is the biggest name the Literary Festival offers, but its media sponsor the Sunday Times is offering Capetonians an opportunity to hear him speak in Cape Town later this week! Award-winning writers on the programme are Lauren Beukes, Christopher Hope, and Antjie Krog, with Jane Raphaely, Finula Dowling, Marguerite Poland, Hermann Giliomee, Tony Leon, and Melanie Verwoerd also being well-known.

Every year Christopher Duigan runs the Autumn Music Festival alongside the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and performs ‘Literary Liszt’ on Friday at 19h30, two Schubert-dedicated concerts on Saturday and on Sunday morning, and a free ‘Voices for Africa’ performance on Saturday evening, all performed in the Dutch Reformed church on the main road.

Despite the disappointing programme this year we are grateful to the organisers for putting on the event, and for most Franschhoek accommodation establishments and restaurants already being fully booked weeks ahead of this coming weekend.  Attendees of the Literary Festival do not only enjoy attending the sessions, but also like interacting with each other at guest house breakfasts, and at coffee shops and restaurants in Franschhoek.  Booking in advance is advised, as a number of sessions are sold out already.  Excellent weather is forecast for the weekend.

Franschhoek Literary Festival, 17 – 19 May. www.flf.co.za Twitter: @FranLitFest R60 per one hour session. www.webtickets.co.za

POSTSCRIPT 13/5: We have received the following statement, written by organisers Jenny Hobbs and Sheenagh Tyler and sent by Claire Richards, the Franschhoek Literary Festival PR consultant, to explain the lack of a 2013 South African Wine Writers Award:

‘STATEMENT ON THE WINE WRITER’S PRIZE

The FLF wishes to clarify a few points around the 2013 Wine Writer’s Prize, which was not awarded this year.

· The prize is funded by the Franschhoek Literary Festival and presented by the CEO of Franschhoek Wine Valley.

· The independent judges for 2013 were John Maytham (South Africa), Christopher Hope (a South African who lives in France) and Christopher Waters (Canada).

· 20 submissions were sent to the judges after the deadline was extended.

· In 2012 there were 23 submissions.  Several wine writers declined to submit entries this year, feeling that they had nothing suitable to offer.

· Submissions are sent to the judges anonymously.  Two in Afrikaans were judged as such by John Maytham and Christopher Hope and translated for Christopher Waters.

· No payment is involved.  The judges are thanked for their work with the offer of a case of South African wine.

· Their unanimous decision this year was that not one of the entries lived up to the expected literary and technical qualities of wine writing.

· The FLF is funded by Porcupine Ridge Wines and the Sunday Times, neither of which groups has any say in the judges’ decision, and ticket sales.

· A discussion will be held by the organisers and their advisers after the FLF about the parameters for the prize in future years.

· We warmly thank those wine writers who made positive suggestions in this regard and welcome further suggestions from wine writers.

· Contact details of more South African wine writers to add to our mailing list would also be very welcome.

Jenny Hobbs, FLF Director & Sheenagh Tyler, FLF Manager’

POSTSCRIPT 17/5: There appears to be confusion between the sponsor Porcupine Ridge and the Literary Festival organisers about the hashtag for the Festival.  It has been confirmed that it is #FLF13. Porcupine Ridge appears to have printed all its marketing material for the Festival as #FLF2013!  A much larger problem to befall the Festival is that one of its lead speakers Anthony Horowitz has withdrawn from the Festival in the very last minute!  Franschhoek felt very commercialised today, with a massive bottle of Porcupine Ridge and many Sunday Times banners outside the town hall, the marketing effort of its two sponsors!

POSTSCRIPT 17/5: Sadly the Christopher Duigan ‘Literary Liszt’ concert in the Dutch Reformed Church this evening clashed with a wannabee Cat Stevens singing outside the church at the Night Market!

POSTSCRIPT 17/5: Neil Pendock has written another attack against the Franschhoek Literary Festival and its Director Jenny Hobbs , for insinuating that no local wine writer is good enough to win the prize. He suggests that each of the twenty entrants should sue the Franschhoek Literary Festival for the prize money of R25000, a total of R500000!  What is ironic is that the Sunday Times is the media sponsor of the Franschhoek Literary Festival, yet its irreverent wine whiner Pendock is disparaging the Festival on the blog which belongs to the newspaper!

POSTSCRIPT 18/5: The Franschhoek Literary Festival is in further trouble – a documentary ‘Truth be told’, which Noseweek was to flight in a fringe event to the Festival this weekend, was stopped after the SABC lawyers served papers on its producer Sylvia Vollenhoven, who was to speak about her battle to get the documentary flighted.  Earlier this year Vollenhoven flighted the documentary to a number of Noseweek reader groups in the dungeons of the Baxter!

POSTSCRIPT 19/5: Wine writer and PRO Emile Joubert has written an Open Letter to the organisers of the Wine Writers’ Award!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Woolworths is a leading retailer, that attracts a shopper profile at the LSM 7 – 9 level, and has always stood for quality.  Its CEO Ian Moir has had a bad year to date, having experienced the negative power of Social Media three times this year already, the latest furore no doubt given him the biggest headache. There is no doubt that the furore that its employment advertising has created will become an important case study in Social Media Marketing, and will guide many other corporates in how to deal with negative sentiment expressed in Tweets, on Blogs, and in Facebook comments.

My attention to the issue was first attracted when I read a Tweet by Woolworths’ Digital Editor, highly regarded Sam Wilson, who previously was the editor of Food24, Parent24, and Women24, writing as follows: ‘Guys, I am white. I am currently interviewing white people. This @WOOLWORTHS_SA white racism thing because we comply with BEE? Weird’. It came across as a Tweet expressing her displeasure at her employer’s employment policy, and it only made sense when the story broke about Woolworth’s recruitment advertisements specifying population group requirements for the positions it was advertising. The story was launched last week on Facebook and thereafter on the blog of Justin Harrison, who calls himself an ‘Internet entrepreneurial pioneer’ on his Blog, but who has not been heard of by most local social media folk, maybe because he operates from Durban.  It got so bad on Woolworths’ Facebook page that it removed the comments containing ‘hate speech’. Last Thursday Woolworths posted a note on its Facebook wall, announcing that it was closing it down due to the overwhelmingly negative and unbelievably harsh vitriol posted, a move supported by more than 2500 likes (out of 204000 ‘likers’):

Woolies fans,

Disabling our wall was not a decision we took lightly and not one we’re particularly happy about. But when your page becomes little more than a platform for a well-orchestrated campaign of hate speech, we owe it to our customers not to subject them to such vitriol in our own house.

We have, in a variety of channels, repeatedly refuted the claims being made against us. We have also allowed thousands of comments on our Facebook page, debating the pro’s and con’s of Employment Equity as a national debate… deleting only overt hate speech and comments inciting violence.

However we’ve always put our customers first… and many, many customers have asked us to stop hosting this vitriol. We will re-open our page as soon as we think we can resume reasonable discussion”.

Yesterday the wall was re-opened, and new negative comments have been posted on the Facebook page, where most of the debate appears to be concentrated, with little mention of the issue on Twitter.  Interesting is the vast number of (mainly negative) comments about the Woolworths debacle on a new Facebook page called AAA Anti-Affirmative Action, with close to 3500 likes, reported on by The South African Newspaper published in London, which referred to Woolworths’ and SAA’s employment policy problems. The newspaper also reported in the same article that the ‘National Chairman of the Australian Protectionist Party, Andrew Phillips called upon both the Federal Labor government and the Opposition to unanimously support the introduction of sanctions upon South Africa’.   The sanctions are motivated by Mr Phillips, whom most Australians who posted comments about this story say they have never heard of, on the grounds of the government not having created an ‘equal opportunity’ society in this country.

Earlier this year Woolworths was embroiled in a Social Media war about its vintage soft drink range bearing a close resemblance to Frankie’s, which Woolworths was forced to remove from its shelves after the Advertising Standards Authority found that the retailer’s ‘Good Old Fashioned’ pay-off line was too similar to that of Frankies. Initially Woolworths denied copying any aspects of Frankies’ drinks.  In a third incident, Woolworths was criticised for launching Halaal hot cross buns over Easter, which caused a furore too. The sponsorship by the retailer of MasterChef SA was said to erase the damage which the two earlier Social Media disasters had caused, but Woolworths did not come out of the reality TV series unscathed, its Woolworths Pantry guest food blogger recipes causing controversy initially.

Woolworths reaction to the employment advertising furore, which has led to a call by trade union Solidarity for customers to boycott Woolworths, and which was echoed in the thousands of Facebook comments, smacks of old world corporate disaster management PR spin, rather than being Social Media driven:

*  Posted its employment policy, in accordance with the Employment Equity Act, which applies to all companies with 50+ employees, on its Facebook page on the same day:

Over the past few days, we’ve been accused of racist employment practices. We’d like to state the facts:

Like all South African companies, Woolworths has a role to play in transformation. For this reason, SOME positions (where there is under-representation) are designated for EE groups.
• The designated groups are Blacks, Coloureds, Indians, women and people with disability.
• As per the Emplo
yment Equity Act of 1998, Woolworths is expected, like all SA companies with more than 50 employees, to plan our workforce by race, gender and disability.

• Our workforce is diverse and includes people of all races (Black, White, Coloured, Indian), gender and disability.

We appreciate the value diversity brings to our business and the need to contribute to levelling the playing fields for certain groups of South Africa’s population”.

*   Sent a personalised e-mail entitled ‘The difference between Rumour and Fact’ to its cardholders, with a similar content, and an sms to those customers who are not on e-mail.
*   Placed an advertisement in the Sunday Times, Rapport and City Press on Sunday, with a similar message.
*   Wrote an expanded version of the content as a letter to the ‘Readers’ Forum’ of Business Report, an odd platform to use to address his ‘Dear Woolworths customer‘, when it was possibly the shareholders he was trying to placate, given the knock that the Woolworths share price has taken in the past week (the letter is the same as the one sent to its customers by e-mail)!
*   Received public media support from Labour Minister  Mildred Oliphant for its ‘unwavering effort to genuinely address transformation in the workplace through the implementation of employment equity’.

In our opinion, the response by Woolworths has been very corporate, very reserved, very defensive, and not in keeping with Social Media marketing principles of engagement and two-way communication, a similar reaction it delivered in the Frankies affair.  One wonders how one Facebook post and subsequent blogpost by Harrison could have unleashed such a storm, his message obviously touching a raw South African nerve amongst the shoppers that make up the bulk of Woolworths’ target market.   Surprising was the blogpost written on the 2oceansvibe blog, which lambasted Harrison for using the Woolworths issue as a means to gain more Followers on Twitter and other Social Media platforms, and writing in detail how Harrison had allegedly bought Followers some years ago. This led to a strong outburst of comments against 2oceansvibe, accusing it of being linked to Woolworths and/or Woolworths’ digital media agency Quirk, defending the Woolworths brand (denied by owner Seth Rotherham), and criticising 2Oceansvibe for pointing a finger at a Social Media player when it itself had been criticised for selling advertising for its radio station on the basis of highly inflated listenership fingers, forcing Rotherham to deny the allegations contained in the close to 200 comments received to the blogpost!

The Woolworths’ website does not explain its BEE employment policy, nor does it contain the public statements made in the media by its CEO in its Careers section or elsewhere on the website.  It clearly has been edited, as its introduction page invites one to click onto a link to see the career opportunities, but when does so, no jobs are listed. Now one is invited to call the retailer to check out its employment opportunities!   Woolworths should use its website proactively to communicate with its staff, potential staff, and customers!

Seemingly sensible advice to Woolworths comes from Harrison: ‘Woolworths is clearly in a spin over how to deal with this issue and they would do well to learn from SAA’s mistake. Issue a public apology and revert back to the hiring policies to be fully inclusive and based purely on experience and ability‘.

For Woolworths specifically, a platform such as Twitter should be used for engagement.  The retailer has become very poor at acknowledging any feedback about in-store problems, expressed by its Tweeting customers.  There is no apology if there is communication, and there is no follow up to communicate with the customer telephonically after the Tweet, as Pick ‘n Pay has become reasonably good at.  A company that once had the Social Media lead has become reactive and defensive, and has lost its standing due to the Social Media wars, rather than walking tall and engaging with its customers in a credible and warm manner. This is a surprise, as its Head of Online Nikki Cockcroft has an impressive background, including CEO of Primedia Online, 365 Digital, and Prezence Digital before she started at Woolworths just over a year ago, and given Sam Wilson’s experience in engaging with a similar target audience at Media24 previously.

Woolworths needs to go back to basics to better understand how to maintain customer relationships via Social Media.  Successfully building up a large army of Twitter Followers and Facebook Likers is no guarantee that the same seemingly loyal customer audience will not turn against the retailer if it is not in touch enough with its customers, and offends them, as the past ten days has shown!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The fifth Franschhoek Literary Festival takes place from 13 – 15 May, and top writers have been invited to address book lovers.   The Festival has established itself as a must-attend event, and the Franschhoek accommodation establishments and restaurants tend to be fully booked over this weekend.

The Franschhoek Literary Festival is organised by Jenny Hobbs and Sheenagh Taylor, Hobbs herself being an author who has just launched another book entitled ‘Kitchen Boy’.  Ticket prices have been held at R60, and the proceeds go to the Franschhoek Literary Festival Library Fund.  A variety of 70 sessions on books, writing, and even the new social media is offered. 

Kicking off on Friday morning 13 May, the day’s multi-theme highlights include a session on Tweeting, chaired by Sam Wilson, Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Lifestyle at 24.com, discussing cellphone fiction; a session on editing and being edited; on drug taking with Melinda Ferguson, who wrote ‘Smacked, Hooked’ about her drug addiction; on the value of literary prizes, discussed by past winners Justin Cartwright, Henrietta Rose-Innes and Imraan Coovadia; ‘A jug of wine, a loaf of bread’ is the theme of a session chaired by Hilary Biller, Sunday Times Food Editor with panelists Michael Olivier (editor of Crush!),  JP Rossouw (‘Rossouw’s Restaurants’ Restaurant Reviewer), and Anna Trapido (an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge); on crime writing with a panel which includes Mike Nichol and Sarah Lotz; on moving from journalism into book writing, including speakers Jenny Hobbs, Jacques Pauw, and Hamilton Wende; on the behind-the-scenes stories about the country’s first democratic election in 1994, chaired by Cape Talk presenter John Maytham; and on following up a successful novel.

On Saturday 14 May the sessions include “How to fix our schools”; on writing a book, each of the three panelists being a medical doctor; on writing about history; on writing for teenagers; on how it was and what could have been in Zimbabwe; writing about Nelson Mandela, with Mandela writers Anna Trapido, Mike Nicol and Tim Couzens in discussion with Max du Preez; Shaun Johnson, a past Festival speaker, past head of Independent Newspapers, CEO of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, and who will be staying at Whale Cottage Franschhoek, will talk about “Other People’s Money”; on press freedom; on writing love stories; a discussion with Barbara Trapido, author of ‘Sex & Stravinsky’; and on the increasing popularity of short stories.

On Sunday 15 May the day kicks off with a discussion on “Mzansi” and what it means; on life challenges; on ‘Skop, Skiet en Donder’, on writing about Cape Town, with panelists Rayda Jacobs, Henrietta Rose-Innes and Gus Ferguson; on being a full-time writer; on writing from exile; on the South African wine industry, with the co-author Wilmot James discussing the new book ‘Grape – Vineyard Stories’; and about travel writing, with Justin Cartwright, Hamilton Wende and Douglas Rogers.

Alongside the debates and discussions about all things literary, a number of other related events have been organised: a Sunday Times Storybook Campaign fundraising dinner at Reuben’s, to be addressed by Barry Ronge, Jonathan Jansen and Jonny Steinberg, on Friday 13 May, and another on 14 May, to be addressed by Barbara Trapido, Zakes Mda and Peter Godwin; a performance of Montiverdi’s Vespro da concerto on Saturday 14 May; a poetry reading by Kobus Moolman and piano performance by Christopher Duigan on 14 May; followed by a dinner concert, organised by Christopher Duigan, at Café Bon Bon; a Liszt vs Liszt performance by Christopher Duigan on Sunday 15 May, as well as a Sunday afternoon concert at Café Bon Bon, also with Christopher Duigan,

Franschhoek Literary Festival: www.flf.co.za  Tickets can be bought from www.webtickets.co.za.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The SA Blog Awards is a good idea, and can be a good measurement of success and performance in a field that bloggers were never trained for, by raising the standard of blogging in Southern Africa.   It is a shame that the 2010 SA Blog Awards were so poorly organised, and that it has been dogged by controversy.  At the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting earlier this week, long-standing blogger Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog said that the controversy surrounding the SA Blog Awards had devalued blogging, instead of enhancing it!

Ever since the SA Blog Awards were announced on Twitter about 2 months ago, they have been criticised for their change in procedure compared to previous years.  When the shortlist of 10 finalists for each of the 24 blog categories was announced on 1 September, there was even more criticism and very bitchy commenting by those that did not make the top 10 list in their category, and by those who disparaged others by questioning why some bloggers had made the Top 10 list in specific categories.  When the top two winners per category were announced, and most Top 10 short-listed bloggers were excluded from the Awards Dinner at the One&Only Cape Town last night, the knives really came out, and the organisation of the SA Blog Awards was severely criticised.

Guest of Honour Western Cape Premier Helen Zille spoke at the Awards evening about how “bloggers are the new voice of society” and how blogs “link the local with the big picture”.  The premier, no slouch herself on the social media scene with around 115 000 Facebook friends and one of country’s first verified Twitter accounts, said that digital communications were a “force for entrenching democracy”.  “Everything breaks immediately and is commented on and analysed before it hits the press… it’s a problem for newspapers and I wouldn’t want to be a newspaper editor in this day. It’s made it more difficult to control what information is transmitted”, reports Memeburn, one of the award-winning blogs.

So what were the complaints?:

1.  The announcement of the call for nominations of the SA Blog Awards was on Twitter only.   If one was not on Twitter, or did not follow SA Blog Awards on Twitter, one would not have known about the Awards, or may have been delayed in participating, in seeing Tweets by others about the call for nominations.

2.  The rules of the Awards seemed to have been made up as they went along – the fact that voting was encouraged at Nomination stage already was not clear, and irritated Twitterers, in that they were bombarded with Nomination vote requests.  The process of nomination was also not clear, with a message popping up, telling one that one could not nominate a blog more than twice on the same e-mail address. 

3.  The organisers of the SA Blog Awards were not identified on the SA Blog Awards website, and via Tweets one could put together the information that 2009 Blog winner in the Business category (Dave Duarte) and Chris Rawlinson, winner in the Marketing category, had got together with JP Naude (an infrequent blogger, by his own admission on his site: “Yes I don’t blog much… I’m a businessman and radio presenter” – prior to this mini-blog post earlier this month, JP had last blogged in May! He is a presenter on Good Hope FM) as Chairman of the SA Blog Awards. I met JP at the Vista Bar after the Blog Awards presentation, and he told me that his company organised the SA Blog Awards.  I was shocked when I saw a comment on the shortlisted Bangers and Nash blog, written by SA Blog Awards committee member Chris Rawlinson a few months ago, congratulating Dan Nash on his blog, and stating that a good blog should carry the f-word at least once a day!   So much for the quality of the judges!  (I did get to meet Dan Nash at the Vista Bar, having had dinner at Reubens at the One&Only Cape Town, and he was very generous in handing out tequila).

4.  When the top 10 shortlist was announced per category, the list was on the SA Blog Awards website, and top 10 finalists were only notified by e-mail the following day.  At no stage was an e-mail with the rules ever sent to all nominees.   One had to find information on the website, and this seemed to be amended as the SA Blog Awards progressed.

5.  Previous participants were shocked as to who made the top 10 shortlist, especially those that had won in previous years.  In the Food & Wine Blog category, for example, eight out of ten 2009 finalists did not make it in 2010.  The Relax-with-Dax, Scrumptious, Spit or Swallow, Rossouw’s Restaurants and Neil Pendock’s blogs all fell out of this category, with only the My Easy Cooking and Cooksister Blogs making the 2010 shortlist again.   Relax-with-Dax and Spit or Swallow did make the Microblogging/Twitter shortlist, however, a surprise to them too.

6.   As the SA Blog Awards developed, more and more sponsors were announced for the categories, but not all categories were sponsored (e.g. our Whale Cottage Blog made the shortlist in the Most Controversial Blog category, which did not attract a sponsor!)   In 2009, the ‘old hands’ and finalists tell me, they all went home with prizes.  It appears that despite sponsors coming on board, the category prizes were a little perspex obelisk with the SA Blog Awards logo on it.  This gives little incentive to enter the Awards competition in 2011.   Sponsors’ monies appear to have been used to pay for the dinner, and to compensate JP Naude’s company for organising the Awards.

7.   The highlight for the 2009 finalists was the SA Blog Awards dinner, I have been told, even if the bloggers did not win.  It was a great networking platform, and an honour to have attended.  In pre-announcing the top 2 out of the top 10 of each category this year, the Awards dinner was reduced to about 50 finalists, and only those got to attend the dinner – in the last minute the rules were changed, in that the SA Blog Awards website announced that the dinner was ‘by invitation only’.  Initially the Awards dinner date was set for yesterday (over a long weekend!), leading one to assume that all top 10 finalists would be invited to attend it.

8.  The voting phase for each category spanned about two weeks, and one felt like an Idols’ finalist, begging for votes on one’s blog and on Twitter.   I think that the more the finalists begged, the fewer votes they received.  One was allowed to vote once a day per valid e-mail address one has.  So, for example, someone with 10 e-mail addresses could cast 10 votes daily!   The actual weighting of votes by ‘fans’ and the judges evaluation was only recently stated as being 30 % of the vote by the judges, and 70 % from the public.  The judges per category were also not all announced – on one specific day the judges of some of the 24 categories were named on Twitter, and some judges also proudly tweeted that they were judging blogs (e.g. Jo-Ann Strauss, Sam Wilson and her husband Andreas Späth).  We never got to hear the names of the judge(s) of the Most Controversial Blog category, for example.  Mention was also made that blog ranking statistics would be taken into consideration as well, being Afrigator specifically, a site that frequently goes down.  The question was raised as to the effect it would have on one’s standing if one was not registered on this ranking site.  Oddly, few of the top-ranked Afrigator blogs were in the finals.  It is clear that the larger the number of readers of one’s Blog, and the greater the Twitter following, the higher one’s votes would have been likely to be.   The top first and second winners per category were notified by e-mail that they had made it, and they were listed on the website too.  The remaining 8 finalists per category were not notified by the organisers, and were only told that if they did NOT receive an e-mail, they would know that they had not made it as number 1 or 2!   This was the rudest aspect of the SA Blog Awards organisation, in my opinion.  Many Blog finalists had put in a lot of effort to encourage voting, and thereby had publicised the Awards on behalf of the organisers, who had created little publicity for the event themselves!  No thanks was received for one’s participation.

Despite all of the above, we are proud that we made it to the Top 10 finalist stage in our category, and that we learnt from participation for the first time.  We trust that the organisers of the 2010 SA Blog Awards will accept this feedback and will improve the organisation and credibility of it, to ensure that they have quality participants in 2011!

The overall winner of the SA Blog Awards was a big surprise, being www.watkykjy.co.za, a provocative proudly-Afrikaans on-the-edge blog, that claims to receive 180000 ‘visits’ per month, and describes itself as “Die beste Afrikaanse blog en website in die heelal”!  In the past the Award has been won by www.2Oceansvibe.co.za every year that editor Seth Rotherham (Will Mellor) has entered the Awards.  Rotherham/Mellor did not even bother to attend, being in the Karoo over the weekend, and sent a message to the organisers that this was the last SA Blog Awards competition he had entered.   (Most non-Cape Town top 2 finalists per category did not attend, yet the writer of www.indieberries.blogspot.com travelled all the way from South Korea to pick up her two category wins).

The winners in the 24 categories, announced last night, are as follows (congratulations to them all):

Best Entertainment Blog:  www.2oceansvibe.co.za (ranks 3rd on Afrigator)

Best Media & Marketing Blog:  www.cherryflava.com

Best Post on a SA Blog: www.brainwavez.org/screen/film/features/2009/20091001001-01.html

Best Overseas Blog: www.pharside.co.uk

Best TV Radio Blog: www.ecr.co.za/kagiso/content/en/east-coast-radio/east-coast-radio-blogs-breakfast

Best Politics Blog: www.wonkie.com (ranks 10th on Afrigator)

Best Photographic Blog: www.guywithcamera.co.za (Andrew Brauteseth)

Best New Blog: www.simply-delicious.co.za

Best Food & Wine Blog: www.simply-delicious.co.za

Best Science and Technology Blog: www.shesthegeek.co.za

Best Music Blog: www.dontparty.co.za

Best Fashion Blog: www.kimgray.co.za

Best Design Blog: www.indieberries.blogspot.com

Best Podcast/Video Blog: www.zanews.co.za

Best Business Blog:  www.memeburn.com

Best Group Blog: www.rlabs.org

Best Sport Blog: www.paddlesweep.net

Best Green Blog:  www.sprig.co.za

Best Indigenous Language Blog: www.watkykjy.co.za (7th on Afrigator) 

Most Controversial Blog: www.2oceansvibe.co.za

Best Travel Blog: www.getaway.co.za/page/blog

Best Personal Blog: www.indieberries.blogspot.com

Best Parenting Blog: www.reluctantmom.wordpress.com

Best Twitter Blog: www.twitter.com/mandyjwatson

Best Company Blog: www.rlabs.org

The SA Blog Awards website states that “integrity and credibility of the SA Blog Awards is our highest priority”.  It also states that the organisers would look for a ‘balance between the public voting system and the judge’s choice of winners’, to allow a free and fair selection of winners.  Many participants of this year’s Awards will agree that this was not the case!  

POSTSCRIPT 27/9:  The response to this blogpost has been phenomenal, with more than 850 readers in the first 21 hours of publishing it, and an incredible number of Twitter Retweets, many containing compliments, throughout the day yesterday.  Twitter is normally very quiet on a Sunday, especially over a long weekend.   The link to this post was sent to the organising committee of JP Naude, Chris Rawlinson and Dave Duarte, with no response to date. 

If one googles ‘SA Blog Awards’, one can read many blogposts written in the past two months, criticising various aspects of the SA Blog Awards.

The list of judges per category, with many typing errors, was recently added to the SA Blog Awards website, it would appear.  It is funny to see Randall Abrams listed as a judge for the Most Controversial Blog category – did I not write above that we felt like Idol’s finalists??!!  The other judge for the category was listed as ‘Ivor Vector’, but this name does not exist on a Google search.  However, Ivo Vegtor says he was invited to be a judge, but decided not to.  Randall Abrams has no blog, nor has Graham Howe, one of two judges in the Food & Wine Blog.  As far as judging goes, read the Comments section to this blogpost about what happened to Chris, the writer of iMod, the top ranked blog on Afrigator.  The list of judges for all the categories:  http://www.sablogawards.com/Judge3.aspx

Chris von Ulmenstein: Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting held at Brio restaurant last night was a huge success, with five Haut Espoir wines tasted, and Rob Armstrong of the wine estate and Sam Wilson of Food24 informing and entertaining the food and wine bloggers attending.   There were lots of laughs, and bloggers attending participated in the discussion.  Cape Town was highlighted by Rob as seeing an “explosion” of food and wine writing, mainly via bloggers, which was not evident in other areas in South Africa.

Sam Wilson, Editor-in-Chief of Food24, Woman24 and Parent 24, impressed by doing her presentation using an iPad, which most bloggers had not seen before.  She challenged bloggers to find their “barrier of authenticity”, in that each blogger should define how far one can go, who one is via one’s blog, and how much of one’s self one wants to reveal.  Each blogger should set their own parameters. “How much of you do you want to be?” she asked the bloggers.   She argued for honesty in blogging, and for not following the magazine route of “selling out”, in only writing good restaurant reviews.  She said that Food24 would be following a policy of saying it as it is in their restaurant reviews.   Brad Ball, chef of Bistro 1682, in discussion of restaurant reviews, said that they welcome the feedback from reviews, and act upon it.  He does take the feedback “from whence it comes”, he said.    Restaurant owners and chefs were advised to not respond when they have had something to drink!   Restaurants should contact the clients posting negative reviews, and sort the issue out as quickly as possible.

Sam warned bloggers to not set themselves up as an expert, as one can easily be ridiculed by others.   She advised them to be humble and honest in their writing.  She reminded bloggers to not take their blogging too seriously, and not be too earnest, but rather enjoy it and to blog for fun.   Each individual blogger’s writing will not change the world, and “does not matter in the bigger scheme of things”.   Sam advised that Google Analytics be used to measure the blog’s readership.   Food24 has a special page on its website to provide a platform for 440 food bloggers, with 50000 readers and 200000 page impressions per month.  She advised new food bloggers to join the Blog platform that had been set up for them on the Food24 website, and then to start up their own independent blogs once they have gained in confidence.  Photographs should be captioned and tagged, to help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and should be well-shot in good light.  Headlines should have “Googable” words in them, for SEO.   The most popular recipes posted on the Food24 Blogs platform are for fundamental meals such as chicken pie, macaroni cheese, bobotie, and anything with chocolate in it.   A recent post of a “Braai pie” recipe attracted 10 000 hits for a first-time blogger.  Sam concluded that she no longer sees herself as a journalist, but as a “conversation shepherd”.

Rob Armstrong impressed the bloggers by being himself and honest (as was Sam), and is incredibly tall.  Haut Espoir was bought by his family in Franschhoek ten years ago, and Rob took the bloggers through an informal tasting of his Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz Rose (he says they cannot make enough of it), Gentle Giant (named after Rob’s brother) and Shiraz.  Half of Haut Espoir is planted with vines, and the other half with fynbos, over 7 000 fynbos cuttings, representing 600 – 700 species, having been planted.  The goal is to follow organic and biodynamic farming practices, and  Haut Espoir supports the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.   The winemaker is Nikey van Zyl, and Rob says that he is in charge of sales and quality control, in testing the wines.  He has a personal relationship with his clients (including &Union and Caveau), and personally delivers his wines to them, so maintaining the good relationship.  Rob writes a “Fynbos Friday” post about the wonderful plants they have on their farm.  One can do a Fynbos and Vine Tour with Rob, by making an appointment.   In contrast to Sam, Rob does not know his website readership, and does not really care what it is.  He does however know that they produce 80 000 bottles of wine per year.

It was interesting to hear the Canadian statistic that the average time between buying and drinking a bottle of wine is 17 minutes, meaning that wine drinkers are not ageing their wines any more.   In South Africa the statistic is 72 minutes.  Rob shared that the number of Vignerons of Franschhoek has more than doubled since 2004, and now stands at 54.  Discussions are in place to stretch the new Franschhoek Wine of Origin region, to include such wine estates as Backsberg and Glen Carlou.   Rob is the Chairman of the Vignerons’ Sustainability Committee, a joint action by the vignerons to self-audit their sustainability.  Wine buyers can check the sustainablity of the wines they buy and drink via the new sustainability seals.  Rob is on Twitter, as @Rambowine, while the farm’s Twittering (@HautEspoir) is done by Raoul de Jongh.   Rob was asked whether wine sales had increased due to his blogging and Twitter activity, and he said that he could not quantify that, but that it was easier to sell his wines due to the awareness that had been created for Haut Espoir.

The next Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting will be held on Wednesday 22 September, at the Salt Vodka and Champagne Bar, above Salt Deli and across the road from the Ambassador Hotel in Bantry Bay.  Food blogger Dax Villanueva from Relax-with-Dax and wine blogger Hein Koegelenberg from La Motte will be the speakers.   To make a booking to attend, e-mail info@whalecottage.com.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

The fourth Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting takes place on Wednesday 18 August, from 18h00 – 20h00, at Brio Restaurant, and will pair Sam Wilson of Food24 food blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir wines in Franschhoek.

Sam Wilson is the Editor-in-Chief of Woman24, Parent24 and Food24.  Food24 has a special page on its website to provide a platform for 440 food bloggers, with 50000 readers and 200000 page impressions per month.  Sam was previously a commercial lawyer, and turned to freelance writing after the birth of her sons, before joining Media24. She was a speaker at the Food Bloggers’ Conference earlier this year.  She has also worked as a copywriter, a customer publishing strategist, a columnist and a cocktail bartender. Her websites collectively attract over 500 000 readers, and she says she “specialises in community management and the art of oversharing”.

Rob Armstrong has a BA in Archeology and Environmental and Geographical Science, and runs Haut Espoir in Franschhoek.  It is celebrating the 10th anniversary of turning this family farm into a red wine farm and planting it with Franschhoek Fynbos.  Rob is committed to “minimal intervention” with “mother earth”, both in terms of winemaking and their farming.  He is a proud member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   Each of the two bloggers will talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

Other writers that will be talking at future Bloggers Club meetings are the following:

Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog

Wednesday 20 October: Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog

Wednesday 24 November:  Marisa Hendricks of The Creative Pot Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog

Wines are brought along by the wine blogging speaker, and Rob will introduce the Haut Espoir wines served.  Snacks will be served.  The cost of attendance is R 100.  Bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

Venue: Brio Restaurant, 130 Adderley Street (ex-Riboville), two doors down from the Twankey Bar of the Taj Hotel.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Free-lance writer and second-most read South African food blogger Jane-Anne Hobbs, writing the Scrumptious South Africa blog, described food bloggers as “desperate for attention” at the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting last night, and their genre of writing can be called “vanity publishing”, she said.  The bloggers present felt that this description probably applies to bloggers across the board! 

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was started earlier this year, and “pairs” a different food blogger and a wine blogger every month.   The wines of the Wine Blogger are tasted, and Warwick/Vilafonte’s Mike Ratcliffe brought along his Warwick Professor Black, the unique Warwick Blue Lady without vintage, and Vilafonte Series M 2006 (the highest rated Merlot blend according to Wine Spectator), for the bloggers to taste.  Food was served by Cafe Max.  Meetings are informal, and questions are answered during the two-hour meeting, encouraging fledgling bloggers to obtain input and tips from more experienced bloggers.

Jane-Anne said that through social media, “opinion has been democratised”, creating a serious threat for traditional media, with their short lead times in publishing restaurant reviews, or food information, compared to traditional magazine and newspaper publishing, and this is leading to tension between the two media types.  She started her blog three years ago, and it reflects her love for cooking and for developing recipes.   While one may not get financial reward out of a blog, especially if one does not accept advertising, which is Jane-Anne’s policy (nor does she accept freebies), she feels that she is adding value to her readers, and she herself receives emotional, intellectual and entertainment satisfaction from writing her blog.  She advised that food blogs must focus on accuracy in terms of ingredients and method of preparation, but also in terms of spelling and grammar. 

Online integrity is vital, and one must trust one’s palate in expressing what one experiences, even if it is not the popular view, one blogger said.  One should track one’s performance, and Jane-Anne advised that referring to, and tagging, names of chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay leads to increased web traffic.  She also advised that one “should find one’s voice” through the blog, and allow one’s readers to “get to know you”, and one’s personality should come through, whatever one’s communication style might be.  While content is king, a “yummy and descriptive” headline is vital in attracting readers into the content, and photographs should be of a “reasonable quality”.   Jane-Anne feels that it is sad to see so many young people’s idea of food and cooking being shaped by chefs and cookery book writers such as Ramsay, Lawson and Oliver, without them having exposure to a more classic cooking culture.  With her Scrumptious blog, Jane-Anne hopes to broaden their cooking knowledge.  

Mike Ratcliffe is probably the most experienced social media marketing wine marketer, and impressed with the different tools he referred to and uses: Blogging, Twitter, FourSquare, Twideo, Google Maps Latitude, and Nice to Meet You.   He has opted out of Facebook, due to the lack of control.   He writes a Vilafonte and a Warwick blog, being the Managing Partner of the former brand, and the Managing Director of the latter brand.  Vilafonte grapes are grown near Sante Wellness, between Paarl and Franschhoek, and the wines are made in a state-of-the-art venue at Bosman’s Crossing in Stellenbosch, while the Warwick wines are made the traditional way by Mike’s mother Norma on their farm.   Her 25th vintage celebration will take the Warwick wines around the world with 40 dinners, at which 10 vintages of their wines will be tasted.   Mike is an irregular blogger, as he travels a lot, and finds he has more time to blog when he travels.  He “leans to controversy” in what he writes, he says, yet he will not pick a fight, and will step back in a fight.  He complimented www.wines.co.za for their platform on which he is encouraged to write, creating huge exposure to their 40000 unique readers per month.    

Mike advised bloggers to be responsible in their blogging, as one influences views.  One must check one’s information sources, and not use a blog as a platform for retaliation.  If one disappoints one’s readers, they will no longer follow the blogger.  A blog is successful when one is passionate about one’s topic, and about writing.   Twitter is on a growth trend, he feels, and positional tweeting (crowdsourcing) will be introduced soon.  Mike uses traditional marketing communication media too, such as advertising and PR, and the 2000 members of the Warwick Wine Club are an important testing and tasting ground for new wines developed.   He claims that his marketing is spontaneous and dynamic, but one gets the impression that Mike Ratcliffe knows exactly what he is doing in marketing his brands, and is acknowledged by his peers in this respect.   He was praised by a fellow blogger as a professional.  

The next Food and Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting is on Wednesday 18 August, and will “pair” Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir in Franschhoek.  Bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com