Lordy, my eyes are rolling this morning. A few days ago, I wrote a post titled “in bad taste” in response to something a magazine writer Victor Fiorillo had covered about what a fauxblicist named Sarah Lockard had sent out.
Victor Fiorillo’s article now has over 200 comments, and there are more blogs covering this topic than I have seen on anything else social media related for quite a while.
One of the things that came out was something new on JimRomenesko.com, a blog and writer who is basically mainstream, generally fair, and widely read.
Sarah Lockard, the AroundMainLine.com proprietor who is trying to get a Philadelphia-area restaurant to feed her family of five for free on Christmas Eve, has let people know that she’s now charging $75 for any contact. “Every text, email and biz correspondence with AroundMainLine.com is billable,” she says. The screenshot below – grabbed about a week ago – was sent to me by a Lockard acquaintance.
Some of the blog posts have been , and some quite funny. Bloggers for the most part have been somewhat disgusted.
I was disgusted although not surprised. I have first hand knowledge of her “business practices” as a non-profit I was very much a part of until a few months ago when my time constraints changed due to distance, experienced the “Lockard touch” in 2008.
First Friday Main Line is a small arts-based non-profit based in Ardmore, PA that has been in existence since 2006. They are in fact a begathon, and if it was not for donations and the kindness of artists and musicians who believe in art reaching every day people along with the tireless dedication of Executive Director Sherry Tillman, this event and small non-profit would not exist. Sherry also has a family and runs the amazing craft store in Ardmore called Past*Present*Future.
I used to do the PR for First Friday Main Line. Sherry can show you binders full of actual placement I did in print media alone, let along the connection to television media as well. I even received a Congressional Commendation for something I did for First Friday Main Line in 2010. I am not tooting my own horn, merely setting the stage.
I have also been a blogger since long before many picked up a keyboard. I started because my friends’ businesses in Ardmore, PA were being subjected to eminent domain for private gain. With the encouragement and shepherding of the Institute for Justice and their Castle Coalition arm, I began to hone the craft of blogging. The citizens group I was part of did not have money for a PR campaign, so we learned to do it on our own. But it came at a personal cost. When you are an activism-based blogger you really open yourself up to things. I learned to have a tough skin.
Anyway, back to First Friday Main Line. What is one of the keys to the success of small arts-based non-profits with not much extra money? Exposure. So we worked hard to establish this non-profit, which was modeled after the First Friday celebration in places like the Old City section of Philadelphia.
Somewhere in the early fall of 2008 we were approached by a website called aroundmainline.com and they offered to list the non-profit First Friday Main Line on their events calendar or something like that. So Sherry, the Executive Director said “why not?” After all, even if we had no clue who this Sarah Lockard person was or what her website did, placement is the key for exposure and we considered it another local website. At that time we were not aware of the expensive strings attached.
All aroundmainline.com ever did (we think) was maybe list us on an events page, but we are not sure because the only First Friday thing we ever saw listed was in 2008 and it was for the now defunct Wayne First Friday, which was one of the many suburban off-shoots of the First Friday Main Line model.
So Sarah was on the press release list for First Friday Main Line and in October 2008 we received this e-mail:
Subject: Your link is expiring Date: 10/21/2008 8:19:45 P.M. Eastern Standard Time From: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much for this email
Your line link for First
Fridays on the Main Line will expire Thurs Oct 23rd
If you do want to renew
this each month, it is $500/month.
Please let me know as this is
PS I am glad we were
able to give you such fantastic free promotion these last three weeks!!!
Ok not to be rude, but what did she do? I remember at the time going over this with everyone working on First Friday Main Line and everything that had been done in those last three weeks, as in actual media placement had been done with Sherry and myself!
I sent her a reply to which I do not recall receiving a reply:
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 9:16 AM
Subject: Re: Your link is expiringDear Sarah,I hadn’t been aware you were running anything to be honest, so I apologize for overlooking it. I also just did a search and all I found was Wayne First Friday:Anyway, thank you.As for essentially running a link for $500 month, you would need to speak with the Executive Director Sherry Tillman, as I do publicity. But, as someone who is on the committee of a very small no profit that is essentially a beg-a-thon, while your web site is lovely, when several other high-profile sites and magazines will run us for free because we are non profit, and write stories about First Friday Main Line….well $500 a month is too rich for our blood. That is $6000 a year.We are a non-profit. I just can’t see how we can justify that kind of money. Also, on your web site, you mentioned a launch party recently. In this economy, being that new, how can you justify the costs basically being charged by print magazines to get new business?It’s not that I do not wish you well, but $500 a month? I have cc’d Sherry in the event this interests her, but have you considered a swap? Say our committee took a vote and agreed to link your site to ours, would you provide a prominent link to our site on your site?Mind you, I am NOT speaking for the committee as a whole, I am just throwing an idea out there.I also notice that you list the business associations including the Ardmore Initiative on your site. Are they being charged as well? They are non-profits as well.Anyway, if you can find a way or propose a solution as to what we can do that is mutually agreeable, Sherry will tell me.If not, know that I do find your site interesting .
Since that time, I know many people and many businesses who have had Sarah Lockard interactions that were less than stellar. And I have to ask because I have never seen, has she actually ever placed any of her “clients” in the traditional media and elsewhere? After all it’s not like her website is internationally famous, is it?
Anyway, I just wanted to point out that she wanted to charge a start-up non-profit this amount of money to be listed. And for all the people who said all she was looking for was a swap of services with the free Christmas Eve dinner, I point out, that in my opinion, that was not merely what she was about.
Not to be rude, but I hope they got their five free Instagrams out of the deal.
I know we don’t know each other, but I’ve been following the fallout fiasco from your restaurant email that was leaked and I want to say
I’m sorry that there was someone who you reached out to for business who decided that sharing a private email (and your information) was OK.
I’m sorry that the blogging industry is filled with some vultures who wait for something to feed on because they don’t want to reflect on their own lives.
I’m sorry that a business contact was not professional enough to react in a responsible way.
I’m sorry that this was blown out of proportion and reduced to petty bullying by people who hide behind computer screens.
It goes on from there, but you get the gist of it. I applaud this fellow female blogger for writing about this and sharing her opinion but I am sorry that this woman expended so much energy being sorry for a woman who has reaped what she has sewn. She should save the sympathy and empathy for someone who deserves it.
Sarah Lockard is not being bullied. She sent out an e-mail from her “corporate” branded e-mail account to a bunch of restaurants and who knows who else. She put this out there in the public when she hit “send”.
What happened was indeed you reap what you sew. There was nothing private about an e-mail that promised some odd sort of very public display in return for feeding her entire family on Christmas Eve for in essence more publicity for herself! It was a gamble, and she rolled the dice badly, and this is not bullying it is backlash.
And then there is this from another blog I had never heard of called What’s Up Fagans:
In one of my of blogging Facebook groups, someone shared a post about a blogger who made a bad PR choice, I guess you could say…. All of this represents to me . . .The scary side of blogging…I try to present my REAL life, my real home, my real self…..
Now thousands of other have mocked not only her business idea, but her, as a person, calling her horrible names, mocking her haircut, fashion, and looks. They have flooded her blog and email with hate comments and mail. They have put her entire family in a negative spotlight.
And my heart aches for her!
Because I never, ever, want something like that to happen to me! But it could. . .
I could, because of my little bit of cyberspace, hurt not only myself and my business, but my family and loved ones. And that is scary. That is horrifying! And the worst part? She didn’t even choose to share this publicly on her blog; someone else decided to share her email. Someone else threw her into the news….Because, for every self-conceited, self-righteous, know-it-all, holier-than-thou person who bashes, hates, criticizes, judges, condemns, and laughs at another without much of a second thought, thanks to the faceless internet, there is a real person on the other end being very really affected by those words….Don’t be the jerk. Be the good.
Welcome to AroundMainLine.com, the Philadelphia region’s first online magazine covering the Main Line and beyond. AML is privileged to welcome you to a reliable, socially responsible and culturally rich online magazine that speaks to the Philadelphia region. That’s right, we don’t believe in wasting paper and your valuable money to bring you the best of Philadelphia’s Main Line region, the surrounding areas and vibrant western suburbs. So, we are publishing our magazine digitally respective of the earth’s resources and your valuable resources.
I have no problems with e-commerce, but this whole thing is about making money and exposure for Sarah Lockard. So that doesn’t make her some mom blogger writing late at night in her PJ’s while waiting for the laundry to finish. She’s not that gal in my humble opinion.
These two blogs I have cited aren’t from these parts, either. They are part of a group called Project Purse Club which is out of Indianapolis, Indiana. The Midwest is a whole different world and a world away.
I would love to be able to support every female blogger, but I am a realist. And there are a lot I simply don’t agree with. I do believe in realism, but my reality is not pink and cotton candy. It’s the real world, and there are real issues. I do not take paid advertising on my blog, and what I write is my opinion.
I see both sides. I was a purely activism-based blogger for many years. I had something to say, and when I was finished, I changed my course. I became a parent later than most and am a SAHM in training. Some days I think that being a mostly SAHM (stay at home mom) is harder than when I was a 9 to 5 person solely.
I also write about breast cancer because I am a breast cancer survivor. Never thought I would do that, but then again I never thought I would have breast cancer either.
I am sorry, but I found what she did appalling. But the simple truth of it all is if this woman made an honest mistake, she would not ignore what is going on around her, she would woman up like a professional and apologize or clarify what she wrote in that e-mail.
But she hasn’t. And to all of those judging all of those other people commenting and writing who have had experiences with this person that weren’t positive? They are entitled to their opinion.
I think obviously that Sarah Lockard is bright. And at times I have marveled at her knack for shameless self-promotion, free photography portraits that include hair/make-up/wardrobe. But asking restaurants to feed a family on Christmas Eve who can buy their own dinner is showing a lack of respect for the small businesses she is supposedly representing. It also shows a lack of integrity.
If Sarah Lockard had sent out the e-mail asking to do this free Christmas Eve dinner for a family down on their luck or homeless or something I would feel quite differently. But this is not what this is about. This is and always has been about self-promotion. And to me that is not a Christmas spirit I choose to embrace.
So while I appreciate the musings of some mom bloggers from the Midwest on the topic, they really don’t get it. But I hope they keep on blogging anyway.
This post has been surprisingly hard to write. I did not know what to call this post. “queen of shameless self-promotion needs dinner” was one thought. Re-titling the e-mail I am about to share “feed me” was another. “give her some figgy pudding…puleeaazze” almost made it.
But then I just cringed because it occurred to me that although I have little respect for a certain Main Line area fauxblicist , I thought maybe she just didn’t know how she sounded.
Then I woke up.
This one is no stranger to the “I, me, my” of it all. And well, not to be mean, but if you read her website or her Facebook page for her business, there is never much in the way of original thought, and when there is…well…you end up with the “feed my family for Christmas Eve and we’ll all dress up as the Von Trapp Family Singers courtesy of ABC boutique, DEF make-up, Dr. GHI Botox, and whammo always free for me photography.”
What am I speaking about? Quite frankly the strangest pitch I have ever seen anyone send out. It is worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit it is so awful. And I can’t take credit for ferreting this all out, I was sent it via a friend who knows Philadelphia Magazine writer Victor Fiorillo.
Oh MY, aren’t you just embarrassed for Sarah Lockard? And wow talk about giving legitimate, hard-working publicists a bad name.
How is it innovative to feed her entire family for free on Christmas Eve? And who goes out to dinner on Christmas Eve anyway that is Catholic or Christian? Unless your family member owns a restaurant? Don’t you gather with family and friends on Christmas Eve or go to church or both?
How is this exciting? And who exactly is this exciting for precisely? Maybe for her because she is in essence asking for a free meal before services are provided. Sheesh I will Tweet and Instagram just because I like a restaurant. Heck we all do that these days. And Paris Hilton she ain’t…..but she does need a refresher course from Emily Post. Hey, here’s an *idea* – she can contact EmilyPost.com and ask if her whole family can get a refresher course on basic etiquette and Sarah will tweet about it, give 5 Instagram photos and so on and so forth?
Sarah Lockard fashions herself to be a publisher, publicist, and social media wizard. She has had a website called AroundMainLine. I guess people use it, I never find much that I didn’t see someplace else and most of the content contains photos of Ms. Lockard herself. So maybe she is her own best client? Wonder what she charges herself?
I will tell you straight up I am not a fan. People who try to climb so desperately and so obviously make me cringe, and well? To me this is trying too hard to belong. But then again this is quintessential Main Line of today, and why I don’t miss it.
She likes to say she started Main Line Restaurant Week, which truthfully has less and less to do with the Main Line every year…the thing is this, it was another Sarah who is an actual publicist who did the original Main Line Restaurant Week years and years ago. I have never understood why she can’t acknowledge that.
I have provided publicity for people as a publicist, and it is in essence what both of my parents did their entire professional career lives. I also have personal friends who are publicists. So I know how it is done.
This is not it.
I get that Sarah Lockard obviously wants to feel good about herself. As women we all do. But to put out an e-mail like this in my humble opinion is akin to social / professional suicide. Except for the fact that the Main Line of today is not your mama’s Main Line. And this one does this unfortunately all of the time and never has the good graces to be the least bit embarrassed.
So break out the figgy pudding y’all, Sarah wants you to buy her family Christmas Eve dinner. God bless us every one, yo’.
Here’s How to Get Your Restaurant Publicity On AroundMainLine.com, Or: How Bad PR People Ruin the PR Industry
By Victor Fiorillo | December 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm
Restaurants of Philadelphia, sometimes just being a great restaurant isn’t enough to get publicity for your restaurant. In some cases, you need to buy a publisher and her whole family dinner on Christmas Eve.