It was the pan heard 'round the Internet: Pete Wells, food critic at The New York Times, gave Food Network star Guy Fieri‘s Times Square outpost, Guy's American Kitchen & Bar, an extremely unfavorable, if not totally patronizing review last week.
What was so striking about the article was not so much his thoughts about the food (it wasn't good), but the way he wrote it. The article was a relentless string of questions aimed directly at Guy. Some of them were mocking and borderline scathing:
“The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?”
And some of them seemed genuinely concerning:
“Or is it all an act? Is that why the kind of cooking you celebrate on television is treated with so little respect at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar?”
Some people praised Wells for his witty approach, and some found it unnecessarily harsh. People took to Twitter defending both Wells and Fieri, and we won't harbor on who is wrong or right – only note that the fan fair following the review far exceeded the half-life of a typical Times review. (It now has over 1,000 comments.) The review brought a lot of eyes over to The Times, made Pete Wells a minor Internet celebrity and called to attention some probably much-needed changes at Guy's restaurant.
Should you write a negative review on your blog?
Misery loves company, and people, especially people on the Internet love to complain. This is why, coupled with the power of the truth, negative reviews can be so popular. If your blog features reviews as part of your editorial calendar, you're probably already familiar with this territory. It's tricky, isn't it? You owe your readers honesty and truth – and they will always respect you for it. But how negative should you be? What's critical and what's just mean? Will the brand or company you're reviewing be less inclined to continue a relationship with you? Do you care?
You have to decide for yourself if your audience will benefit from hearing the downside of a certain product, place, treatment, etc., or if silence will do just as well. Often times, the more negative the experience, the more inclined you'll be to share your thoughts. Whether it's a cautionary tale or cry for justice – is up to you.
- Your readers will respect your honesty and it will help build your credibility.
- You may garner some new attention if your review is particularly poignant.
- Bloggers have influence – you could help make something better by calling attention to it's shortcomings.
- A negatively reviewed brand may value your honest feedback, and come to you for more!
- With the right mix of humor, light-hearted-ness and truth, negative reviews make for content that's entertaining and helpful.
- You could lose the relationship with a brand or company who's product you reviewed negatively.
- Your readers might not agree, and tell you so vocally.
- If your approach is mean-spirited, you could lose readership and respect from fans and brands alike.