Two things have happened this week which left me frustrated and doubting myself.
I watched FYRE on Netflix, a documentary film about the Fyre Festival – a failed “luxury music festival” founded by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc, and rapper Ja Rule. If you haven’t watched it (or the other film on Hulu) I’d urge you to. It is uncomfortable, behind-a-cushion and unbelievable viewing in lots of ways. The documentary has reminded me on that there is definitely an Instagram-fuelled version of what is real, what matters and whose opinion counts going on in the world. This is something I am not really ok with.
This and the growth of the Run the Peaks challenge has prompted a lot of soul searching about my own posts, the future of Miles for Wishes and accepting sponsorship in order to continue that journey.
A blog that never was
A month ago a wrote a blog about social media that I never published, I wanted to but I held back because I worried about how it would be perceived. I’ve steered clear of strong opinions on Social Media because I want the challenges and the fundraising to be the focus, not for being controversial or outspoken. The blog was, in essence, a rant about all the things I dislike about Social Media, mainly Instagram – it was a pure reaction to the type of posts I dislike, the growing trend of ‘influencing’ and not-so-subtle advertising and the reaction to peoples posts (and then the following stream of people justifying their existence on the media).
I wrote it and sat on it. This is quite normal for me, as I like to go back and reread my blogs with fresh eyes before publishing. I read it and thought two things – 1. It will get a reaction (that may be positive but also negative) and 2. Actually, maybe I care too much about something outside of my control. So I came to the following conclusion;
- Social Media has unfollow and mute buttons – so actually if it annoys me so much then I can make an active choice not to see it,
- I use Social Media for my reasons, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has to use it for those same reasons.
So if you want to take your shirt off, join a ‘Brand Ambassador Program’, be an ‘influencer’ or show a version of yourself that is your choice, while it might not be my thing I will respect your choice none the less. This isn’t, by the way, a dig at anyone.
If you follow me, then thank you I really appreciate it! Sometimes I’m genuinely not sure what I am actually adding to social media – the things I know about running and cycling can still be counted on one hand, I generally don’t have anything insightful or knowledgeable to say about either.
I’m not in this for the numbers. I am here because I believe being active can change lives – my own and the lives of people facing their own challenges, whether that be poor mental health, cancer or a rare childhood disease. Suffice to say, if I follow you then it’s because I took the time to look at your feed and I liked it.
I guess by and large I hope you’ve done the same.
On accepting sponsorship
My Dad is someone I look up to – someone who build up their own business and worked hard for what little they had. My Dad takes pride in what he does (did, now he’s retired) he disliked debt and therefore paid his dues. I’ve tried to aspire to be like that, to not be flashy or brash or over sell myself (still working on the last two), but to work hard and let that do the talking.
The point of telling you that is because Integrity means everything to me – I stand by what I believe in and I am not prepared to compromise on the values that I hold dear. This has to mean something, it has to give back more than it takes and it has to evolve. So, like with the numbers, I’m not in this for freebies, for money or to sell products to you.
I don’t want to be someone that shapes your opinions or your habits through my posts, you have your own mind – use it. We are all individuals, what works for one might not work for you. My only suggestion is to try loads of things and find products that you love, that work for you, review them and share your thoughts. Just be honest.
I made a conscious choice to self-fund the challenges I wanted to take on. There is always the argument with crowdfunding that your sponsors are simply paying for you to go and do something fun! In 2018 I went out and sought some crowdfunding – I had, through 2017 put myself in debt paying for it all myself – and I was lucky enough to receive £450 in corporate sponsorship to help fund those challenges. I used the money supplementing my own being spent on travel, accommodation and equipment. 2019 is already set to be the biggest year of challenges yet, involving more people and requiring more support.
Over the last few months I’ve been out seeking partners to work with on the Run the Peaks challenge. I’ve been really lucky in speaking to a number of brands that I already use and love, which is fantastic, as well as partner up with some new ones that I think will add real value to the challenge.
This is where the self-doubt crept in – the FYRE documentary made me question whether in accepting free products I was going against my values or if I’d become beholden to them. I spent a night awake wondering if I should just stop, go back to them and pay my share for the things we’ve been offered. While this felt noble and right I worried that doing so would put my team mates in an awkward positon. I love a freebie as much as the next person, but its left me feeling uncomfortable.
Two years doing this has taught me that you can’t do it all alone, you need a team and a support network and that is what Run the Peaks is about. It is about learning and growing, myself and the journey – I have to let go of some control and seek ways to cut the personal cost – if I carry on like this I will, without sounding dramatic, bankrupt myself.
I have landed at a feeling that accepting support in the form of sponsorship doesn’t have to mean I compromise my beliefs or enter in to some restrictive contracts, providing I stay true to my who I am.
My promise to you
So, before I announce the partners supporting Run the Peaks I wanted to say something to you, as followers of my journey. If you choose to follow (or continue to follow) me my Manifesto if you will
- Every post will be based on the key principles of honesty, integrity and respect.
- I will only work with partners who share those same values and who want to form a mutually beneficial partnership, that makes a positive difference to the lives of others.
- I will never promote anything I don’t believe in, similarly I will not be dictated on what I wear or what races or events I enter (or not). All content will be my own formed from my own opinions and it will be something you can trust to be open, honest and balanced.
- I will make it clear in my blogs and social media posts where I have accepted a product or a service for free, using the #AD or #PAIDAD (clearly separated from any other hashtags used) alongside a short explanation of it too.
- Miles for Wishes not a company and I will not seek to make an income or profit from it. It is a is a ‘personal brand’ used to separate my personal life and the challenges / fundraising. Where I am offered money to promote or review products or services I will be clear where the money goes – it will either be donated (by the partner) to Make-A-Wish UK or it will be used to fund the challenges.
Look I am not saying I am inundated with offers to promote products – I’m really not – I just want to be really clear about what I am personally doing and why, for my own conscience more than anything.
After that, I really hope you’ll continue to follow me and enjoy the journey!