Recently I was asked about pitching to Mom bloggers by someone in PR. (Thank you for actually asking and taking the time to care!) I had this in draft but decided to go ahead and post it. Take it for what you will.
I have been having some amazing conversations with people “in the know” when it comes to PR pitches, branding, owning who you are and what you write. I have learned a lot. Mainly because I have learned to shut my mouth (for the most part) and listen. (Sorry, Aaron/technosailor. I am not so great at it yet.) I spoke with the wonderful Robert Scoble who had great advice. Chris Pirillo who I totally have had a geek crush on since way back in the day on TechTV (or was it ZDTV? I forgot which came first.) They not only support mommybloggers but had some great advice when talking about this issue. (Thank you, Erin, for the introductions.)
One of the things that I have learned that is vital for trust is “full disclosure” in this whole new world of being pitched to and products. So in full disclosure, here are some of the bigger companies and/or products I have worked with recently. (Note: I am not telling you because I am shouting “Hey, look what I have done.” But more because these have been companies that have gone above and beyond to reach out and learn from mom bloggers on just how to approach us and work with us.)
- Nintendo (I would so totally have Nintendo’s baby if you could have a company’s baby! For now? Tattoo!)
- Disney Mobile
- Johnson & Johnson
These are the companies I have chosen to work with. It does not count the amazing PR people that I work with on products like DVDs, portable hard drives, gift certificates, etc. I am not highlighting these companies because they have the “big items” but rather because they took the time to talk to me, get to know me and try to see if they can work with me and not just shove a product at me and want results.
Of all of those above, they only represent a handful of PR people that contact me on a consistent basis. I only work with ones who have taken the time to get to know me, my blog and my readers. That list? Those are amazing people that I am honored to work with. (You know who you are and I will link you only with your permission.) If they ask me to try a product that sucks, I will tell them no and why. If they offer me something that I would probably buy anyway, I will try it because we have formed a working relationship. It is a give and take now. They would never dream of mass emailing and just assuming that I will try something. They know what to approach me with and what not to bring my way. Because they got to know me and my blog.
If I had the chance, would I love to have dinner in person with these people? Rob, Nichole, Charlie, Scott, Ryan, Monica, David, Maria, Stacy, Jason etc? (Forgive me if I left your name out. I love you too and you know it if we talk.) Hell yes I would. I adore them so much after working with them. I would jump at it because we have gotten to know each other beyond the PR pitch. These types of PR are people are welcome in my inbox, on my phone and on my blog. They know they can count on me to be honest and upfront with them and about their product.
Why do I turn down the rest of you PR people? Here are a few reasons:
- My name is NOT “Needs Coffee”! Do you really think that is what my mom named me? When you address me as such what you are saying is: “I don’t give a crap who you are. You are just an email address to me.” Want to know what? I don’t give a crap who you are either. You are just another deleted pitch to me.
- Starting an email with: “I read [insert last post written] and think your readers would love [insert product here].” Oh really? I wrote about biting my dog. How does that make you think that my readers want your “yummy” new product that “all mommies will love” or that I want your diapers. That is so transparent! I know you just picked the last post and are trying to pretend that you have some interest in me. I have two teens and a 7 year old. How about pitching me a cell phone, laptop or webcam. (Kidding.) That is something my readers will understand. Hell, that is something that makes sense to my blog and the things I write about. Now, I know there are a lot more things to pitch a mom of young kids than a mom of teens and school age kids. I get that. But really? Try to put some thought into what you are trying to tell me “I will simply love! And want to share will all my mommy friends on the playground!” Gah!
- EVERYTIME you send me a standard press release with no intro, personalization or thought, I will NEVER endorse you. Period. Would you if I sent you a standard PR pitch about my blog? Would that make you want to jump up and offer me all of your goodies? Would you think. “Wow! A standard press release about a blog I don’t know anything about. I must be special!” I didn’t think so.
- Do you really want me to talk about your product? Why? This is my space. My words. My brand. If you want me to attach my name to it, tell me why. It isn’t that hard. Give me real reasons why the readers of my blog and/or I personally would want to use up the real estate on my blog to talk about your product for free. Pitch me. Convince me. Don’t come at me like some dumb housewife who would rather talk about butt wipes and watch soap operas than actually use what I have built to make a name for myself and my brand.
And this is just a question for me out of curiosity that I already touched on. I know that the word “mommy” brings up images of babies and toddlers, but have you not yet figured out that there are those of us who have teenagers? You are missing out on a large and growing population of mom bloggers by ignoring those of us with teens. We have the experience, the knowledge and have earned the respect of moms of younger children. You should take that into account. And when it comes to teens, trust me when I say we ARE looking to each other for advice on products and services. This is a prime market, people. Have you not figured that out yet? We are buying products on a daily basis for these tweens and teens and yet are virtually ignored when it comes to being seen. Big mistake. For one, these are also the kids who are making money and will be buying these things as well.
I thought about not posting this or just ignoring the whole issues since I have been there done that, but you know what? I am tired of being treated like someone who has no brain. I am smart and I know my likes and dislikes. And trust me on this one: If I love what you have, I will move heaven and Earth to make sure I get the word out. By the same token, if you treat me like dirt, I will get that word out as well. So listen to those of us who are trying to teach you. Seriously. Stop doing what you have always done and learn from us. We actually are trying to help you. Oh, and just a thought, if you really want to reach the mom bloggers and do this right, have you ever thought of hiring one of us to teach you these things? Because really? Many of you could use us. Many of you.
Just so you know.
The diapers bit always kills me.
Not only do we have children that grow out of diapers, but we actually SPEND MONEY ON THINGS THAT DON’T INVOLVE CHILDREN!
Not only do I not have babies, I only have boys. So no, I would not be interested in the fairy tale series. Or the princess book.
But HOORAY to the lady who sent the KNEX race cars. Porter’s already made them into a bow/rifle contraption, and I plugged them on the blog.
Amen to this post Jenn…especially on the teen issue. My experience has been that Moms who blog and have teens and tweens often get ignored, not only with PR pitches, but also in contests (win baby stuff and/or review baby items on Alpha Mom? Aren’t Alphas people who are experienced? IE: those of us who have older children. And no, I’m not trying to pick on Alpha Mom. I know they have contests for other things. They just came to mind right now) and things such as group blogs, memes, issues, etc. I think we’re a valuable resource that’s being overlooked and I wonder why.
This was very interesting. My guess on tweens and teens is that marketers can reach them directly and don’t need “middle-moms”.
Sadly, Annie, I think that too many PR people may believe that too and they are sadly mistaken. But in the mom blogging world in general, moms of teens and tweens are often overlooked. Too often.
Guess what, everyone (not at you Annie since you know this) but those adorable babies and toddlers? THEY GROW UP! 😉
Procastamom: I approached Isabel/AlphaMom about having a teen/tween related column and articles and was told there wasn’t enough interest or a market for that. (I am hoping she meant at AlphaMom and not in general seeing as she is such a great business woman.) My guess would be she is just sticking with where her knowledge lies, which is the younger kids arena. That is what her site caters to and where she excels.
Just an example of people sticking with what they know.
When the kids of many of these moms grow up, you will see an explosion of teen/tween mom bloggers and our area of the blogworld will expand even more.
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Alpha Mom is going to be sorry one day.
Tweens and teens may have some discretionary income, but their parents still make the big purchases.
I just sent this post to a person who works in marketing at a large company.
Honestly I think you can sum up your message to PR flacks like me in four words: “Don’t be a doofus.”