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Category: PR and Advertisers

Fight the good fight, not the dirty one that hurts your community and your fellow mombloggers!

Fight the good fight, not the dirty one that hurts your community and your fellow mombloggers!

Rarely do I use my blog to rant and vent when it comes to other bloggers.  However, what I saw go down last week on blogs and on Twitter has me rather irate.  What am I talking about?  I am talking about the #nestlefamily blogger junket.  I watched on Twitter as the chaos and mudslinging occurred.  I stayed out of it.  I know most of the bloggers that attended and I know they do not support “baby killing” as it was so often referred to.  I do understand that many people have issues with Nestle.  I read posts and followed links to see what the firestorm was all about.  I saw the outrage and anger towards Nestle- some backing up their outrage, some just jumping on the bangwagon.

But here is where it went too far:  When other bloggers went as far as to slam, criticize and be downright cruel to the bloggers in attendance. Seriously?  That is just uncalled for when you attack the attendees.  Some of the bloggers were very hurt by the accusations and cruelty thrown their way. And some of this venom was by other blogger they respect(ed).   Did those of you who attacked the bloggers personally approach them in a respectful way or just throw stones?

You see, as one of the pioneers in mommyblogging, I have seen how far we have come.  We were once at the bottom of the blogging ladder.  We were the ones at the back of the list when it came to asking opinions of us or looking to us to educate and inform others about a product or service.  We (including some of the bloggers in attendance) fought hard to gain respect in the world of social media and with corporate America.  It was through our hard work, quality writing and open mindedness that we opened doors to major corporations to reach out to us.  Yes, we opened the door to gain access to these companies.  We earned their respect and therefore they have seen the power mom bloggers have online.  Believe it or not there was a time when there was no such thing as a blogger junket.

I remember one of the first held was Johnson’ s Baby Camp.  Yes, there was a blow up over that one. However, when bloggers were upset, they went to Johnson’s.  I did not see the actual bloggers being attacked personally.  Since then there have been many, many blogger trips to corporations where mom bloggers can learn about the companies, their practices and what they stand for as a company.  (Disclosure: Yes, I have been on some of these.  Yes, I do enjoy going. And, YES, I have learned more about these companies from attending.  It is not about a free trip and swag.  Do I enjoy going on these trips?  Of course I do.  A prime example is the trip I took to Hallmark.  I learned so much there and met amazing creative people.  I did have fun but more than that, I learned so much more about the company itself.   I do look into the companies when I am asked to go on one of these blogger junkets.  Just for the record.  The majority of us do not just get an invite and automatically jump for joy and attend. We attend for a reason.  We attend to hear what they have to teach us and show us about their company.)  For the record, Johnson’s did learn from the constructive criticism they received.  I worked with the PR person on this and saw it from their side as well.

Some of these women were at the forefront of mommyblogging.  They were ones that (even if the term mommyblogger made their skin crawl) fought to be heard and respected.  They are not into blogging for free trips, swag or bragging rights that they have been able to go on these trips.  They are the ones whose quality of writing brought these trips to you. (Yes, you who have been on them yourselves and enjoyed them.)   They helped show that we are powerful, useful and want to learn more about the products they may (or may not) be buying for their families.  To suggest anything else is not only inaccurate but cruel.  These women were blogging about their lives long before there was any monetary compensation or free trips involved.  Long before some of you were even blogging.

I saw and heard many women I respect personally attack these bloggers and frankly, it pisses me off in a big way.  I lost respect for women I had admired who used social media as a way to attack the attendees themselves.  What do you hope to gain doing that?  Do you think that by attacking their ethics, motivation and character makes you look more informed and a better person/mom blogger?  Well, it doesn’t.  It makes you look foolish and immature.

If you have a problem with Nestle, bring it up with NESTLE.  You want to boycott them, you go on with your bad self.  You want to tell Nestle off, do it.  It is well within your right to stand strong in your beliefs when it comes to a company and their practices.  I applaud you being an advocate for what you believe.  I seriously do admire those of you who stand up for what you believe and fight to see that injustices you hear or learn about are dealt with.

However, the moment you made it personal towards the mombloggers (and dad blogger) who went to this event, you lost your credibility.  At least with me.  It amounts to nothing more than school yard bullying.  Not to mention bullying some of the very people who have opened doors that I know you have enjoyed walking through yourself.

And, yes, I know that not all of the people who are anti-Nestle berated these bloggers. I know that.  Enough did, though, that I feel it should be addressed.

Those of you who did make it personal with these bloggers, the next time you decided to throw stones at these people, you think long and hard about what stones could be thrown at you.  Their attendance did not mean they support Nestle’s practices.  Do you know why they went?  Did you ask them what their motivation was to attend?  Did you find out if they wanted to become better informed on the issues you brought up?  Or did you assume their attendance automatically made them the bad guys?

With social media such as Twitter it is so easy to sit behind a computer and hurl your insults and make these people feel bad.  Are you using social media as a tool or as a weapon?  Think about it.

Had I been able to go, would I have gone?  Probably.  Not because I discount the research done by many bloggers on the company.  Not because I wanted a free trip. And not because I will blindly go anywhere I am asked to go.  But because no matter how much research I read from you, I want to get my own answers.  I want to see both sides.  I want to educate myself.

I am so disappointed in how my fellow mombloggers were treated personally. It infuriates me.

I fear that behavior like I saw will drag the mom(my) blogger name into the mud and shove us back into the depths of “we don’t want to hear from them” because dammit we have worked too hard for too many years to gain respect.

And, no, I am not talking about speaking out about your feelings, research and ideas about Nestle itself.  I am talking about the rude, mean spirited attacks against women I know to be admirable, respected and intelligent well educated bloggers who have done amazing things when it comes to blogging–namely momblogging.

Shame on those of you who saw fit to attack the attendees themselves.

Use your anger and your outrage over the company to open a dialogue with Nestle or use your words to educate those who do not know what you have researched.

And for the love of all things community, back the hell off of these bloggers.  They are good people.

/ end rant

Marketing to Moms: The Good PR Firms Get the Link Love Here! (So leave your link love for crying out loud!)

Marketing to Moms: The Good PR Firms Get the Link Love Here! (So leave your link love for crying out loud!)

When I first wrote this post praising Weber Shandwick Dallas for their amazing social media and PR departments, my only reason behind it was to show that there are some great relationships between mom bloggers and PR people.  I was a bit surprised by the number of emails and tweets etc that I got in response.   Some of you wanted to tell me all about the wonderful PR companies you have worked with.  A few wanted to share horror stories.  One person called me a sell out for “giving it away for free” just because someone asked me to share my thoughts with them.  (Dude, didn’t you read the post. I got a freakin’ donut!)

I am not going to say I don’t like to get free things and tell you all about it. (I will tell you right up front I have a not so flattering nickname when it comes to my adoration of getting products to review.)  I am not saying I don’t want to be invited on blogger trips. (For the record, I have never gone on one.)  I think those things are fabulous and a great marketing tool!  I mean, come on, let’s be real about it.  It works.   But I didn’t write it to get on some “good list” that must be floating around out there.  (Is it? Am I on it? Ha!)  I wrote it because I figured something out.

Marketing to Moms can be done and done well when both parties respect each other.

Both sides.

I have spent hours talking to some of the people I have worked with about what they need from mom bloggers and what they are trying to achieve with some of their promotions.  That was the key for me.  Now?  When I am asked to promote, review, or sample a product or service one of my first questions is “What does your client want to know?”   Do they want to know if I like their product?  If I would use their product?  If I would recommend the product but have no use for it myself?  If the product is total crap and they need to rework everything?  Do they really want the truth?  Yes, there are some out there that just want a mention.  Some–most– truly want to know what you thought about the product–good or bad.  And some are just trying to get the word out and don’t care what you do with it.  (Not that I have found many sincere ones that fall into that category.)

But in all seriousness, I loved reading about the relationships that mom bloggers have been able to form with some PR reps.  It is way more refreshing than reading about the horror stories.  Liz of This Full House (and my own blogging idol) wrote a post about my post about her post.  (Did you get that?)

I thought that I would follow in her footsteps and write a post like that as well.

Then I thought I would do something a bit different. (So she won’t accuse me of stalking and stuff.)

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Generation Huggies Winners!

Generation Huggies Winners!

Remember when I told you that I was working  with Generation Huggies interviewing moms?  They searched for 30 moms to feature in their 30th Anniversary ad campaign.  Remember when I asked you to go vote for your favorite? Well, the winners have been chosen!  Check out these videos out at Generation

Click the Winners Gallery Tab and see listen to what these women had to say about Motherhood.  As I eagerly watched through the videos, I was thrilled to find one of the moms that I met at the Texas State Fair.  Her name is Britt.  She was so nice and so kind!  I adored her immediately.  Imagine my delight to see that she was one of the chosen winners of hundreds of entries.  Britt will be featured in a national ad campaign for Huggies.

Meet Britt from the Dallas area. (Click to enlarge.)

Meet Britt
Meet Britt

It’s not to late for you to share with us your thoughts on motherhood.  Come over to The Motherhood and tell us what motherhood means to you.  It is fun to hear what other moms think and share!

Stay tuned and I may have another surprise for you!

A PR Firm that Gets It. (Or the shocking revelation that there can be mutual respect between mom bloggers and the PR world)

A PR Firm that Gets It. (Or the shocking revelation that there can be mutual respect between mom bloggers and the PR world)

I have been wanting to write about this for a while now.  But, by now you know me and know that I get sidetracked and busy with life and deadlines and forget to share these things with you.

With such “fine examples”  as the one Liz shared with us of how some PR firms handle their bloggers, I want to share with you a company that has forever earned my respect.

Recently, I was asked to speak at a workshop as part of a special Social Media Month at the Dallas office of the international firm of Weber Shandwick Worldwide.   They wanted me to speak at their workshop on reaching out to Mom and Parenting Blogs.   They wanted to get a feel for what readers and mom bloggers want to hear about, what they’re looking for, best ways and reasons to contact them, and some of the best practices I have come across with marketing to moms.

Let me say right now, I told them upfront that I was in no way speaking for all mom bloggers or all parenting bloggers.  I also said made sure they knew  what I was sharing were things  I preferred, my experiences and the experiences of mom bloggers that I have spoken to when it comes to marketing to mom bloggers.  (Yes, Virginia, there is a mom blogger back channel that talks about blog pitches–the good, the bad and the “what were they thinking?!”)

The room was filled and even had the  *”phantom voice of one who is connected” all there to try to learn how to approach mom bloggers.  They wanted to know some do’s and don’ts.  They also wanted to hear the good stories and the horror stories.  I shared with them what I knew.  What I preferred.  What I have heard other moms say they prefer. And things that will quickly insult us or get you sent straight to our spam folder.  I shared a few of our insider secrets and they shared a few of theirs.

If I had to sum it all up in one word?

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Pitch me and I may hit it out of the ballpark for you. But I may call a foul!

Pitch me and I may hit it out of the ballpark for you. But I may call a foul!

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.)

  • AT&T
  • Nintendo (I would so totally have Nintendo’s baby if you could have a company’s baby! For now? Tattoo!)
  • Saturn
  • Ford
  • Disney
  • Disney Mobile
  • HP
  • Blizzard
  • Ogilvy
  • 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.