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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marketing & Blogger Relations 101: Let's set the record straight

One simply cannot turn around these days without hearing the bad publicity aimed at mommy bloggers (Oh, how I despise that terminology, now). It's in the newspaper and on national news sites, such as this article from ABC News, as well as local and national television news stations.

I've always heard that "no news is good news" when it comes to major news stations and papers, which is one reason why I rarely watch televised news or read the local paper.

All one ever hears on newscasts is how someone was brutally murdered, how crooked politicians can be, celebrity scandals, or any other negative, rubber-necking type of report to which the majority of our nation flocks.

"Did you hear about so-and-so?"

Well, frankly, I could care less. I have enough to worry about without sticking my nose in the latest Jon and Kate venture.

I do, however, stay informed by visiting top rated news sites, and clicking on that which interests me each morning.

When I read this article on the ABC news website, as well as so many others like it (hello, Time Magazine . . . you know who you are), I was PUH issedd!

Who gives a fly rats ass if we, "mommy bloggers," get a little something in return for advertising for a company in which we believe, or hosting a giveaway for an interesting, user-friendly item? Who cares if we want to review a product we find useful in our own family, and want to share it with other mothers who know they can trust our opinion? As long as we let them know we received some form of payment, or a free product in exchange for doing the review, then what is the harm?

We, bloggers, who just happen to be moms, are all about making connections, establishing those life-long friendships with someone we've never met in person, and bonding over a multitude of commonalities. Honesty, integrity, raw emotions and humor equals loyal readership. This is our intention, plain and simple.

We are the groups of ladies who intimately gather for coffee some mornings; we are those who chat while our children play together; the ones who make familial decisions; the one's who do the majority of 'for the home' purchases; the ones who discuss innovative products with our neighbor on the other side of the fence.

We are the ones who pour our hearts and souls into our blogs in an effort to offer to and receive support from a plethora of moms (and dads) who can relate . . . sponsored or not. Our readers know they can depend on our honesty, regardless.

Any ethical blogger who participates in product/service reviews does so in a transparent voice, and with the understanding that they have agreed to take part because they like that particular product and/or service, have a good relationship with the products PR committee, and/or support the companies family-centered values, community involvement efforts, or environmentally-friendly stance.

An ethical blogger should always have a disclosure policy evident in plain (above the fold) view for advertisers and readers alike to read. Mine is located amongst the cluster of red buttons, just below the site's logo. You can also read it here.

An ethical blogger will not submit a negative review. Instead, they will forward any constructive criticism they may have of your product or service. They may provide suggestions as to how your product/service might be improved upon, as well as agree to review said product/service once it has been revised.

I have worked with quite a few PR representatives that have gone the extra mile to ensure the bloggers they approach are happy with their efforts. I commend the companies who are fully aware that we are their consumer base; we are their 'Word-of-Mouth' campaign; we are their honest, accurate and marketable testers. The respect I have received from these companies is, bar none, the absolute best representative of the product within.

An ethical blogger will only agree to review a product and/or service that has a marked potential for benefiting their families, as well as their readers' families. That said, I will provide an example of poor blogger relations:

If a person does not own a swimming pool, do not offer them the opportunity to review a swimming pool cover.

I had watched a local news broadcast a couple of months back, interviewing a blogger who did, in fact, review a swimming pool cover, and did not own a swimming pool. Seriously, people? That is highly unethical!

I'm not understanding the big deal concerning mom bloggers, here. If they have proven their honesty and integrity time and time again, then what is the issue at hand?

Do you not pay your actors who endorse your products? Is JLC just special, Activia? Well, of course she is! She is famous for her acting abilities, but is she held liable for the products she endorses should they not perform? Um . . . that would be a 'no'.

When four out of five dentist recommend chewing Trident, are they held liable for their recommendation? 'No' again.

When consumers are rallied in a local mall to participate in the latest and greatest energy drink, can they be sued by the FTC because they provided their opinion?

How about when I was paid a whole $5.00 to participate in consumer research for Proctor & Gamble products, noting which product package stood out to me the most, or which brand of fabric softener I preferred? Is the FTC going to show up at my door and whack me over the head repeatedly until I recant my statement? Again, that would be a big FAT 'NO'!

So, why all the hype with so called 'Mommy Bloggers'?

Dos and Don'ts of Blogger Relations:

PR reps and 'Blogger Relations Specialists', this is for you. Read it thoroughly, and mull it over a while. Put yourself in our shoes, and see if you don't feel the same (leave the shoes behind, though. In this economy, we can't afford another pair).


  • Take the time to read our blogs, and familiarize yourself with our families, our lifestyle, the ages of our children, and (most importantly) our names. I swear if I get one more email addressed to 'Dear Mommy Blogger', I'm going postal!

  • Make yourself available to us, should we have any questions.

  • Assign only one contact person to your selected group of bloggers. This cuts down on annoying duplicate emails from the same company, and ensures our questions will be answered effectively, as well as in a timely manner.

  • Allow us enough time to thoroughly evaluate your product, research your company, and compile an insightful review. I do understand and will cooperate with you if I am given enough time to investigate and compose a review. However, if you email me on Monday and expect a thorough account on Wednesday (the day I receive the product in the mail), well, you're just playing with fire.

  • Provide us with professional photos of your product, logo, etc. to use in our review.

  • Do send us products that would equate to the monetary amount you would have spent if you were to actually pay standard freelance writing/editing fees. As a freelance writer/editor, myself, I have taken the liberty of posting my rates on my blog.

  • If I agree to do a review on a product my family would use, and then you send me a one-ounce bottle of the hand creme, well . . . let's just say you'll get that amount in return.

  • Do treat us with the same respect you have for your co-workers; your boss; your friends.

  • Consider offering a choice a products to review. When given a choice, your reviewer will select the item most appropriate for their families, resulting in a more thorough account of said product.

  • Take the time to read our reviews and follow-up with a simple 'thank you'. We are more likely to work with you in the future, if you do so.


  • Send out a mass email, and simply put our names in the blank.

  • Pitch me with your press release that was initially intended for a newsroom. Personalized letters are a must! If you care anything about your product and the company you represent, you will take the time to research your potential reviewers, and connect with the ones who best represent a qualified user of said product.

  • Delude yourself into the ever-so-popular notion that, we, mom bloggers are ignorant butt-wiping morons. Most of us left our careers to stay at home with our children to ensure they will be outstanding citizens one day--citizens who will be wiping our butts one day. We've seen the village and we don't want them raising our child! Then, again, some of us are still working outside the home, and some of us are working from the home. In either of the three scenarios, we all deserve the utmost respect, nonetheless.

  • Expect something for nothing. In all matters of simplicity, it just 'ain't gonna' happen. We, moms, have the most difficult, time-consuming jobs in the world, minus the monetary compensation. Our time is exceptionally valuable to us, as most of us barely get any amount of it to ourselves. You are being compensated to solicit us for our services. Isn't only fair that we receive some form of recoupment for our time, as well?

  • If it's advertising you want, it's advertising you'll get . . . but only if you pay for it. Please refer to my advertising rates here. You will see that they are very reasonable, in comparison to most marketing venues. If your business can afford multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, blasting 30-seconds spots of "GAWD! You so need this product!", you can shell out a few dollars to support those who actually use it.

  • Don't email daily for a status report. I always email my reps with a direct link, once I have posted the review.

  • If I am given two weeks to evaluate and review your product, don't send me daily emails asking if it is posted yet. I do understand deadlines, and will do my best to 'get the job done', at the very least, a few days in advance to avoid crunch time. However, if you tell me when you want it one more time, I'm going to tell you where to put it!

Jennifer at Eighty MPH Mom added this 'Don't':

  • "Don't agree to send a product for review and then don't send it or follow up should at least email and say that you can no longer do it. I'm sure you would expect the same courtesy from the blogger"

Michaele at Mama Michie's Musings also added a 'Don't':

  • "If you tell us we can have a giveaway with the review, then please make sure you send the winner their prize in a timely manner (i.e. within 2 weeks). Don't wait 4 or 5 weeks before sending out the package."

If anyone has anything else they would like to add, please feel free to do so in the comment section. I will, then, cut and paste it into the body of the post and credit the addition to you.


Jennifer-Eighty MPH Mom September 15, 2009 at 4:07 PM  

Wow - just wow - what a wonderful post. You have summed up what I have wanted to say for so long.

I would add "Don't agree to send a product for review and then don't send it or follow up should at least email and say that you can no longer do it. I'm sure you would expect the same courtesy from the blogger"

JaelCustomDesigns September 18, 2009 at 6:13 PM  

Popping in from MBC!
Now following you...

Great information!

Unknown September 23, 2009 at 8:51 AM  

What a great post! I couldn't have said it better.
I would just add too - If you tell us we can have a giveaway with the review, then please make sure you send the winner their prize in a timely manner (i.e. within 2 weeks). Don't wait 4 or 5 weeks before sending out the package.

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Angela McCoy is a freelance writer/editor, military wife and work at home mom (WAHM) to four boys with special needs. Her writing encompasses a myriad of topics -- Autism, ADHD, Auditory Processing Disorder, Cystinosis, Fanconi's Syndrome, kidney transplant, and more -- influenced by her two teenagers and seven-year-old twins. She considers writing to be therapeutic and utilizes her skills to counsel and inspire her readers. Angela is a quick-witted, 'no holds barred,' tell it like it is' humorist who has learned that laughter truly is the best antidote to life's adversities.

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