How to Reach and Foster Relationships with Mommy Bloggers
The New York City Chapter of the Public Relations Society September panel, “Mother Knows Best: Meet the Mommy Media” featured five bloggers providing insight on the best ways to get your story covered in their blogs as well as various ways to approach them and establish a relationship first before sending out a pitch.
The event was billed as:
“Mommy bloggers and mommy media continue to grow at an exponential rate. They have established themselves as an influential community within our media culture. With women accounting for over half the population and moms as the decision makers of household purchases, it’s crucial that PR professionals include these influencers as part of their media outreach or as consultants and brand ambassadors to ensure successful programs for their clients. Join several influential bloggers to get an inside look on how to reach and foster relationships with them on behalf of your clients.”
– Erin Hanson, moderator of the panel is a senior vice president in MS&L Group’s consumer marketing practice in New York, and currently oversees global external relations strategy for Procter & Gamble household brands Swiffer, Febreze and Mr. Clean. Through her work on P&G, 3M, Johnson & Johnson and Kraft, she has amassed a wealth of experience working with mom influencers, bloggers and social networks.
– Carol Cain is Founder and Publisher of NYCityMama.com a Travel and Food site which highlights family-friendly destinations for travelers both in and out of New York. Before venturing into the world of travel blogging, she worked in Public Relations, and it is this experience that has helped her leverage successful relationships with PR representatives and brands nationwide. You can follow Carol on Twitter @nycitymama.
– Anna Fader, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Mommy Poppins. After a decade working as an award-
winning advertising creative for BBDO NY, Anna became interested in social media and blogging as a way to connect directly with customers. In 2007 she started a social media consultancy and her own blog, MommyPoppins.com which gets over 200,000 unique visitors per month.
– Beth Feldman is the founder of Role Mommy, a thriving online community dedicated to inspiring,
entertaining and empowering today’s busy moms to pursue their passion while raising a family. She is a former television network executive who pole vaulted off the corporate ladder to pursue her passion. Through Role Mommy, she also offers advice to parents on tweens and social media. You can follow Beth on Twitter @rolemommy.
– Liz Gumbinner is the co-publisher and editor-in-chief of the shopping and trend blog
CoolMomPicks.com, which has been called “the online arbiter of cool” by Parents Magazine and named one of Real Simple’s 3 favorite blogs for parents. She’s also the author of the popular personal blog Mom-101.com, and manages to balance it with a job as an ad agency creative director.
CoolMomPicks on Twitter, CoolMomPicks on Facebook.
– Isabel Kaliman is the founder and chief at Alpha Mom, an online destination and marketing research lab. The term “Alpha Mom” has been recognized by USA Today, The Today Show, and Good Morning America as the category generic for the ultimate influencer. Forbes anointed Alpha Mom one of the Top 10 Mommy’Hood Gurus and Parents Magazine named Isabel one of the ten “Power Moms”. You can follow Isabel on Twitter @isabelkallman.
ERIN How did you get into mom blogging?
Started her blog two years ago and wanted to share with others what she was doing with her three sons. She would visit various places such as restaurants, hotels and started as a diary but became an informative site for parents.
Was creative director at BBDO for over two years and started Mommy Poppins as a New Years resolution. She saw how well her blog worked with advertising to connect to consumers and left BBDO and transitioned over to social media.
Was VP at CBS Television. Spearheaded first mommy blogger press conference for New Adventures of Old Christine. Convinced CBS to partner with blogs. She left CBS to start her own PR/Consulting company to work with brands that wanted to reach out to mom bloggers.
Started blogging in 2006. She was pregnant and started Mom101 as a personal blog which enabled her to write about being a mom. She then started a shopping blog for parents which became Cool Mom Picks that currently operates as an online magazine.
Alpha Mom started as a television network/Video on Demand channel that morphed online. She gets excited when readers send in email stating that the information/topic read on her blog was helpful and actually helped improve the health of women during pregnancy.
ERIN How do you respond to the title of “mommyblogger?”
She does not like it and feels that it limits her audience. As a writer she welcomes a large audience. Prefers titles such as: Mom Blogger or Parenting Blogger. Mom blogs cover a wide range of topics so not all of these blogs are the same.
She was introduced at a meeting as the “mommy blogger” and does not mind the title, but she considers herself to be a travel blogger and also reviews restaurants. The perception of the mommy blogger is that you are a mom at home with your kids. But Carol is almost never home, and anybody that knows her knows she is very busy.
Mommy Blogger defines the person not what you are writing about. Writers write about a lot of stuff such as family life, personal life, politics, etc.
ERIN How do PR people approach you, and should PR people approach bloggers like a journalist?
We do not have the traditional corporate job, but we work with corporations to provide expertise and bring that into our blog/business. The blog is not just a hobby. I would take time to read the blog and see if it is right for your target.
She did a blogger outreach program to send out a product for review and found that she still had to sit down and read all of the blogs and write individual pitch letters. Get to know the blog and the blogger.
I have advertising clients say, “We need to reach the mommy market” and that makes me bristle as it puts an impression in your head of the stay at home mom raising the kids and performing traditional roles such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. She gets pitches that begin, “Dear Mommy Blogger, I have some great laundry detergent that would be awesome for your readers…”; this may work for other mom blogs, but not hers. With the bigger blogs you need to build a relationship. I look for things that are cool for my readers.
ERIN What makes you review a product? What breaks through the clutter and give space to cover in your blog?
When it resonates with me, I will tell the story through my voice. Bloggers are now innundated with stuff and will not do anything which led a client to ask, “What should I do?” I suggested an advertorial if the blogger will not review it, as it is done in a magazine. You can compensate those bloggers and offer them to write their own experience and a banner as well. Social media is a different ball game than dealing with a journalist.
Get to know the blogger. I would love to review products but that is not my specialty so I would send it to Liz and give her the exclusive. If you send me a pitch saying, “Daily Candy and others have reviewed it,” I do not care. Why be second if it has been done already?
ERIN What can we do to insure that the relationships are authentic?
Knowing that you are going to get paid to write a review at least pay the blogger as a professional marketing person and not as a mommy blogger by providing me with a $25 gift card. She has to put in a disclaimer saying that she did not receive anything for doing a review. Think about who you are trying to reach and approach them appropriately.
Product review networks that can do the work for you are good for mass market brands so you (as a PR person/agency) can say, “I got you fifty reviews.” Blogging is not a numbers game. But the influence surpasses traffic. Readers of my blog are producers on The View, Today Show, editors of Real Simple, Glamour and they get content from my blog.
ERIN Are you finding that public relations folks are contacting you and requesting that “this is exactly what I need to say…”
My blog is for me. If there is a provision that states you must say…then we will disclose things, but we need to put it in our own words: “thank you for this sponsor…”
ERIN Has Twitter impacted your blog and changed the way you work?
Twitter has compromised the blog world and now there is less of an obligation to comment on the blog. Twitter and Facebook are extensions of your blog. There is ten times more engagement on the CoolMomPicks Facebook fan pages. We will tweet a post and get fifty hits, but when we put up a post on the CoolMomPicks Facebook page we get five hundred. They have 55,000 Twitter followers and 11000 Facebook fans. We are still figuring it all out; is twitter microblogging, a way to workshop ideas, a newsfeed, or a promotional tool?
Develop a relationship and have conversations with people on Twitter.
At this point of the discussion questions were taken from the audience.
If I am a company/product/service and I have provided you the blogger with an opportunity to try my product, stay at my hotel, dine at my restaurant, etc. but you have a negative experience, do you still write about it?
If I have a problem at the hotel/restaurant, I have to honest with my readers since that is my reputation. Some have requested not to write about it. If I experience a problem during my stay/meal, I will address it with the manager of the facility/restaurant/hotel as it is out of the PR person’s hands.
I was on a cruise ship press event and people attending the event were saying how mediocre the facilities were but when you read it on the blogs it got raving reviews because those bloggers got it for free and felt they had an obligation to be kind to their host. PR Firms are now doing the work of marketing, promotions, but you have to put yourself in bloggers shoes. What is the blogger getting out of this, and what will they get excited about?
What if your clients are commenting on the negative posts on your blog?
Do not get caught up in the back and forth. Some bloggers will do it for sensationalism. Make your point and let it go.
Don’t make it sound like your legal department wrote a corporate response.
Do you like to be pitched via Twitter or Facebook?
I do not like it. It is too public and puts us in a awkward position. Twitter is a monitoring device. Mentioned story of how she was at Hard Rock Hotel Chicago and was surprised that the Hard Rock General Manager tweeted her a reply which you can read about here.
You want to build a relationship and not pitch.
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