Mommy Bloggers are not the Indentured Servants of the Marketing World


So you get an email and it starts with

Our client has this great new gizmatic that we’d like to introduce you to…

What do you do? If you’re like me, you reply with:

Although I’d really love to be your marketing department and write about your gizmatic for free, I’m unable to do so. You see, I’m trying to make a living here and I can talk about my vagina and get more readers than if I talk about your gizmatic. If you’d like to buy some advertising space over there on the right —-> I’d love to send you a rate sheet. Otherwise you can send whatever product, and if I have time I’ll talk about it at GreenOptions, Celsias or one of the many other places I write.

And then usually I never hear from them again.

You know why? Because they can get a review for the price of overnight shipping and their gizmatic. From a spreadsheet POV I understand the decision. Long term, NotSoMuch.

Other times a week passes and they realize that the sites I write for are actually much better than this one and they clamor for a review up on Green Options.

Other bloggers make it much easier for PR firms. It might be a good review too. It might take a blogger four hours to set the product up, she might promote it on her personal blog and she’s probably got a really good following, but then the unthinkable happens.

There’s an email, “Did you notice the return shipping label?”

Huh? Really? Yes, that happened to a seasoned, established and reliable Mommy Blogger today.

AT&T has hired a PR Firm that they found an amazing Mommy Blogger, sent her a telephone device, did not read the review guidelines that have been on her site since the beginning of time (6 years or so) and then had the nerve to ask for a product to be returned.

She is humiliated. She feels ashamed and taken advantage of, her feelings are hurt and she’s wondering why she agrees to do product reviews at all. I wonder too. I had the opportunity to speak with Elizabeth a few hours ago. Her voice was cracking. As bloggers all we have is our words and our integrity.

Oh and crap. We get sent crap. I got a box full of sustainable non toxic cleaning supplies today, they were in a box full of Styrofoam packing peanuts. My Great Great Grandchildren will have to deal with those peanuts.

Naturally, I put a deet up on twitter asking other Mommy Bloggers how they feel they are treated by publicists. The answers are mixed, and no one wants me to use their name except one. Jo-Lynne from Musings of a Housewife says:

I concluded that the products I receive are usually the only payment I get for the work I put into a product review.  By the time I go back and forth in email about a product, receive it, try it, and write up a thoughtful post, I have committed several hours to the product.  A free product is actually a very moderate compensation.  Companies have no problem paying hundreds of dollars in advertising, but many expect to promote their products with bloggers for free.*  They should realize that the exposure they are getting by promoting their products on my blog include my audience that I’ve grown over several years of writing, sharing, and building relationships based on authenticity and vulnerability.  That same audience would have little trust for a TV commercial, but they trust ME because I’m an authentic human being that they have relationship with.  That is worth a lot — certainly a complimentary product.

Wow. Jo-Lynne runs three blogs and still has time to talk about products? Then she has the time to answer my twitter query? Look at the two women willing to bare themselves, why would anyone take advantage of them?

Why wouldn’t you want women like this to succeed?

For the record, I interact with a minimal number of publicists. Why? Well, I’m not a very consumer, I like good quality items and I don’t plug my kids in. I went to a Wii Fit party at Bliss and had a great time, I’m the one in the green shirt. Nintendo is a company that seems to do a great job of woo’ing it’s mommy bloggers. I also hosted a Quaker Inauguration party and if you sign their fan page on Facebook, Quaker will donate more to local food pantries. They didn’t pay me, I just believed in the mission. I read food labels (so that eliminates most of them) and I don’t imagine Johnson and Johnson will knock my front door down, Joe’s gave me a discount code to share with you, but I really think that the money is in the content.

I’ll have to stick with writing about my underwear and my relationships with murderers. Frankly, those posts get a lot of traffic, and I don’t have to worry about sounding smart. Plus, I still get to go to all the parties.

*I feel a need to correct Jo-Lynne, companies are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise a product.

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