Did Fresh Off the Boat Forget Asian Bloggers?

02.8.15

This weekend I read a post by a blogger I’d never heard of before. Her name is Grace Hwang Lynch and her blog is called HapaMama. I was unfamiliar with the term Hapa so after devouring the first post it was down the rabbit hole where I read an interview and learned that Hapa describes mixed race Asians. It’s not a term that’s universally embraced, as is evidenced in Grace’s interview with Jason Fung, which makes their interview all the more compelling.

My knowledge of Asian culture is limited to food and spas. I was about to write: I love that I live in a diverse city but that’s not entirely true. I spend a fair bit of time in Koreatown because once you’ve been to a jjimjilbang Burke Williams just won’t do. I often go to Monterey Park, Chinatown or parts of Gardena for Asian food. So I guess that Los Angeles is diverse in many ways but with everything still in it’s own part of town I’m not sure that we aren’t still self segregating. That’s another post.

If you are a mom blogger, particularly a PR Friendly Mom Blogger this post will look different to you. If you are not part of a blogging community, don’t follow hashtags and have no idea when a junket is happening you’ll see things the way I lay them out here. So with that I’d like to demonstrate to bloggers what the casual reader observes. I am very much on the outside of mom blogging events, junkets, PR lists, and it is with this lens that I watched the Fresh Off The Boat hullabaloo evolve.

First there was a post and it’s a good post. Grace wrote about a junket where she observed on instagram and begins with:

I am tremendously disappointed in finding out on Instagram this afternoon that there was a “Fresh Off the Boat” blogger event in conjunction with the “Big Hero 6” event today, and that not only was I not included in this, but that none of the influential Asian American bloggers were. I never heard back from Ellen Gonzalez at ABC.

Grace includes the following image in her post

Instagram image of bloggers on the bus to the #ABCTVevent

She goes on to make some very good points about Asian American bloggers, the need to hear their voices and their relevance (duh!) in promoting shows like Fresh Off the Boat. Make no mistake this is all about promotion and excluding Asian American voices from the promotion is an obvious error if we’re looking in from the outside.

I shared Grace’s post on Facebook and was met with some interesting responses, most of them private. Let’s face it, bloggers don’t want to criticize The Mouse in public. They want to be invited on trips, to theme parks, Hawaii, cruises and to movie premieres. I understand that but I also know that I’ve been critical of Disney before, Disneyland is far from my Happiest Place on Earth, and I’m still invited to things, granted they’re kinda crappy and the one time I was invited to Disneyland with my family it was on Passover. Cultural sensitivity runs deep I suppose. Publicly Yolanda Machado (one of the bloggers on the junket) said:

It’s actually a horribly researched post. The trip wasn’t for the show, so it isn’t ABC budget (it’s actually for a Latino themed film), there are mothers on there of multicultural kids, and at least 3 or 4 diversity bloggers on the trip. I see her sentiment but she is stereotyping people just by a photo.

Yolanda does have a good point. We are all stereotyping the bloggers by a photo. My friend Yvonne Condes often talks about being a caucasian looking Latina. Bloggers like Yvonne may succeed bit by bit in teaching people that Latina is a broad term and some of us may look at Instagram photos and not assume everyone is caucasian some day, but for now, we see a group of women who presumably screened Fresh Off the Boat and none of the faces look Asian.

We know that images are powerful. If you ever doubt the power of images you needn’t look further than Pinterest to confirm their import both online and off. Armed with the knowledge that images are powerful wouldn’t it make sense to ensure that when someone takes a photo of your group they’ll see more than one hue? More than two? Maybe even ensure that every woman who looks at a photo of a group will see at least one person who looks at least a little like she does. I’ve been told by more than one person that I don’t “read well in the Bible Belt”. In case you aren’t fluent in euphemism that means, “too Jewy”.

I don’t know how bloggers are supposed to research events they haven’t been invited to. There are blogger groups that I’m part of and I still don’t understand the business model. I don’t understand what PR Friendly Bloggers bring to the table. I don’t understand the hows and whys of the junket and I will never understand how bloggers are selected and what measurement occurs. This is all outside of my current job description.

If you work at a TV or a film studio you don’t need bloggers to tell you that perception is everything. AJ pops in to remind us what a publicist’s job is:

PR 101. Perception matters. These women might have kids at home, husbands, cousins, etc. I hate to stereotype and I hate to make assumptions but I’m a slave to my profession sometimes… However, when you’re a good publicist, you think ahead to the photo opp. No matter what you’re promoting. To do otherwise is naive. I’d love to see the invite list for that junket. And the schedule. I suppose we’ll never know the full story because no one over there is really commenting.

Blogging is problematic. Bloggers spend a lot of time communicating with one another in groups both private and public. Sometimes I think bloggers forget that they’re writing for an audience that isn’t limited to their friends and social media fans. There are people out there who simply read a post and keep on clicking to the next thing. The fact that an event is hashtagged has zero resonance for people who aren’t at the event and don’t measure impressions as part of their job.

Jenny Lawson popped in on Jeremy’s timeline with this:

I don’t have a dog in this fight & I don’t get invited on press junkets but there were several WOC in the group (Mexican and Latina, I think) and I believe the blonde lady fixing her ponytail in the picture is Myrah (from Mamacita La Cuponera) who is a proud Latina. One of the blog posts explains that this was a pre-set group focused seeing a movie about high school Latino sport team, and the ABC thing was a later addition. TOTALLY agree there needs to be more inclusion, better thought-out PR, and increased intersectionality, but I hate that there are Latina women who went to watch a movie with an inspirational Latino focus and found themselves embroiled in an incident that wrongly labels them as white. Bleh. Ignore me if you want. This shit is complicated.

This shit is complicated, which is a reminder that we can uncomplicate things when we invite people who don’t look, act or think like us. We can uncomplicate things when we have guests who can share different experiences with us, provide us with a view from a different background.

One of my favorite bloggers emailed me with the following. They would like it to be anonymous. I will agree with this blogger, not anonymously.

If this were a “Blackish” press trip and it was all white bloggers, no one would be talking about what kids were at home or who was invited. Black Twitter would be in an absolute UPROAR right now and you’d have high profile bloggers chiming in with support.

It has been pointed out in private forums, in DM’s that were requested to be private, and in phone conversations that this wasn’t a junket for Fresh Off the Boat. The junket was a three day trip for McFarlane, a Disney movie that I was invited to see. I was told anonymously that the FOB portion of the trip was 90 minutes of a three day trip and therefore is less important.

I respectfully disagree.

I really wanted to hear from my friend Chris Lam who is a new mother, a blogger, works in social media and is Asian American. I asked her what she thought of Grace’s post and what she thought of the follow up around it. Chris’ reaction:

If they truly walked the walk (bloggers talking about inclusion and having a camaraderie), then they would agree with Grace, stand by their “sister” blogger and help their peer(s) through the glass door/get on the damn bus.

Pitches That Won’t Work

09.28.11

My inbox is filling up with marketers and publicists who want to get The Mommy Bloggers to talk about their stuff.

Since everyone knows that The Mommy Bloggers are a homogenous group I thought I’d give you a list of pitches that will never work for me. I’m pretty sure they work for everyone else otherwise I wouldn’t get a dozen of these every hour.

  • I won’t post a photo of a celebrity wearing your clothing. I don’t care about celebrities. I care about bloggers.
  • I won’t bring my children to your event. They are not bloggers.
  • I don’t really talk about what I wear until after I’ve purchased it so sending me high resolution photos isn’t really a great idea.
  • I don’t keep clothes that people send me, so sending me samples is also not a great idea.
  • My husband doesn’t smoke cigars or wear ties
  • My dog doesn’t wear clothes.
  • I can’t talk about the gifts I’ve bought for anyone because they read my blog. So you can skip all the gift guides. I did one once, it was a lot of work.
  • I won’t tell you what we’re planning to wear for Halloween, but that’s just because no one cares
  • I don’t really want to work hard, so if your pitch looks like work then it won’t get read.
  • Your new app may be great, but since the only app I’ve ever written about is iFart. It is the only app worth  writing about.
  • Do not add me to constant contact, icontact or any other mass email list. There is no reason for me to  care about the same content everyone else is getting.
  • If you didn’t come from my womb don’t call me Mom, Mommy or Mami. I’m not your mother, I’m Mrs. Gottlieb, address your emails appropriately.
  • I don’t talk about TV shows so you can probably skip those, I’m basically a pop culture disaster.
  • If you’re having a contest you can buy an ad but word of mouth on something with a huge budget? Only an idiot would pick up that flaming baton

Pitches that do work

BlogHer 2011 Observations

08.7.11

BlogHer 11 started with giggles and ended in uncontrollable laughter. I’d been promised a Nissan Murano for the drive to San Diego, unfortunately someone crashed the car a few days before the event and it just wouldn’t be out of the body shop in time.

The folks at Nissan were very apologetic, but hey, these things happen. They explained to me that there was one car left from the fleet, a Frontier. I said I’d take it, and then I googled Nissan Frontier.

OMG a pick’em up truck. A BIG ASS PICK UP TRUCK.

We drove this exact same nissan Frontier 2011 to BlogHer in San Diego

So I called my friend Carley who was driving down with me and I explained to her that we would be having a different experience. Since Carley has historically been open to my stupid ideas I felt fairly certain she’d be open to this. We had an absolute blast driving the Frontier down.

I will preemptively answer a few questions you might have about two women driving a Nissan Frontier:

  • Yes, it gets a lot of attention
  • No, I cannot park it very well
  • Yes, when we dropped it off with the valet we then made the valet take our suitcases and stuff them in the cab for safety
  • Yes, the kids think I’m the coolest mom in town
  • No, we didn’t go off-roading (but I’ve still got 24 hours)
  • Yes, the visibility is awesome
  • No, there were no problems getting in and out in a skirt and heels
  • 90 MPH is too fast to drive on a lightly curved highway interchange, though we broke no laws and absolutely were driving safely with the flow of traffic

Back to BlogHer. As I’d expected, no one cared what anyone wore. No one was judgy except me. I got one look at my friend Carly’s handbag and decided that I absolutely HAD to have one. (see not all judgement is bad). I grabbed Cassie and my pick up truck and the concierge gave us directions to Barney’s in Fashion Valley.

Except there was no Barneys, it was a Barney’s Co-Op which definitely wouldn’t have the amazing Proenza Schouler bag that I still must own. So Cassie and I hit up Neimans and I found a great dress and a pair of crisp white bermuda shorts that were on sale. Because of the sale prices Mr G now owes me $423, it’s called wife math.

Later that evening I had an amazing dinner in a sea of blones. Cassie, Kathy, Claire and I headed to Nobu and proceeded to eat and drink and chat for two hours. It was one of those dinners that you want to never end. I couldn’t get enough of their stories, the travel, the career building, the rapid ascents, the love stories. I wanted to drink in their successes and force them all to blog endlessly so that I can read about it more. I hunger for moments like these, smart women sharing knowledge. I don’t get enough of it.

I attended one session. It was good.

I met with brand representatives from a dozen or companies, some of whom I’ve worked with, some of whom I will never work with but I will play matchmaker with a friend. They were all anxious to work with bloggers, and they will have varying degrees of success if they don’t get in their own way.

I had a stumbly dinner with Cathy and Laurie and I’m hoping that someone can explain to me why shoes that fit me six months ago are now so big that I walk right out of them. My feet are not shrinking.

I changed hotel rooms. If you ever have to stay at the Marriott Marquis in Downtown San Diego do not under any circumstances accept a room with city views. Trains go by every half hour or so all night long, and just as you’re about to drift off to sleep a train whistle will wake you up. The first night was somewhere beyond miserable. The second night we faced the harbor, it was much better.

Bloggers are smart. Don’t let their cutesy icons fool you, these women are building meaningful businesses.

There are a few new startups that I fell in love with. Follow @PopSalad on twitter, it’s evolving into something fun. Parents, you’ll want to watch for Vikido. It’s good stuff. Tom was there from Cmp.ly, if you aren’t using cmp.ly you’re working too damn hard.

I hate to be negative, because 98% of BlogHer was fabulous. I have just one PR agency that I can’t work with. Over the years I’ve had nothing but terrible pitches from them followed by 2-3 follow up emails that were less like follow ups and more like nagging. They aren’t a small shop, they’re just a shop I’m not a match with. This shop recently hired a fellow blogger as part of their team. When I met up with the blogger we chatted and she told me all about the work she was up to with the agency and all the perks of blogging.

I was confused because the blogger/publicist had provided me with access to the client company yet she was telling me about how her blog got 1,000 hits a day from her interviews with executives and creatives from that same company. Then she went on to tell me that she loved working with _____ as a blogger because of the perks and she was already a fan. So I smiled and walked away.

I love when publicists blog. There are too many great PR blogs to mention. I love when bloggers find jobs within public relations firms. What I saw at BlogHer (and again, it’s just this one shop that I saw it with) is that the best access will go to the bloggers who work there. I am staying far far away.

I was sad to see so many women smoking. I won’t sermonize, but it made me sad.

The phrase I most often heard was, “I’m not just a blogger.” They would go on to talk about their other talents and social media influence. I felt badly for these ladies too, because there’s nothing wrong with being a blogger. I’m just a blogger.

 

 

 

 

Would You Get on a Scale in Public for $300?

01.5.11

In 2011 I promised myself that I’d stop picking on the poor publicists who pitch the mommy bloggers. I swore I’d avoid the low hanging fruit, and I vowed to ignore WalMart, Skittles, and train wrecks in between.

Today’s pitch is too rich to ignore.

A group of Mommy Bloggers were invited by Special K to go to The Grove (its an outdoor mall here in Los Angeles), and hop on a scale. You know, in front of people, presumably a crowd. From the pitch:

Because Special K focuses on helping people lose weight and be healthy, at the event, people will be invited to step on a super-sized scale to reveal what they will GAIN when they lose weight (a common New Year’s Resolution) in 2011. Instead of a number, the scale will give an inspirational word or phrase that encompasses the emotional benefit of achieving a goal!  You can also write your “gain” on Special K cereal packaging, take a photo with it, and share it with other women on the SpecialK.com community.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

– Help us encourage people to attend the event!  Post the details on Twitter, Facebook and your blogs during the week leading up to it.
– Attend the event and be an on-site reporter for your blog – talking to Special K representatives and other attendees about their New Year’s Resolutions, etc.  If you can include video that would be awesome!
– Live tweet during the event if you have the capabilities.
– Take photos and video as you talk with people and participate in the activities!
– The next step would be to take all of the fantastic material you gather – quotes from attendees, photos, videos, things you learned – and turn it into an inspiring, wonderful blog post for your readers.

The stipend for participating is $300!

The issues as I see them:

  • Who is going to weigh themselves at The Grove? Is nothing private? I don’t care that you get a message instead of a number, this is a horrible plan that reeks of 23 year old publicists twirling their frosted hair in a boardroom.
  • Why would I care about the “Special K Community”? We have communities, we don’t have to gather around a cereal box.
  • Encourage people to attend the event? Why? So they can weigh themselves too? Am I supposed to have any friends left?
  • Post on twitter, facebook and my blogs? For $300? Three Hundred Dollars to reach 50,000 people? Did someone drop you on your head?
  • Attend the event and be an on site reporter, plus video? Again, this is a HUGE ask, with a minuscule amount of money attached to it.

I can’t go on point by point, Special K has devised a five figure campaign and offered bloggers $300 to humiliate themselves and then get about $10 an hour by the time they’re done. In addition to that it’s a huge expense of social capitol.

Also, ladies, before you attend an event like this I’d like you to look at the ingredients for Special K and decide if that’s what you think you should eat for two meals a day. Keep in mind that they’re listed in order of greatest to least quantity.

Special K Ingredients: Rice, wheat gluten, sugar, defatted wheat germ, salt, high fructose corn syrup, dried whey, malt flavoring, calcium caseinate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), alpha tocopherol acetate (vitamin E), reduced iron, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), vitamin A palmitate, folic acid, and vitamin B12.

Pitching Me

09.23.10

I’m prickly. It’s no secret.

I’m not all that into promoting products and using this space for giveaways or coupons or anything like that. I’m more interested in the connections we all make. That being said, I do read almost every pitch that comes my way, and I share a lot of them on Facebook, Twitter and Posterous.

I got a pitch earlier from a brand who is giving away $10,000 worth of gift cards to inner city kids. This is good, but it’s not a remarkable amount of money. Certainly they’re spending more on Public Relations that surround the relatively small giveaway.

So, when I read the pitch, I replied with, “Have them kick in an additional $2,500 and I’ll share it with my readers.”

Because at that point in time this blog would be doing something kinda cool.

And ShutTheFuckUp about extortion. It’s a good cause.