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10/03/2009

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Shannanb

Working with bloggers is so new, that sometimes I think it could be compared to when the Pilgrims first came to Plymouth. When they first arrived, the Indians gave the Pilgrims corn as a gift. While we are far from the days of Pilgrims and Indians, the concept is the same. When in new environments people tend to return to the tradition of exchanging items to break the ice. In today's world, when done right, it's not just about the product you sent them. It's about the relationship you are building.

We are constantly learning what works, what doesn't; what's appropriate, etc. It's something that's going to take us a few years to figure out, and then when we do it will have changed again ;-).

Parenting bloggers have a very strong voice and when they share their opinions people listen because they trust them. I agree 100% that just bombarding bloggers with samples and swag mail bombs is the wrong way to go about things. In the offline world we would never do that and think that a relationship would result, so why are some doing it in the social space?

It's going to be very interesting to see how we as PR and marketing people grow in creativity over the course of the upcoming year. The blogosphere is def. the new world and I think we are just about 50 miles in.

Kevin Dugan

Shannan - The Pilgrim and Indians analogy is well put and well-timed for that matter. It does speak to the relationship building elements of the process. I do think there is room for this. But the old approaches just don't work in the very new world.

Thanks for the add. And I really like the reference to parenting bloggers. I'm using that! :-)

Jessica Smith

I've been talking about going "beyond the blog review" for a while now both with my fellow bloggers and internally at the agency I work for. I agree with you 100%.

I'm looking forward to more and more PR practitioners talking about the fundamental differences between earned media and paid media. I think a lot of the controversy in the blogosphere about paid vs unpaid can be better explained by understanding said differences between the two.

Great post...thanks for the link love...

Deb  3SG

I think the problem has been communication. Corporations have PR folks, but bloggers haven't had anyone to help them shape their offerings and learn to tell stories that create meaningful connections between their readers and a brand's call to action. By taking that approach as a strategist for bloggers, I'm seeing a whole different type of outcome. Swag is not a strategy for either side, it's just a bulky business card.

VDog

You had me at 'tussin. LMAO

Kevin Dugan

Swag = Bulky business card. Well put Deb. And I like that someone is helping bloggers get strategic about this as well.

Jessica: Clients are helping drive this. There just isn't enough time in many cases to start from zero to blog post with folks. I'm preparing a post talking about beyond the blog review. But I do think there is middle ground between the purists and the IZEAS of the world trying to juice the system. We're just not used to exploring it for fear it would be seen as paid.

Thanks everyone!

BarbaraKB

Timely post, Kevin. Thanks. And, it's not just "mommy" or "parenting" bloggers: overdone swag, contact or favors heaped upon any blogger overwhelms so much that I believe many are shutting down or, in a way, silencing themselves. Recently, a blogger I have had contact with for years just stopped blogging because the blog attention was too much for her to handle. The solution, to no one's surprise, is consistency and long-term relationships. Something the online world has a difficult time grasping since, unlike media of the past, blogs, even healthy ones, come and go so quickly.

twitter.com/mattceni

Swag is not a PR tactic. It's marketing. Mommy bloggers represent a segment of a very complicated audience: the general consumer. It just so happens they are nicely wrapped into an organized and mobilized demographic. As with any piece of social medium, the Mommy Blog, should be a tool for listening and understanding. If your PR plan becomes looking at issues re: paid vs placed media for mommy bloggers, you should rethink your PR plan.

Kevin Dugan

Matt - I'm not going to open the pr vs. marketing can of worms with you. But I do agree with you that Mommy Blogs are a tool for listening and understanding. But a lot of folks in our industry are approaching blogs as they approach media. And it's making it tough for the rest of us to listen. I'll add that once you've listened and you understand it is perfectly acceptable to engage the blogs you're following and participate on them. Otherwise you're just a lurker.

Barbara - Good point about the changing status of blogs. But lately the mainstream media have been moving and changing pretty quickly too so my hopes are that PR folk can keep up with this. It just requires following the blogs and not merely sending to a list.

Thanks for the thoughts everyone. Have a great week.

Lindsay Lebresco (Converseon)

Love the Tussin' analogy- that's awesome & sadly true. One of the biggest takeaways I got coming out of BlogHer 09' is that blogger outreach is great when:
1. Done right (respectfully, transparently, sincerely)
2. It's the first step in the building of a long-term relationship
3. They (bloggers you're reaching out to) care about your brand or your product

I think we hear about the first 2 quite often but #3 was the one that stuck with me. It's OK to give samples to bloggers who are truly interested in your product and it is relevant to their lives, want to give HONEST feedback not only to their readers but to the company, and those that aren't inundated by "pitches" all the time. (The "Top 100 Most Influential Mommy-bloggers" and crap outreaches like that) Any consumer that cares enough about your brand, cares enough to engage with you, give feedback & add value should be worthy of an "outreach" and a relationship. My experience, while at Graco, was that when you stop "prioritizing" mommy bloggers & see the value in hearing the voice of your consumer, you end up earning the respect, and ultimately, the attention of the "influentials" in the space. An organic approach = natural results. Food for thought :)
Great post!

Marketing Mommy

As both a mom blogger and a marketer, I've been following the dance between corporations and bloggers closely. I think brands have a lot to gain from working with mom bloggers--they're influential women, amplified 10,000X by Google. But moms need to decide what they want out of companies. Is this the chance to work closely with brands they love or are they just hopping onboard the swag train? Are they willing to turn their personal blog into a review blog? Can they maintain their integrity in the face of free stuff, luxury trips and flattery?

I've turned down all but a few opportunities because I'm afraid an overly commercial blog would ultimately damage my personal brand and turn away the readers I want to keep (and it is those readers that make me attractive to marketers in the first place).

Mindy

Thank you so much for pointing out one of the most difficult part of being on either side of this kind of outreach - that we are overwhelmed by the pitches and can't possible get to them all, and that is a risk PR companies take. I personally have piles of stuff I may get to, that look interesting, and stuff I can't ever figure out how to get rid of... I think I'll start a separae page with "Stuff I find useful and Stuff I actually like" and leave it at that. I can't write about everything (not being paid) and no one wants to read that when I have been providing other content for years, the content that drew a following. Reviews have no place in that narrative. My compromise is to have a Site of the Day feature that I can post outside the content and keep archived for interested readers.

Great points, all, and I thank you on behalf of many other mommy bloggers.

Kevin Dugan

Thanks for jumping in everyone.

Lindsay - Great point about sending products to bloggers genuinely interested in your product. It gets back to the concept of taking more time building relationships with bloggers. I think pitches are overshot in traditional media in the hopes no potentially interested outlet is missed.

Marketing Mommy - Thanks for jumping in on this. I think turning down the wrong opportunities for your blog makes sense. But again if there is something your readers would be interested in, I don't think they would consider the material commercial. But I'm sure you're finding the right mix.

Mindy - Having a page like that is smart. It doesn't mean everyone will read it, but it will help and the right people will read it and follow it.

Thanks again.

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