If you are active in the mommy blogging community a good amount of time, chances are one day you will get an email like this-
Hi (your name)!
I love your blog, especially (detail about some post you did recently so it looks like they read you) and wanted to let you know about this exciting new product by (whatever company) that we think your readers will love! Here is a bunch of useless info, and we would be happy to send you a sample as well so you can tell your readers all about it. Please reply back.
(Name of PR rep and usually a bunch of contact info)
It is all very exciting as a new blogger, it seems like people are noticing you and want to work with you. It takes you awhile to realize that this is a game, and what the PR people are doing is getting you to spread the word for their client, usually for no more than the cost of a free product and overnight shipping. Truly, mommybloggers are the cheapest form of advertising out there. It’s kind of sad, because not only are we cheap, we are effective! When Heather, Jen and I started Suburban Reviews, we noticed right away that people were responding. When we showed what a certain cleaning product could do, we had no less than 4 readers go out and buy some within 5 days. The Diva Cup review has been continuously receiving comments, and I know quite a few people bought one based on Heather’s recommendation. I had two people buy a rather expensive conditioner after I raved about how good it was. Two purchases here, four there..It doesn’t seem like a lot, but initial sales are the start of customer loyalty, and loyal customers continue to spread the word about their favorite products, particularly those with blogs. One post by a target customer to other target customers can create a snowball effect that will keep rolling as long as the word continues to spread, making for a truly effective campaign with virtually no money out of pocket by the company or PR people.
So why then I wonder do PR people have such a hard time figuring out how to talk to us? This has been a question brought up previously by other bloggers and even a brave PR person who admits that the industry seems to fall short when dealing with us. Women are almost always the ones making the day to day decisions when it comes to household buying. My husband may be the one bringing in the paycheck, but I am the one who is going to be deciding which laundry detergent to use, what brand of turkey for Thanksgiving, what kind of shoes to wear to the gym, or which toys the kids will be getting for Christmas. And lucky for you, as a blogger, I like to talk about the things I like. I like giving an opinion, and letting people know about new products. Not only do I spend the money and buy them myself, but I like influencing other moms’ decisions. Best of all, I don’t charge you a dime to do it. A free product and a little bit of respect, and as long what you have interests me, you have my ear.
You would think with that in mind, it would be hard to screw up. But they do. Form letters, using my blog name instead of my name(Dear Suburban Oblivion) , and as I see today, ignoring my emails. I have a PR person by the name of Dan Williams with Special Ops Media who has e-mailed me probably 4 or 5 times in the last 4 months offering me DVD’s, usually Disney. I said yes to the first two, only they never showed up. When he offered me a third, I emailed him back letting him know I’d be hesitant to say yes given I never got the first two. That one never showed up, and he never returned my email. I emailed again, and still did not get a reply. Guess what I got this morning? Yet another email about yet another DVD with yet more information about the movie he is obviously hoping I will push before I even get it. If I were to ever get it. Is this really the way to treat the person you are trying to convince to promote for you?
I realize people are busy, and let me say up front I have worked with some fabulous people who truly know how to treat their bloggers. But when I get treatment like this, I realize the industry has a long way to go with the very people they should be handling with kid gloves. We have the money, we have the voices, and with you or against you, we are not afraid to use them.