Tomorrow, I will be speaking on a Blogger Panel at the Child’s Play Communications Bloggers Brunch. I’m honored, because some of my favorite bloggers (and people!) will be on this panel that will be moderated by Stephanie Azzarone, the president of Child’s Play Communications. The bloggers are Liz Gumbinner, Debbie Bookstaber, Melissa Chapman, Jo-Lynne Shane, and Danielle Friedland.
The theme of the panel is “What Does a Mommy Blogger Want?” which immediately makes me think of Christina Aguilera’s “What A Girl Wants’ (but that is a whole other story). I’m excited to see how the discussion turns out. I just want to say upfront that the vast majority (95 %+) of my relations with brands and marketers have been positive. Meanwhile, I wanted to share the top things that I wish the other 5% of marketers would do differently based on recent experiences and conversations – just in case we run out of time on the panel.
Marketers, please take this in the spirit that it was written – to help, not to criticize. I know that you also have many frustrations with us bloggers. That’s going to be touched on tomorrow also. Meanwhile…
1. Talk about how much you’re spending on a paid marketing strategy if blogs are not a part of that strategy. It’s not a selfish thing; because I’m not even talking about my blog. I’m talking about ANY blogs. Think about it. Basically you’re saying, “I’m paying all of these other types of media to promote something that I want you and ALL of your fellow bloggers to promote for free.” Does that sound fair? Rather, just tell me about the product that you would like for me to promote.
2. Try to bribe a blogger. I have received emails where marketers have written, “If I send you “x”, will you write a post about “x” (or totally unrelated “y”)? I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that I’m for sale. I (and other legitimate bloggers!) am not. If your product/service/etc. is a fit, I’ll write about it. If it’s not, I won’t. You can’t buy me with a trinket…just ask my husband.
3. Expect that a blogger will write about your product/service/event/etc. JUST because it is tied to a good cause. I’m a softie for a charity tie-in. I am. BUT it still has to be a fit. Also, there are a GAZILLION good causes…
4. Get indignant regarding “no”. We bloggers shouldn’t take “no” personally. Neither should you. At the end of the day, it’s not personal. (At least it isn’t to me.) I (and most bloggers that I know) want to provide content that is actually relevant to our core readers. So, don’t send me angry emails like “You mean to tell me that moms aren’t interested in rhinestone studded thingamajigs?!” No. I’m not saying that. I’m sure that some moms are…just not MY core readers.
5. Pitch totally unrelated things in response to a specific request. I love HARO – Help a Reporter. I think that it is a great information resource. The only challenge (which I know they try to control) is when marketers respond to specific requests with emails like, “I know that this doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with what you asked for BUT I don’t care. I want to give you a FULL pitch of my totally unrelated – to the topic AND to your blog – item ANYWAY.” (Granted, that’s not an exact email, but that is the gist of several.)
6. Pitch without reading the “About” page. You cannot “love” my blog and in the next sentence pitch me a product/event/information totally unrelated to my niche (moms of young kids). If I get another tween/teen pitch… (Having said that, I know that there are a gazillion blogs out there, but if you’re going to do blog outreach, please just take that one little extra reading step.)
7. Feel obligated to flatter me to get me to read your pitch. I read all of my emails. I do. (I used to answer every single one of them until it started interfering with my family time.) You don’t have to say you love and read my blog (and quote a passage from one of my most recent blog posts as proof). If you really do love it, great! If not, that’s totally fine too. Like I wrote…there are a gazillion blogs out there. Also, you don’t have to say how “influential” I am. I know that’s a big buzzword in the blogging industry, but it is highly overused (in my opinion anyway). If you insist on giving me a compliment (which I’m totally fine with if you feel so inclined), try something like “I appreciate your honesty” or “I see that you really strive to be a great mom” or “I know that you want to provide relevant information to your readers”. That’s the type of stuff that I eat up. Honestly though, if what you’re pitching is a good fit, that’s good enough for me.
8. Fail to follow through on commitments. If you reach out to me and ask me to review something and I agree, please follow through. I’m left brained so I write all of my commitments down/schedule them out in advance. I understand that things change. That’s fine. Just keep the lines of communication open and let me know. I don’t have the time or inclination to run behind you to spotlight your client or brand.
Now this second part is on behalf of my blogging sisters who have told me horror stories. (I have been fortunate to only do giveaways with great marketers so this hasn’t happened to me in over 4 years. Knock on wood…) If you ask bloggers to sponsor a giveaway, please fulfill your part of the agreement. It destroys trust between bloggers and their readers if giveaways that they host are not fulfilled. (On another note, practically speaking…if the bloggers decide to “put you on blast”, it makes your client/brand look bad to the bloggers’ readers AND other bloggers.)
9. Make an inordinately large amount of requests for one post. One picture or video and one (no follow) link is fine. Asking for several pictures, videos and several site links to be included in one post is too much – for me and for my readers. Along those lines, please don’t send a lot of images (I’ve received up to 24!) in an initial email simply because it clogs up computer space.
10. Expect bloggers to consult your brand for free. Of course there are exceptions and (like most things) it depends on your relationship with the particular blogger. As a good rule of thumb though…
-If you want a blogger to tell you: what day/what time/where to hold an event AND whom you should invite, pay them.
-If you want a blogger to write a post for you (on a for-profit site) at your request more than once, pay them.
-If you want to “pick a blogger’s brain” regarding how to best position/ introduce your products to moms online or off, pay them.
-If you want a blogger to speak on a panel at an event (that you’re making a profit from), pay them. Another option is to give them a choice between an honorarium payment or a contribution to their favorite charity.
-If someone is paying you specifically for the information/service/etc. that you are getting from a particular blogger, pay them. (For the record, I’m not talking about reviews. There’s nothing wrong with paid reviews if that’s the way that you want to go. It’s just not my cup of tea. )
-In sum, if there is a question regarding whether or not you should pay a blogger, pay them. I’m just joking on this last “rule”. If you want to read the best quote that I have read on blogger compensation, read the last line of That Danielle’s comment on Mom 101’s What are you worth as a blogger post. (Hint…it has the phrase “drug dealer” in it.) Did I mention that both Liz AND Danielle are going to be on the panel tomorrow? How lucky am I?!
Ten things for over ten thousand (back and forth) marketing interactions this year…that’s not bad at all. Actually, I have to change my percentage (99.9 percent of the marketers that I have worked with this year, got it right – leaving only .1 percent that could use a little help.) So…
Marketers, are my “Please don’t(s)” unjust?
Bloggers, did I leave anything out?
(That’s alright my core NYC readers…I’m guessing that you can probably care less. Thanks for humoring me anyway.)