Adventures in Mommyblogging Land
Layne commented on my blog a couple of weeks ago that she wanted to hear more about my job, which is as a digital media public relations professional (trying say that three times fast!). Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend a PRSA NY Chapter event “Meet the Mommy Media” with five influential mommybloggers. They were Nicole Feliciano from Mom Trends, Sarah Caron from Voice of Mom, Stacy DeBroff from Mom Central, Kimberly Coleman from Mom in the City and Victoria Pericon from Savvy Mommy. The room was packed with PR professionals from the New York City area and the panel had a lively discussion on pitching, blogger relations and the latest controversy surrounding Motrin Moms.
Now, most of you probably aren’t in public relations, but some of you may be getting pitched yourself. How to deal with the press releases that are starting to trickle into your inbox? You’ve probably seen that big yellow icon that says “PR?” which lists my preferences for how PR professionals should reach out to me. The mommybloggers had interesting experiences that might help you form your own pitching policies. I’ve received a less weird, untargeted press releases than before, and if I do, I can quickly email back, “Please refer to my PR pitching guidelines.”
Here are some thoughts from the mommybloggers, plus my own take-aways, that you might be able to incorporate into your own pitching policy:
Pitching Best Practices
Here are some pretty cool experiences from the mommybloggers that just proves that you don’t always have to be afraid of the PR pros (there are some good ones out there – like me!):
Did you hear about Motrin Moms? It’s a commercial that was posted on their website a few weeks ago that created quite the hullabaloo on Twitter and the blogosphere. Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it yet.
It even went so far as to get written up about on the New York Times’ Parenting Blog.
The Q & A with the mommybloggers about Motrin Moms focused on the question “Did Motrin miss an opportunity to do real dialogue?” A corporation’s ability to communicate effectively with their audience online *and* offline is really important. Remember that Johnson and Johnson One Touch PSA fiasco last year? Same concept, only instead of our community, it was mommybloggers.
Stacy brought up the interesting point that Motrin did not intend to enter the social media space, which is possibly why they were so quick to pull the ad (it was gone less than 48 hours after it first appeared on Twitter) and to not do much dialogue. They were not prepared for the Twitter and blogger firestorm that erupted when the first critiques of the ad surfaced on Twitter.
Stacy recommended that Motrin, and other companies, create a Mom Bloggers Advisory Council, especially if they are working on a campaign that has the potential to create controversy. Nicole and Kimberly both wanted to know who was in the focus groups before they ad ran – if there were even focus groups.
Kimberly added that she thought it was good that Motrin apologized, but that bloggers need more grace when companies make mistakes. I think this is a great takeaway point because the people behind corporations are people and people make mistakes. The important thing is to take proper steps to ensure that when a mistake does happen a new message is quickly sent out through the proper channels – in this case, Twitter and the blogosphere because that’s where the problem was occurring. The apology to bloggers was a great step, but if more companies utilized Twitter, it would be easier to stop these issues and provide a quick response to those criticizing, which could have slowed down or prevented the backlash.
One thing I found interesting in listening to this community discuss their problems with PR professionals is how disconnected I feel the diabetes community is from our own marketers. A few pharmaceutical company employees have reached out to bloggers (hey Albert!), but for the most part it’s more reactionary than proactive. What about having our own Diabetes Blogger Advisory Council for pharmas and their PR companies? Would that have prevented our own marketing blooper? I see a lot sales people at diabetes conferences, but rarely are they the marketing VPs of companies that are in charge of the material we get – can anyone say ubiquitous 104 mg/dl on glucose meter packaging? How many times have you rolled your eyes when you saw that?
There is an overlap when it comes to the various communities because at the end of the day we’re all people who are trying to form a community while dealing with people who are trying to sell to aforementioned community. It’s tricky. It’s also really interesting. One of the reasons I like my job.