I outlined 10 key points to keep us focused, and one of my favorites:
Be annoyed less.
It takes time and energy to be furious at every “Dear Mommyblogger” salutation. At every “Dear Gloria” salutation. (Huh?) At “Please fill out this 16 page form so we can determine whether you’re qualified to receive a free $.99 cent app download for beta testing.” I’ve learned to use the delete button liberally, or when needed, filter all emails from that domain directly into trash. (Thank you Gmail!)
That spam button also comes in pretty handy.
After all, time spent being annoyed is time that could be better spent creating, connecting, supporting…you know. Blogging.
(Blogging? Remember blogging? That thing a lot of us did before Twitter came along?)
Even so, I’m going to break my rule and get annoyed here for a moment. (What? I’m human!)
It still takes time to hit that delete button–sometimes 100, 150, 200 times a day. And it shows no sign of letting up. In fact, I think it’s increasingly exacerbated by all these inaccurate lists floating around, that conflate all moms who blog into one big happy lump of bloggers.
And sure, we may all like each other, but we don’t blog about the same things. As I’ve said for years, mom bloggers are the only kind of bloggers who are defined by who we are, not by the topics we cover. But for some reason, lots of people still don’t understand that.
So I can see why, when I speak on panels about blogger-marketing relationships, the number one question I get from PR people is “is there a list of the right people to reach out to?”
Well, yes and no.
As in, yes there are lists.
And no, so far, they are not right.
Which explains why recently, I have gotten pitches at Mom101 about new hip hop video releases, Walmart discount codes, and an offer to be among the first to join a Christian social networking site.
“Well, the first Atheist Jew to join,” I joked back. She had a good sense of humor about it.
Where’s it all coming from?
The lists. The no-good, horrible, very bad lists.
Recently, I got wind of a blogger list for sale, featuring “the most comprehensive, accurate list of mommy bloggers!” with “100% verified and accurate listings!” for the low low price of $199.
I wrote back to them about it, but did not get a response. So I figure that it’s fair to share with you some of that 100% verified and accurate information included:
*Girls Gone Child is a shopping blog
*Mighty Girl is a mommy blog
The best part of that press release?
It promises that “no other is more complete, accurate, and effective”
Oh wait, there’s one more best part: It also predicted it will be a PR company’s “most profitable media relations investment of the year.”
Now profitability forecasts are definitely not my forte, and I have no MBA, but what is the return on a 200 buck investment that leads your people on a wild goose chase pitching cleaning product reviews to Dooce, and trips to the paper towel factory to Postpartum Progress and Parent Hacks?
There are simply no shortcuts, PR.
Hire a great PR agency that understands the space. Work with discriminating networks like FM and Glam and Blogher and Clever Girls whose jobs are to know the blogs they represent. Hire an individual blogger yourself who can “verify” your list in about 4.6 seconds and tell you uh excuse me, but with all due respect, you have the wrong people here and will end up pissing them off.
If you don’t have a list or a consultant or a good PR firm to help, there is a simple three-step process to knowing who you’re pitching:
1) Read the blogs.
2) Read the blogs.
3) Read the blogs.
Now here’s an interesting perspective: Maybe this whole issue is not just about annoying bloggers.
Maybe it’s about hurting the community.
Every time I go to a blogger conference I meet new bloggers, and of course I always ask them what they blog about. Every time, at least a handful of newish bloggers say, “oh, you know, I write about products and do giveaways and stuff.” And I cringe.
Her argument (as I read it) is that for every spray-and-pray approach, marketers are actually creating more directionless bloggers–those who will just write about anything topic for any compensation, and fail to have a “very clear point-of-view and target audience.” The implicit concern beyond that, is that the more the outreach to bloggers who don’t actually help marketers reach any goals, the sooner marketers are going to cut and run from the blog space as a whole.
We need to inspire bloggers to create more amazing content–not more lame pay-for-play reviews.
Just me? (And Stephanie?)
Now of course I believe that any blogger is entitled to blog about any product for any reason. But still, I have expressed this same concern about marketers myself.
If we ask to develop marketer relationships, we’d sure as hell better be able to tell them what they’ll get in exchange for their investment. (And trust me, the right answer is not “free advertising” or “a link.”) What’s that line about once burnt…?
Not surprisingly, Stephanie’s post was met with various degrees of fury and outrage by a few commenters, who I think may have missed her key point: Not that review blogs are bad, but that the successful ones have focus.
And blogs with focus will continue to raise us all up.
I would add to that–any good blog, whether about tech, literature, or politics, or homeschooling, has focus. It’s why any one of Rebecca Woolf’s readers could tell you in a nanosecond that it’s not a shopping blog. Or that Parenthacks should probably not be getting the same pitches as Scary Mommy.
So maybe some of this is our fault–if we don’t know what we stand for, how can PR?
But in the meanwhile, maybe PR people should stop professing to know, if they don’t.