The influence of the mommy blogosphere grows mightier by the minute.
Yet many PR people struggle to identify the leading voices, the best ways to communicate with them, and the proper etiquette when asking for product reviews, giveaways, and commentary.
Jessica Torres, blogger at My Time as a Mom
and One Martini at a Time
, recently visited the Abbi PR Agency offices to further explain how, when, and what to communicate to this growing media phenomenon.
Jessica’s first rule of thumb: Don’t call them mommy bloggers.
[RELATED: Don’t call me “mommy blogger.”
She educated our staff on the different types of bloggers, as well as the dos and don’ts of engaging with them.
Different types of bloggers
Those who work with agencies, such as Mom Spark and The Clever Girls Collective.
These bloggers are part of a larger network and usually expect payment for a post. The transaction is handled by the agencies, and the bloggers under their banner are paid anywhere from $50 to upwards of a $100 for a post or review. This type of blogger also produces Twitter parties, blog tours and brand ambassadors programs.
The catch: It isn’t free and technically it isn’t really PR since it’s paid content.
The bonus: When you think about how long it would take your agency to reach, pitch, and secure 3,500 blog reviews, this type of service might be appealing.
Ultimately, it’s probably a better fit for larger brands than smaller start-ups.
Those who are PR friendly and focus mostly on products and giveaways.
There are hundreds of these types of blogs, and they are usually very easy to work with as long as you are willing to send them a sample to test and provide a giveaway to their readers. They are usually open to doing some sort of “Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter” program that generates additional entries into their contests.
My advice: Vet these blogs before you start working with them as some don’t have any traffic and you might waste your time and your client’s product giveaway budget.
Those who do some reviews only promote brands they like and blog on a variety of issues.
These are my favorite type of bloggers. They create genuine conversation on their blogs and on their Facebook and Twitter pages, and they respond and engage their readers through funny, quirky and valuable advice. Their networks might not be as large as the giveaway bloggers but they do seem more engaged and genuine.
Jessica went on to explain some of the key “dos and don’ts” when dealing with bloggers.
Do get the blogger’s name right. If for some reason you can’t find the name, at least start out with “hello.” Jessica shared some classic emails with us in which the PR person was obviously doing a mass send and didn’t bother to personalize the pitch.
Our personal favorite was the marketing director who blasted email to every blogger whose card he received at BlogHer
and started with “Hello BlogHer Friends.” Really? If you are going to blast something at least upload it into Vocus so you can personalize it.
Read the “About Me” page. PR folks trying to get through to My Time as Mom have a much better chance if they actually know something about Jessica. She shared the example of a recent pitch in which they offered to send her products for boys to test. Jessica has two girls, which she makes clear on her “About Me” page.
She also suggested reading the contact and disclosure page. Most bloggers are up front about whether they review branded content or participate in giveaways on their disclosure page. A little research goes a long way.
Jessica stressed that PR people need to be clear about what they want out of the blog post. If you are looking for a link back to your Facebook and Twitter pages, you need to ask for it and provide the link. If you want certain video and images included, it’s best to be up front. Don’t be demanding, but do use specific bulleted points.
Bloggers are busy. They’ve got kids, blogs, jobs, dogs. Like the rest of us they are trying to juggle a lot of things. Don’t expect them to get back to you right away. Don’t ask for unrealistic things like follow-up posts or press release postings.
Think about your demographic
Jessica recently got a request from a senior dating service that she post information about its new dating website. Obviously, the people sending the request never read the “About Me” section.
As PR people we know that non-targeted pitches don’t work, yet we see it happen all the time. It’s better to target your pitches, build a relationship with bloggers, and pitch them a product or idea that speaks to their audience.
Bloggers know when you haven’t read their blog. Jessica pointed out the standard line seen all too often: “We really enjoyed your last post.” Oh, you mean the one about how my aunt recently passed away from cancer. You enjoyed that?
Dig a little deeper and get to know the blogger. Faking it will never make it. We all know that.
Don’t make it seem like you are doing them a favor. Jessica gets emails that start: “We know it’s hard to come up with good blog content so we wanted to provide you with this quality article.”
Wow! Not the best way to begin a relationship. Remember, this is a two-way street. Don’t act like you’re helping the little guy by offering the chance to promote your product. After all, who reached out to whom here?
Don’t just assume that the blogger is going to share the post on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. You need to ask for what you want and be clear about what you need. Be upfront, be clear, and be reasonable.
Most “mommy bloggers” would rather be referred to as a blogger. They don’t really like labels. Come to think of it, none of us do, right?
Spray and pray
This is PR 101. Never, ever spray and pray—no matter how much pressure you are under from your boss or client. Bloggers hate this and it will most likely get you blacklisted. It could certainly get you
covered on their blog, but it’s not the kind of press you want.
Abbi Whitaker is the president of The Abbi Agency. Find them on Twitter @theabbiagency. A version of this story first appeared on the Abbi Agency Blog.