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PR Blackout Highlights Need for Deeper Relationships Between Brands, Mom Bloggers

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MomDot ....
MomDot, a popular community for moms who blog, has proposed a PR Blackout to mitigate “bloggy burnout.” What does the moratorium say about mommy-marketer relationships?

Mom bloggers are widely believed to be one of the most influential groups online; they are active bloggers with a broad, collective reach and maintain an audience eager for their advice and recommendations. A Nielsen report from May notes that a full 20 percent of the active online population are moms aged 25-54, and brands like Walmart, Kraft, and even Motrin (through a widely publicized marketing disaster) have recognized how important it is to win their favor. One way brands and marketing agencies (including 360i) work with mom bloggers is by offering them products to review or give away to their readers.

But suddenly, mom bloggers are changing the game and looking towards a collaborative self regulation.

Just in time for the ever-important Back to School season, popular mom blog network MomDot has called for a PR Blackout – challenging bloggers to “not blog ANY giveaways, ANY reviews and Zero press releases. In fact, we don’t want you to talk to PR at ALL that whole week.”

Let’s put things in context: The FTC is currently developing regulations for blogger endorsement, although this regulation focuses primarily on bloggers who are not transparent about when they have been given free products or been paid to write about a company on their blog. (NOTE: This regulation will have little impact on bloggers and the agencies who work with them that require full disclosure. 360i maintains a strict transparency policy and encourages all bloggers that we solicit or provide with products to publicly disclose any involvement with the brand and 360i and we never pay for placement.)

Curiously, the mom marketing moratorium does not reference the FTC regulations at all, but is motivated instead by what’s being called “bloggy burnout,” simply having too much PR-promoted content to blog about at any one time. The Blackout has sparked lots of buzz – 1,800 Google results already and at least one tweet a minute today for the term “PR Blackout” – but it’s unclear what the result will be. In a testament to how much mom bloggers are dependent on brand-supported content, about 30 percent of all the comments on the original MomDot post noted that a particular blogger couldn’t participate because of an already scheduled giveaway or review during that time.

The PR Blackout raises an important point for marketers. While most mom bloggers are eager to work with brands – giveaways draw traffic to their sites and reviews allow them to test out free product – in the end they’re still just moms with too much on their plates.

Recognizing bloggy burnout and finding ways to cut through the clutter are becoming a necessity for marketers who want to make a real connection with their consumers. It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that all bloggers want is free products. Although a comped Kraft dinner or $100 Walmart gift certificate is nice, often the value exchange becomes infinitely more meaningful when it’s less tangible.

Giving moms a voice isn’t just about providing them with products to review, but about allowing them to give your brand feedback about the product. For example, consider developing communities of brand advocates who can have a one-to-one dialogue with product developers and brand managers so they feel like they have a voice in the future of a product. Or recruit them to host product testing parties and send in their reactions. Overall, developing relationships is key. Without relationships, you’re just another line item in a mom blogger’s inbox. Fostering deeper and more meaningful connections with these moms is mutually beneficial – she’ll know you value her opinions and her time and you’ll get more clout and visibility for your brand.