Mommy Bloggers’ PR Blackout

I’ve been following the US Mommy Bloggers’ PR Blackout with great interest over the course of the last week. For anyone who isn’t aware of what’s going on, Trisha on Momdot set out a call to arms for Mommy bloggers to go on a PR blackout for one week, to help cout down the workload of being a mother, wife and blogger.

The Mommy blogger community in the US is perceived as being the holy grail for many a PR, because of the size of the readership and the influence many of the bloggers have. This has meant that PRs swamp Mommy bloggers with press releases, pitches and giveaways to try and get their clients favoured by the community. This has led to a PR burnout, and frustration at the way that many blogs are simply becoming places to advertise products is growing.

Trisha says:

We want to see your blog naked, raw, and back to basics. Talk about your kids, your marriage, your college, your hopes, your dreams, your house and whatever you can come up with for one week.

The mood of the blackout darkened further after one blogger, Cat, decided that she’d had enough and was giving up blogging and a critical article on Cnet said:

…the reality is that many of these bloggers have turned anecdotes about parenting into a full-fledged business, and working with PR is part of the game. The likes of MomDot should be encouraging quality content, media savviness, and best practices, rather than a “PR blackout” that misses the point.

Susanna, who writes A Modern Mother in the UK, has asked if a code of ethics is needed for Mummy bloggers, to prevent a similar scenario playing out here, or if PRs should be totally ignored altogether.

Erica, writer of Little Mummy, has said that a code of ethics isn’t needed, but perhaps a more pragmatic approach can be taken, and with this she is bang on the money:

…it’s my blog and I’ll put up whatever I bloody well want.

I have commented on this issue, both in relation to the US and UK, because I feel that we must learn from the situation that our American counterparts have found themselves in.

I say we as in the blogger community and the PR community.

Bloggers, Mummy, Mommy or otherwise, should not feel pressured into writing about anything. The whole point of having a blog is to have a bit of fun and write about stuff that interests you. If a PR approaches you because they have something they think you will be interested in, that doesn’t mean you have to write about it. No blogger should feel overwhelmed and stop writing.

PRs need to be aware that Mummy/Mommy bloggers have even more time pressures than other bloggers – there’s a husband to keep company and be kept company by, kids to play with and feed, and probably a job thrown in there too. Unless contact has been well off the mark, the mummy bloggers will get back to you, which is more than can be said for many other ‘well-known’ or ‘respected’ bloggers in other fields.

The PR industry needs to be educated, and it’s a process that is taking a long time. Relationships must be built before pitching, an ethos that Edelman strongly encourages, and a mantra I am trying to follow to the letter.

We do not send press releases unless requested
We do not send blanket e-mails
We do not send pushy follow up e-mails

We do try and get to know the blogger first
We do try and understand and engage with the communities first
We do ask a blogger to disclose that if they choose to write about something from us, they say we got in touch
We do try to help our clients add value to relevant communities

As I’ve already said, we have to build relationships and understand what a blogger wants, and what a blogger’s readers want; we are learning all the time.

I hope we do not need to have a PR blackout in the Mummy blogger community, or any other blogger community – those that ‘get it’ should be helping those that don’t, and by doing so we’ll all blog and PR much better.


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