I’m getting myself very out of sorts lately following all the J&J, Disney drama. It has nothing to do with who got invited, who got snubbed, who got an email, who got a pitch, who is going, who is staying silent.
It has everything to do with the buzz word of the moment: ‘brand.’
I didn’t believe it either, then all these other people told me. Not that I needed them telling me, it was just the wake-up call to a slumber that started somewhere in San Jose about 2006 when I was cornered between a Weight Watcher representative, a Disney PR person, and a cameraman, all while nursing my daughter in the middle of a conference.
The proof is not in the community we’ve created. The proof is not in the ad checks we receive. The proof is not in the press or the interviews or the issuing of credentials to important functions.
The proof, my dear friends, is in the shift in corporate America.
Remember when we used to say “if only they knew how great and powerful we are they’d partner with us and pay to have us use their shit and we’ll all live happily every after!”
Guess what-they know. They know, they’re pitching, and they are finding you a wide-eyed doe in an open field. Not that I don’t love my does, but it is time to be re-educated in Mommyblogging. More important the BUSINESS of Mommyblogging.
I don’t know about you, but when I started Queen of Spain it was because I was at home with kids and needing something. I needed to get out my fears and my frustrations. I needed to talk about what I loved about being a mother, what I loathed about being a mother, and I needed to find other mothers like me to talk more about what we liked about being mothers, what we loathed about being mothers, and so on and so on.
Very few of us went into this thinking we were doing anything other than writing, finding friends, talking shop. Even fewer of us went into this realizing we were creating a business.
I want you to understand in no uncertain terms: Mommyblogging is a business.
I know half of you are shaking your heads and saying things like “I’m not really here for that, I just want to lament about potty training and gab with my girlfriends and maybe make a few extra bucks to pay a few bills.”
While all of that is true, understand you have graduated from “make a few extra bucks” to “they want us so bad they are sending us on all expense paid trips, filling our inboxes with press releases (fyi PR peeps-I’m not the New York Times I’m a mommyblog. If I were a reporter your release might come in handy, in my email-not so much) and partnering with some of us to consult, sit on a focus group, even blog on their corporate website.
You. Are. A. Business.
Here’s the problem: most of us don’t know shit about business (myself included) and they are taking advantage of our ignorance.
I’m sorry ladies, truth hurts. You’re getting snowed, fleeced, taken, abused, used.
I am too. Correction, I was.
I am the first to admit I want an open and transparent partnership with companies that come a courtin’. But I want it at market value. If my market is WOMEN ONLINE, what’s the value?
Recently I about lost my mind reading a very sweet post over at the LadyBug and her Blogging Mama. It’s something that has popped up a few times on many of the blogs discussing all the recent PR and marketing dust ups.
The idea goes if we are not nice to corporate muckity mucks, and if we don’t mind our Ps and Qs like good little girls, none of us will get flown anywhere, ever again, and we’ll be stuck to wallow in our silly little community. In other words: ‘you Mommybloggers need to quit your bitching or the big boys and their big money are going to go away.’
“This Disney event was a test, one that now may not soon be duplicated.”-Maria Bailey
Now for those who don’t know, Maria is paid by Disney to arrange these sorts of meetings. Maria contacted me in September of last year to attend a similar event for Halloween. We went. We had fun. Apparently no one objected to it being held on Satan’s Holiday and all went off without a hitch.
I too have consulted, and have gotten paid, by Disney to help them better understand Mommyblogs.
They paid me $6,000 for what essentially amounted to a few emails, a survey, and a meeting. (that last sentence is called being TRANSPARENT-goes right along with that ‘brand’ word we discussed at the beginning)
But here is the important part and why I am pointing out Maria’s quote- “…one that may not soon be duplicated…” which, in my opinion, implies Disney told her to this isn’t going to happen again if we keep yapping on our blogs.
Despite the fact that I’m a bit confused by this is an ‘experiment’ when I did something similar months upon months ago and it was a huge success, (and they did something in Palo Alto awhile back too) I’m more confused by Disney possibly not wanting to connect with influential Moms. Or the idea that companies don’t want to come inside social media and use us as their advertising because we might actually talk back.
At what point did I miss them not needing Moms. Are you seriously trying to backhandedly threaten me, and imply Disney doesn’t need Moms? Are you telling me Johnson and Johnson doesn’t need Moms to buy their baby shampoo too? Maybe they will market J&J babywash to single males instead??
If sales are dropping dramatically for magazines, if viewership has dropped dramatically for television, if MILLIONS OF MOTHERS ARE NOW ONLINE READING AND WATCHING AND CONSUMING are you really trying to tell me my mouth is what is going to drive them back into their corporate headquarters???!!!
“Oh, shit! Those Moms have OPINIONS! Holy fuck! Quick-get me the best team in the world and let’s figure out how to get all those Moms offline and BACK watching Days of Our Lives because marketing to a person as opposed to throwing a shitty 30 second spot together is waaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard!”
…and then Mr. CEO realizes we still hold the pursestrings and he doesn’t have a motherfreaking choice. He has to assemble that social media team to come play by our rules or we’re buying the organic shampoo at half the price a friend of a friend blogged about last week.
My latest and greatest concern in this entire Mommyblogging Coming Out party is very simple: don’t be a sucker. I too have been a sucker, don’t be me.
Take the free trip but take it knowing what it means for your brand. Take the free box of diapers understanding this is a business deal. Treat all of this not like a star-struck fan, happy to get some bibs in the mail, treat it LIKE A BUSINESS.
They want you to blog their product? Charge them for ad space. They want to know if you think other Mommybloggers will like their new website? Charge them a consulting fee.
And for good measure, you might want to know who you are dealing with on the other end. They want a piece of the action too, and allegedly don’t mind stretching the truth to get it.
This is business, not personal. This is about me saying ‘yes, I help out Photrade.com and if I ask you about using our new ad format -this is business.’ This is about you saying ‘yes, I’m blogging this humidifier because some PR company sent it to me, and they followed up with 30 emails and I’m afraid if I don’t say Vic’s Humidifier on my blog they may never send me anything again.’
This is also about realizing the true value of our community and what it’s become. Make no mistake, they need you-make them treat you appropriately.
If they give you shit, send them to me.