Monday, March 16, 2009

Peter Shankman is from Mars and Mommy Bloggers are from Venus

I'm reading: Peter Shankman is from Mars and Mommy Bloggers are from VenusTweet this!

With so many folks absorbed in the goings on down in Austin at SXSWi, I was merely going to post a link list for this week's Marketing to Mom Bloggers segment. But then a bit of the convo coming from Sunday's session, Are PR Agencies a Dying Breed? caught my eye. Notably, this:Panelist Pete Shankman, founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and @skydiver on Twitter, apparently coined the term "Mom-Borg Collective." Now, I'm no Trekkie, but I'm only one search away from faking it. The folks at Star Trek Voyage Info filled me in a bit.

According to the site, the Borg lack individuality, they have one voice, one mind; they are one. Before assimilating others into the Borg Collective, they call out, "We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile."

Stacy had it right: OUCH!

I asked Peter about this on Twitter and he replied:
Oh. Um. Hmm. Wow.

I can tell by the smiley that Peter really did meant this in a good way. :-) Plus, he's generally respected, practically worshipped, by bloggers and journalists. So, beyond telling Peter he was off the mark with that comment, I'm going to leave him alone.

The poor guy had good intentions, he's just from Mars and Mommy Bloggers are from Venus.
Two separate planets with two distinct languages and cultures. My dear husband is sometimes just as clueless. I was thinking of a good example of this, a time he did something with the best of intentions only to have it backfire, when I came across these tweets:
Two examples of well-meaning, but clueless, men. Men just like Peter. From Mars.

But it's not just men who are from Mars, speaking a different language. There are a lot of companies and PR folks who don't quite understand the mommyblogger culture.

Let me tell you a little bit about mom blogger life on Venus. Most of the mom bloggers I know value their individuality. Nay, they prize it. Indeed, one of the great joys of blogging is the ability to express our unique voices.

Some of us are techies, some are pundits, foodies, or movie buffs. Some of us love shoes. And handbags. We have different ethnic and religious backgrounds. We are married and single. Some of us are not allowed to marry legally. We work in offices and in our homes.

Just because we are moms doesn't mean that we are part of some drone-like Mom-Borg Collective.

That's why we get annoyed when we all receive the same Dear Mommyblogger form letter from your agency.

We can, will and do form our own opinions about things. We think for ourselves.

Outsiders like Peter might have seen "MotrinGate" as a united Voice of Mom, but it's more nuanced than that. I thought the Motrin ad was not funny and sensed it ran the risk of alienating moms, and said something like that in a tweet because I saw my tweeps talking about it. But on a personal level, I'm a huge fan of ibuprofen. Babywearing? Not so much. It never felt right for me. (Today's moms have more sling options.)

I'm a mommyblogger.

My life. My experiences. My voice.

If you look at all blogging mamas as part of the drone-like collective, you'll have limited success connecting with them.

If you take time to get to know bloggers, their favorite topics and hot button issues (Twitter much?), you'll have an easier time targeting the right blogger in the right way.

Even better, you can hire a Social Media Mom. A social media mom is a hyper-connected mom who works with companies who want to reach out to mombloggers in an effective manner.

As a Social Media Mom, I not only assist with outreach, I keep my clients informed about trends and conversations in the momosphere in a way that diagnostic software and algorithms cannot. (Note to self: find and return library copy of Numerati; it's overdue.)

Social Media Moms are the bridge between Venus and Mars. If you don't have time to immerse yourself in the momblogger community, you should hire one. This calls to mind a conversation I had with Liz Strauss at the BlogWell event. She said something along the lines of, "You wouldn't go into a foreign country where you didn't speak the language without hiring a translator. Why would companies dive into social media without someone to help them learn navigate the culture?"

Why, indeed.

Your thoughts?

More of my musings on marketing to moms.


Christie-A Work In Progress said...

This was so well put! Thank you so much!

GeekMommy said...

I. Love. This.

You should be here with us right now b/c we just said 90% of this to ConAgra people. Thing is? WE get ourselves... And those who don't? Should't be trying to 'coin a term' to put us in a box.

Great post Kim!!

SharaPCS said...

Let's hope that if Peter ever marries & has children, his wife becomes an internationally known mommy blogger. He can take the issue up with her & see how it flies :-)

Rose said...

First of all Peter was FAR from the first person to use the term Mom-Borg. It first came out back during the Motrin Moms debacle.

Second, he's frankly not far off. As a whole, the mom bloggers DO tend to band together very quickly. It's our strongest point. And that's what Peter was alluding to when he used that subjectively pejorative term. Upset one mom and you risk upsetting them all. So yes, companies should fear the collective power of mom bloggers.

Kim Moldofsky said...

@GeekMommy Always glad to see you over here. Wait. If we are saying 90% of the same thing, does that mean we ARE the Mom-Borg, LOL.

@Rose, I actually Googled the term before I posted. Granted, I only looked at page 1, above the fold, but I didn't see past references to this. Again, I see where he's coming from and that's why I did write a post ripping into him, but a quick check on Google and Twitter search lead me to believe that many use the Borg Collective reference in a way that's less than complimentary.

Peter said...

One more time: My apologies if I offended ANYONE with my use of the term "Borg." I was simply referring to the fact that when moms band together, as they did with Motrin and others, companies and brands would be incredibly stupid to ignore them. In Star Trek, when the Borg sets their sites on a ship, (The Enterprise, for instance) the captain is smart enough to know that "They're coming," no matter how far away they might be, and that he needs to plan and react NOW. Intelligent companies need to know that.

I don't believe mom bloggers kill everything in their path, nor do I believe that you're evil, or assimilate all or eliminate.

I was simply making a comparison. Was it humorous? Yes. Was it somewhat accurate? I believe so.

And if I offended anyone? Again, my apologies. It was not my intention.

Peter Shankman

PS: I sign virtually all my emails with ":)" because I'm a friendly person. There was no hidden subtext.

Stimey said...

I think it's bad form to refer to anyone as a Borg. It reduces them to an unthinking follower and part of the hive mind. I know that the mom bloggers I read aren't unthinking followers. And if there's a hive mind, I haven't heard of it.

Bonggamom said...

I'm clueless to anything that refers to Borgs or Star Trek, so I personally am willing to give Peter the benefit of the doubt that he was indeed clueless about mom bloggers objecting to being lumped under the "Borg" label.

A Modern Mother said...

Nice post. Mummy blogging is just starting to heat up over in the UK, very exciting...

Selfish Mom said...

I always try to take the context and the person into account - Peter's too smart to piss off half the population, I'm guessing he really meant it in the powerful sense, not the blindly-following sense. It's not a perfect analogy, but it makes the point.

Kim Moldofsky said...

@selfishmom I agree!

ChefDruck said...

Great post. Well balanced and not a rant. I'm off to check out Numerati at the library! I'm personally a huge fan of Peter's HARO - such an amazing service.

Kim Moldofsky said...

Oh, if you want to show Peter that you understand the he really is hip to mombloggers, comment on Twitter with this hashtag: #4givePeter.

@chefdruck I try to reasonable not ranty. And I like to get discussion going. And though the Borg thing still sounds odd to me, it's not Peter that needs to guide to moms, but there certainly are many PR folks who seem to think size fits all for moms.

Kim Moldofsky said...

Late breaking news from (where else?) twitter:

From Peter: My explanation of Mom Bloggers/Borg: As Interviewed by a momblogger. Enjoy! :)

I will give a listen and encourage you to do the same.

Sarah Caron - The Voice of Mom said...

Well said, Kim.

Sorry, Peter, I am a fan, but that was just some piss-poor wording. Who wants to be called a 'borg'? Seriously.

If marketers just put an ounce more effort into their work, it'd be a better marketing landscape.

Michelle Smiles said...

I'm not so sure that his original comment was as harmless as his explanation but I don't know the whole situation or him so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. (See? Mommy bloggers can be nice.)

Yes, mommy bloggers can unite and make a big stink if the need arises. But I think that is a function of our being a community. A community made up of vastly different personalities and experiences but with kids and blogs in common. Our ability to rally is our strength and our weakness. Our strength for oh so many obvious reasons but also our weakness because there can be a lot of loud band wagon jumping when situations may not warrant it. I would hate for those outside the mommy blog community to feel they have to tip toe.

Naomi said...

This might prove my geekdom but I think it's kind of amusing. And Seven of Nine was a Borg, right? She was smart and hot... my old roommate in college watched A LOT of Star Trek. (And listened exclusively to Fleetwood Mac, REO Speedwagon and the Cure. But that's beside the point.)

jodifur said...

Great, great post.

I started blogging on a lark, and then it became my light in a very, very dark time, and now I cannot imagine not doing it.

Heather said...

I think part of what irked me in hearing this yesterday is that it assumes that mothers who blog want to trade on their 'mommyhood' first, when many have amazing skills in journalism, technology, art and other areas that overshadow the ways in which they might chronicle their lives as mothers.

Desiree said...

shades of pink and stepford wives. so what's wrong with being a collective voice when you need to be? today, we're green; everybody's irish (especially the martians!) we're still moms and every tom,dick and harry,er... peter :) will never be.(so they can be green with envy) sorry, no borg assimilation needed. so we're the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow-everybody wants us. just remember it takes all the colors to lead you to the treasure (point, anyway) so. love and and let live.

PunditMom said...

You totally nailed this. But my question is why the PR and marketing people don't get it. It's just not that difficult? Don't them employ those techniques in marketing and PR campaigns to other groups? Why do they think we are a 'momolith?"

And in case they're reading, I prefer not to be referred to as '7 of 10.' ;)

(and thanks for the link love!)

Donna said...

Add me to the number of fans of this post, Kim. I personally loved the Borg - they were the best adversaries faced by any of the Star Trek franchises, and I think Peter's characterization of mom bloggers as such is funny, and I wouldn't mind it if people thought of me as a "7 of 9" type. Then again, I've never shied away from the mommy blogger label. I'm proud of what I do (even if no one else cares for it).

Daisy said...

Momborgs? But the borgs were ugly.
You made an important point: it's not just learning the language, it's learning the culture. People who successfully tap into our network are those who understand that we're all individuals and take the time to find the individuals who fit the best.

Kristina said...

Excellent post, Kim. Companies should hire you to bridge the gap.