Saturday, October 31, 2009

Coming Home to Roost

Coming home to, that is. Last week, I joined my friend Kim Tracy Prince of House of Prince fame over at Roost is a site that makes it easy to find a home almost anywhere in the US. Site visitors can browse the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) as well as get value added information like local market insights and industry news.

I had used the Roost to sort of window shop (monitor shop?) for houses long before I started writing on the site, so it's nice that things came full circle--or they will once I'm able to purchase a new house.

I'm writing about my wacky misadventures trying to sell @SkokieHouse in my Roost blog, Have I Got a House for You! Kim TP is chronicling her adventures looking for a new home and getting hers on the market in The Diary of a Moving Mom.

This week's post, How Much is my House Worth?, details what happened the day I met with three different Realtors to get competitive pricing information on the Skokie house. In a nutshell, I...well, go read!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Safety Tips and Your Candy Personality

Tips for a happy and safe Halloween- our latest contribution to Johnson and Johnson's Health Channel on YouTube. I received a PR pitch for a video on this topic earlier in the week and I have to say, I think our homespun effort is better. (But I'm biased.)

The great news for bloggers is that JNJ Health purchases these videos for use on their site. (I think I may have also signed over my firstborn grandchild; I'm not great at reading the fine print on contracts.) I'll share info soon on how you can do this, too.

And click through to learn more your Candy Personality.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blogger Outreach in Chicago

Sure, just a couple of weeks ago I was complaining about the lack of events, and now I'm headed to my third one in a week.

Last week at The Pampered Chef headquarters, they each attendee one of their newly redesigned cookie presses. Did someone say cookie? Within 24 hours, I was baking with my son. Check out our results and see the press in action.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yesterday I was a Pampered Chef

Read about this Chicago foodie fun event over on my food blog, Scrambled CAKE.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jewlicious: Shmooze. Nosh. Call your Mother.

Yiddeshe Mamas, Represent!

I'm pleased to announce Jewlicious 2010: The Beauty of Guilt.

Throughout the conference, those lovely ladies from Parentopia, prime issuers of absolution, will help us assess our priorities and deliver us from guilt due to:

  • Blogging too much
  • Not blogging enough
  • Not commenting enough
  • Ignoring the family in order to keep up with Twitter/Facebook/Whrrl/Google reader
  • Spending more time reviewing products than our children's homework
In addition to programming, shmoozing and spa treatments, another key component of Jewelicious is our devotion to the art of the Nosh.

Featured speakers in this track include David Sax of the new book, Save the Deli. After noshing on everything from chopped liver to knishes, Jennifer Perillo, an Italian-Catholic shiksa daughter-in-law who puts us to shame with her fabulous holiday spreads, will teach us to look at Jewish soul food in a new light.

But wait, there's more!

Sessions you won't want to miss include:

Got Kvetch? There's an App for That! Jessica Gottlieb and Jami Becker

How to Raise a Mensch The mother of Peter Shankman

Twiteleh and Other Hot New Social Media Tools Techmama

Keeping up with the Goldbergs: 2010's Hottest Tchotkes PopJudaica

You Want I Should Write about that on My Blog? How to Approach PR Kim Moldofsky

Bi-cultural in the Boonies Naomi Shapiro and Aliza Sherman

Buy Kosher in the Boonies The Angel Forever

It's Never Too Late: Adult Bat Mitzvah Marketing Mommy

JDate Success! Interactive Amy

So, you want to be Jewish... Leah Jones

A Skinned Knee? Meh, It's a Blessing
Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.

Not Tonight Dear, I Have a Headache Paula Kamen

Mommybloggers, Go Forth and Make Money Ayelet Waldman

Jewlicious will include a kick-ass tzeddekah project, to boot.

And what's a gathering of powerful blogging mamas without a bit of swag? Keep this on the QT, but rumor has it our group will be the first to bring home up the new "Tefillin Barbie!"

There are so many other surprises in store! Ladies, this conference will be beyond.

Of course, Jewlicious is open to all.

Well, it would be if it were real.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Party on with Nancy Loo

Who needed Blog World Expo? Many of Chicago's key social media players were partying it up in our hometown last weekend courtesy of Chicago newscaster Nancy Loo as we gathered to celebrate her new blog.

Props for a great event also go to: Chicago favorite Garrett popcorn (nom nom), Ai sushi (yum!) Juvenesse Spa (aaaaaaah), and Steaz (woot! my newest client), as well as Duong Sheahan and MJ Tam.

I had a wonderful time hanging out with with Amy Ravit Korin and Nicole G. Simonds and my ride sponsor by Karen Kring, in addition to new acquaintances such as Alecia Dantico, and Sue Markgraf.

Oh, and you may recall last week's plea for more Chicago-based events? The blogging gods heard me and I've now got a full dance card of parties, brand events, press meetings and the like. That was easy, even if I am hosting two of the events. Now, I just have to figure out how to call attention to my talented, but geographically challenged, friends.

Next up on my request list--more public speaking opportunities. Do you hear me, Internets? Take a peek at my updated About section and let's talk about where I can talk.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Parenting Gifted Children: Chicago Area Parent Talks

Two exciting events for parents of gifted children are taking place in the Chicago area.

I am hosting the first one Tuesday night, an evening with Michele Kane, Ed.D., mother, teacher*, counselor**, advocate and president-elect of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children.

Michele will share tips on raising emotionally intense children and advocating for those children at school. She is a treasure trove of information and resources and I'm delighted and incredibly thankful that she volunteered her time for this talk.

*She also has a Master's Degree in Educational Administration
**and Master's Degree in Counseling and Guidance

I plan to livetweet the talk under the hashtags #mkane #gifted

I asked my tweeps if they had any questions and here's what came in:

JeanneBernish asked, "How best to educate the educators and admins on best practices for teaching/I.D. #gifted"
and "and how best to encourage the training to percolate down through a PS hierarchy?"
and "finally, how to empower our G/T specialists within their schools to help serve #gifted pop"
(Keep in mind Twitter's 140 character limit; I can see what she's getting at.)

TeachAGiftedKid said, "I would to know how to educate all the parties involved with our gifted too."

If you have questions, leave them below in the comments and I will pass them along to Michele. See this blog next week for answers.

Event number two is The Challenge of Parenting an Artistically Talented Child
by Andy Mahoney at Science and Arts Academy in Des Plaines
Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 7:00 pm
There is no charge for this lecture, but donations will go to benefit the art department of SAA.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blogalicious Was Swagalicious, So What's The Problem?

I just flew back from Atlanta and are my arms tired. Ba-dum-bum.

Seriously, the MamaLaw ladies, put on a fabulous conference. The speakers were great; I picked up tips and tricks at every session I attended, and the conference atmosphere was thick with support.

Once I got past feeling intimidated by the wealth of knowledge and success that surrounded me, I was able to relax and enjoy. And there was plenty of enjoyment to be had. Liz Henry has an excellent recap over at BlogHer, along with links to the reflections of several other attendees.

The swag was flowing at Blogalicious, thanks in part to my sponsor (and client) ConAgra Foods and their super crunchy Alexia chips. Many other generous sponsors filled swag bags, too. I didn't see any shoving or fighting to get to the bags which were offered at every party and even some meals.

And yet.... I have concerns.

That's why I'm creating Kim's Commandments O' Swag. I'll start with a few of my own guidelines and I'd love for you to add your thoughts.

Be mindful of those who traveled from afar and don't want to pay for checked luggage. In other words, just because attendees appreciate your generous offer of three, 18-ounce bottles of nicely scented lotion doesn't mean they're eager to fill up their suitcases with your product and pay a $20 fee to check their luggage to bring it home. Consider offering coupons to those who want to travel light.

Don't hand out swag during the final hours of the conference.
Again, this largely applies to out-of-towners, but keep in mind that many attendees don't make it to the closing session and those who do may already be packed and checked out of their rooms.

Ask conference organizers to consider instituting a recycling system.
It seems like the last thing a sponsor wants it to see a recycling table full of their product, but I'd say the last thing they want to see if their product in a garbage can. Not every item is going to be right for every attendee, but you know what they say about one woman's trash being another woman's treasure.

At Blogalicious, I gave my hair care products to a new blogfriend who was more likely to appreciate them. She was happy to get the extra and I was happy the sponsor samples did not go to waste.

At BlogHer08 the Zwaggle folks operated an awesome swap room where bloggers left what they didn't want and were free to take what they did. Zwaggle folks worked to find homes for whatever product was left over.

Connecting with a local woman's shelter is another option.

I'm sure the thought of this leaves some potential sponsors cringing, but if they saw the three bags full of appreciated, but unwanted, items left behind by my roommate and I (multiply that by a few dozen or a few hundred other attendees), they might reconsider.

I don't mean to imply that this issue is unique to Blogalicious. It's not. It's pervasive issue, though I probably didn't notice it at my first blog conference because it was all so new and exciting. Free stuff!

I also don't mean to insinuate that sponsors should just stay home. This is not at all the case! Sponsors are great. Swag is exciting. It's fun. It's a great way to gain exposure for products. It's just that every bit of swag is not going to be a great fit for every conference attendee.

How does a sponsor or a blogger maximize "fit" and minimizing landfill waste?

How can we make this delightfully swaggy process more efficient?

More on marketing to moms.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Marketing to Moms: Won't You Please Come to Chicago

I've previously mentioned that blogging and social media have opened up my world. As a result I now have friends (or "friends" as my husband likes to say) all over the country. And I've noticed a few things about my peeps in New York City- they are always headed somewhere and doing something.

Sure, NYC is the city that never sleeps, but it's more than the busy, hip lifestyles of my friends. NYC is a marketing favorite. Not a week goes by that my bloggy friends aren't off to one brand event or another.

What gives? Chicago is toddlin' town, sweet home to a wonderful community of blogging mamas and other social media types. The city is home to many fabulous PR agencies (if only their branch offices) and many large brands.

When it comes to brands, why do Second City mamas play second fiddle to our NYC brethren?

I welcome your thoughts. And if you represent a brand and want to reach a savvy, but grounded and highly connected Midwestern crowd, drop me a note and I'll get your people in touch with my people.

I don't mean to distract you, but I couldn't resist including this clip from the Daily Show, "Chicago Nope," regarding the Olympic Committee's announcement of Rio as host of the 2016 Olympic Games. Comment first, then watch this hilarious clip.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Chicago Nope
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Edited to add: Despite strong representation from my Windy City peeps, even the Blogalicious crew passed us over for next year. Admittedly cold rainy weather is easily trumped by wifi on the beach--the conference will take place in Miami.

More musings on marketing to moms who blog.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I'm leaving on a jet plane

And heading to Atlanta for

Blogalicious Site Badge

You may recall that earlier this year, I had an article up at MediaPost Engage:Moms on increasing diversity at brand sponsored blogger retreats. As a result, I am delighted to be part of the panel, Marketing to Women of Color: The Real Deal, alongside seasoned PR pros and bloggers.

One of my clients, ConAgra Foods, is covering my expenses. They are providing a few snacks for the swag bag, as well. I don't want to ruin the surprise, but I know the munchy crunchy products were a big hit in my house.

In addition to my presentation, I'm excited to see old friends and make new ones. BlogHer was such a busy rush; I expect this smaller conference to have a calmer, more intimate feel. I'm looking forward to it!

Follow along on Twitter #Blogalicious09.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

When Do You Give a Kid a Cell Phone?

I had the opportunity to review a Kajeet cell phone just over two years ago. At the time, I felt my nine-year-old son was a bit young for his own phone, but I thought it might make for an interesting experiment.

Now a strapping 11-year-old with a growing sense of independence and increasingly busy schedule, I think it's time to activate the phone for reals. I mentioned this to DH, who responded by asking if junior high kids typically have cell phones. And you thought I lived in a cave.

Yes, many (most or all if you ask my son) junior high students have cell phones.

If my boy is going to be at school after hours working on projects or going places with his friends (without me!) I want him to be able to reach me.

I need to spend time over at the Kajeet site to see what's changed, but a quick trip to my friend Stacey's blog, Tree, Root and Twig, indicates it operates much the way it did two years ago. That is, we can start the service and cancel at any time without messy contractual obligations. We can set time limits and budgets on phone calls and texting.

Actually, Stacey tweeted about the need to take the phone away from her text-obsessed teen daughter the other night, which motivated me to look into this. I think the downloadable games are more likely to be my son's downfall.

Though I'm not pleased about adding extra expenses to our budget (did I mention the free oil change I had where I was informed my car needed $600 of repairs? We had this confirmed by a second source which offered a *slightly* less expensive repair option. Sigh.), I think the time is right.

And when I say the time is right now, I mean I hope to be organized enough to get this going by Halloween because he's hoping to go trick-or-treating sans adult.*

*That makes me nervous, but I think we started going on our own by 4th grade back in the day.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Raising Gifted Children: School for Disruptive Students

Earlier this week I came across a commentary piece in the Chicago Sun-Times which got me thinking. Esther J. Cepeda's article, "School for disruptive students might work," voices concerns which I've tossed around in my mind for a while now.

Reflecting on a former student who behaved in her classroom, but not for other teachers, Cepeda writes, "...I do know the destructive impact he had on classmates outside of my algebra lessons: mounds of lost instruction time, undermining of other students' respect for their teachers; some diluted bullying, annoying those who wanted to learn."

She wonders if putting disruptive students into special classrooms with teachers trained to "reach" them would help.

As the mother of a child who functions best in a structured and calm setting, I've been frustrated and disappointed to find how few teachers provide such an environment. I understand that some kids have the need to get up now and then and yet others lack the typical amount of self-control (and that in my middle class suburb I dare say most of these kids have IEPs), I just wish those kids didn't meet their needs at the expense of my son's needs.

Can I get my boy an IEP that states his need for a calm structured environment? Oh, right.

At any rate, as Cepeda ponders the efficiency of removing disruptive students from the class, she wonders if such special classes for disruptive students would merely turn into a dumping ground.

Still, she writes that perhaps that concern, "...should be set aside to investigate the possibility that such a program could recoup thousands of hours of instruction time in mainstream classrooms."

I can't help but think that part of the issue is our nation priority focused on raising the bottom, rather than helping all children learn and grow academically. And I think that Cepeda's dumping ground fears are valid.

Still, the thought of my boys being in classrooms where learning, rather than classroom management, is the focus is quite appealing.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

When product reviews yield unexpected results

Hey, the new Shark cleaning products arrived!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Marketing to Moms: Social Media Moms for Hire

Having recently attended a blogger event that fell flat at times, I am keenly aware of the degree to which having a momblogger on staff can help boost brand efforts to a higher level.

The momspace can be tricky- it's good to have a tour guide, a Social Media Mom, by your side to help you navigate. The few hundred or even few thousand dollars it may cost to hire that experienced mom is well worth it.

I wrote about this yesterday over at MediaPost's Engage:Mom column. The article, Social Media Moms: A Worthwhile Investment, includes useful insights from bloggers Meagan Francis and Audrey McClelland.

In related news, as I write this, there's a #NestleFamily blogger retreat taking place. If you follow any moms on Twitter, you've likely caught wind of the fact that some moms are calling out Nestle for their infant formula marketing practices and are criticizing bloggers who chose to participate in the retreat. (And yet others are using the hashtag to inform women who have fed their babies formula that they have ruined them. Nice.).

It's the largest case of Hashtag Hijack I've ever seen.

One tweet in a flurry of exchanges that caught my eye was from Liz Gumbinner of Mom-101. She said, "The issue is that marketers don't know what they want the bloggers to be. Press? Consultants? Evangelists? Enlightened consumers?"

What is the role of bloggers on a retreat? There's great discussion on this over at Christine Koh's personal blog, Pop Discourse. Christine, AKA @BostonMamas, wrote about why she chose not to attend the Nestle retreat and Meagan Francis chimed in with a great comment and others shared insights, as well.

Go read. Comment. Tweet. Share your thoughts.

Edited to add this link to Amy from SelfishMom's post on When a Hashtag Gets Hijacked.

More on marketing to moms who blog.