Monday, February 22, 2010

Marketing to Mommy Bloggers: When Bad Outreach Goes Good

I'm reading: Marketing to Mommy Bloggers: When Bad Outreach Goes GoodTweet this!

There's no shortage of complaints about bad marketing efforts aimed at mom bloggers. In fact, just last week Liz from Mom-101 wrote about a pitch for Lenten meals that was sent to a lot of Jewish bloggers. To paraphrase a popular feminist slogan from the 1970s, Lent is to Jews as bicycles are to fish. They just don't go together.

I received the Lent pitch and deleted it without reading beyond the subject line. A lot of us do that. We delete quickly and mercilessly. Or worse, we take time to read and then we mock these poorly targeted pitches on our blogs, Twitter or Facebook.

Mostly, I delete. But depending on my mood, the pitch, the PR person or agency behind the pitch*, I might take a moment to write back. I might include information on the types of pitches that will resonate with me. Or I might send a quick note, "Thanks for thinking of me. I'm going to pass on this, but feel free to touch base again in the future."

On more than one occasion, when this bad outreach has come from a brand I like and trust, I've written or even picked up the phone to say, "I know you can do better than this. What's going on? Can I help you?" This "reach back" has lead to interesting conversations, new relationships and, sometimes, even a new client.

Which is not to say I'm encouraging every mama who's had a blog for at least six months suddenly going around pitching herself as a social media expert for hire. Frankly, I cringe at the thought.

But if you're preparing to move in that direction, you might want to pause before you hit delete or send out that snarky tweet. You might open some doors instead of slamming them shut.

It's not that you will reach out, instantly become someone's hero and walk away with a sweet paycheck. You probably won't. In fact, you may get a door slammed right back in your face (see this old marketing post, about 10 paragraphs in, for one precious example).

Still, you may may find someone who is willing to talk with you or listen to your words of wisdom as long as you don't charge them, which, like writing for free sometimes has a pay-off. And sometimes doesn't**, at least not a tangible one.

Just as I wrote early this year that all feedback is positive, I guess if I pull out my rose-colored glasses, I can say all outreach is good.

No wait, I'll need rose-colored glasses a bottle or two or wine before I could say that.

End note: Just noticed I started a post with this same title back in December 09. Same basic idea, but slightly different direction. That unfinished draft contained a link to Ciaran's post over at , R-E-S-P-E-C-T. What your PR means to me.

*Of course, the corollary is that when I see the names of other reps or agency I delete without reading.

**By the way, if you talk to a brand rep for a few minutes or even a few hours over the course of several months, do not refer to that person, agency or brand as your client. Clients mean contracts. Clients mean pay or at least a spelled out pro bono arrangement. Don't risk embarrassing yourself and ruining your reputation before you even have one.

Peruse my best marketing to mom bloggers posts listed chronologically by topic at MomImpact (and take a moment to sign on, as well).


Chilihead said...

Excellent advice. I have found that reaching out to the companies and offering to explain what does/doesn't work when contacting bloggers has helped my relationship with several companies I may not have worked with otherwise. They appreciated that I took the time to write back and offer help rather than ignoring them outright (which, if I'm honest, I still do with many pitches).

It's a relationship. You get what you give in many cases.

Angela said...

I agree! I've had the same thing happen when someone has stolen and republished my content without permission. I'll send them a NICE (the first time!) email and tell them how glad I am they enjoyed my piece, that it's copyrighted and will need to be removed, however I am available to write them a similar piece more specifically customized to their needs for X amount.

9 times out of 10 they just remove the article and I never hear from them again OR they ignore me and it becomes a DCMA battle. But one time out of ten I get a new client - in one case, a very GOOD client for whom I did customer newsletters for a full year every month, because I took the time to approach them with a polite tone the first time.

Sometimes giving people the benefit of the doubt can go a LONG way!

Angela <><

Melanie M. Lazarus, MPH said...

I really wish people took the time to research who they're targeting for their marketing purposes. I think all too often a mass email goes out without great thought as to what the blogger has been writing about as of late or even what their general blogging purpose is. They see "mommy" or whatever the category they choose to put you in and hit send. Pure laziness if you ask me.

Angela said...

Melanie - The point of the post was - how can you turn that experience into something potentially beneficial for both you and the PR rep who emailed you? Instead of complaining about the mass email, make yourself stand out in the crowd! :-)

Mom101 said...

Good advice Kim. I think as writers sometimes we have to get past the clever (snarky) response that's in us...and work our way to the clever (smart) response that needs to come out. In that order.

kristina said...

As always, excellent advice. I always see a lot of bloggers refer to "clients" on Twitter when I know blogger just got a free sample to review and one for giveaway. That's not a client.

Kim Moldofsky said...

@chilihead and @angela, I'm with you, obviously.

@mom101, yes, but the snark is hard to resist sometimes. Speaking of Tanis posted this on her blog today That RedneckMommy can DO snark.

@Kristina yes, and along the same lines, the word partner is often used and rarely defined.

Shari said...

The sad thing is the agencies sending Lent press releases to those who don't celebrate Lent are simply lumping all Mommy bloggers together. It's like we're all exactly the same. If they would take some time to do a little research, they might have more success. At least a little research was always the basis of my story pitches back when I did PR.