Thursday, May 31, 2012

Brands and Bloggers: My Life on the "B List"

I'm reading: Brands and Bloggers: My Life on the "B List"Tweet this!

So I got this email:

"Hi Kim,

"I wanted to gauge your interest in a new virtual campaign...for your upcoming summer posts. {blanks} have been a summer tradition since 1927, and now families have a new reason to enjoy the summertime staple with... an interactive Facebook application on the [client's] Facebook page... through weekly tips, stories and activities from influential mom bloggers."

Her note then shared ways my readers can "get involved" including visiting the Facebook page for tips and activity ideas (from influential mom bloggers), enter contests, share ideas and photos and download a coupon.

Was she reaching out to me because I'm an influential mom blogger? After all, I've shared tips and written content for brands many times in the past, and I've spoken at many of the leading women's blogging conferences.

Given the breezy nature of the note, I suspected she wasn't asking me to provide content, but I wanted to clarify. I've turned down good opportunities because I didn't take time to understand the project scope.

So I sent off a note:


Thanks for reaching out. Are you inviting me to be one of your influential mom bloggers or simply asking me to spread the word?


And quickly received this enthusiastic response:
We would love for you to spread the word to your readers. Let me know if you have any more questions – I’m happy to help!



I mean, I'm clearly on the B List. Sure, I've been there before (and lower, no doubt), but who wants that rubbed in her face?  

This reminds me of the time in high school when homecoming was approaching and a guy I had a crush on took me aside and said he wanted to ask me something.

You know what he asked me?

He asked if I thought my best friend would want to go to the dance with him.

{image of a fragile young heart crumbling into a dusty pile on the cafeteria floor only to get swept up by the janitor and tossed into the garbage alongside the lunchroom remains}

Okay, so maybe I have some baggage here, people.

Still, I find it odd/tacky/off-putting that I'm influential enough to be asked promote a campaign yet not influential enough to have a meaningful role in said campaign.

Do you agree?

In addition, I rarely promote contests and coupons, so maybe the brand should have taken a better look at my blog rather than assuming that because I'm on their B List (or maybe G List of Generic bloggers), I'm a good fit.

The one way this campaign might have hooked me is if one of the tip-sharing "influential bloggers" happened to be a friend of mine and the blogger had contacted me directly or through a Facebook group asking me to share the link featuring her tip. It's unlikely I would blog it, but would probably give a Facebook share.

Brands, take note: I will share my friend's content because it's practical, insightful, or funny, not because it links to your coupon. It's your job to get them to click through to that.

Friends take note: I expect your content to be practical, insightful or funny, rather than just an ad for the brand. You can only fool me once. Also blogfriend, if you're constantly self-promoting and don't put yourself out there to help others in our community, I probably put a virtual mute button on you long ago. 

 Now if you'll excuse me, I need to tend to my lady garden.

Updated 6/5/12
Yesterday I received a personal apology from the Manager of Global PR and Consumer Engagement of the brand behind this outreach. Pretty stellar move considering I did not name the brand above nor did I bother sending a link to the PR person who originally reached out to me. I was glad to learn they will be taking a closer look at their outreach in the future.

As I noted to the manager, this is not the first time I've been asked to promote the work of others (be they bloggers or celebrities).  

And I think this ancient wisdom (2008!) still holds true: it behooves a brand to hire a social media mom or a panel of bloggers in their target audience to help refine outreach and campaigns.



Rebecca Lindell said...

Love ya, Kim. You are an A-list blogger in my book.

Rebecca Lindell said...

Love ya, Kim. You are an A-list blogger in my book.

Susan said...

Spot on, as usual.

MelADramatic Mommy said...

Very well said. If there is an A and B list for a pitch, the pitch should be tailored to reflect that. I'm sure you're not the only one to be confused by the wording.

A huge 'agreed' to sharing content our friends produce. It has to be relevant and said friend can not spam me via Facebook message, DM etc to get me to promote it.

TheNextMartha said...

I get emails to spread the word about some tv show all the time. No thanks. Does this type of marketing actually work for companies? IF you did make an effort, would they then consider actually working WITH you? I just don't understand the point of them (brands) reaching out to bloggers like this in the first place.

Maureen Fitzgerald said...

If it makes you feel any better, I got the same email but it was addressed to "Dear Blogger," I must be on the C list!!!

TechyDad said...

I totally had one of those "crush likes best friend" moments also. In my case it was in college and the girl I was fawning over to my best friend asked me to find out if my best friend liked her. He didn't like her in that way and wouldn't have done anything knowing my feelings for her. Neither of us dated her, but it was for the best because years later I met my wonderful wife. Still, at the time, it was crushing.

When it comes to being a B, C, or even D lister, I take it in stride. I've got my unofficial rules for what I'll share on my blog. Unless I'm very much in favor of a campaign, I'm not going to simply "share this information" with my readers because some PR Rep wants free publicity. And I don't accept payment in high res images, either.

I'll do reviews if I think it fits, but I pick and choose what I take. Sometimes I'll even "make my own opportunities" and contact companies on my own.

In general, though, a pitch that says "here's some information, put it on your blog for us without any monetary compensation" is a pitch that goes unanswered and trashed.

Kristina said...

You are an A-lister in my book too. You also provide some of the best insight on bloggers and brands. PR people should take note.

As for your homecoming experience, ugh, my heart sank reading that and recalling the awkwardness that is being a teenager.

Cat Davis - Food Family Finds said...

There are two things I'm certain of.
1. You are most definitely an A-List blogger.
2. Clearly they must be a B-List brand for not recognizing that.

Lisa Hanneman said...

Perfect. I wish brands would read this post. I can at least give her credit for responding... I get a ton of these types of requests and in the rare times I do reply for more clarification or to let them know I won't promote, but am open to partnering it ends with silence. No reply. I guess that probably puts me on the F list.

Michelle said...

Amen amen amen. I blog content. I don't blog ads. I don't blog others' content. It's just not what I do. While I used to reply to all those "hey, we'd love for you to XXX" emails, there are too many, they're rarely actually addressed to me, and I simply delete them now. I don't have the time or energy. I'm more than happy to do real work that's valuable, and I'm happy to share the real work that friends have done, but my credibility belongs to me. And it's going to stay that way. Always good to know I'm not the only one in this camp!

Lisa said...

been there! And you are A list in my book too!

ConnieFoggles said...

Will brands ever get it? If bloggers continue to share the content they send us, sadly no. I hope the sender reads this post and learns something from it.

Erin Lane said...

This IS awesome.

Susan said...

Look at you, busting the ceiling from B to A List! Nice.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

That's great that they contacted you back to apologize! I get those pitches and I am of the belief that they are just robots sending it out. OCCASIONALLY I will respond back, but they are usually looking for free work. Not all companies understand that social media IS work! I broke down how long I had to work to run a giveaway and sent it to a company who wanted me to do a giveaway for a coupon worth $2.50. TWO DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS.

Really? Is that the value you think I have? I value my time WAY more than that.

Heather Sokol said...

I find it very offensive when I am asked to promote (for free) something they have paid other bloggers to be a part of. If they want to extend their outreach to other bloggers, I would expect social sharing to be a part of the contract with the bloggers they are paying, especially since it's their network they were originally hoping to reach.

Connie Burke said...

Hi Kim & fellow commenters,

Connie with GM, here. I get that people who take short-cuts are frustrating and generally not worth the time.

However, I must say that I'm impressed with the (second) response you received. Some brands get it; some don't, and some are learning.

I am extremely fortunate to work with the bloggers I have - Chicagoland (and most everyone I've worked with in the Midwest) happens to house a an extraordinary amount of talented writers who are interested in building relationships. Often, this is the element missing.

But, I would ask something of my fellow commenters who took this brand (and others) to task: remember when you were first starting out, and you may have did some things wrong, but learned, albeit the hard way? Maybe that's the case here or in similar instances. Instead of thinking "idiot!" think: teachable moment. We all need guidance at some point, understanding full well that you don't always have the time.

There was a time (not too long ago!) that I hadn't a clue what I was doing, so I reached out to a very popular social media thought leader in Chicago - who answered my call when I asked in all humility: What am I doing wrong?
She told me quite plainly, and we've been terrific friends ever since. I owe that moment of mentoring to all of the happiness I derive out of what I get to do for a living today.

Just a thought.

melanie said...

kim, this post helps me so much. i get emails like this all the time, and i stress about each one because i worry that they will put me on some "do not ask" list if i don't help them out, but i don't have the time or interest to do all the things they ask me to do. i know that i am not an "a-list" or even a "b-list" blogger, but i would still like to receive adequate compensation for the work that i do. i'm sure i'm destined always to remain a d-list blogger...but at least now i feel more confident about not stooping to the generic blogger level.

The Mommy Chronicles said...

Honestly, I think I'd be rather insulted if someone just wanted me to help "spread the word". I'm not a spread the word kinda gal, I'm more of a "hey, can I help" kinda person.

Awesome blog!

Kelly's Lucky You said...

@Connie Great comment and you are one of the best to work with!

Donna said...

The majority of pitches I get are like this (like Kathy Griffin, I'm on the perpetual "D" List!). I don't even bother. Especially when it is obvious the people have never read my blog and are reaching out to me solely because I've got the word "Mom" in the title. (The worst is when we get baby product pitches at MOMocrats!) Obviously, that's not the issue here -- I'm really surprised they followed up with you.

Kim Tracy Prince said...

Yeah, I get emails that ask me to help spread the word about campaigns all the time. It's one thing if the "word" is about a charity, and another if it's a request for free advertising.