This was one of the several things we discussed at last night’s Third Monday social media gathering, featuring me! (Warning: my ego has been pumped to nearly unbearable proportions after last night. There will be no living with me until I brag just a little bit about how much fun I had, so you might as well just let me get it out of my system.)
I have been agonizing for weeks about doing the “Marketers and the Mommy Bloggers” Third Monday presentation. Recent Third Monday speakers have included Paul Wells, Mitch Joel and Stephen Taylor, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around what I might have to offer to a crowd of people mostly unfamiliar with Mom Bloggers but very familiar with PR and social media and marketing.
I needn’t have worried. The whole evening had a friendly, intimate feel to it, which I think made all the difference. My friend and government-and-social-media mentor Ian Ketcheson did a great job moderating the conversation, making the evening less about me doing a presentation and more about an interactive question-and-answer type of thing.
You can tell it was a very sombre occassion and we both took our roles very seriously.
(Thanks to Barbara for her photographic skills, her most excellent questions and especially for meeting me for dinner before the event and distracting me from my mounting nervous anxiety with candy. When wine is not an option, candy is a decent alternative!)
So what did we talk about? For me, it was a really interesting discussion covering so much of what I love about blogging. I had sketched out some topics I wanted to cover, and going in I was afraid I’d get through all that in about 15 minutes and then have nothing left to say, but the conversation took its own course.
We talked about everything from the personal (how do I keep coming up with stuff to write about after more than 950 posts) to the general (contrasting the mom blogs to the glossy parenting magazines) to the professional (how the government should be using the tools of social media.)
The core series of points I wanted to make was about how I think the PR and marketing folks should be approaching Mom Bloggers (and other “niche” bloggers, for that matter):
- Get to know the bloggers. Read, comment, be a part of the community. If youâ€™re going to pitch me, I want to feel like youâ€™re interested in me and not just the eyeballs that crawl across my blog.
- Respect my work. Donâ€™t ask me to â€œcontributeâ€ articles, or my feed, to your ad-filled space for free.
- Donâ€™t try manipulation or false flattery.
- Use Google Alerts or Google Blog Search to find out who is already writing about your products or product category. The offer of free Nintendo DS games to review arrived mere days after I blogged about my preschoolers discovering computer games. Coincidence?
- Follow up to let the blogger know you read and appreciate the post(s).
People asked all sorts of interesting questions, ranging from the ethics of accepting PR pitches to what proportion of the mom blogs contain gossip as compared to “useful information” (I opined that gossip and anecdotal storytelling is not really mutually exclusive from useful information, especially in a personal context) to my opinion of Erica Ehm’s Yummy Mummy contest and Rebecca Eckler.
Brendan Hodgson, my Scrabulous nemisis who happens to be VP of Digital Communications at Hill and Knowlton, didn’t hesitate to ask a few challenging questions and got me thinking about the relationship between bloggers and the PR and marketing firms and the companies for whom the marketers are working. I hadn’t realized until last night, and Brendan seemed intrigued – perhaps even worried – by the idea, that when I do agree to be a part of a campaign like H&K’s KRZR phone campaign from last year, I see my “client” as the PR firm and not the company they are representing.
I wish I could remember more of the conversation to share with you! Joe Thornley, the chief organizer behind the Third Monday meetups, captured most of the conversation with his digital recorder, and if it’s of decent quality he’ll post some of it, so I’ll share the link if he does.
What really made the evening great for me, though, was connecting with people before and after the presentation itself. Things got off to a great start when I was approached by a lovely person who said she was so pleased to meet me in person after she’d been following the blog for a while. (Hi Natasha!) And another woman was kind enough to say her sister (or was it cousin? Ack, my memory is truly an embarrassment) is a regular reader. It’s both extremely gratifying and oddly unsettling to meet strangers who feel like they know me… this blogging thing just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.
Another woman named Sherry talked to me a bit about the upcoming launch of her gifts-for-babies site, but then we got sidetracked into a really neat idea she had for setting up a Blog Club, similar to a Book Club except that everyone would read a given blog for a week or so, then people could get together and discuss it: what did you think of the blogger’s take on this subject, did you agree with her approach to this, etc. What a wicked cool idea, eh?
Special thanks to Joe and the other organizers of Third Monday for giving me an evening in the spotlight, and a chance to talk about my bloggy passions. I hope the evening was half as enjoyable and informative for the people in attendance as it was for me! (And if you happen to be visiting as a result of last night’s presentation, do say hello in the comments and let me know what you thought.)
Edited to add: Joe Thornley did a great job of capturing the essence of the conversation on his Pro PR blog, if you’d like to see some of the details of what we talked about.