The best way to appeal to a blogger is through her ego

by DaniGirl on October 16, 2007 · 15 comments

in It IS all about me

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.

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(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 you’re going to pitch me, I want to feel like you’re interested in me and not just the eyeballs that crawl across my blog.
  • Respect my work. Don’t ask me to “contribute” articles, or my feed, to your ad-filled space for free.
  • Don’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.


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen October 16, 2007 at 8:53 am

What a great evening; blogging and its accompanying arena, who knew it could be so fascinating? Congrats to you!
And on a totally cerebral note, you looked fantastic by the way. I love that colour on you!

2 Brendan October 16, 2007 at 10:31 am

Hey Dani, good fun… you’re a natural public speaker, and made that Ketcheson guy look like the boring bureaucrat he is :-)

Thanks for being so forthright in your responses to my questions – your point on “relationships” has definitely got me thinking.

Most importantly… the scrabble rack is ready (if, of course, you’re ready to lose again)

Brendan

3 Barbara October 16, 2007 at 10:46 am

I though it was interesting to see the evolution from your intro of almost apologizing for being “just” a mommy blogger to the respect that was shown you for being a prolific writer who clearly thinks about the implications of her online actions. You’re a blogger, we heard you roar. ;+)

4 Don Mills Diva October 16, 2007 at 10:50 am

Sounds interesting – wish I could have attended.

5 Mike Kujawski October 16, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Great job Dani,
Just out of curiosity, if a government client such as Public Safety Canada, approached you to talk about the importance of “Emergency Kits” in Canadian households, how would you respond? Do you think it would have more effect organically if you came across the Emergency Kit and then blogged about it? Or is it OK to approach “mommy bloggers”, show them the stats on Canadian Emergencies and the importance of begin prepared (it’s a drain on first respondents to rescue people with minor issues who wouldn’t need to be rescued had they been prepared) and let them do as they please with that information. Just a random thought of mine, seeing as how I work on lots of Social Marketing campaigns and “mommy bloggers” are an influential segment that can be leveraged to get important messages across.

6 Alley Cat October 16, 2007 at 2:02 pm

So uhhhhm, how do you come up with new ideas after 950 posts?

7 DaniGirl October 16, 2007 at 2:13 pm

*blush* Thanks, guys. It really was a blast.

Mike, I would be completely open to being approached on an issue like this, and it would likely even be something that caught my attention enough to blog about or reproduce (sometimes, I just dump the contents of my inbox into a big wrap-up posts of all the worthy pitches I’ve received but done nothing with.) A while ago, I reprinted a PSA release on water safety verbatim, because I thought the message was clear, appropriate for my audience, and interesting. The Emergency Kit example sounds like it would be quite similar.

The key is in matching up the interests of the blogger and her (or his) audience and the message. In this particular case, exactly because it’s something I might blog about anyway if I came across it organically (AND it piqued my interest AND I was in need of blog fodder) I would blog about it anyway. Coming across it in my in-box as framed in a polite or friendly PR pitch doesn’t really change how I blog about it – in this particular case.

Other readers – What do you think about Mike’s question?

Alley Cat: I came up with two possible alternate answers to this question!

(1) Why do you think I’m having a third child? I’m gestating more blog fodder!

(2) Ask my husband – he’ll tell you that my inner blogger never shuts up. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is potential blog fodder, and I keep a running list of things that have tweaked my attention to use as potential blog posts. After three years, it’s become second nature to tag ideas, anecdotes and stories in my head and file them away for future blogging!

8 Jennifer James October 16, 2007 at 2:15 pm

A Blog Club sounds great. Love that idea!

9 colleen October 16, 2007 at 5:09 pm

You looked fabulous in the photos…like a young blushing bride.

10 suze October 16, 2007 at 10:01 pm

I’m glad it went well! And you looked fantastic :) Sorry I missed it.

11 Trixie October 17, 2007 at 6:04 am

I’m sorry I missed it, too — I’m not in the least surprised that it went so well. Hook me up for the blog club! Not that you’ll have to run it or anything … but all this blog guru / public speaker extraordinairre / first past the 1000 posts (almost) / pretty in purple / “world famous all over Canada” / natural born leader momentum makes you The It Girl in these parts. Who better to get the ball rolling?

You’re It. :)

12 Ian K October 17, 2007 at 7:24 am

Great evening, Danielle. I had a great time, and I think it went well.

My only complaint: That I was in a photo laughing my evil laugh. We must have been celebrating a plan for world domination.

“Thanks for coming out”, as they say.

13 andrea from the fishbowl October 17, 2007 at 8:18 am

See? You did great. And you didn’t need help afterall!

14 hw October 17, 2007 at 9:17 pm

Sounds like a great group and event. I work in non-profit marketing and communications, so perhaps I will see you there.

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