How to work with mum bloggers

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I was asked to speak at a conference a couple of weeks ago and one of the subjects was  how to work with mum bloggers; how brands and marketeers should be engaging with us effectively and to mutual advantage.
Mumstock“our first conference on marketing to mums in association with Saatchi & Saatchi” (so, you know, big guns right there!) – was about how advertisers need to stop treating mums as a stereotype from the 1950s and recognise what a diverse and interesting  group they are.
“While the lives of parents have changed out of all recognition over the last few decades, the ways brands engage with parents has not always kept pace”.

how to work with mum bloggers

And the delegation list included the likes of the Vice President of Marketing at ASDA, Head of Communications at Coca Cola Great Britain, the CMO of Tesco. Like I said, big guns.  There was an opening discussion about ‘debunking the myths about mums’, a panel discussion about whether brands can control the message once it’s out there on social media and there were sessions on how mums use Twitter and mobiles etc. Really interesting stuff.
In amongst all of this I was asked to speak shoulder to shoulder with digital agency Zone and Coca-Cola about how we had worked together on a digital campaign and lessons other marketeers could learn from the success of the blogger outreach.

Because, let’s face it, blogger outreach is a Big Thing.
Everyone knows they need to do it but, certainly from my experience, few know how to do it properly.
It’s become a bit of a ‘tick box’ exercise. PRs throw press releases and ill-thought out approaches at bloggers, hoping that a handful of them will make their way past the delete button. They blanket email handfuls of bloggers who all talk to each other and feel devalued and disappointed. It’s just not working.
Because bloggers are savvy and switched on to the changing face of digital media. Many of those who have been around for a while know what their blog is worth and aren’t going to hand it over on platter for a packet of kitchen roll or the offer of ‘exposure to our vast online following’. Yes I’ve been offered both.

Blogger outreach can have a huge impact on a campaign. It can give influence and reach and real meaning. It can create a brand ambassadors for life – well after the original campaign has finished.
Far more effective than a handful of bloggers who have written something in a hurry because it’s not really their thing and all the other bloggers you had hoped would be onboard deleted your email approach within 1 minute of opening it.

But Mumstock was about changing that. Or at least taking the steps to start changing it.
I spoke alongside Sarah Tuke Head of Communications at Coca-Cola GB (@Coca_ColaGB) and  Gina Schauffer, Head of Editorial at digital agency Zone (@ThisIsZone). And we made quite a team! #selfieinthegreenroom

Mumstock

So here was my presentation. It formed part of the whole session, the slides for which are here and was designed to show how brands, PRs and marketeers should be working with mum bloggers in particular.

mumstock presentation

MY BLOG

  • My blog is my baby. I have worked hard to make it what it is today. I’ve lavished love and attention on it, nurtured the audience, worked hard to make it a great place to hang out.
  • However, given I don’t have actual babies any more, I really really don’t want to be writing about nappies or toddler toys or nipple cream. And yes, I’ve been offered all of those things by PRs recently.
  • Like many other bloggers, I make it very clear on my ‘about’ page what I will and won’t include on my blog. I pretty much spell it out.
  • I don’t want to rehash your press release or advertise your Facebook competition for free or accept your ‘free and relevant content’. Funnily enough, I have vast wells of that at my disposal thank you very much. Ask yourself, why would I do that? What is in it for me? I write a blog, not a news service.
  • My blog is MY space to write about what matters to me and my family – and that is why my audience keeps coming back and why they trust me.

THE RIGHT APPROACH

  • So why did I want to work with Coca-Cola – not once but multiple times? Well, put simply, they got me. They had clearly done their research and knew my passions and their approach was personalised and tailored to me.
  • They knew I was passionate about photography and leading an active, outdoor life, and so when their approach dropped in my inbox I was interested straight away.
  • So we co-created a competition with their Work It Out Calculator. And because we had such a great relationship working on that I was happy to go beyond what they had asked of me in the original campaign.
  • Even now I will give them extra tweets, chat with them, comment on their Instagram feed, share it with my followers – because I know they are a brand that understands how to talk to me as a mother and a blogger and they understand what will make engaging content for my audience.
  • And this is all because they took the time to do their research.

BLOGGERS WANT THE PERSONAL TOUCH

  • Zone and I have been running a survey with around 70 mum bloggers in the UK. And the stats clearly show the need for the personal touch.
  • 30 % of the bloggers who took part, said marketeers still need to understand how to work better with them. Only 2 % said they are doing a great job.
  • 56% said marketeers pitch ideas that are completely irrelevant to them. And 26% say their main mistake is suggesting an idea to them – and then suggesting it to 50 other bloggers as well.
    Why would I want to share content with 50 other bloggers? All in the same genre. Most established bloggers will avoid campaigns like this because they know the community ends up saturated with the same topic and people switch off to it. Which completely defeats the purpose of the campaign.
  • On average, parenting bloggers receive approximately 90 generic/blanket emails from marketeers every month – but only go on to work with 8% of them. That’s a LOT of emails going in the trash.
  • The stats send a very clear message – bloggers will not work with you unless you personalise your approach. And here’s the thing: bloggers are sociable animals (obviously!) and they talk. They talk on Twitter on Facebook and in closed forums. And if your brand is doing something they don’t like, guess what, you could be the subject of one of those discussions.

6 EASY STEPS FOR WORKING WTH MUM BLOGGERS
The good news is, you can truly engage with bloggers. And if you get it right you will have brand ambassadors way beyond the current campaign. Here’s how:

  1. Do your research
    Yes it takes time, but it will reap rewards for you in the long run.
  2. Don’t rely on someone else’s list or metric chart
    Here’s the thing about metric charts – not all bloggers are on them. Some choose to remove themselves or just haven’t been discovered. Just because a blogger tops a chart does not necessarily mean they are a good fit for your brand or your campaign.
    I’m clearly on a list of ‘mummy bloggers’ somewhere that’s being passed around as I’m STILL being offered nipple cream when my youngest is 8 years old.
    Create your own list of favourite bloggers who resonate with your brand. Read them, follow them on their various social media channels, engage with them. Be genuine, RT them if they post something of interest, if you blog link back to them if they write something of interest. Give value to the relationship because you even begin one.
  3. Be genuine and to the point
    Remember, their inbox is flooded with email requests from PRs, yours needs to stand out.
  4. Make it easy for bloggers
    Give them a hashtags you’re using, create one, do you have a Twitter account they can chat with you on, what will the compensation be, give them facts, product shots, deadlines. Bloggers WANT to be helpful and work with your effectively so tell them what you’re looking for.
  5. Get creative
    Request after request to just review this and that isn’t going to light anyone’s fire, unless you’re offering an all singing all dancing kitchen gadget or a smartphone. Bloggers do however love experiences, challenges, doing things slightly differently. So how can you make the blogger passionate about your brand or product? How can you stand out from the crowd?
  6. Share the content they produce for you
    This seems such an obvious one and yet the amount of brands who don’t do it is staggering. You have all these bloggers who have created unique and interesting content for you. They’ve Tweeted about receiving it, Instagramed a photo of it arriving and written a blog post just as you asked. Then nothing from the brand. Not a peep.
    You have someone out there spreading the word about your brand so chat to them, RT them, link to them, answer questions any of their followers have, engage, engage, engage! Other bloggers will then see that you’re engaging and want a part of it too and the conversation rolls on.

Ultimately, we’re not big scary beings lining up to trash your brand.
We WANT to work with brands. We WANT to have a good relationship with you. It gives us content for our blogs, it helps drive traffic and it means we can earn some money through it.
But don’t insult us. We have worked hard on our blogs. We have loyal readers and deep friendships. We know our stuff and we know our worth. Reviews take time, if you want us to ‘work’ for you, pay us, don’t assume we’ll do what you want free of charge; just be respectful.

And please please remember, first and foremost, we’re parents, writing for other parents, so your marketing approach needs to be relevant and personal to us, our passions and our interests. – which don’t begin and end with children.

So, what say you bloggers, have you had good, bad, ugly experiences to support this?

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21 Responses to How to work with mum bloggers

  1. Laura Briggs says:

    What a great post, mummy bloggers really should value what they do and not accept insulting requests from PRs – a pack of kitchen roll is a classic! When you put so much passion and effort into something you can command good working relationships with brands.

  2. mummyglitzer says:

    What a fab post. I get surprised when I get offered baby stuff and I have a 4 year old, so I can't imagine how you must feel!

  3. Emma T says:

    Would have been a really interesting conference to have heard more about the output.

    I'd agree with everything you presented. One thing that I find disappointing is the lack of sharing content from the brand/pr afterwards. So few actually interact other than saying, thanks for the link. After I've done my part of the bargain, and usually more sharing across all of my social media, it would be nice to have them share it on their as well – it doesn't cost them anything, and is getting the word out to people who already like their brands, but who might also share it on. It counts a lot more than often the product if it's just a review I've done.
    My recent post Creating the perfect party theme with Tiny Me

  4. sarahmo3w says:

    SUCH a good post. It needs to be shared far and wide! It always astounds me when I review an item that the company doesn't bother to RT or share the link themselves. Surely if they are serious about getting the message out there themselves, they could spend a few seconds on this?
    My recent post SORN

  5. notanothermummyblog says:

    Brilliant, wise words. Hopefully lots of brands who weren't at Mumstock will read this and take heed!
    My recent post Am I Too Old To Wear Minnie Mouse Ears?

  6. suzanne says:

    This is all very interesting Tara and exciting news for us bloggers – time for brands to get on it! I also think it helps when the PR person is a little less 'cagey' in their initial email. I just hate that! I then have to go back and forth 3 or 4 times to work out what they want. I don't have time for that. I think it helped Coca Cola that they were a big name, let's face it, we all get sucked into that! But I'm happy to work with smaller, less known companies if they are open, interested and have done their research. Well done to your for speaking on behalf of bloggers everywhere. Really interesting. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    My recent post New Baby Euphoria

  7. coombemill says:

    Fab post Tara, nothing more to add except to say I share your frustration with brands offering inappropriate content, you'd think they would think twice before asking me to review a travel site!

  8. redpeffer says:

    Really interesting post and so true-I delete the vast majority of PR emails because they're generic and clearly not targeted to me. My aim is to cultivate a few quality relationships with brands or PR's because I want to feel involved in the whole process. As you say, I work hard on my blog and spend a lot of time cultivating a relationship with my followers-I think that needs to be recognised for the value it holds. I value my blog and I want Brands and PR's to value it too. Thanks for a great post.

  9. An excellent post, great points, and hopefully many PR will read this.
    My recent post Win Deluxe Baby Girl/Boy Hamper worth £90

  10. Claire says:

    Great post 🙂

    I really do not understand when you work hard on a post, that some company's do not tweet, share or just a RT.. (if I had a company and someone did a nice blog post for me, I would be proud to share… ) I thought it was just me, phew I'm ok then!?! 🙂

  11. Jaime Oliver says:

    Tara this is so eloquently put! .. i think you have encapsulated how i feel totally 🙂 .. thank you for spreading the word for us all
    My recent post The Oliver’s Splash Down At Alton Towers Splash Landings

  12. Mum on the Brink says:

    Very good post and presentation Tara!

    Let's hope with such messages coming from more angles it will start to sink in- there are mutual benefits, but only if neither takes the other for a fool.
    My recent post Farne Island puffins and a close shag or two

  13. joannemallon says:

    Thank you for sharing your presentation, so interesting to read. And I'm glad to hear that you don't take part in campaigns where 50+ bloggers are doing the same thing – I don't either. I think that blogging is essentially story telling and it does get a bit boring when 50 people are telling the same story.

    Sometimes I think the problem boils down to PRs simply not knowing the difference between bloggers and journalists, and treating bloggers the same way they're treated journos for years. So often I see bloggers moaning on FB groups about stuff PRs have done, and I have to point out that this is entirely normal for journalists. But a blog is a very different beast, and bloggers will have a very personal attachment to their blog and will take it personally if an approach is inappropriate.

    Sounds like an interesting conference, wonder what changes brands will make as a result?
    My recent post No Food Till Saturday – 4 day juice detox live blog

  14. Do you know, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've tweeted my review of a product (including the brand's Twitter name) and got a retweet or even an acknowledgement from the brand. Yet it makes perfect sense that if you create content linking to them, they should want as many people to read it as possible.

  15. themummyadventure says:

    Really interesting post and I sat here nodding most of the way through!
    My recent post Playmobil is 40

  16. Pingback: Guest Blogging Is Alive And Well – If You Know The Playbook

  17. libprice says:

    As a VERY new blogger (and not quite so new Mum!) this was a really interesting post to read – and hopefully set me off on the right foot……..

  18. naivemum says:

    Wow, this post has certainly given me a heavy dose of reality. Harsh but much appreciated and definitely needed.

    It makes you realise how the blogging world is not just about personal musings but very much a successful business model and those interacting with this world, must act in the same manner.

    Being a new #mumpreneur, this is whole new world for me and you end up following online guides on “how to promote your new shop” that tells us to pretty much blast bloggers willy nilly. From your post, I understand the “etiquette” and the unwritten rules now 🙂

    Thank you Tara for such an honest and informative post.

    From a naive mum of one…slightly deflated but egged on to work harder!!

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