Archive for February, 2011

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The brand of mom: The Toyota incident can happen again

February 17, 2011

Some of you might be familiar with the Toyota incident that happened yesterday. If you need a fantastic recap and timeline, Shelly Kramer does a great job laying it out.

While this type of promotion is not unique, that doesnt mean that it is the right way to promote a brand or product. I’m not just talking about Toyota or PR agencies here, I’m also talking about the mom bloggers who participate in this type of promotional bribery.

Note: I am specifically speaking about mombloggers here because of this specific incident, yes, I am very aware there are dad bloggers too.

There are AMAZING mom bloggers out there. But in the past couple of years, there has been an onslaught of momblogs that are set up purely to promote. Often, these bloggers (and I’m using that term loosely here) are promoting items they have never used, all in exchange for gift cards.

$10 here, $25 there, maybe a couple $50 thrown in for good luck. And yes, they add up. There is debate out there if this is even legal, whether the loopholes are too big, what is really a contest and what is not. but either way? These so called blogs are cheapening the brand of the mom blog. They are all paid promotion and no meaningful content.

Responsible bloggers should do their due diligence about what they write, how they write, what type of promotions they will and will not accept (have some self esteem!) and most importantly why they are writing a blog in the first place.

There are blogs that do both content and product review (and giveaways) well. There are very successful, strategic, smart moms and groups of moms who blog about mom things (and more!). Lets just say we are not talking about those blogs. They can and do make money from these great blogs. Christy Matte wrote a wonderful piece about paying bloggers: Do bloggers really deserve to be paid? *an agency must read

Now, don’t start whining to me about how I’m talking about your blog and that you closely consider every free gift card you whore yourself out for. Because you are killing the mom brand.

Lets look at the term. Mom Blogger. At one time, this was a proud term, many of us used it. It described a genre to which we belonged and we were passionate about it. It was a brand we believed in and trusted. We wrote with our hearts on our sleeves (and the great ones still do), we had a passion for what we were doing, for the people we were connecting with, for the new moms we were helping go through the same things we once went through (or still are) when once they thought they were alone. We showed each other that we are not alone and there are people out here who will listen to you and share their secrets, help you through a tough situation and some times gave you the support you needed to get through. At its birth, it felt like a mom revolution, a brigade of people who could come together with common purpose.

Now? People laugh at the mom blogger. In fact, many wont even use that term to describe themselves (lifestyle blogger?) because noone will take them seriously. Many Other blog genres dont even consider mom bloggers worth discussing strategy with at conferences. The mom blogger has become a title to avoid.

In Shelly’s post about the Toyota incident, The very first commenter sums up what everyone else was thinking. “Got to love those mommy bloggers”. Though you didn’t see it, this comment included an eyeroll of disdain.

A once proud brand. Diluted into ridicule.

But what makes the successful ones work? Passion, strategy, intelligence and meaningful content.

I think you can use that formula for success in any brand.

I also think that the PR companies are equally at fault here. I think that this is a very ineffective way to spend publicity and marketing dollars. They, as well as and those who perpetuate the myth of these campaigns, created a frenzy with these promotional contests and as a result, moms create blogs with the belief that they too, can profit from it.

(side note: How many other brands have no idea their agencies are using these tactics? Just a thought)

If marketing companies spent a little more time reading through some of the blogs, researching which blog would make a great brand partner, they would have more effective, more meaningful, longer term results. Would this cost them a little more money? Sure. But it is a more concentrated campaign which will yeild higher results in the long run.

This is simple brand strategy people. You yield stronger results with a targeted campaign.

I was reminded recently that it doesnt matter if you have 10,000 followers or 150 followers. If those 150 followers are the RIGHT followers? They are much more valuble than 10,000 empty ones.

What happened in this failed Toyota campaign is sad. Sad for Samantha Snyer, owner of Mommy Networks, sad for Toyota who had to answer to (and briefly take the blame for) this ridiculous campaign, sad for the reputation of mom bloggers and sad for brand strategy. I hope that great brands, agencies and bloggers can learn a lesson from this.

Be mindful of what your goals are. Have a strategy. Have integrity. Be smart.

And that goes for all of you.

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I should know better

February 16, 2011

I posted a couple of days ago about my fears about Alex’s adjustment to being a sibling.

In the time since then, I have been inundated with stories and videos from friends and strangers about how sweet siblinghood is. (THANK YOU ALL!)

and then? Then there was this.

Alex teaches a friend to write her name for the first time at preschool.

It was sweet, it was thoughtful and it was very brotherly. And while we will still need our time alone, and there will occasionally be challenges, he is going to be an amazing older brother.

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The bittersweetness of expecting #2

February 14, 2011

AlexMy son. My first born.

How I have watched him grow. How I try to hold on to every piece of little boy I can.

Sometimes when we cuddle on the couch.. his little body snug against me, saying “Mommy, I love you”. Often he sings songs to me peppered with phrases about how much he loves me.. his mommy, the love of his life. A tear will spring to my eye. How much more of this will I get? I don’t want it to end. He will always be my baby. Always.

Does bringing in a second child mean I wont have this special time with him anymore? Will he feel neglected? Will I feel like I’m not giving him enough of what he needs?

I know that one thing I will be trying to do will be date night (or day) with him. I want to make sure he gets one-on-one time with me. I know he’ll want it, need it. And so will I.

We are all excited about bringing this new child in to the world, including Alex. We are beyond thrilled to give Alex a sibling and he is equally excited to have one. But I am trying to savor every last moment I have with my one sweet child. My baby who is growing up to be a wonderful little boy who is thoughtful and friendly. Who will excel in kindergarten when he starts in the fall both socially and academically.

But I worry that I wont do it right. That the transitions that will happen in the August-September time frame, new baby, new school for Alex… will be a bumpy ride.

What other tactics are you using to make sure your children get the one-on-one attention they desire? What is your best advice about going from one to two children?

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Yes I’m 43, but I have the maternal age of a 29 year old

February 5, 2011

So those fears that I spoke of when I announced my pregnancy? Down Syndrome and Trisomy 13/18 and more are a couple of those fears. Genetic disorders.I was screened for Jewish genetic disorders in my last pregnancy and was found to NOT be a carrier, risks were low for these because Dave is not Jewish.

The risk for these increase tremendously with age. In fact, for a woman of my age the ratios are as follows:

Down Syndrome: 1:35
Trisomy 13/18: 1:61

Those are some scary numbers. But we did not know them prior to the genetic testing, which is a good thing because we would have been obsessed with them.

So on Monday, we went to meet with the genetic counselor, give some blood and have a nuchal translucency (NT) measurement. These tests were to give me a clearer picture of my actual risks (the appointment itself was called ‘risk assessment’) instead of just a number based on my age.

We were asked a series of questions about our family health histories, so it is important to try to ask your own questions prior to the appointment. We were able to give an accurate history to our genetic counselor.

On Friday, we received our results. After testing, our ratios changed. For Down Syndrome, it was now 1:681 and for the trisomies it was now 1:1201. The same chance as a 29 year old healthy woman. This was thrilling news for us.

There is other testing available that we refused. Such as an amniocentesis. We felt like the non-invasive testing was enough for us. Even if the tests were to come out positive for any of these genetic disorders, we would have continued the pregnancy and loved this baby exactly the same as we do now.

I think the moral of this story is, don’t be afraid to have children at an “advanced maternal age”. Don’t let it scare you. Don’t listen to those who say “But you’re so old”.. Some of my friends are grandmothers at my age! But this way? Having children later in life? This was OUR decision, not anyone elses. We knew the risks, and there are risks with EVERY pregnancy. Seek a professional who is well versed in high risk pregnancies who can give you positive support and guidance. We have that in the OB we have chosen and the friends and family we surround ourselves with.

Go forth and be fertile.