As if I didn’t have enough to do last week with it being the last week of school here in steamy NYC, I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) Lineshows in midtown. This show is a mini, micromini really, version of CES to keep everyone’s interest up and show off some new things. And while I saw some very intriguing new tech, the best part was seeing fellow tech mombloggers like Heidi, Christy, Amy and Beth (the original techmama!) And when I get together with a group of smart, tech savvy and product savvy mombloggers the conversation always turns to money, respect and the lack of both in the momblogging world.
It may come as a surprise to the non-blogging world out there that mombloggers are some of the biggest reviewers, writers and users of new technology. PR reps are all over this of course, but the marketing people still don’t seem to get it. Over and over again marketing and advertising analysts will cite the huge purchasing power and decision making ability of women, and in particular moms. Moms not only do the vast majority of clothes and food shopping but they also hold the purse strings when it comes to new technology purchases for the home and their kids. Who do you think realized that having the right iphone apps could keep your kids busy while waiting in line at the grocery store? Or that the ipod touch and now the ipad could be a traveling moms best friend? A mom that’s who! And who is getting together with their friends and comparing smart phones, giving each other app recommendations, looking over cases and skins? Women.
So here’s my problem.
The tech(and non-tech) companies understand the power of the mom in theory, but not so much in practice. Instead of hearing from marketing and advertising execs at companies in a savvy, well thought out, campaign minded way about how to harness this power we mombloggers hear from their PR people. The pitches tend to be the same – come to an event and tweet about it, blog about it, spend your time (and your time is money after all) to populate the event and provide essentially free grass roots advertising in return for …. maybe the product you’re covering? Or maybe just lunch. Or how about….nothing! Remember when the kook Sue Lowdon in Nevada suggested that people barter with their doctors for their services and everyone thought that she was off her rocker? Well, mombloggers do this every day. And we’re told to make sure we show “integrity” when we blog about these products and tell everyone we got it for free so the “review” isn’t misleading.
I happen to think my readers are a sophisticated bunch of people. I don’t do many straight up reviews because I feel that if I don’t have a genuine story to tell about a product, or a book, or TV show or movie, or a gadget or game, then it doesn’t belong here. Go to cnet.com, or amazon.com if you’re looking for a serious down and dirty review. I do. I’ve honestly got bags full of product I don’t use but the swag was thrust upon me as I left an event. I tend to give it away, not as giveaways on my blog but to friends or family that could actually enjoy and use it. But if I see something really cool that I know I would tell my friends about then I share it here, because my readers are my friends out there in the cloud. And I did see some great stuff at CEA that I will write about as I use them. But, I’m still waiting for the company that gets what good mombloggers could provide.
My background is in advertising and marketing and so maybe for me this whole working for “free” thing really rubs me the wrong way since I’ve been on the other side of it. I’ve seen those budgets and the thought and planning that goes into the launching of a brand or product. There have been myriads of blogs written about mombloggers needing to demand pay, and I agree. But I also think as long as the PR companies are focused on quantity rather than quality this will never happen. And as long as the relationship is between a PR rep and a blogger rather than the Marketing Department and the blogger the true value of the blogging community will never be realized. I have become much pickier about the events I attend, and I don’t feel compelled to write about the event or the product if it didn’t truly inspire a post. A few tweets during the event, sure. But giving over my real writing time that takes some serious doing.
So, all of you tech and non-tech companies I am putting you on notice. Focus groups are not free. Copywriting is not free. Marketing plans and outreach ideas are not free. Picking my brain – definitely not free. And all of you mombloggers out there jumping on the swag filled bandwagon, stop and say it with me – “My time and more importantly, my writing is valuable.” More valuable than a $30 pair of earbuds. More valuable than computer speakers or an animal themed flash drive or 30 photo prints. And if it isn’t worth more than that then I guess this is the right path for you. But, for me, and the amazing mombloggers I saw last week at CEA and the others I’ve come to respect and admire, I know there is a better way and now it’s just a matter of figuring out what momblogging 2.0 will be…