Mom Bloggers and Big Brands

I don’t make a habit of addressing articles in which I’ve been quoted, but I’m making an exception here. There is a story on the front page of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times – Blogging moms wooed by food firms – and I’ve allowed Ray to post his thoughts. Please weigh in and let us know what you think!


Do you think Tiger Woods’ endorsement of Nike or Buick diminishes his name or their brands because he’s paid millions of dollars to pitch them?

Is Kelly Ripa less credible on Live because she’s paid to promote Electrolux? Does that make Regis a better person?

Of course the answer is “No.” But oddly, when it comes to mommy bloggers offering a positive comment about a product after they’ve had a chance to visit a brand’s operation in Los Angeles or New York, some cry foul. They say moms have been compromised and aren’t to be believed.

But the truth is just the opposite.

Take my wife for example. Christine will only talk about products, brands or services that she enjoys and trusts personally. If she doesn’t like it or if it fails in some way, she won’t talk about it. In fact, she has put together boxes of products to donate to Goodwill after deciding not to endorse them for one reason or another. You’ve never heard anything about these products from her. That’s because she’s decided not to brand bash – this site is all about our family and what we like and enjoy, not what sucks. For that, she gets criticized by some.

Most mommy bloggers do not get paid to post their opinions on products (and my wife is no exception), however consider this – Wisk laundry detergent recently invited Christine, all expenses paid, to New York City for a couple of days so she could learn about their product. How fun would that have been? But since she’s sold on Tide (no offense to Wisk, which I’m sure has a good product) and she uses it on the bazillion loads of laundry our family churns out each week, she turned Wisk down. And this is only one such example.

Why is it that there seems to be one standard for mom bloggers and another for celebrities who endorse products? In my way of thinking, the mom’s are, if anything, more credible than the celebrities. Does Tiger really drive a Buick? Does Kelly Ripa really cook her own meals? Does Oprah really love Butt Paste?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that real moms with real families blog and talk about the products they use and love.

One other thing to consider, just as celebrities wouldn’t associate their name with something dubious, neither would most mom bloggers. I know Christine certainly wouldn’t.

On a related note, I do have to say that sometimes I wish she would rip on some products that deserve to be criticized heavily… Think water bottle you’d take to drink at the gym and change nothing. Now give to the kid in the back seat, because you don’t want to stop to let him go to the bathroom. Do you think at some point that someone might get a mouthful of something unpleasant?

Why all the Bloggy Events?



Yes, I have been on quite a few sponsored trips in the last few months and I am hearing all sorts of questions about them. The question that I hear most often is “What are the benefits of these events for the company and/or the blogger?”

Well, first let me touch on what I see companies gain from these events. I have been to events where I felt like I was watching a great big infomercial, with products pushed at me the entire time we were together. But, I have also been to great events where it has been more of a relationship-building, learning experience.

The ROI (return on investment) for the company hosting the event may be the knowledge gained from talking to real moms (Campbell’s), establishing a focus group or word-of-mouth marketing team (Frito-Lay’s Fab 15), finding the perfect spokesperson for an upcoming campaign (J&J), or simply just creating awareness about their products, services, or current campaigns (Stouffer’s and Disneyland Resorts and Walt Disney World). The benefits may include buzz that is created around the trip or, more importantly, it could be just about creating new friendships or maintaining existing relationships.

Second, what are the benefits for the blogger attending? Relationship building, by far! The connections that I have made, both with other bloggers and with the company hosting the event, have been priceless. Because of these connections I have formed life-long friendships, have consulted with companies, become a campaign spokesmom, and even become one of Walmart’s ElevenMoms.

Another question that I am asked fairly often is how I seem to be invited to all these events and blogging trips. I’ve been asked if I’m part of an “exclusive club” or even been accused of being a part of a “clique.” That makes me sad! These trips are not “cliquish” in any way, nor are they a result of my relationship with Walmart. Believe it or not, I was invited to brand sponsored events even before I became one of the ElevenMoms!

It is important to understand that each event that I have been invited to has been because of a relationship I am forming with folks in that particular company, because a company found me through an article or my online involvement in areas aside from my blog, or because I was recommended by another attendee. It is not because I whined, begged, pleaded, or even asked. I don’t believe in weaseling my way in, pretending to be anyone’s friend, in hopes of a free trip. Instead, I have built relationships, both online and off, and it happened to pay off in ways I never expected!

If you are wondering how you can be noticed by companies planning events, take a look at what my good friend Lori Dolginoff, from Johnson & Johnson, recommends. “As a blogger you should take advantage of opportunities to get yourself noticed in a positive light,” she says. Join online communities, enter company brand contests (like the Big Bubblin’ Stars Contest), engage in positive conversations, and attend blogger conferences (like BlogHerLori will be there and she loves hugs!). Make new friends, both online and off.

Are you staying neutral in the blogosphere? Do you engage in positive conversations about brands and products? Are you a key influencer, both online and off? Are you likeable, approachable, and friendly? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are pretty great that you will be invited to an event, or two. Please let me know when you are… I want to jump up and down with you!

I’m in Austin for SxSW!


Not sure if I told ya’ll, but thanks to Walmart and Johnson’s Baby I am in Austin for the HUGE, and wildly popular, South by Southwest (aka SxSW or SouthBy) conference. I’m not sure I can really call it a conference, but I digress…

I am attending the Interactive track with 17 of my fellow ElevenMoms, our sponsors, a couple of good friends, and a few bloggy associates. Since this is my first year here, I am completely overwhelmed by the number of people present and the wide array of sessions available for us to attend… I really feel lost.

Thank God for my friends! Lori, Tara and I had some errands to run (also known as shopping) that took us away from the action, this morning, but we tried to make up for lost time by browsing through the mile-long schedule of sessions, only to give up and decide to walk around to see who we could meet. We started with the Trade Show and began passing around our cards and cute little 11Moms stickers to anyone who would take them.

Our aimless wandering this afternoon paid off… We met a ton of great people and even scored some fun skins for our iPhones from MusicSkins. I can’t wait to apply my Flower Girl to my phone (ahem, yes I know I don’t actually have an iPhone yet, thankyouverymuch…).

Tomorrow will be a big day, so I’m heading off to bed now. If you’re here I would love to meet you, so come find me ~ I’m the one wandering around with the bewildered look on my face.