Reaching the influencers that know best

Pitching to mommy, and even daddy, bloggers requires a more specific and different approach, finds Aarti Shah

For PR pros reaching out to the influential “mommy” bloggers, the secret to a successful pitch can be remembering the little things. But when Leticia Barr, founder of Tech Savvy Mama, recently attended a family-oriented media event, she found that many of these touches were overlooked.

“They had activities for the kids, but they didn't take into account certain needs – like kids need low chairs and low tables,” Barr recalls. “We just ended up sitting on the floor... it would have been nice if they had taken those little details into account.”

Parent blogs, particularly those aimed at moms, have become online hubs for people to share ideas about raising families. As more readers flock to these sites, PR pros have started paying attention, too. While they should apply the basic pitch courtesies, PR pros need to take some extra considerations.

For example, another media luncheon Barr attended actually catered to parents. The organizers provided valet parking for mothers, childcare, and meals for the kids.

“I... like it when [events] take into account that I'm a mom,” she explains. “That [event]... encouraged my participation as a ‘mommy blogger' because the planning was... thoughtful.”

Typically, PR pros use media events to promote products and build relationships. But face-to-face meetings with parent bloggers can be tricky, since many are busy raising their children and only have time to blog during off-hours. Stefania Pomponi Butler, founder of the CityMama blog, suggests bringing the event to the blogger. For example, Nintendo, working with A Squared Group, hosted a Wii party for Butler and her friends at her house.

“We hung out and played with the Wii,” Butler recalls. “It was successful because they understood moms are busy, and we don't have a lot of time to get together with friends.”

Better yet, the campaign successfully drove the point that video games can be family-friendly and social, she adds.

Parents can also become engaged with a brand through a larger campaign. Whirlpool has targeted “mommy” bloggers for its “Mother of Invention” competition, which includes giving away a grant to mothers who come up with the best idea to make parenting easier.

“The way moms interact is really changing,” says Maggie O'Neill, senior director at Peppercom, Whirlpool's AOR.

But when targeting moms, O'Neill suggests that PR pros remember they usually aren't interested in breaking news.

“They're out there blogging because they are having an issue... that they need addressed,” O'Neill says. “If you can pinpoint that and tie it back to your brand, then it's a success.”

Butler agrees that solving parenting issues is a critical part of the pitch, but reminds PR pros that mothers have interests beyond laundry detergent and dish soap.

“[W]hat a lot of people don't realize is that we had careers,” she says. “Just because we are [parenting] does not mean our brains suddenly turned off and all we're concerned about is wiping spit up.”

Greg Allen, founder of Daddy Types, says he ignores pitches that assume primary caretakers are mothers or speak directly to women.

“What's basically a deal breaker to me is something written only for a mom,” he says. “If you exclude dads in your copy, don't send it to a dad blogger... In this day and age, addressing ‘parents' seems like a better catch-all.”

Josh Rosenberg, SVP in the FirstWorld Digital practice at M Booth & Associates, says PR pros need to remember not to inundate parent bloggers or even pitch them as aggressively as one would a regular reporter, because blogging is usually not their full-time job.

“Use short and concise message points,” he advises. “They are not only writing their blogs, but they are tending to a family.”

Technique tips:

Do

Make sure that the events you pitch are child friendly

Be flexible. Many are blogging during the off-hours

Find ways to engage the blogger's family and friends

Don't

Address only moms when you'd like parents in general to write about the product

Pitch products that are not age appropriate for children

Only pitch household chores or products

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