NEW YORK: The mommy blogger who called for a week-long “PR blackout” by her peers told PRWeek that while she didn't intend to sound anti-PR industry in her appeal, the boycott should be a lesson to agencies that inundate bloggers with irrelevant pitches.
Trisha Haas, administrator of the MomDot blog, called this week for mommy bloggers to boycott pitches from August 10 to 16, saying “mom bloggers are simply doing too much.”
“The idea was to get back to basics for a week and to celebrate and lift each other up as bloggers. But because of what we named it, it has been described as more of an anti-PR campaign, which is absurd,” she said, adding that hearing other blogger's stories of burnout led her to call for the boycott.
However, she added that she and her peers are also fed up with erroneous and inappropriate pitches from PR professionals with whom they don't have personal relationships.
“If I take more than a day to respond to a PR agency, they will e-mail me back the next day, and when you multiply that by 60 times a day, it can be overwhelming,” added Haas. “If there are 11,000 mommy bloggers out there and 9,000 of them have blogged the pitch about sunglasses, I don't know how real that is.”
The industry has raised the prominence mommy-blogger outreach in the past year. For example, Fleishman-Hillard launched a global practice group in January that coordinates marketing to mothers. Wal-Mart is one corporation that has increased outreach to mommy bloggers in the past year.
Paul Rand, president and CEO of the Zocalo Group, a subsidiary of Ketchum, said that mommy bloggers as a group have become important enough that they've inherited one of the long-standing complaints of traditional journalists – complaining about oversaturation by PR pitches. He added that the bloggers themselves can define clearly whether they want to be a part of the pitching and sampling processes.
“I think these bloggers have the opportunity to define for themselves how they want to participate or not participate, because there are some individuals who really embrace being part of that world and aggressively solicit engagement, and there are others who do it for different purposes,” he said. “So I think it represents nothing more than an expected evolution of the space.”
Rand added that various industries fighting for a foothold in the digital space, such as PR, advertising, marketing, and social media, are all actively pitching bloggers, exacerbating the issue.
“I'm willing to bet that if you looked at the people who this is calling for a boycott of, you'd probably find that there are many folks from the non-PR world,” he said.
The boycott comes as the Federal Trade Commission prepares to issue guidelines that could alter marketers' relationships with bloggers by holding bloggers responsible for misstatements or requiring them to disclose payment or compensation. Haas said the boycott has nothing to do with that issue.
Joe Chernov, VP of communications and associate VP of marketing at BzzAgent, a word-of-mouth agency, said that the boycott “probably” won't change much as far as the industry's relationship with mommy bloggers. However, he added that it should be a lesson to treat mommy bloggers as individual entities.
“For those sending the same pitches, all mommy bloggers aren't created equal. It's really no different than what PR people tend to do, or should do, with traditional media,” he said. “For instance, PRWeek and Mediaweek are related publications, but they're not the same.”