This article was originally an editorial filled with opinions and idealistic expectations about who, when, where, and what Mommy Bloggers (or any bloggers for that matter) should adhere to as far a transparency, credibility.
But, in favor of a more objective and empirical discussion, the following images, questions and symbolic “evidence”, for lack of a better term, will be applied. In thinking about the discussion started with this article, we essentially boiled the whole issue of Mom Blog monetization and authority down to one crucial question. ”
What do you, or should you expect from Mommy Bloggers?” The publication spotlighted in this article uses a variety of viable and obviously successful methods to monetize. However, their claims here at Everything PR as to not being paid for reviews, and touting themselves as 2bove reproach”, may leave room for speculation.
Appearances Can Be Everything
I will not interject my opinion, or that of others here in the text of this article, but to inform the new reader of these “goings on”, I will say that many Mom bloggers who were approached recently to “look at” a free service (and I emphasize the “look at” part because there was no PR pitch involved), seemed more interested in making money than anything to do with products that actually stand a chance of helping children. The story is a long one, and as with all long stories, it is fraught with human frailties as well. Suffice it to say one Mommy Blogger came to defend the indefensible, and an ever more influential one came to be the “defender of the faithful” in the comments. Much of the text and images you will evaluate come directly from this second Mommy blog’s site. You be the judge. What is your opinion of the appearances here?
I suggested that some Moms who blog are money grubbing shopahaulics, and for a reason. I further suggested that any number of high profile Mommy Blogs are not in full disclosure about paid reviews, the ways in which they promote products, and basically either misunderstand disclosure or out and out ignore or circumvent it all together. Here part of a comment left by Liz Gumbinner, Co-Founder of CoolMomPicks, out of her involvement with PR University and the article from which m original was initiated.
“I am part of the call tomorrow, in part because I’m the co-publisher of an influential blog that strives to be beyond ethical reproach and does not accept products or payment in exchange for recommendations. Your insinuation that the information we’re seeking to provide on the teleconference is useless because heck, we’re all for sale, defames me and the other women on the call. Let alone, it’s incorrect.”
Beyond Ethical Reproach and Going For the Silver
I made no insinuation that this conference or Child’s Play proper, let alone the information they were doling out was useless. I simply meant that headlining the conference as some sort of “cure all” for those seeking to engage Moms was not good form. To continue our running evaluation, below are several screens and some quotes from Cool Mom Picks which should be considered based on Liz’s assertions about transparency. I will begin with a quote from her site disclosing that none of the reviews there are paid for.
“NOTE: We do not accept compensation for any reviews on Cool Mom Picks. All reviews are strictly determined by the editorial staff and are separate from any paid advertising or affiliate programs on site. We believe in complete transparency regarding our sponsors.”
Trail of Links
The list of articles bearing links to sponsors or advertisers is pretty extensive. It cannot be categorically stated that every article promotes advertisers with Cool Mom Picks however, we did not have the time or inclination to surf every one. The screen mashup below depicts two of at least three posts about a current ad sponsor on Cool Mom Picks however. We put it in frame with the button for Polarn O. Pyret for reference.
Let There Be No Negative Reviews
“You also won’t find us ranting about items that we hate or don’t work or just plain suck. We weed out those things for you because we know you don’t have time to.” From the About Page of Cool Mom Picks
Can you figure out why there are no negative reviews on Cool Mom Picks? Are Cool Moms too cool to read about dangerous products, issues with middle of the road products? Is a negative review always a bad thing? Is it just as well that inquiring Moms visit a retail site and read their own reviews? Mum is the word from this author, objectivity, objectivity.
The conference referred to earlier, the one which Liz so adamantly defended in our comments, was presented by Bulldog Reporter’s PR University.
Ads and CPM rates for Cool Mom Picks
I guess the question in everyone’s mind now goes something like this; “So, what is wrong with having sponsors, selling ads?” I will not venture my opinion or voice on this issue, the jury (you) is still out on this particular case. Here are some numbers to think about though.
There is no mention of what email campaigns run for selected sponsors, but it is evident from the ones my partner has, and the archives like the one below, that sending out over 20,000 of these a month has a value as previously alluded to by several of the testimonials.
Note the some of the ad variations below have already been sold out.
Old Marketing Made New By The Digital World
The co-founder of Cool Mom Picks tweaked my interest in the PR University teleconference more so than I originally was to be honest. The screens and text below reveal (I won’t say what I think, objectivity you know?) aside to PR, Marketing and Mommy Blogging one might not think exists. Please let us know how these pieces of puzzle fit into your schema of “transparent” publications and advertising if you will.
The next screen reveals a little of how Mommy Bloggers might overcome the “paid for opinions” negativity which seems to be coming down on so many now. As any of us know, email is still the closest thing to actually being inside the “home” of consumers, and getting past spam filters, getting openings, and presenting products is still a marketer’s stock in trade.
For now at least, the reader has already been overwhelmed with information to think about. The questions posed will perhaps lead to a valuable discussion, or at least we hope so. The ladies who operate Cool Mom Picks will no doubt be incensed to a degree by what seems like a negative implication here. Well, there is one. However, it has nothing to do with their skill, their ability to organize, their writing capability, their notoriety, and certainly not their need to monetize a publication. The problem for this publication is…
Well, I said I would not offer an opinion on that just yet. The reader should understand too that I actually admire the quality, breadth, and depth of their business proposition, believe it or not. I only hope that all our readers, any we can point towards this article, and ultimately Cool Mom Picks (and more importantly their readers) might be able to fashion an inkling of what is wrong with parts of their business.
Credibility is perhaps the most coveted and difficult to obtain commodity in communications, and in this age of instant connection, “riding the fence” and circumvention is simply not going to fly. These ladies have covered the gambit of everything from social networking on Twitter and Facebook, to working their butts off creating a great site.
But, sometimes “one thing” makes all the difference, this is all we are focused on at Everything PR News, aspects of otherwise great people and businesses which when done correctly can help us all prosper.