4 reasons Bulldog Reporter completely missed the boat with its “Mommy Blogger Contact Guide”

Holy Hannah. You’re going to love this one, if you didn’t hear about it already yesterday. I was pointed to a little kerfuffle between Bulldog Reporter and mommy bloggers yesterday from a friend and colleague.

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Apparently, Bulldog Reporter thought it would be a good idea to sell mommy blogger contact information to PR folks across the country. Not the end of the world, except for the fact that said information contained personal phone numbers, emails and home addresses without (alledgedly) their permission.

Let me repeat that: WITHOUT their permission.

That, on its own, would have been bad enough. But, after digging into this a bit more last night, I discovered a few more reasons Bulldog completely missed the boat with this “Mommy Blogger Contact  Guide” (take a look at the complete one-pager if you have time). Let’s have a look:

Partnerships not “placements”

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When in the heck are we going to learn? When you’re dealing with bloggers, it’s not about “placements.” These people aren’t mainstream media outlets. They’re not paid to report on your news or event. Well, you might pay them, but they’re not reporters, folks. They have topics they like to talk about, sure. But, they’re often not aligned with your clients narratives. So, why do we continue to think in terms of “placements”? It’s about PARTNERSHIPS. I recently completed a small focus group with my partners at Weber Shandwick here in Minneapolis–I’m excited to share the results next week, but lets just say the bloggers we talked to (which were all mommy bloggers, by the way) weren’t interested in “placements”, they were interested in working WITH brands TOGETHER to develop content that benefitted them both.

Bigger doesn’t equal better

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Another mantra we need to beat through our thick skulls. The Bulldog promo note highlights “290 of the most popular and influential mommy blogging outlets” (again, outlets? Really? They’re blogs, not mainstream media outlets!). But, not all brands want to (or SHOULD want to) work with the “most popular” bloggers. Smart brands want to work with the RIGHT bloggers. Bloggers who are aligned with their values. Bloggers who have an engaged community–not just a big follower count. Bigger isn’t always better. Repeat after me.

Bloggers are NOT reporters

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Maybe it’s just the language the Bulldog folks used in the promo one-pager, but I think it’s indicative of how a lot of people still think about bloggers. Let’s look at a few lines: “Learn exactly what kind of hooks and stories they’re looking for, best times to call and pet peeves…”. Really? Hooks and stories? Bloggers don’t look for “hooks.” They look for ideas for posts (remember, bloggers don’t have to sell their story ideas in an editorial meeting each morning). There is a difference. Also, best times to call? WHAT? The media don’t even want calls at this stage. You think people who BLOG want to use the phone? I can’t even believe that was actually in print. Or, what about this statement in the promo note: “Obviously a single placement in one of these blogs can be worth thousands of dollars in visibility to your products and brands…” OK, we covered the “placement” beef, right? The problem with this statement is it makes no point of talking about the benefit to the blogger. Again, these bloggers don’t exist to help your brand (even if you are paying them–for many bloggers, money isn’t the primary motivator). So, they don’t blog to make your company or client money. Treat them like real people and they will treat you and your clients the same way. Not too tough.

Ask for permission–every time

I have a general rule of thumb–when in doubt, disclose when it comes to online communication. On a similar note, when in doubt, seek permission when it comes to information online–whether that be sharing email addresses, photos, or even home addresses (why did Bulldog think it was even relevant to share home addresses? Doesn’t obtaining that information come much later in the pitch process?). Bulldog failed miserably here–and worse yet, with the intent of making a buck. They apologized (kind of), and did take the home addresses off the list (according to a Facebook post yesterday), but what about the phone numbers? And what about the fact that they’re still trying to sell something that they clearly did not clear with the bloggers? Now, I understand bloggers put information out there, and with that they need to be open to other people and organizations using that information–mommy bloggers aren’t completely off the hook here. But, I just think Bulldog could have went about this a much different way. Why not just ask the bloggers for permission? That just doesn’t make sense to me.

Don’t want to completely throw Bulldog under the bus here (whoops, too late), but this is such a blunder. And, for a long-standing and widely followed organization/publisher like Bulldog, quite frankly, I’d expect more. I’d expect them to *understand* blogger outreach before they go around selling a list like this. I’d expect them to act ethically. And, I’d expect them to show some integrity (again, they did kind of apologize–although “sorry” was never uttered).

Maybe I’m just a little disappointed…you?

2 comments
dshanahan
dshanahan

I caught this on twitter (via you) yesterday, and knew this kind of thing would surface and become prevalent eventually. Maybe those days are here?

 

This info isn't hard to come by, and I can't tell you how many times I was asked for membership info on our bloggers while I was running 20 Something Bloggers - 20k GenY personal bloggers. I'd say the incoming inquiries for 'partnerships' were 85% weighted in the direction of thoughtless marketing campaigns that treated our bloggers like media outlets. The ones we took were with brands that really understood engagement and dialogue, and paid close attention to quality over quantity. It got to the point at which I could smell a faker a mile away, and mostly did work with agencies who really got the right ways to engage (Weber, Edelman). 

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @dshanahan Interesting that you mentioned two of the more digitally-savvy agencies (Weber and Edelman). I'm not convinced PR agencies really understand blogger outreach any better than Bulldog did here. And the stats you shared--that's pretty much what we heard in our small focus groups we did recently (I'll share more in the next week or so on that). Thanks for the comment!