There’s been quite a controversy brewing in the “mommy” blogosphere over how Johnson & Johnson tried to reach out to mommy bloggers to promote Camp Baby, an all-expenses-paid event in New Jersey designed to promote J&J products to those who might spread the message through their blogs.
Let’s just say the outreach had a number of glitches, beginning with which bloggers made the cut to the fact that babies weren’t welcome at. . .”Camp Baby.”
I won’t rehash all the details (you can read all about it here, and here) – so let’s jump to a few of the lessons learned, straight from one of the blogging mommies left rockin’ the cradle at home. A lot of PR people are contemplating blogger relations programs, so these lessons can apply to just about any industry:
“This is certainly not how you handle hormonal, tired, frazzled new mothers,” one mommy blogger told PR Buzzsaw. “It’s certainly an interesting study in reaching out to bloggers in the wrong way…what would I have done differently?”
1. The PR rep invited many of these bloggers in their comments, not privately via email. Most bloggers have email contact. That’s the equivalent of passing around party invitations in school in front of kids and only certain ones get them and others don’t. Causes huge resentments.
2. Make it clear this is a mommy only event. The name was a bad choice. Camp Baby and you can’t bring your baby? How about Camp Mommy?
3. Make your intentions clear. Explain on a website why the certain people were chosen (loyal customers, part of blogging incentive programs, etc.) Explain what is expected of the moms beyond just blogging about the camp for advertising for J and J. Explain that babies and children cannot attend – moms only. Make communication VERY clear up front.
4. Include a link on the site saying something like – We might not know about your blog! Please email and tell us about you and if you’d like to be considered for future promotions and events. Never let other bloggers feel less important because they aren’t ‘A’ List yet. The unknown mommy blogger today may be on Oprah tomorrow.”
To their credit, J&J has acknowledged some of the mistakes and promises to make changes for next year. But the amount of ill-will flying around this huge niche audience will take a while to go away and it demonstrates how an attempt at “blogger relations” can backfire. Yes, most of us are well beyond “Dear Blogger” outreach; now it’s on to the next lesson.