Invite Diversity To Your Brand's Blogger Retreat

Race was a heated topic of discussions during a session on the State of the Momosphere at BlogHer 2007, the popular women's blogging conference. Specifically, women of color spoke out about feeling ignored by marketers who seemed to favor white women in their PR efforts.

Nearly two years later, this is still a hot-button issue. One highly visible example of this is that although a growing number of brands are sponsoring offsite retreats for bloggers, the vast majority of attending guests are white women.

MJ Tam, founder of FilipinaMoms.com and other online communities, has been invited to participate in offsite corporate retreats, but notices that her invitations typically come through her other, non-ethnic sites.

Digital mom Jennifer James, an African-American who founded and manages several mom-oriented websites, including MommyTooMag.com for African-American mothers, observes the same trend as Tam. She suspects many marketers are behind the times.

Indeed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 34% of the overall U.S. population is comprised of minorities, and four states as well as the District of Columbia have "majority-minority" populations.

VivaLaFeminista.com founder Veronica Arreola thinks the lack of outreach to women of color is a subtle form of racism. "When people are asked to think of a typical American family, the one that comes to mind is a white family, not a black, Hispanic or multiracial one," says Arreola, a Latina mom. "Perhaps having the Obama family in the White House will help reshape perceptions," she adds.

Self-described black-Irish mom Liz Dwyer, who blogs at LosAngelista.com, encourages companies to look at their consumer base and reach out to a group that mirrors those customer demographics. "Regardless of our backgrounds, we have a lot in common as mothers." She notes that black and Latina consumers know when they are being ignored. And they don't like it.

Arreola advises event sponsors use racial quotas. "After all," she says, "this is not like hiring for a job. Diversity at these events should be a priority." That said, Dwyer cautions, "A single minority woman does not speak for an entire race or community."

What color is your blogroll?

Dwyer advises that those keeping tabs on the blogosphere read a range of wide range of bloggers from a variety of women. "If you don't already read blogs written by moms of color, use search terms that might be pertinent like 'black women + Starbucks.' This might give you a feel for conversations and introduce you to new and influential bloggers," she suggests.

African-American mommy blogger Renee Ross of CutieBootyCakes.com adds, "Once you find a good blog written by a woman of color, check out the blog's followers, which may be visible on a siderbar. Click through to her blogroll, or learn more about the commenters and follow them back to their blogs."

Ross notes that reaching women of color may require an extra step, but that these relationships will develop over time if there is a natural fit between the company and the blogger.

Stacey Ferguson is trying to eliminate that extra step. This October in Atlanta, she and her colleagues will host BlogaliciousWeekend.com, a conference for women bloggers of color. "Blogalicious will provide brands, marketers and PR consultants with a unique opportunity to engage in candid exchanges with influential women of color," Ferguson explains. "Our plans include an interactive roundtable and plenary session, 'Marketing to Women of Color: The Real Deal'."

Ferguson reports a "phenomenal" response to the inaugural conference. It promises to create opportunities for bloggers and marketers alike. Using the tips mentioned above, a savvy marketer can connect to a diverse community from the comfort of her office. However, meeting in person adds depth to the social aspect of social media, which is why many companies host blogger retreats in the first place.

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1 comment about "Invite Diversity To Your Brand's Blogger Retreat ".
  1. Cooper Munroe from TheMotherhood , May 7, 2009 at 12:41 p.m.

    Kim, This is a fantastic article and incredibly important points here. Renee's suggestion is great and so is the Blogalicious Weekend conference. Thanks.