A relationship that was once based on a simple understanding -- companies supplied products to mom bloggers to review, moms reviewed products for fun and to attract an audience -- may suddenly be in semi-crisis.
There are several contributing factors -- legislation, compensation and, well, "vacation" -- all of which are in play at this very moment:
Holding the Line
While many organizations view mom bloggers as individuals expressing opinions, there is one influential group that does not: The Federal Trade Commission. This summer, the FTC plans to determine whether bloggers, including mom bloggers and the companies that work with them, should be held to the same advertising standard that bans deceptive or unfair business practices.
That is, the agency may choose to go after bloggers for any false claims or failure to disclose receipt of a free product or of payment. While some moms are unperturbed by this pending regulation, others are taking action -- checking with attorneys or posting disclaimers on their sites. Still others are considering beating a retreat - getting out of the blog review business for good.
Gimme Money ...
Two or three years ago -- when many of today's bloggers were just coming into their own -- a few brave companies thought there actually might be something to communicating with moms directly via social media rather than through third-party, traditional media. At the time, a lot of moms really loved the idea of being sent products to review, and the recognition and appreciation for their blogging skills and influence that relationship implied. And, let's face it, all those freebies were pretty cool, too.
However, in recent times, the value of some of those giveaways has morphed dramatically upward. What was once a $20 toy is now an appliance, an automobile on loan, or an all-expenses-paid trip to Disneyworld. Meaning, some bloggers will turn up their noses at anything less. Others, meanwhile, will now only comment on companies if paid to do so.
...Or at least, Gimme a Break!
That's if they still want to blog about companies at all.
As of last week, a number of mom bloggers are protesting that they've had enough. Of what? Apparently, of a good thing -- too many freebies! They are feeling put upon by the surge of marketers sending them products and asking them to write about them.
So -- they're going on strike. The plan is that the week of Aug. 10, certain mom bloggers are taking a "vacation" from marketing -- what they're calling a "PR Blackout" -- refusing to post anything that could possibly promote a brand, or to even talk to a publicist that entire week.
One wonders what would happen if the marketing world instituted an extended "Blogger Blackout" in return -- no samples, no giveaways, no coupons, no trips. And readers would then keep going to those blogs because ... ?
On the surface, this blogger pushback is all about these busy moms giving themselves a well-deserved break from all of us evil marketers who insist on giving them things. Or it could be that, totally unrelated to PR "demands," some moms are getting tired of the whole gotta-get-a-post-out-there-every-day grind -- and beginning to feel that what used to be a wonderful mode of self-expression may have become too much like a job. According to some blogger comments, certain moms may also feel that it's always the same few other moms who get recognition for their work -- by media and companies alike -- so why bother putting in the effort?
So -- where does that leave mommy bloggers and marketers alike? Between bloggers who are changing their attitudes and marketers who may not appreciate the FTC ruling, paying bloggers or having their phone calls refused because of a bloggy strike -- well, time will tell.