TOTAL SHARES 1

Lo que es mío es tuyoThere’s a bit of a hullabaloo floating around the Internet at the minute concerning the Momdot mommy blogger network and their proposed PR Blackout for one week in August.

The topic is being discussed on Twitter pretty vocally and bloggers and PR pros are coming out with their take on both sides of the argument.

Indeed, the flak got so bad that it led to a follow-up post on Momdot asking who’s more whiny, PR or bloggers?

I’m not going to get into the whole “she said, they said” argument as there’s enough of that in the comments of both Momdot blog posts, as well as via the Twitter discussion and other bloggers. The Momdot admins say it wasn’t an attack on PR per se, and reading the original post I believe them.

But here’s the thing.

While the reasoning behind the PR Blackout is sound – giving moms more time with their families and reclaiming their blogs – should it even have come to a blackout call in the first place?

A blog is, ultimately, your baby. Your voice; your home from home. What you do with it is up to you. It can be a personal blog, a business blog, or  you can try make income from it, either part-time as most review bloggers do, or full-time as a professional blogger. But the key thing is this.

It. Is. Up. To. You.

If you want to be a reviewer of products, you’ll be contacted by PR companies. If you want to make money blogging, it is going to be hard at times – it’s one of the sacrifices you make when working for yourself, knowing that hours are no longer straightforward nine-to-five.

Heck, even being “just a blogger” with no reviews and giveaways is hard work and why so many give it up within six months. But how hard blogging is is up to you.

You don’t have to say yes to every review. You don’t have to say yes to every PR pitch. Over at Momdot, Trish makes a point in her Last Word video message that for every one PR pitch you agree to, you get six more.

That’s only if you let that happen.

I know there are crappy PR pros that harass bloggers constantly with pitches, follow-up calls and deadline blackmail. They tell you that you’ll be taken off their blogger list and that their clients won’t be sent to you. Here’s what you do with PR “pros” like that:

Tell them to go f*ck themselves.

If they’re so crap at their jobs that they have to harass the people that are putting their clients in front of thousands of eyeballs, they’re not worth dealing with to start with. Let them go; find the great PR companies instead and work with them.

Make it even easier for yourself – have a visible page on your blog that explains to PR pros how to pitch you, and the process after that. If they can’t adhere to your instructions, then they only have themselves to blame for being blacklisted and ignored.

Blog communities need to do their bit too. If you’re hearing from your members that a PR agency is causing issues, speak with the agency in question and voice your concerns. Good PR pros know the importance of blogger relations – if they can’t accept and work with your concerns, then your duty lies with your bloggers. Stop accepting that agency’s pitches and blacklist them and only put your bloggers in touch with approved agencies.

The buzz (for and against) the Momdot PR Blackout shows there is a growing problem with burned out review bloggers and that’s sad. No-one likes to hear of people’s health and relationships suffering.

But a little bit of me can’t help but feel that if you keep control of your blog, the issues being talked about at the minute would be a lot less visible. No?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Daquella manera

TOTAL SHARES 1
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26 Comments on "It’s Still Your Blog – Isn’t It?"


Donna
5 years 7 months ago

Great post Danny! I've spent the last two nights in a rustic cabin with no TV, phone or internet connection or I would have commented sooner.

As I've said several times now… the issue I had with the PR blackout (besides the fact that I didn't think the “PR” should have been it it at all) is the way it makes “mommy” bloggers look.

It makes us appear whiny and helpless. You do not see tech/entertainment/social media bloggers, as an example, saying they can't handle blogging and what it entails, so they stage blackouts.

So as a mom that blogs, I resent the implication. I do not believe this was Trisha's intent. I don't think she thought it through.

I do realize it is difficult for some people to say “no”. But I promise, the more you do it… the easier it gets. :-)

Danny Brown
5 years 7 months ago

I think this is where a lot of the backlash possibly started from, Donna – as I mentioned to Trisha (and as you do here), putting PR into the title possibly wasn't the best idea. :)

It boils own to perception. Is the reason perceived as valid; is the approach valid; is the end result valid? Get at least one of them wrong and, as we're seeing here, it can lead to more issues than the ones being discussed.

Rustic cabib, huh? I'm jealous – hope you had a great time!

Donna
5 years 7 months ago

Danny, I couldn't have said it better!

The “rustic” cabin was awesome! I thought I would miss the internet the most (and I did as far as missing my online friends) but what I missed the most was a microwave. :-)

BarryK
5 years 7 months ago

Oye Vey! Feel like I am at synagogue listening to people complain about how someone is dressed! Big deal about nothing.

This article is exactly why I stop by. Danny, as usual your take is spot on.
I have to admit this seems like a whole lot of sweating the small stuff. It is a shame Trisha is getting heat. She was not looking for a firestorm. Probably should leave it alone and it will pass.

If you are in the blog world, there is always the chance that someone will take a run at you. Fight if you must, but be ready for tons of misinterpretation.

Bottom line, you are right. It is your blog, do what you want.

Danny Brown
5 years 7 months ago

Hey there Barry,

I'm sure my take will be majorly wrong pretty soon (if it isn't already in some parts!) but appreciate your kind words. Cheers! :)

worldofhiglet
5 years 7 months ago

I did wonder what all the Twitter noise was about, so thanks for elucidating.

And more than that, thanks for being the voice of reason! You are 100% correct, Mr Brown – and not for the first time. This is sound advice whether you are a reviewer or not. Being a slave to your blog is a quick way of driving yourself to distraction and it's always good to take a step back and consider what you are doing and why.

gerardmcgarry
5 years 7 months ago

On my music blog, I get a lot of submissions from artists who are utter crap. I have no problems giving exposure to lesser-known bands, but I won't review an artist that I don't rate. I've never yet received hassle over this policy.

However, don't feel the need to maintain relations with PR companies, especially if they've nothing good to offer. They need you more than you need them.

Heather of Maternal Spark
5 years 7 months ago

Hi Danny,

You and I chatted briefly about the need for stronger bonds between brands and bloggers before on twitter so I know that you and many of your peers were already aware of a change in the wind. I'm participating in the blackout to support Trisha and the MomDot community even though I don't feel overloaded myself (despite what someone else has written about me.) I'm participating because I'd like to really reign in my focus and even though we're being blasted for the blackout I'm participating because yes, it's my blog and damn it I want to!

This whole thing has really opened my eyes to what some mom bloggers are really like and the funny thing is, as Trisha has mentioned, it was never meant to be much more than a meme for a group of us to share some more personal posts.

My week in the blackout doesn't mean I never want to see another rep darken my door. In fact, I have had some wonderful experiences with PR reps in the past and I hope to again in the future.

As hard as it's been to see the mud flying, I'm glad that we're all sitting here with our cards on the table. Maybe we can move forward with a new respect for who we are and what we do and how we can work together. I can only hope so anyway.

mamakatslosinit
5 years 7 months ago

This is my first time here, and I have to agree that you sound like the calm Dad laying it all out there. I was from a similar point of view…if you don't want to do it then don't do it…but it is often easier said than done. I feel bad that Trisha was ridiculed so harshly for her idea.

Kim
5 years 7 months ago

Danny,

Thanks for the fair and balanced article.

Trisha said most of what I would say in her comments here, but there is one thing I would add. Momdot is a mom blogger community and while we each do our own individual things on OUR OWN blogs, we also like to support each other. A number of community members (including myself) were feeling the pressure so we reacted with a challenge of sorts. No one was required to participate but something like this allows the community to realize that there are people that feel the same way they do, and that it is OK to say NO. Oh, in their minds they know, but when community leaders can take a stand and SHOW their community that the sky will not fall in if you stop giving in and saying yes to everything, that helps people make decisions that they may have been afraid to make. Not every blogger has the confidence, especially the newer ones, to take that stand on their own.

So while it is THEIR blog, and their “baby”, for many, especially those caught up in the “keeping up with the jones” mentality of review blogging, it's nice to have someone successful set an example and offer to stand there next to you to hold your hand.

It's community.

And in some ways I think some are confused by the loyalty and connection we have at Momdot, because blogging is such an individual thing.

Enigma though we may be, we continue to grow and will continue to support each other this way. But maybe we will poll people before committing to the name next time…..

Danny Brown
5 years 7 months ago

Hi Kim,

I agree, community support is everything (and something I try and encourage every day, both on this blog and elsewhere, whether that's online or off).

Maybe this is something that can help blog communities move forward as well? Say the bloggers go to the community “leaders”, if you like, with this type of problem, and these leaders then act on behalf of the bloggers to deal with the source of an issue. That takes a lot of the worry and stress off the individual blogger and still gets results?

I'm not sure if Momdot (or any other communities) do this already, but if not, something to chew on?

trisha
5 years 7 months ago

Danny, this is what I did. Acted on behalf of a larger community.

But trust me, I would rather take the heat personally then anyone of the amazing ladies that are a part of our closer network.

When it comes down to it, my particular goal with my site (we carry a community side where bloggers can submit their own articles, my personal blog which is my soapbox, and the forums) is to showcase and support them, so even if I get “picked on”, its worth it to save (and support) another person that may need it.

And that is what ethics are…

Carrie Johnson
5 years 7 months ago

What was it you did? When you say you “acted on behalf of a larger community”, do you mean the blackout or you took the issues to PR companies?

Unless you spoke to the source direct, I'm not really sure what you did on behalf of your community?

Trish
5 years 7 months ago

I agree that is it is our blog. I think one of the issues was that women have a tendency to try to please everyone and have a hard time saying no. On or off a blog. I think this was Trisha's way of reminding us that we can say no. It's OK to say no. That is something I have started doing recently and I continue to work on. Great article!

trisha
5 years 7 months ago

Danny, all i can say is THANKYOU for giving a fair take on it. Our idea stemmed from other bloggers approaching us on a blog talk radio show about blogger stress…it was no big deal. In fact, our post was pretty low key and generated maybe 15 comments…then main stream media (i am sure intent at attacking bloggers yet again) turned it into a big massive media nightmare.

I have been dealing with it for 8 days and its even gotten so bad people are insulting my child, my writing, my blog, my community, myself, my husband, im being told to get off the internet, that I dont have a real blog…all because we wanted to do a fun community exercise about blogging for our family.

Its like PR Mafia.

Anyway, your right, badmouthing PR was NOT our intentions and I wrote a pretty long post on PR and Blogger evolution here if you want to read:

http://www.momdot.com/blogging/35-controversy/5...

The irony was that I was at a PR summit the day this blew up and it was all haywire for two days I was out of town…with Flieshman Hillard.

And your right, it IS still our (your) blog. But women a lot of times in the blogging community, or atleast the forums I run, feel a sense of obligation. You can base that off of keeping up with the blogs around them, or not wanting to let an opp get away, but they do say yes way too often.

I dare say that this whole fiasco will be a nice reminder that its ok to say no…although I am now the poster child for cutting the PR/Mommy blogger cord.

Yikes!

Danny Brown
5 years 7 months ago

Perhaps calling it a “PR Blackout” wasn't ideal ;-)

In all seriousness, though, I did see a lot of the criticism I found to be a bit over-the-top, particularly from people who I know (and was surprised to see their commentary). I guess that's the problem with our instant connectivity online – see something you don't like and it's available for millions to pour scorn on immediately.

I can kind of understand the obligation angle – yet perhaps that's a Catch 22 of the competitive angle that I've seen blog communities themselves foster? If a community has a prize for the best review, for example, while it might be originated in a fun competition, it can quickly blow over into a real competitive streak? Perhaps something that communities can look at, as well as PR?

trisha
5 years 7 months ago

Oh, you are so right. Lesson learned for me.

But in all fairness it wasn't a thought out thing at all. We were simply doing a radio show and it was a spur of the moment idea. Now I know how viral campaigns start. (I am sure Sprite is also having its day of fun today.) I can only hope all the links will make Google less pissed off at me in the future and give me my 5 back. HA HA HA

And your right, many bloggers I formerly respected, were all over the bandwagon of tackiness. I was actually very disappointed in it all. It should have, at the very least, generated some valuable discussion like you brought here.

But to be truthful, its the same attitude they were posting their disdain with that is what breeds and leads to the competition as it is. Its not exactly a big blogging secret that there is a hierarchy in the mom blog community.

Reviews and giveaways (the bigger the better) seem to be one more way to divide and conquer.

As always, I leave your blog humbled by the way you handle all your articles…fair and ethical.

Truly a lesson for everyone. Would you like to be a mom blogger? I have a seat next to me, but your going to have to wear a Scarlett letter red for a bit.

~Trisha

shriek house
5 years 7 months ago

Nice post. I'm surprised, though, that you didn't discuss the ethics involved in accepting PR samples and blogging product reviews, especially as you seem to be aware of *what* they are and are careful to provide an upfront disclosure on your own site. I posted yesterday about the ethical considerations and would be curious to know your take.

Oh – I do think there is some validity to the blackout idea. Much like that whole lights-out concept for Earth Hour, the action helps cultivate both solidarity and awareness, at least for those who *want* help slowing down and being mindful about how they develop their blogs.

Danny Brown
5 years 7 months ago

I've written various posts about the ethics side, a couple of which are here:

http://dannybrown.me/2008/12/13/paid-blogging-a...

http://dannybrown.me/2009/04/09/tipping-the-sca...

The main reason I never went into it in this post is that it was more aimed at controlling your blog as opposed to letting it (and your time) get away from you.

shriek house
5 years 7 months ago

Thanks for the pointers. I see why you didn't get into ethics for this post (though can't help thinking a refresher course would help a lot of people with the blog control!)

anthonyperez
5 years 7 months ago

I definitely agree with Mike. Blogs are pursued by PR pros because they know readers like their personalities and authenticity. No real blog follower wants to see product reviews all the time, but if the product is relevant to the author and the audience, it's perfectly fine to review as long as it adds value to the lives of both parties. If the company wins, the blogger wins, and the audience wins, it's all good.

jayphilips
5 years 7 months ago

Great post. I don't understand why a blackout was needed either. It's easier to be yourself then to be like someone else. It's okay to follow the tips of the pro's but you have to tell yourself that you are not them and they are not you.

RichBecker
5 years 7 months ago

Danny,

Nice piece. The only word left out of the mix is blackmail. That is what it would be if a PR firm threatened to take a blogger off some list for not writing what the PR firm wants. Heck, how is it any different from asking employees to fake reviews?

Best,
Rich

GreenStar
5 years 7 months ago

Like I said on twitter, I think people put themselves into these bubbles and try to mimic the other bigger bloggers out there and forget that they need to be themselves.

Not everyone can be like Chris Brogan. Not everyone can be like Seth Godin. Not everyone can be like Danny Brown. Not everyone can be like Me. Everyone is unique but I feel like the “popularity contest” type vibe with bloggers has caused people to forget that.

I try to split my tweeting/blogging up into the things that I like – Web design, freelance business/marketing & Mixed Martial Arts. I talk to people on twitter from each niche and am myself across the board. It's how it should be I think.

Danny Brown
5 years 7 months ago

I think one of me is probably more than enough as is! ;-)

Never knew you were into MMA – nice, really started getting into that more over last 18 months.

angelaengland
5 years 7 months ago

Love this post. I recently told a PR person – no, I'm sorry. I just don't have time right now. And guess what happened? Nothing! The world did not end, the sky did not fall and my blog didn't blow up. ;-)

I'm linking this comment to my recent blog post about me cutting back and declining a few paying jobs to take on new projects and free up my time. That's something everyone must do for themselves. Consider their time vs their to-do-list vs their priorities. And then make the tough decisions.

If you have never done that with your blog and online writing, that is no one's fault but YOUR OWN.

Angela