Brands and Bloggers: My Life on the "B List"

So I got this email:

"Hi Kim,

"I wanted to gauge your interest in a new virtual campaign...for your upcoming summer posts. {blanks} have been a summer tradition since 1927, and now families have a new reason to enjoy the summertime staple with... an interactive Facebook application on the [client's] Facebook page... through weekly tips, stories and activities from influential mom bloggers."

Her note then shared ways my readers can "get involved" including visiting the Facebook page for tips and activity ideas (from influential mom bloggers), enter contests, share ideas and photos and download a coupon.

Was she reaching out to me because I'm an influential mom blogger? After all, I've shared tips and written content for brands many times in the past, and I've spoken at many of the leading women's blogging conferences.

Given the breezy nature of the note, I suspected she wasn't asking me to provide content, but I wanted to clarify. I've turned down good opportunities because I didn't take time to understand the project scope.

So I sent off a note:


Thanks for reaching out. Are you inviting me to be one of your influential mom bloggers or simply asking me to spread the word?


And quickly received this enthusiastic response:
We would love for you to spread the word to your readers. Let me know if you have any more questions – I’m happy to help!



I mean, I'm clearly on the B List. Sure, I've been there before (and lower, no doubt), but who wants that rubbed in her face?  

This reminds me of the time in high school when homecoming was approaching and a guy I had a crush on took me aside and said he wanted to ask me something.

You know what he asked me?

He asked if I thought my best friend would want to go to the dance with him.

{image of a fragile young heart crumbling into a dusty pile on the cafeteria floor only to get swept up by the janitor and tossed into the garbage alongside the lunchroom remains}

Okay, so maybe I have some baggage here, people.

Still, I find it odd/tacky/off-putting that I'm influential enough to be asked promote a campaign yet not influential enough to have a meaningful role in said campaign.

Do you agree?

In addition, I rarely promote contests and coupons, so maybe the brand should have taken a better look at my blog rather than assuming that because I'm on their B List (or maybe G List of Generic bloggers), I'm a good fit.

The one way this campaign might have hooked me is if one of the tip-sharing "influential bloggers" happened to be a friend of mine and the blogger had contacted me directly or through a Facebook group asking me to share the link featuring her tip. It's unlikely I would blog it, but would probably give a Facebook share.

Brands, take note: I will share my friend's content because it's practical, insightful, or funny, not because it links to your coupon. It's your job to get them to click through to that.

Friends take note: I expect your content to be practical, insightful or funny, rather than just an ad for the brand. You can only fool me once. Also blogfriend, if you're constantly self-promoting and don't put yourself out there to help others in our community, I probably put a virtual mute button on you long ago. 

 Now if you'll excuse me, I need to tend to my lady garden.

Updated 6/5/12
Yesterday I received a personal apology from the Manager of Global PR and Consumer Engagement of the brand behind this outreach. Pretty stellar move considering I did not name the brand above nor did I bother sending a link to the PR person who originally reached out to me. I was glad to learn they will be taking a closer look at their outreach in the future.

As I noted to the manager, this is not the first time I've been asked to promote the work of others (be they bloggers or celebrities).  

And I think this ancient wisdom (2008!) still holds true: it behooves a brand to hire a social media mom or a panel of bloggers in their target audience to help refine outreach and campaigns.

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