Mommy Bloggers Debate a PR Blackout

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Mommy Bloggers Debate a PR Blackout

How can so-called mommy bloggers navigate the murky territory of sharing advice with other mothers versus getting paid for the products they promote?

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Moms who blog about all things baby and family are abuzz after the blog MomDot spearheaded a “PR Blackout challenge” for one week in August. Mommy bloggers should avoid publishing press releases, reviewing products or promoting giveaways, writes MomDot blogger Trisha Haas, because plugging products causes too much stress, deadline anxiety and time away from the family.

“We want to see your blog naked, raw, and back to basics,” she says. “Talk about your kids, your marriage, your college, your hopes, your dreams, your house and whatever you can come up with for one week.”

Moms have traditionally held a great deal of purchasing power in the home. But marketers have taken the concept one step further in the Internet age, realizing that they can reach the voracious online followings that some mommy bloggers enjoy by plying them with free samples or other goods.

But with the Federal Trade Commission considering new rules for parent bloggers, some are encountering scrutiny. How do readers know which mothers are genuinely recommending a product versus plugging it?

Daily Finance blogger Sarah Gilbert (who says that she is not a mommy blogger but is “journaling online about motherhood”), says that a PR blackout is a sign that online marketing via mothers has gone too far.

“Mommy blogs are not mommy blogs if they’re marketing vehicles, just as parties are not parties if there’s an expectation that you buy something before you say ‘goodbye,’” she writes. “The suggestion that moms only write about their kids and their husbands for a week isn’t shocking because it would be gnawing off the hand that feeds you; it’s shocking because it has to be said at all.”

This was in response to in response to Resourceful Mommy, who writes, “a week off of PR is like a week away on a tropical island where there is no WiFi, no mobile service and possibly even no technology. It’s just not going to happen.”

Back on MomDot, Ms. Haas said she isn’t concerned about questions of ethics of conflicts of interest, but that her proposition is really about taking a break. It has found support among some readers. “I have stopped reading many of my former favorite blogs because they’ve turned from ‘look at the hilarious things my family and I are have been doing this week’ to ‘look what I’m giving away, doing a review for, getting paid to praise, etc.,’” one mother wrote. “Enough already!”

Others don’t see what the fuss is about. “Not sure why it’s such a huge deal,” another wrote. “As far as moms that are inundated or overwhelmed by these offers, just stop. No one forces us to take them, and some of us enjoy the opportunities we are provided. If you don’t, then don’t participate.”

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