Disclosure – this post has NOTHING to do with any other bloggers I know who attended #chitag – all references are to bloggers in the abstract/ aggregate.
I had the distinct pleasure of attending the world’s largest toy fair open to the public this past Saturday at Navy Pier. The Chicago Toy and Game Fair (#chitag) had vendors ranging from small mom and pop stores like Geppetto’s Toy Box in Oak Park to mom vendors like Little Sib, LLC which created a baby doll that helps older sibs get used to having a baby around. Good thing I’m over that hump already.
The fair was tailor-made for the kids. Mine loved the pile of CitiBlocs and riding the oversized, I mean, really freaking large horse pushed by some poor schmuck for $2 a pop. Family Time, couldn’t you have covered the cost? The thing wasn’t even motorized.
The kids also loved the R.C. Color Bug, an ingenious remote controlled car with an attached marker that lets kids draw while driving (a new distraction?). I started chatting up the owner/ creator/ mom of the R.C. Color Bug, because well, that’s what I do and naturally our conversation turned to marketing and blogging. I mean this toy has grass-roots marketing written all over it. But my new friend said she’d gotten burned by bloggers in the past just emailing and asking for free stuff for almost nothing in return. She’s working hard for her business and takes marketing seriously. I don’t blame her. I felt bad that she had a bad taste for mom bloggers, but I moved on. Sometimes one bad apple can ruin the blunch. (We haven’t combined blog with anything good lately around here.)
Then I made my way to the Learning Curve booth where I could not possibly avoid the Thomas the Train huge mountain thing-y that had my eldest in a tizzy. Needless to say we weren’t going anywhere for awhile so I did what I do — I chatted up the lovely booth hostess/ PR associate for Learning Curve. When we got to the part of the conversation “well, what do you do” and I said the word mom blogger, she recounted some of her mom blogger tall tales as well. How she’s working with this controversial mom blogger conglomerate and yet is surprised when she gets emails from moms who want a free (or two) samples of a $300 car seat she’s promoting. She also was perfectly nice but did she quite understand the irony of her working relationship with bloggers?
Unfortunately, besides seeing my son go super-crazy-excited for a remote-controlled helicopter, my biggest takeaway from the fair was that real mompreneurs are turned off by mom bloggers approaching them for products (rightly so in many cases IMHO), but then so are PR firms who willingly give away product to some bloggers but wonder why others would be so bold to email for free stuff.
That’s the problem. We are not sending a consistent message on both sides of the equation. We all want to help the mompreneur, but some of us have an unfounded expectation that we’ll get something for free in return. I wonder if any of the bloggers out there know that Ms. R.C. Color Bug is a single mom working her can off to provide for her family and earn a living? That might change their want or need for that freebie. Conversely, does Ms. Booth Hostess/ PR Associate know that by aligning herself with a known PR bashing blog will just set herself up in the future for freebie hits down the road?
There seems to be little to no logic in this PR/ brand/ freebie dance. The only thing we seem to be able to do well is toy with each other for some free toys. There has to be a better way. I know – it’s already been done. Let’s just all Blog With Integrity, shall we?