One of the reasons I’m happy to be here at Persephone is that I am able to break out of the mom-blogger mold. Are you familiar with such a mold? It’s the one where the at-home or at-work mom blogs about her kids and life, about parenting, about marriage, and more and more frequently, products and promotions that fit her family. She’s learned about branding, her Twitter avatar matches her blog header, and there’s usually a gmail account thrown in there too. That’s not all mom blogs, but that’s a snapshot.
Brands love mom bloggers because they are trustworthy, educated and enthusiastic. I don’t have to do Christmas shopping because of all the freebies and samples I’ve been sent. I earn a lot of gift certificates to Amazon, which translates into cash I don’t have to spend for items there. Being a mom blogger, while it can be stereotypical, is fun. You meet amazing women. You get to be in the “know,” you get to interact with adults on a daily basis, at least virtually. For a gig with very few start-up costs, it’s a good deal.
Except when it’s not.
I’m know the internet as a whole experiences blow-ups and fall-outs on a daily basis. Loyal readers and commenters read a post, spread it around and soon it feels like the whole world is attacking a website that the day before was virtually unknown. What’s funny is that the world still spins around this little (or even not-so-little) cyber implosion.
This week it’s happening in the mom blogosphere.
Weeks ago I got an email from a consulting company wanting to know if I was interested in being involved with a campaign involving educating consumers about High Fructose Corn Syrup, sponsored by the Corn Refiners of America.
Read that sentence over again, go ahead. You didn’t read it incorrectly. The CRA wants to “educate” the public on their product. They feel they’ve been getting a lot negative press, so why not contract with a mom blogging company to get some positive press out there? Mom bloggers are great cheerleaders! They’ll do a great job!
(Except for the mom bloggers who regularly read the paper, watch the news, visit their doctor and care about nutrition.)
Anyway, when I received this email, I shook my head and deleted it. I try to be very careful about what I promote on my blog. I appreciate the samples and the income, but I have standards. These standards have evolved over the years, and if I go through my archives, there are a few sugary treat reviews. But in my mind, promoting HCFS wasn’t a good idea, because I make the conscious decision to NOT purchase many products containing HCFS (M&Ms not withstanding).
So last week, posts starting coming out on this blog tour (the time frame in which a blogger agrees to post about a topic), touting some facts about HCFS, all provided by your friendly CRA.
And this week, posts starting coming out about how maybe this blog tour wasn’t a great idea. That maybe the consulting company was making a TON of money, because wow, don’t people know you shouldn’t eat that? As recently as this spring, Princeton University released a study linking HCFS to obesity and other things.
Then yesterday the founder of said consulting company comes out swinging, calling out those mom bloggers who dared to say they thought the idea was a bad one. There’s talk of a Borg Collective, which I don’t really understand, not being a Trekkie. (At one time she spoke out against calling mom bloggers a Borg Collective, then this time she called some mom bloggers a Borg Collective, mostly because they chose not to be in her mom blogger Borg Collective, I think…..)
And I’m left to realize three things:
1) I AM disappointed in this company’s agreement to work with HCFS and the CEO’s actions. Mom bloggers don’t always agree, but they stick together. In this vast cyberspace, they do have a strong collective voice, and they do make the internet and the world a better place. The CEO called out someone because she didn’t agree with a move her company made. Not very professional, IMO.
2) I AM a cafeteria Catholic at heart, because this development of events won’t prevent me from working with this company’s promotions in the future. I like free stuff. There, I said it.
3) Not even mom bloggers are immune to internet mud slinging. It gets ugly, it gets hurtful. It can, at times, turn into cyber-bullying. And while you can close your laptop and walk away, words do sting, and it takes a thick skin to succeed in the online world. People say things to you online they would never (or I hope they would never) say to you in person, if you were standing right there.
And that leads me to ask you, readers, how do you react to controversy on line? Do you jump in and comment the fray? Do you post rebuttals? Do you take sides? Or do you just read, shake your head and thank heaven that the brawl isn’t actually happening in your living room? Top Image Credit by yomi955 on Flickr