Jessica Gottlieb with her husband. (Photo Credit: @wmmarc)
We had the pleasure of catching up with Los Angeles’s very own #1 Mommy Blogger @JessicaGottlieb recently where we were able to dig a bit deeper into what makes this #MotrinMom tick, how she feels about pay for post, and how she expects her children to react to her blogging whenever they get around to reading what will be years upon years of prolific prose.
According to your blog, you are a “Wife. Writer. Mother. Friend.” Which one of those descriptions encompasses the person who takes on brands and products as a consumer-advocate for the masses with an eye towards whistle-blowing, eco-responsibility, and morality? Okay, you don’t have to answer that, but can you tell us a bit more about what motivates your prolific writing?
Most mothers will agree that their lens forever changes when our kids are born. I don’t have the ability to write without being a mother first. Fortunately my motherhood was preceeded by marriage. I’m always my husband’s wife, as you know I wouldn’t meet with you in person for this interview. What motivates me to write are my relationships and the bonds we all share. The ocean ties me to you, so really, you must be my friend.
As a “mommy blogger” with a huge reach, you’ve been approached by a number of product marketers to write about their goods. Can you describe what this process has been like and how it has led to your current policy that states, “I will absolutely never review another product, movie, video game or article of clothing on these pages without being compensated”? In your answer, can you also relate this to the statement you make where you say, “Your beloved authenticity is a hoax” in reference to the collective blogosphere. Please describe how you are able to maintain authenticity while still being compensated.
That’s quite a question, and my answer today is valid only for today. Since writing that my inbox has not been “overstuffed”. Hooray?
I have a PR filter in my gmail account that was getting up to 400 emails a day. It’s an overwhelming amount, but I dutifully would search through them trying to find the one relevant pitch. The morning I decided to never help another large brand was the day that Disney sent me several large banners that I could “feel free to put up on my site” because they included some sort of hotel discount codes. I assumed it was a mistake, as it was Disney sending me advertising. I was assured that it was not a mistake, and that a lot of women felt good sharing discounts with their friends.
Mom bloggers are being targeted by large corporations as evangelists. I felt a need to establish boundaries with the brands. As much as I would love to help a multi billion dollar industry (out of the goodness of my heart), I really can’t afford to. Mom blogs are everywhere, new moms are willing to write for a $20 item and overnight shipping. The problems with this are too many to name, one problem I see is that they are virtually unreadable. If the brands are playing a numbers game, then they’re doing a great job, if they’re trying to get a host of reviews, it’s a massive failure.
My words have value, if you want a mention and a link to your brand, pay me. You wouldn’t ask my husband to work free, would you? I think that compensating Mommy Bloggers is the new feminism.
Being compensated with Magpie is a no brainer. It’s just Twitter. Being compensated in my own space is a little trickier. I do write for Green Options, so I’m happy to do reviews there without compensation from the brand, but my site is sacred. At this point I’ve said “no thank you” to every offer I’ve had, with the exception of Sears since it was a sponsored opportunity that came along after I’d already been shopping there.
To read your writing is to know you. In a rather open and self-reflective post, you write, “I want to read raw stories, so I write that way. I live this way too. I talk and then I think, sometimes I write and then I think. More often I write and never think at all.” As a “mommy blogger”, how do you balance this raw writing style with the inevitable day sometime in the future when your children read through your archives? What do you think your children will think of your body of work? Do “mommy bloggers” have a responsibility to their families to apply any sort of censor to their online sharing?
My children will know that I love them, that I respect them and that they’re changing the world. My children will also know that we are all duty bound to one another, and that although I love them, it’s their duty to make the world like them.
So much of parenting includes universal experiences that it’s possible to speak very intimately without ever oversharing your children’s experiences.
At our last SMCLA panel, it got pretty heated when we brought up #MotrinMoms and our Branding Expert, Rob Frankel, claimed that brands shouldn’t really be concerned with a small outspoken individual or minority group. I think he went so far as to refer to you as a “dot”. Statistically, he’s right…you’re just one individual in a market of millions. How do you turn that “dot” into something a brand can’t ignore (using social media)?
Although I’m a dot, I’m a dot that has the person email addresses of a dozen reporters at major networks. They love me at the Wall Street Journal and Ad Age. So yes, I’m a dot, but I’m the prettiest dot this week and I’m unencumbered by tradition. I’m not sure what makes my voice unique, but I do that I’ve been able to connect brands to businesses. Recently I made an introduction between EcoDiscoveries and Alice.com, Alice will have Eco Discoveries in their online store.
Sure, you can ignore me, but why would you? I’m really quite helpful.
According to MarketingPilgrim.com, in March 2009, women over 55 constitute the fastest-growing demographic on Facebook. Why do you think that is?
I joined Facebook about five years ago, I was in grad school and my siblings were teenagers. My folks wanted to keep an eye on them. I think that Facebook is a good tool to watch your college kids with.
As a mom, what do you hope for your children in how they use social networking and online viral tools? What do you think the future of the social media space looks like?
When my kids were born I bought their names, both in dot com and in dot net. I think that your online persona is the new curriculum vitae. I’m hopeful that my kids will see the power of the internet, both good and bad. I worry that the mistakes you and I were afforded in private won’t be private for them, but I’m also hopeful.
The future of social media is in your cell phone. I’m not sure how, but I don’t see us all lugging around laptops forever.
How would you like to see SMCLA contribute to the adoption and use of Social Media in society? Do ou have any suggestions for panel topics or projects?
Panel topics I’d love to see: Community Building, Social Media for Non Profits, Search Engine Marketing…
I’m a large brand that has drawn the ire and criticism of Jessica Gottlieb (and subsequently, tens of thousands of other bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers, etc…). How can I use social media to respond to this? Can you cite any examples of companies who you’ve called out that managed to do it right?
Pick up the phone and call the blogger. People are astonishinly easy to reach. If you’ve offended someone apologize personally and you’ll diffuse 75% of the momentum. Yes, just say sorry, and don’t have legal vet it first, that’s just icky.
Who should SMCLA interview next? Careful now, we probably will…
@Macala…. I see her name pop up everywhere and I don’t really know why. What’s her secret?