“Mommy bloggers.” A term in our industry that rarely doesn’t conjure up a reaction. The idea that moms, already a population that overindexes on opinion-sharing, have a sub-industry of online websites where they can share judgment on life, has rubbed some the wrong way.
PR practitioners are familiar with mommy bloggers as a coveted influencer group – an (increasingly paid) medium for their brand’s message. So the thought of mommy bloggers gathered together at a conference may inspire some public backlash from non-mommy bloggers and mainstream media (see Katharine Rosen’s recent Wall Street Journal diatribe on mommy conferences serving as veiled benders away from husband and kids).
Does all of the above sound cliché and stereotypical? It should, because it is. Last week I attended the fifth edition of the Mom 2.0 summit with Dotty Giordano, VP Group Manager, and several of our clients. It was a scouting mission – a chance for us to have a shared agency/client learning experience on conference “best practices.” Though some of the experience was as I expected, it was readily apparent that the mommy blogger crowd here was warmer and more flexible than you’d expect – less tiger mom and more open-minded mom. While the three day experience was indeed a “break” for attendees – it was not to enjoy the serene ocean views of Southern California – it was also an educational, engaging experience, meant to provide motivation and material for bloggers to return home with.
Positioned as a merging of “moms, marketers, and media,” I found that the conference size lent itself perfectly to brand activations. The title sponsor launched an entire campaign Day 1 of the conference. Other sponsors engaged attendees through evening parties and beautiful displays in the sponsor hall, aptly titled “The Market.” Ketchum’s own digital strategist and dad blogger extraordinaire, Jim Lin, spoke to entranced bloggers about expanding their digital footprint while maintaining credibility. Although at 500 people and growing, Mom 2.0 is still smaller than its female-focused conference siblings, BlogHer and Blissdom. I found myself able to engage with every brand on-site, and remember the messaging they were sharing – something I’d never be able to do at SXSW, for example.
Of course, opinions of content are naturally mixed. Though a better conference for brand engagement, I got the sense that some perceived Mom 2.0 content to be less compelling and actionable than BlogHer. Though some sessions offered dynamic advice and debates (such as a vibrant session with actress-turned-mommy activist Amanda Peet on championing a cause), others sessions seemed to contain very rudimentary information – building a blog 101, if you will. But, perhaps some attendees needed that 101 education. I walked out of a session thinking it seemed very basic, but overheard multiple others murmur commentary on how the session was “absolutely life changing.” To each her own. Who am I to judge what mommy bloggers should and shouldn’t already know? I’m not yet a mom.
In the end, I fell alongside the mommy bloggers in their critique of Rosen’s Wall Street Journal piece. I left the conference with a deeper sense of understanding of this community, which was slightly unexpected, as it’s one that I’ve engaged with for years. I may never become a blogging parent, but it was uplifting to see an online community so supportive and happy to meet in person. The attendees clearly love their “work” and the benefits to themselves and their peers are remarkable. And if they share common passions with mom-focused brands, then it makes all the sense in the world to connect. Is there an undercurrent of wanting to make a profit? Naturally. But that doesn’t diminish the authentic, passionate spirit of all involved.