Parent bloggers are key influencers – for change

Yesterday an email from a PR pinged into my email box.

It was about paid content from an online company that “makes shopping for your baby or pet more intuitive and more fun.”

They were, apparently, hoping that key influencers like me would help us to leave tips, create lists and write content for their blog.

While being included in a group of ‘key influencers’ is a lovely compliment, they have missed one key fact: I am a key influencer for blogging about baby loss.

I have gained my bittersweet success as a blogger because I am an empty-armed mother, my only child Hugo having died in March this year.

Oh, the bitter irony.

I sort of have a pet, in the form of a neighbour’s cat who regularly visits, but that does not really count. The only shopping I do for her is the odd bag of cat treats.

Her entertainment comes in the form of torturing small creatures that she proudly presents us with – I don’t think that would make the kind of cuddly blog post they are looking for.

Sarcasm aside, what really stung is that I do not have a baby to shop for.

Inviting me to write ‘engaging articles’ on breastfeeding, toys for babies, weaning, technology, food / feeding your baby / recipes or caring for your baby is horrendously insensitive.

I would love to have had breastfed Hugo, but that choice was taken away from me.

Hugo has toys in the room that should have been his nursery untouched, not played with.

I will never get to see what foods Hugo would have liked.

I use technology to write about my loss, and promote awareness of baby loss, the pregnancy condition that led to Hugo’s death, and my life since his death.

You see, that, for me is the point of blogging.

Me and Hugo, on the day he died

Me and Hugo, on the day he died

As I described in this post, I did not fully appreciate when I joined the world of parenting blogging how much centres around sponsored posts, freebies, reviews and competitions. I know many bloggers benefit from these and it often means they and their families are able to have and do things they would not be able to afford otherwise, and that’s great.

I do not do sponsored posts, because it does not feel appropriate within the content of my site. Furthermore, due to the fact that being offered sponsored posts is based on factors such as reach and influence, I would never feel comfortable accepting freebies (even dresses from my favourite shop) because it would feel like benefiting from my son’s death.

There is no benefit to be gained from my son’s death.

The best I can glean from my son’s death is to help others in his name.

The trouble for me is I have worked in in-house NHS PR for years. I see it as public relations – informing, challenging people to think differently, encouraging people to engage – with issues, not products.

Others see me as a key influencer because I have helped them changed the way they think about baby loss, and have learned about pregnancy conditions through my blog. It makes pouring out my heart through my blog feel worth the effort, and I am going to continue to use my blog to continue that awareness raising.

I will welcome with open arms anyone who would like me to work with them to raise awareness of or improve services about anything I am passionate about (baby loss, positive pregnancy, support services).

To anyone who would like me to review their consumer items, please don’t bother.

My contact and disclosure page has been updated to make my policy on sponsored posts in general, and being invited to review baby products in particular crystal clear, in case the tagline of my blog “Celebrating Hugo. Surviving baby loss. Creating Hugo’s legacy’ or my ‘About’ page are not quite obvious enough.

And yes, I mean every word about the vitriolic response anyone else who contacts me about baby products will receive.

Of course, many will not bother to look at the bloggers’ websites.

They think all parents are cut from the same cloth, with babies to shop for, feed, clothe and entertain.

But we are not.

Working in PR, I know you have to think about your audiences, segment them as far as practicable.

There are all kinds of parenting bloggers: the empty-armed ones like me, parents of children with disabilities and special educational needs (some of whom have reported receiving invitations to review toys that are unsuitable for disabled children). We do not expect personalised emails, but we do deserve sensitivity.

It surely does not take long to check out the subjects of our blogs, and list us as appropriate.

Yes, mistakes can happen. It has happened before, and PRs have sent rapid, profuse, mortified apologies.

To add insult to injury, I responded to the PR yesterday afternoon asking them to “Please take a look at my blog to discover why your invitation is completely inappropriate and insensitive.” Their response so far? Nada, zilch, not a dickie bird.
Update 16/10: I have received a response from the PR concerned with a profuse apology for any distressed caused.

 

 

18 thoughts on “Parent bloggers are key influencers – for change

  1. SingleMotherAhoy says:

    I often get emails from PRs that make me think they’ve not really read my content… but I would have liked to think they might at least check basic facts.
    My dad died ten years ago, and for a long while people would stop in the street and ask how he was – having to tell them “actually no, he died” was awful. Having to tell a PR you can’t review their tat because your baby died must be a hundred times worse than that, and their email a hundred times more insensitive. I don’t know how you’ve stayed so level headed writing this post!

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Having the worst happen helps put things in perspective – while those emails upset me, they’re not the worst thing to have happened. In addition, I figure a level-headed post will be more effective than a ranty one. Thanks for your comment xxx

      Like

  2. Jenny says:

    I can’t imagine how you felt getting that email. So rude that they couldn’t take the time to read your blog and actually know what its about and ignorant too. Bless you. Brave to write this post and hopefully pr agents will read it and think twice before they spam us all to death not knowing what emotions they might be stirring up. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    Like

  3. sarahmo3w says:

    Reading this just makes me so angry and upset for you.
    Like you, I work in PR and yet I am constantly amazed by the poor quality of the PRs who approach bloggers. I can only assume they get their trainers, who are earning about £12k to contact us because they clearly don’t actually value us at all. I find it irritating enough being offered baby stuff, because my ‘baby’ is 8 1/2. It only takes the briefest of glances at my blog to tell you it’s not a baby blog, but for you that’s a whole different level of incompetence. The reason for your blog is so clear and for PRs to miss that is unforgivable.

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Absolutely. They’ve apologised and said they relied on a database in good faith, but one should never rely on a database – it’s always worth checking details. It’s about the personal factor. xxx

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  4. Tattooed_Mummy (@tattooed_mummy) says:

    Oh this made me cry. I get wound up at being asked to review inappropriate stuff but I hadn’t stopped to think how much pain an inappropriate request could really cause. I hope some PRs read this and in future take just a few moments (because that’s all they need!) to glance at a blog to check what it’s about. I hope that this post has some impact, after all you are ‘influential’.

    Hugs to you.

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Exactly! It really doesn’t take a moment just to get an idea of a person’s blog, even when doing a huge group mailing. Databases cannot always be relied upon. Hmm yes I hope my ‘influential’ blog does make PRs sit up and do a bit of research, if they don’t already xxx

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  5. joyandpops says:

    Absolute madness. I realise PR’s don’t look in-depth at who they approach but to do no research at all is pathetic, your blog has a very clear message so hardly difficult recognise.
    It’s all the last thing you need. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with it.
    Xx

    Like

  6. Louise says:

    Oh Leigh, how awful for you and how shocking that the company contacting you didn’t even reply to you let alone read the tag line of your blog before contacting you in the first place. So rude and insensitive. Sending you hugs xx

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Thank you. It’s incredibly rude to not reply to either my original email, or, to date my second email sharing the link to this blog. It’s just sheer laziness to not research, or think about the impact of offers – not all mummies have babies with them. Thank you for your kind words xxx

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  7. Kiran Chug says:

    Gosh Leigh. While we all know that many PRs don’t do their homework before contacting a blogger, this really is shocking. It’s insulting to consider that PRs don’t research the blogs they contact at all – as this proves. As you say, you are a key influencer who works hard and has made a difference. They wouldn’t have needed to look far around your blog to see why you write and what your goals are. It’s awful that you have had to deal with this. How rude not to have had a response either to your reply. I wish you didn’t have to write this blog – if you know what I mean. I wish Hugo was still here. And I really wish that PRs read this post and do their homework next time. Love as always x

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Thank you, lovely. You’re right, it’s really not terribly difficult to figure out what my blog is about, and why sending an invitation to review baby products would be insensitive. It just smacks of laziness, and assuming that every mother has a baby in her arms – sadly, some don’t. I wish I didn’t have to write most of my blog posts because Hugo was still here. Thank you for your kindness as always. xxxx

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