Denise McDonald Dorman

Posts Tagged ‘Mommy Bloggers’

I’m NOT One of the Top 50 Mommy Bloggers…But Who’s Counting?!?

In Chinese, Dave Dorman, Entertainment, Fortune Cookies, Life Observations, Pop Culture, Practical Jokes, Pranks, WriteBrain Media on November 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm

So today they announced the Top 50 Mommy Bloggers. Apparently I haven’t done enough drinking and bribing with the judges.  That’s okay. I appreciate all of you, my gentle snowflakes. Each and every one of you.

A little Facebook exchange today reminded me to share with you one of my favorite practical jokes. I executed this operation when I was first getting to know Dave’s family. I had just moved to Shalimar, Florida and it was right around the holidays. Dave’s brother Jeff, sister-in-law Vicky, niece Stephanie and nephew John came down to celebrate with us and Dave’s father, USAF Lieutenant Colonel Jack Dorman.  Dave’s niece Stephanie and I hit the mall for some Christmas shopping and happened upon one of my favorite practical joke prop stores of all time (cue up the choir of angels): Spencer’s Gifts.

While perusing Spencer’s, I discovered the most delicious x-rated fortune cookies. As luck would have it (no pun intended), the whole family was going to Dave’s favorite Chinese restaurant that very evening. Stephanie and I were just buzzing with anticipation.

We arrived at the Chinese restaurant and ever-so-casually pulled the server aside and asked her to serve our fortune cookies. I don’t know about your family, but our tradition is that everyone reads their fortune aloud at the end of the meal. Like many ugly Americans, when little ears aren’t present, we end the fortune with the words “in bed” or “between the sheets.” This particular night, we all held off on that tradition to be more appropriate in a public place.

I’d give anything to recall the entire fortune-reading-aloud segment, but all that I can really remember is Dave’s brother Jeff reading, “Tight butts drive me nuts…?!?” as he looked up quizzically with a half-smile on his face. Everyone raced to open their fortune cookies and read them. Dave got really pissed and declared to the server, “What kind of fortune cookies are you serving here?!?” and then he saw it: the tears of laughter rolling down mine and Stephanie’s faces. Once again, he was the victim of my horseplay.

If pranks don’t come naturally to you, I recommend that you, too, peruse Spencer’s Gifts. The props there are downright inspirational. And when you pull your prank, please share it with me here or email me at denise@writebrainmedia.com. I can always use a good laugh.

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The New FTC Ruling on Blogger Reviews

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2009 at 2:10 pm

First, read this from ABC to Get up to Speed, THEN I Will Comment:

ABC News
Monday, April 13
“Parenting Blogs May Be Held Liable for Product Reviews – Eye on Mommy Blogs: FTC Considers Raising the Bar for Online Product Reviews by Parents”
By Emily Friedman
Mommy blogger Colleen Padilla never imagined that her opinions would become so coveted by other parents that corporations would come knocking on her door, requesting that she review their products and tout them in the blogosphere.

She launched her blog, Classymommy.com, as a way to chronicle her life as a new mom but it quickly transformed into a small business venture for the Philadelphia mom of two.

In the past three years, Padilla has reviewed more than 1,000 products, everything from diapers to plush toys to infant-safe skin creams, to the delight of the growing parenting community that she says considers a stamp of approval from fellow parents to be the final word.

But, now, Padilla and the estimated hundreds of thousands of fellow parenting bloggers may be in danger of being sued if the government approves a change in its policy regarding endorsements of products by Web pundits.

“I’m nervous; my Web site and blog is almost entirely product reviews, either written posts or video reviews that incorporate my children testing, trying or using products,” Padilla told ABCNews.com.

“I’ve got over 1,000 products in my product finder, so this is alarming news that I may be held liable for my opinion,” Padilla said

A regulatory review process is underway to determine whether reviews by bloggers like Padilla may be in violation of good business practices, said Richard Cleland, a spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission.

“The proposed revisions signal that the commission will apply existing principles of advertising law to new forms of media, like blogs,” Cleland said, adding that a decision on the proposal is expected sometime this summer.

“These types of communications that appear to be just one mom to another mom are pretty effective,” he said. “Consumer endorsements and testimonials have always been viewed as extremely effective types of marketing.

“But the concern is about those instances when [testimonials] are delivered and it is not made obvious that it’s an advertisement for a company.”

Whether these revisions, should they happen, will affect particular bloggers will depend on their relationship to the company whose product they’re promoting, Cleland said. If a blogger reviews items in return for payment or free products, they may be held liable because the bloggers, unbeknown to their audiences, could be seen as shills for the companies.

“It would only affect bloggers who are paid to write reviews but the sticky issue that is raised is what happens if a product is given for free,” Cleland said. “That’s something we’re going to have to address.”

Will All Mommy Bloggers Be Held Liable If FTC Changes Its Rules?
Maria Bailey, the founder of BSM Media, a company that helps corporations market their products toward mothers, worries that a change in FTC policy may unfairly stifle the way many moms get their advice on parenting issues.

“When it comes to the mom market, 80 percent of moms buy a product at the recommendation of another mother,” said Bailey, who estimates that 87 percent of mothers read blogs.

“So, from the business side, it’s a terrible thing because that’s how much moms find out about a product.”

Cleland said the punishment a blogger might face could be comparable to that for those who are found to be engaging in false advertising, which ranges from cease-and-desist orders to reimbursement to consumers who believe they bought the product under false pretenses.

Whatever the punishment, Padilla said she’s already looked into what she might have to do to shield her from lawsuits in the future.

While Padilla does not get paid directly for reviewing products, she does get products for free and is also paid by advertisers on her site. Additionally, Padilla was recently chosen to be an “online brand advocate” for Energizer re-chargeable batteries, a gig for which she is paid.

“I’m definitely going to consult a lawyer,” Padilla said. “I’ve had specific disclaimer notices on some posts and some disclosure statements, but I need a blanket one for the overall site.

“I just don’t know if I’m protected enough.”

How To Protect Yourself If You’re A Mommy Blogger
Sam Bayard, the assistant director at the Citizen Media Law Project developed by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, said that while liability issues in connection to product reviews and blogging is fairly new territory, there are several things worried bloggers can do to try and shield themselves from lawsuits.

“Generally, the advantages of [setting up as] an LLC is that it makes you part of an organization,” Bayard said of limited liability companies. “If someone else you work with says something defamatory, then it’s the company, not you, that is held responsible.”

Bayard said that “using common sense” may be a blogger’s best defense as the FTC works to cement its policy on product reviews and endorsements.

“You shouldn’t lie about your experiences with a product,” he said. “If they’re hiring you in a way or paying you to write the review, you may consider asking them for some background information on the product.

“Ask the company to tell you what a fair or accurate way to describe the product is to avoid any trouble.”

Transparency about your blogger-company relationship, along with refraining from publishing extravagant claims, like saying that a product cured an ailment, are also good guidelines, Bayard said.

Linsey Krolik, a contributor to the Silicon Valley Mom’s Blog and a technology and business lawyer, agreed that the best thing bloggers can do to protect themselves is remain as honest as possible when it comes to their product reviews.

“Some bloggers write in a way that makes it seem like they went out and bought the product and that it wasn’t sent to them for a free review,” Krolik said. “[Bloggers] should really have a disclosure policy or disclaimer that really reflects what they’re doing.

“Mom’s just need to be educated about the information they’re really putting out there.”

No matter what comes of FTC policy, BSM Media’s Bailey predicts that companies eager to remain in touch with the mommy community may simply change to avoid the new rules.

“This sort of marketing isn’t going to stop,” she said. “These companies have realized how important it is to market to mothers; the foundation has been set.”

Bailey estimates that the annual spending of mothers in the U.S. is $2.1 trillion and projects that number to rise to $3 trillion by 2012.

“I am certain they will find a different way to get to these moms,” she said.