April 4th, 2008

Hanging with Mommy Bloggers

I’m sure Lori is probably going to post something on Camp Baby soon, but given the event took place in my back yard, I just had to say something about it.

This morning, I gate crashed the breakfast (unlike Rob and Ray who crashed the Camp Baby “pajama party” last night… but that’s another story…) and heard a bit of what the mommy bloggers in attendance had to say — such as:

1) Don’t underestimate moms — and don’t be patronizing. Mommy bloggers are well educated (they are scientists, physicians, lawyers, teachers, etc., etc., etc…) and all are capable of figuring out complex and sophisticated situations and want much more information about products.

2) Mommy bloggers would like to have more direct conversations with companies — and are more than happy to provide their candid thoughts and opinions.

3) When doing these kinds of events, companies should talk less about their own products. Point taken. (Though some dissident mommy bloggers did say they wanted more information about just which products we made.)

4) Mommys are people — people with children.

Oh, and that one of the bloggers had so much Johnson & Johnson surgical equipment in her that she could be a traveling sales display for the company.

There was much, much more discussed this morning, and I left the mommy bloggers with a spring in my step — after all, I got to sit in on the kind of conversation that companies like Johnson & Johnson should be having EVERY day with people.

But as we know, this is still something that companies find tough to do — and some of the missteps that preceded this event provide a good example of how we still have more to learn.

This sea change has been a hot topic for me, my colleagues and friends. For 100 years companies have been pushing what they think people are interested in out through one way communications channels. But now that people are redefining the rules of engagement, companies have to rediscover how to interact with people. It’s about unlearning a lot of behaviors and reacquiring the voice that businesses used in the days before mass advertising and promotion in the conversations that occurred between the village storekeepers and the people in the community. It’s hard to do, but by listening to people (remember the earhorn?) and not being afraid to get involved in the conversation, companies can slowly find that voice.

20 Responses to “Hanging with Mommy Bloggers”

  1. Rob Halper says

    In the interest of full disclosure, none of the bloggers were actually in pajamas…..well, maybe one. But seriously folks, it was great meeting the Mommy bloggers, they are wonderful, energetic, intelligent, multi-tasking, twittering women. And there’s one thing I’m sure of: We learned a lot more from then, than they learned from us. And that’s how it should be.

  2. mothergoosemouse says

    Gosh, I hate to be thought of as a misstep…

    As much as I wish I could have come to Camp Baby, I’m glad to have made Lori’s acquaintance via phone and email, and I look forward to chatting with my fellow mommy bloggers upon their return.

  3. Marc says

    Yikes! My apology — I must have inserted the wrong link. Meant to link to your original post on the subject to provide an llustration. Thanks for pointing this out.

  4. Belinda says

    Due to having slept only 3 hours total during the entire event (tornadoes were ripping through my hometown throughout Thursday night, and phone lines were down, which makes for much wakeful angst), I have not yet begun to pull myself together enough to post my own thoughts on any of my blogs yet, but I will do so later tonight!

    I’m your living, breathing product display. I wasn’t kidding. Once your number of surgeries reach into the double digits, you’ve had some J&J impact on your life, whether you know it or not.

    I’d like to publicly commend Lori (though I don’t want to single her out among the several outstanding J&J reps present, she was the one with whom I interacted the most personally). She had things so well prepared in advance that just about any potential issue had been covered before it could become a problem. And later, when outside forces tossed in monkey-wrenches (for example, Jamie from BlondeMom Blogs’ horrific airline experience en route back to Nashville), Lori swiftly and competently handled these glitches with grace and confidence, and with none of the more and more common, “It’s not my job” mentality that many of us face on a daily basis. I hope that gal is going places in your company–she’s got the right stuff.

    And yeah, I was one of the “dissidents” about branding, because almost no one knew that J&J had anything to do with Aveeno or Neutrogena, for example, and you had your Neutrogena core demo right there in that conference room! (check my flickr stream for the multiple notes on my pic of the Neutrogena swag, from other bloggers saying, “Hey, I use this–it’s great!”) Plus, I was astonished when I researched your subsidiary companies and learned that I do, indeed, carry a whole lot of J&J around with me on a daily basis. 😉

    And I was quite serious about thanking you for my husband’s psychiatric meds. There’s a LOT of ill will out there (including from myself) toward “Big Pharm,” but when something comes along that actually alters your quality of life so that you can HAVE a life, you gain an additional perspective into what is often viewed as a purely mercenary process. This experience helped me with that, as I was able to personalize Corporate America a bit, and realize that there are actual PEOPLE behind the logos.

    Thanks for the good time, and the excellent attention to detail and concern for our comfort.

  5. Delphine says

    this sounds like it was a great chance to find out more about us mommy bloggers. I have several blogs, one is a mommy blog and I’ve developed others because I know I won’t blog about my kids after a certain age (not sure what that is yet, but at some point).

    I never knew J&J maintained a blog!!

  6. Colleen from Classy Mommy says

    Thanks for a fabulous event to reach out to us Moms. I personally thought Camp Baby was just the right balance of providing us with valuable information on J&J while also letting us network with each other & enjoy ourselves. A night out with Ted Allen, Nintendo Wii, and good food were very much appreciated by this sleep deprived Mommy with 2 little ones at home! Camp Baby was an ideal first step to to generate a 2 way conversation with Mommy Bloggers – I hope we can continue to build the relationship and share information to benefit everyone. Thanks again!

  7. jodi says

    I also had a wonderful time and really felt that the event was the perfect balance of information, fun, and networking. Thanks to Lori and the other J&J folks for such an amazing experience. I truly hope this was the first of many experiences with J&J for Mom’s Favorite Stuff.

  8. Evonne Lack says

    This was a very interesting post, particularly the last paragraph. I have always thought of large companies as impersonal, somewhat cloistered entities that are, as you put it, “pushing what they think people are interested in out through one way communications channels.” The fact that J&J is listening to mommybloggers is exciting to me, because I’m guessing that some of the women who went told you about concerns that are important to many of us – particularly safety of baby products. And good working conditions in factories that make J&J products. (I confess I don’t know J&J’s rep on this – it may already be good, but it’s a topic that needs constant vigilance on the part of companies). I enjoyed reading this post- it’s one of the best I’ve seen on BabyCamp – and as you know, the Internet is hopping with them right now. Oh, and because I can’t resist…..I do think nursing mothers should be allowed to come w/ their babies. I think it would be fair to put an age cap on this (6 months, maybe) – so that way you won’t have any nursing 3 year olds running around – which truly could be disruptive. When my first daughter was 3 months old, I had to go to a professional conference put on by the company I worked for- and they allowed me to bring her. She mainly nursed and slept, and was quite nondisruptive. I thought it was remarkably family-friendly of them.

  9. Christina says

    This was a wonderful event and I appreciated that J&J took the time to meet with us and really hear what we had to say. Like you said, there was a time when people looked only to their neighbors and the local shopkeeper for recommendations on products. Now we’re returning to that, and mom bloggers tend to serve as that outspoken village elder who will tell you exactly what she does and doesn’t like. Only now our village is reaching millions instead of hundreds.

    I really enjoyed the chance to give feedback on J&J and at the same time learn more about the company and your products and initiatives. (Like the InfantSEE program – what an amazing program!) I left with a lot of new information and a new perspective on J&J.

    I can’t wait to see some of the changes J&J implements as a result of Camp Baby, and I hope you’ll give us the chance to follow up and reflect on those changes in the future. (I’m still hoping J&J will consider a dye-free, fragrance-free baby wash!) The event was entertaining as well as educational, and I think Lori and her team should be commended for their hard work. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun on a business trip before now.

  10. Jenn says

    I had a wonderful time. I learned a lot and have more respect for J&J as a whole now.

    I think there is a difference between pushing products and making that information available. Maybe a packet of info when we arrived would have been a good idea.

    Big thank you to all at J&J.

  11. Jamie says

    I was impressed with the entire event and I really had no idea what to expect when I landed in Newark. I wanted to say thank you to everyone involved with planning all the details of Camp Baby, especially Lori Dolginoff. I also appreciate J&J encouraging us to be forthcoming about the fact that this was an all-expense paid trip. I learned a lot about J&J as a company and I think this sets a good precedent for other companies who want to reach out to bloggers and other moms who have voices on the Internet, whether it be through their own businesses or product review sites, traditional mommy blogs, or parenting websites and communities.

    I think Camp Baby (suggestion…maybe Camp Mom would have been a good alternative name) was a good blend of downright fun and hospitality and networking (I’m still pinching myself over the fact that I got to meet Ted Allen at the fabulous wine tasting!) as well as two-way information between moms and company reps. I think more and more U.S. corporations will start to tune into the conversations moms are having on the Internet, and realize it is so much more than just talk about diapers and daycare.

    Thanks again for the opportunity!

    Thanks again for the amazing opportunity!

  12. Jane - Pinks & Blues says

    I also wanted to just take the time to thank everyone at J&J who made Camp Baby such a wonderful, welcoming, informative event. Getting 50+ highly opinionated, knowledgeable women together (who spend a lot of time verbalizing said opinions via blogs!) and having the end result be an enjoyable experience for all (at least, all I talked to about it) should absolutely be commended.

    Jane, Pinks & Blues

  13. Stephanie says

    I’m so proud of J & J for reaching out to bloggers and for exploring new communication/marketing mediums. I have no doubt that J & J will continue to be a forerunner with mothers because of your intentional and innovative approach to PR. Keep up the good work!

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