San Diego Momma. A San Diego Mom Blogger.

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I'm a mom, wife, writer and soul searcher who colors life with words.

 

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Kitchen Sink

S*x and PR*

May 22nd, 2009

beauts copy.jpg
About to get crabs.

 

I’ve had sex with exactly five (5) men in my whole entire life and one of them is my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I was kissually active, having touched lips with probably 8,500.02 males — and that’s in college alone — but I couldn’t “give” myself to someone unless I liked more than their mouth. If I didn’t emotionally and intellectually connect with a person, I just couldn’t do “it.” It took me until I was 22 to give up the pink parts to my first real boyfriend, and that first time, we went through a jar of Vaseline because my privates thought they were closed for business.

 

Turns out my first real boyfriend was a crab-carrying cheating fart knocker, so that didn’t turn out so well, but the fact remains: I thought he was a keeper and I turned myself over to him.

 

It took me awhile to recover from being so thoroughly heart blasted, but for better or for worse, I learned something in the process: really know the people you sleep with.

 

All this is to say that my blog is like my vagina. It’s mine and I don’t give it away easily. I’ve had cause to revisit my blog vagina metaphor lately as I’ve been approached by several PR people asking for product reviews and I find myself wondering whether to invite them into my bed.

 

There’s a lot of flacknod going around the Internet these days about bloggers who do product reviews and whether this is good and bad and so on and so on. Many, many self-appointed authorities, most who regularly receive free stuff, trips and cars from companies, are lambasting other bloggers for choosing to do so themselves, which makes me choke on righteous anger. In short, shut up. Don’t tell people what to do or judge, especially when you have a big ole “LLC” at the bottom of your blog signifying that you are a business making money off your blog.

 

Truly, I say live and let live. Or, for the purposes of my extended metaphor: if mommy bloggers want to give away their vaginas, it’s none of your business. As for me, I don’t prefer reading product review blogs. I am a content person and I’d rather read about your sex partners and inappropriate vagina analogies. I click off of product review blogs, because there’s really nothing there that interests me. (But there are some blogs that combine honest product reviews with personal content and I am cool with that.) I told a friend recently that I can tell from the first paragraph whether a blogger is serving their readers or their sponsors, and if the answer is the latter, I’m gone. It’s as if the soul of the blog has disappeared (or been sold) and I’m left feeling empty inside.

 

Still, if a blogger chooses to write nothing but product reviews, go for it. Who am I to criticize? I won’t be reading, but God speed, that’s the beauty of having 1,000,000 blogs to choose from out there on the web.

 

And yet… And yet… I would like to accept some of these PR offers (and have, for instance, my whole family is going to the San Diego Zoo tonight for free). My criteria for accepting requests for reviews is threefold: (1) Will my family like it? (2) Will my readers like it (if there’s a giveaway); and (3) Can I write about (or NOT write about) the product/trip, etc. in my own way, without feeling beholden to give a positive, stupid, senseless, biased review that serves no one but the company?

 

I started my blog so I would write regularly. I would love it to result in money made from freelance writing, not from product reviews. I DO NOT want my blog to be a product review blog. I DO NOT want it to include product reviews even 25% of the time…but if I really, really, really like something and you might really, really, really like it too, I will consider accepting the free item and writing about it in a hopefully real, honest and probably snarky-weird way. In all honesty, I’d much rather run ads from companies/products I like than do reviews because then I will feel I’m supporting this blog more honestly and transparently. The ad is an ad is an ad. A product review implies endorsement and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that. But it’s all in the way it’s reviewed, I guess.

 

I do feel pretty strongly about this whole thing. I used to write for a trade magazine and would be regularly asked to write “fluff” pieces about major advertisers. (Look through your magazines at home. Look at the ads, then look at the editorial. I am confident you will see favorable articles and product reviews on the most major advertisers.) I hated this. Every fluff piece felt like a lie and I got by by telling myself that there is always something good to say about something. If I were asked to “review” a coin changer for instance, I’d write: “This coin changer changes coins, exactly as it says it will on the box” or some such vague assertion that wasn’t too disingenuous.

 

I don’t want to write crap like that on this blog.

 

What I’m saying is I don’t know what the hell to do. I need to define a PR strategy (Ha ha ha ha! The women who has no filing system or even knows what she’s cooking for dinner tonight just used the word “strategy!”) that clearly states I like to get cool free stuff that would benefit my family and readers, but I will only write about said cool free stuff if I can do so authentically and genuinely. And oh I suppose I could start a separate product review site, but isn’t that a lot of work? Still, free stuff. I am human after all.

 

I can’t believe I just wrote that.

 

I think it all comes down to what you want your blog to be. When I wrote Cheri the other day about a PR offer I’d received that would require me to write certain things in a certain way, she wrote back that she prefers her blog to remain “directionless and ridiculous” (p.s. I love her) and I couldn’t have said it better myself. I want San Diego Momma to be whatever I want it to be. Maybe one day I want to write about PR vaginas, and another day I’d prefer to write about how no one likes me. If I like something and I was given it to review, I might want to write about that too. But I will tell you I received it for free and whenever I can, I will try to get you one for free, too.

 

Finally and in closing, I would like to tell you about my fourth top-secret criteria for accepting PR requests. It is (4) Do I like the PR person? I receive a lot of generic, obviously-haven’t-read-my-blog emails addressed to “Dee,” and nothing irritates me more. But once in awhile, I get a well-thought-out informed email from a guy/gal who “gets it.” Just yesterday, a PR guy wrote me about reviewing a sun shade product (I accepted. Because I am fair-skinned. And it comes in red.). Also, he wrote stuff like the below in his email when I told him I was having an existential crisis about how to incorporate honest reviews in my blog:

Well, may I suggest not calling it a crisis (negative), and instead shifting to a more positive mindset–about how you are enjoying the journey of creatively finding a way to relevantly review products while staying true to your inner self (which is, actually, a confident person, who’s insecurity is not pure, but is an unwholesome reflection of social conditioning which is SO easy to grow on our exteriors from this judgmental society)?

 

If I haven’t overstepped yet, you might want to check out this book. It’s helped me (so far…it’s a journey) figure out how my head actually works–insecurities, fears, etc. It’s a little heavy, but if you take your time through it, it’s pretty amazing. It’s like Tolle on steroids.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Our-Mind-Buddhist-Psychology/dp/1888375302

 

You’d sleep with him too, right?

 

 

This post is brought you by petroleum jelly and Mr. Beaver’s CloseyLeggs line of chastity belts.

 

*I had to change the title of this post because lots of s*xy ladies from Malaysia were contacting me about their legitimate webcam businesses.

 

« « Peanut Head    |    This Post is Made With Real Poo » »

On May 22nd, 2009, Sugar Jones said:

To the “pink parts” paragraph… ROFL.

To the part about the LLC Bloggers calling out other bloggers… ummm KETTLE!

And to the blog being directionless… AMEN! I don’t want to pigeon hole myself. I want to have fun, and sometimes share some sad stuff, and then other times, share some neat things that have been sent to me. The blog is me. I’m more than one subject.

PS: That’s why I love you so much!

On May 22nd, 2009, Amy (the Happy Mom!) said:

I think I now have a girl-crush on you.

That is all.

=)

On May 22nd, 2009, Real Life Sarah said:

This is so funny! It’s also a great glimpse into a thought process many of us go through! I think you are on the right track. That PR guy – go for it!

I don’t really think of it as “free” stuff, since you have worked your butt off to build this blog, you write well and promote yourself! You WORK for it, girl! You also have to write about the products and that takes time to do well.

Anyway, I’m still gonna write a nasty post about you- just because. ;)

On May 22nd, 2009, hipm0m77 said:

This may be the best post EVER regarding writing vs. product reviews.

Our blogs are simply our blogs, they can evolve into whatever we make of them and our readers will come and go in the process.

Good to you for being so open about your dilemma – which all bloggers have these days – and for letting us know that you don’t take this job lying down (pun intended)

Enjoy your weekend lady!

On May 22nd, 2009, Mom of Faith said:

Well,this is the very first post I’ve ever read here…but let me just say, YOU are hilarious and SO on point. Thanks for sharing.

On May 22nd, 2009, Suzanne said:

I think there is a fine line between the desire to creative monetary opportunities via your blog and losing your freedome to say what you want. If you can figure out how to have both….you are a genius!

On May 22nd, 2009, stoneskin said:

Damn there’s quite a lot in that post!

Good read. I know that I barely ever read a product review. On the other hand I have ads on my blog and I don’t mind ads on other blogs. Ultimately it is about the content. If for one moment there is a sniff of “selling out” I will be likely to leave immediately. But that doesn’t mean I won’t revisit the blog either.

Anyway, I have a new idea for a prompt Tuesday.

“This coin changer changes coins…”

On May 22nd, 2009, Charity (AKA Virtue IMC) said:

Hi DEBORAH or DEE (which did you prefer?),

I represent PRODUCT FANTASTICA and see that you have a blog that is in line with what FANTASTICA is tying to promote…

Com’on who are we kidding? Deb, you know I love you… I almost had to go buy depends in the middle of this article.

From the PR perspective: I know there are those that are “flacks,” who are only there as glorified sales people to hawk the wares of what ever company is paying them. A true Public Relations practitioner would be engaging in relationship building with the other client (the non-paying one): the media outlet they are pitching. If they haven’t engaged you prior to the pitch – read your blog, said Hi, left a comment, etc. – then they are doing their paying clients and their relationships with the media a disservice.

That said, bloggers are a “new medium” & traditional PR peeps don’t necessarily know what to do with them – if they haven’t the faintest, then they need to be schooled (and don’t feel bad for doing it).

Your pinkies are yours and yours alone. And if someone is making you feel yucky when they get near your pinky, then go tell an adult… oh wait different convo.

As to developing a PR plan, sweetums… that’s what I do, CALL ME!

On May 22nd, 2009, Blognut said:

Like you, I wouldn’t mind free stuff that I actually could use, would use, and could write about in whatever way I liked.

More than that though, I like being free to be ridiculous. And I am. And? I’m kind of happy about that, ’cause ridiculous is ME and I do it so well.

Ridiculous. Me. :)

*leaving*

On May 22nd, 2009, Blognut said:

Oh, and the crabs?

Itchy.

On May 22nd, 2009, Deborah said:

I couldn’t resist. I haven’t had time to read your blog in a long time, Hell, I don’t have time to read my own writing, but I got sucked into your Peanut Head post and had to click on the website about your article and loved your piece – paid mind you!! – on money and family, and I laughed through this latest one, although despite your lack of promiscuity you certainly have a ‘come hither’ look in that photo! You are at the top of your game, Deb. Really entertaining, a fabulous, unique writer. Congrats.

On May 22nd, 2009, kate said:

i’m only doing product reviews of the free stuff my crazy russian neighbor thrusts upon me.

On May 23rd, 2009, Glynn said:

PR guy definitely has a sexy mind. He probably gets to at least 2nd base with his prospects. If you don’t want to review the sun shade online, you can email it to me… with his number. (hehe – happily married woman having a bit of fun with inappropriate joke)

On May 23rd, 2009, Amanda @ The Mom Crowd said:

I am standing up and applauding you, Deb! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I remember emailing you forever ago and asking you what you did with the product pitches. I did a few, but decided the free crap wasn’t worth the trouble. Now I refer them to my friend’s product review site. I totally agree with you – I never read product reviews. Like you, there may be something that comes along that may fit all three of your criteria. Who knows maybe I will do one. But now that may conflict with the Blogher Ad drama. this stuff is kind of dumb.

On May 23rd, 2009, Da Goddess said:

I’d totally do the PR guy. Do you have his number? Wanna forward his email to me? Seriously. I need to get back into practice.

Re: “I can tell from the first paragraph whether a blogger is serving their readers or their sponsors, and if the answer is the latter, I’m gone. It’s as if the soul of the blog has disappeared (or been sold) and I’m left feeling empty inside.” Amen, Sister!

I cannot, however, provide you with the example I’d like to use to illustrate the exact reason I no longer read a certain blog because I don’t want to offend anyone (yes, you just heard that right…I don’t want to offend someone!) and make someone cry. But if ever I do (decide I want to make someone cry), I’ll come back and name names.

Until then, I love you. And if you get to go to the zoo for free? Take me with you! My annual pass expired a couple years ago and I miss my orangutans terribly.

On May 24th, 2009, San Diego Momma said:

Thanks for the thoughtful and hysterical comments all!
I love considering all sides.

Now Da Goddess: SPILL IT!
(I think I have some free zoo passes with my membership. Let me check and I’ll call you)

On May 24th, 2009, Leslie said:

Funniest Post Ever! I love that you have criteria for reviews. I loathe reading reviews that are clearly not heartfelt. As for the blog-vagina references… Keep em coming. Hilarious!

On May 25th, 2009, Jamie said:

Oh, I love you I love you I love you…

On May 25th, 2009, Jamie said:

P.S. I read every word of your post. But the above comment was all I could come up with.

On May 25th, 2009, g said:

Well, being asked to endorse products, thereby swaying my hordes of readers (all ten of you) to purchase them, is a problem I certainly don’t have. But I think you have the right take. It’s about your credibility.

On May 25th, 2009, Green Girl in Wisconsin said:

You just rock. And I think you’ll find the perfect balance because it’s YOU. And I’m jealous of that zoo trip–it looked AWESOME.

On May 25th, 2009, she said:

You are hysterical, and with all your talk of pink parts and Blognut’s weather report with a giant penis, I’m just horny now! (Well, I would be if you hadn’t talked about crabs!)

;-)

On May 25th, 2009, Bridget Smith said:

This was a fun and unexpected post. Your analogies caught me a bit off guard, but I agree with you that blogs devoted solely to product reviews are a bit wiggy. I enjoy a good product review, and use them to make many buying decisions, but that’s why they made epinions or amazon.com, not blogs per se.

That being said, I think that we as bloggers need to have some extrinsic benefits (e.g. money, freebies) in addition to the intrinsic satisfaction we take from righting. I get grouchy about bloggers, especially ones who have managed to monetize their blogs in some way saying that accepting something for a review or giveaway compromises their journalistic integrity.

I think your rules of thumb are right on. Our families and ideally our readers should genuinely benefit from whatever is being offered, we should be candid about our readers about how we came to receive the item or have that experience (without constantly applogizing for doing this…another of my pet peeves.), and we should do our best to honestly review the item or experience.

So far, I haven’t been lucky enough to receive pr pitches or offers, but when I read a book that I really like and fits the themes of my blog, I have contacted the author for a blog review and/or giveaway. A fellow travel blogger makes a product that I thought my readers would be interested in, so I contacted her and asked if my family could try some out on our next road trip. I also promote my book on my blog, so I guess its somewhat commercial. Still, I try to make it mostly about quality content.

You’ll find your niche, Deb never fear. In the mean time enjoy being the blog celebrity that you are!

On May 26th, 2009, tinsenpup said:

Hey Dee! :) Like I always say (from now on), nothing beats a delightfully inappropriate vagina analogy. If the world were right and fair, you’d be getting the big bucks for those vaginal gems. Whatever you do, you’ll do it with honesty and it’ll be fabulous to read.

On May 26th, 2009, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

I’m doing it wrong. The only stuff I giveaway is stuff I buy to giveaway. Good thing I’m just a blogger. Because if I were a ‘ho? I’d be paying my johns to have sex with me.

On August 15th, 2009, San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » The Sport-Brella: An Experiential Overview said:

[…] still not sure how to incorporate product reviews (henceforth referred to as “experiental overview” into my bl… yet, or if I even want to, but I have found that I’m game if the following four bullet points […]

On March 10th, 2010, Everyday Mama said:

Amen, sister! Write what you want but don’t sell your soul or vagina for a carton of yogurt :) I do product reviews but in my own creative way (or at least I think it is) — if I don’t like it, you won’t see it on there. Honesty is the best policy….legs are closed right now BTW!

On February 10th, 2011, San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » Remembering to Say Thank You said:

[…] know I wrote this a few years ago, but look, even I know when it’s time to say thank you to those who […]

On August 19th, 2011, Yuliya said:

Awesome. I haven’t ventured into this blogging for money thing yet but I do have something in the works that I hope will be an organic fit. I will keep these questions in mind ;)

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