The cruise line Royal Caribbean International is the latest big brand to work with parent blogger ambassadors. They include Liz Jarvis (right) from The Mum Blog, who has also been an ambassador for brands including XBox, Disney Blu-ray and has worked with clients on blogger outreach including the Tesco Mum of the Year awards. Here she explains how it all works.
The word ‘ambassador’ conjures up images of trays full of Ferrero Rocher served by white gloved-waiters and licence plates with diplomatic immunity. And being asked to be a parent blogger ambassador can be an incredibly rewarding experience – professionally and personally.
Of course, celebrities have been brand ambassadors for years, but the idea of using parent bloggers as brand ambassadors in the UK really started a four years ago when seven mummy bloggers were invited on a trip to Disney World. This was viewed as a hugely significant moment in the rise of the parent blogger (so important it made the national press), and cemented the concept of ‘mum to mum’ social media engagement as vital in promoting family-friendly brands in the digital age.
Kerry Jean Lister, Social Creative Director at Hangar Seven Digital, worked on the Disney 7 trip and has also worked on parent blogger ambassador campaigns for Disney Blu-ray, XBox and Lego Duplo. ‘It’s always good for brands to be seen to be listening to their customers – and bloggers are customers just like everybody else,’ she says. ‘The difference is that they have a loud online presence, very strong opinions and the ear of one of the most important consumer audiences in the world – mums. Research has shown that mums make most of the purchasing decisions within the family unit, so if you can develop a good, mutually beneficial relationship with a parent blogger who has the respect and admiration of their peers you’re one step closer to your golden egg.’
Being a parent blogger ambassador can involve attending special events as a VIP, being invited on weekends away and press trips, receiving products to review (for example toys and games), and being asked for your opinion on new campaigns.
And if you prefer to do something more altruistic, some charities also work with parent blogger ambassadors.
BritMums co-founder Jennifer Howze, who also blogs at Jenography.net, went to Ethiopia with ONE.org along with a group of fellow bloggers from the UK and US. ONE is a campaigning organisation co-founded by Bono that highlights the need for foreign aid and the programmes that aid supports.
“It’s invaluable to see first-hand the difference that organisations like ONE or charities make,” says Jennifer. “The benefit bloggers bring is that they highlight the personal stories, the individuals involved and the connection that their readers and followers can make with a larger cause. They tell a different, more immediate side of the story.”
Christine Mosler, who blogs at Thinly Spread, became a digital ambassador for Save the Children after she returned from a trip to Mozambique for the charity. She has also been an ambassador for several companies and is currently working as an ambassador for Drinkaware.
‘I get a lot out of my close association with Save the Children in particular having worked with them now for two years,’ she says. ‘It’s fabulous to have some input to their online campaigning and to feel that I am contributing, even if just in a very small way.’
So how do you become a parent blogger ambassador?
Well, having worked on blogger outreach for some leading companies what I can tell you is that the social media agency, PRs and client will scrutinise your blog to make sure it’s a good fit for their brand or organisation. And then they’ll approach you. Some brands — particularly family-focused ones — are unlikely to work with bloggers whose blogs don’t fit their profile. It’s not just about numbers – although brands do like to see some sort of return for their investment. But it’s also about synergy. To build an effective parent blogger ambassador campaign, ‘brands need to handpick the bloggers they work with, and not just get them from a list,’ explains Kerry Jean Lister.
And just like any other opportunity that comes your way as a blogger, it’s important for you to be selective, too. I’ve turned down requests to be a parent blogger ambassador (or ‘ologist, or Official Parent Blogger) from brands I didn’t feel sit well with my blog, or with me. It’s easy to get your head turned by attractive offers and a day trip to London (unless you already live there, of course). If you do get approached, ask yourself whether the brand is right for your blog, and whether you feel comfortable with the brand.
‘Being an ambassador brings a much closer relationship with a charity, organisation or brand and it can be very satisfying either personally or financially,’ adds Christine Mosler. ‘Ambassadorship builds a relationship based on mutual respect and both parties can share experience, ideas and understanding which brings a depth to a relationship which the brief association we often make online cannot.’