Tuesday 26 June 2012

The rise of the ‘mummy bloggers’

Myself and my colleague, Jamie, were entertained last week at the Gorkana Breakfast Briefing by Siobhan Freegard, founder of the parenting site Netmums. Although I had heard of the term ‘mummy blogger’, I, like many others, envisioned a yummy-mummy sitting at her desk with their shiny laptop; uploading endless images of their tiny tots, boasting about their babies latest gurgle and sharing the best cream for curing nappy rash.

This image could not have been further from the truth. The endless albums of virtually identical snaps are still appearing in their masses and the threads on ‘Which pushchair should I buy?’ and ‘Do I feed my children whole milk or semi-skimmed?’ do still dominate the pages. However, it became quickly apparent that this side of the ‘mummy bloggers’ is just a part of the story. More significantly, they are fast becoming a respected and influential power outlet.

Their forthright approach in expressing opinions has meant that they have become one of the most trusted and credible voices. The power of bloggers such as these to influence others has transformed the way companies implement marketing campaigns. The social media platform has been tapped into and companies and PR firms flock to this pram-pushing network to act as a lucrative advertising outlet. Their word of mouth alone can function more effectively than a standard ad. These bloggers are being presented with free products, services and holidays to trial, all for a few words on a webpage. I am jealous – maybe it’s time to pop out some sprogs and get typing?!

However, aside from the product-promoting, mums are good at starting a conversation; especially when it comes to discussing real issues. The issues of poverty, inequality, unemployment, housing, university fees are what they are really passionate about. They are the issues we can relate to, the ones which will affect childrens' futures and the future of society as a whole. When these ‘mummy bloggers’ and the mums (and dads!) involved in the online parenting forums, such as ‘Coffee House Chat’ - the sugar-coated name of the Netmums forum – get conversing, they are pooling their knowledge. Their collective voices are then harnessed and used to make a difference to policy and services. Campaigns are generated around libel law reform, rape awareness, miscarriage care and children tax credit cuts.  And people are listening.

An ongoing Mumsnet campaign ‘Let Girls Be Girls’ launched from ‘Mumsnetters’ concern that an increasingly sexualised culture was seeping into the lives of children. They actively campaigned to curb this problem by asking retailers not to sell products which emphasise or exploit children’s sexuality. In the last few weeks David Cameron announced his strong backing of this proposal. Despite him not yet committing to a legislation forcing retailers to take such action, it is a step in the right direction. This just highlights how powerful the ‘mummy blogging’ community can be in making small advances in shaping and initiating policy change and demonstrates how powerful outlets such as this can be in terms of public relations and public affairs.


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