Women of Color and Marketing: The room, the session and when will the conversation end
Whenever I write something and put my thoughts out there I feel pretty done with it. Like that thing that was taking up all of this valuable space in my brain is now out and I no longer think of it. Such as it was with a post from two years ago; a brief recap of the events that occurred during the State of the Momosphere session during BlogHer 2007. Once my thoughts on unanswered questions as to why women (including) moms of color do not receive nearly the number of pitches that our - well, white - counterparts might receive, I put it out there and only brought up occasionally.
In the years that followed I rarely thought of it until I began to receive pitches in my inbox. From various agencies of varying specialties. I formed relationships with a few companies based not on traffic stats, for I have no clue what they are, but because they got to know me. They got to know my readers and asked that I participate.
Fast forward to a conversation with Karen Walrond one day. Over gchat we discussed the things that we discuss; hair. Hair. And oh my God, have you all seen my hair? I don't remember how but in a rare act of spontaneity I submitted a Room of Your Own panel for BlogHer 2009. The topic? Women of Color and Marketing. We recruited Kelly Wickham and then Stefania Pomponi-Butler and there it was.
And as I said during this panel this past Saturday, I had no earthly clue that anyone would be interested. I never thought we'd get picked. I didn't think that this community in which I have made a little home for myself would care but you did so there we were. In front of a packed room discussing how women of color and marketers can engage one another. How the way companies have come to women of color since President Obama became elected (you know that 'post-racial' era that we've entered) (obviously) (WTF is post-racial?). And how marketers still screw it up.
That last point has nothing to do with women of color it has to do with every niche in the blogosphere. Sometimes companies don't read a blog, sometimes companies call bloggers by the wrong name and in my case, sometimes companies ask me about my life as a busy mom and ask that I test out some home dry cleaning product. Which, cool, because I do in fact dry clean my clothes. I also swiffer and drive. I shop at Target. I buy snacks. I wear makeup. I do all of the things that white women do. I do all of the things that women in general do. But I'm never pitched to. That will always be my chief complaint; while I feel the issues with race and will never understand what it means to 'sound more black' when speaking of a product on my blog. The blog of a woman who lives in Upstate NY and therefore this is about as black sounding as I get. Though that doesn't hit me as hard as feeling like just because I am a single woman in the blogosphere that I don't matter.
Before this session I spoke with one of my favorite PR companies. The chief reacher outer (totally not her job title but you get my point) said that women come to her all of the time. They beg to be included. They want the free product. They provide stats, Alexa ratings, hard numbers that say they can get the word out. I don't do that. I sit at No Pasa Nada and I write about my little life. I blog not because I'm looking for fame and fortune but because I cannot imagine not writing. Regardless, the woman at the company said that numbers don't matter. It's influence. I have influence (I assure you it isn't much) but that's what many companies are looking for. And it made me feel better to know that a) I had influence and that b) I was a great blog to work with given my readership and this current life I lead.
Thusly the crux of this perceived problem is influence. That some companies don't know the influence of a blogger. It's also that 'generation gap' I mentioned; between bloggers who started between 2000-2005. Those who started to share their lives, cool stuff, tell stories and those who started in 2007-2008 and even now. Those who started not to tell a good story but to get some sort of monetary gain out of blogging.
All of the above was pointed out during the session and it's a lot to process. But in the end, what I most remember from one attendee was; When will this conversation end? I don't know. I really don't.
Here are some recaps from those who attended:
I was not disappointed. Not only did I hear from these wonderful women, but also members
of the audience. I listened and I learned about the power of community,
the power of humor, and how we all have a responsibility to our
community both online and offline. I was able to be a part of a
discussion that I don't think could happen without blogging, without
something like BlogHer to bring it all together. I realized that
because of that session, things will change.
6. Related to point #5, bloggers of color also should go to bat for
one another. Spread the good karma and recommend fellow bloggers of
colors for niche campaigns, or just other awesome bloggers in general
for non-niche campaigns.
7. To appeal to consumers of color, brands must have images on their
site that reflect diversity (seems like a no brainer but a lot of
companies do not do this).
8. And possibly the most important lesson of all, do not try to
adjust the dial of a writer’s voice to make it fit your campaign. Carol
of NYCity Mama didn’t appreciate being asked to blog more Latina. Oh yes, she really was asked to do that.
I loved the session on marketing to bloggers of color because of the
issues it make me think about as a Chinese American blogger of biracial
children. The discussion on this very current topic made me wonder if
there are marketing and PR professionals who seek me out just to meet
their Asian demographic or because they like my writing and site
HeatherB also writes at No Pasa Nada. She does NOT have children but she still uses a Swiffer.