Each month, a group of Tots100 bloggers give their verdict on some of the blogger outreach campaigns targeting UK parent blogs.
With a weekly audience of more than 500,000 readers, Tots100 bloggers are often invited to work with brands on everything from events to reviews, ambassador programmes and charity campaigns. But what makes some campaigns work especially well, while others sink without trace?
Last month, our bloggers shared their thoughts on campaigns by LEGO, Apetina, Motors.co.uk and Knorr.
This month, we invited our panel to tell us their honest feedback on five blogger outreach campaigns aimed at Mum and Dad bloggers, from Red Hot World Buffet, CBeebies, Premier Inn, Wilderness Festival and River Island. Here’s what they told us:
The Wilderness Festival
First up, the Wilderness Festival is a new family festival geared towards parents who want a festival experience without some of the scarier elements of mainstream festivals. The organisers of the Wilderness Festival invited a number of bloggers to spend the weekend camping and attending the festival. What did our bloggers think of the campaign – did it make them more likely to go to the festival in future?
Penny: I am far more likely to read reviews of holidays and festivals, and I think people are really influenced by other parent’s impressions. I think they can be really influential – I loved that people emailed to tell me they tried youth hostelling after I blogged about it.
Amanda: This was an interesting one for me, as I haven’t ever been to a festival, but really love music. I’m am so scared of camping. I had read a few of the reviews and loved them (and the very cool photographs) and they definitely made me want to go to a festival in the future.
Mary: I think inviting bloggers to festivals like this an excellent way of getting feedback to me, the blog reader, and as someone who has never been to one before, which ones are maybe suitable for me and my family.
Kelly: I have never been of the Festival persuasion, not ever, because I do not do mud, or basic loo facilities. But this is the first festival I have seen that makes me think we would all enjoy it, as it really is a family-focussed event, yet with enough ‘adult’ stuff to make it not feel like a hardship. How did I not get offered this?
Another day out this month was offered by CBeebies, which invited some bloggers and their children to go and see a preview of a new TV show starring Mums’ favourite Justin Fletcher. The live show was a big hit with the pre-schoolers who attended – but what about our blogging panel?
Penny: I love family days out and they are best when they consider parents’ needs as well as kids’ entertainment. But if I was travelling to an event I’d want guaranteed tickets, and I read that wasn’t the case with this trip.
Mary: I think it was pitched at the right time ( being school holidays ) was a perfect event, and we all know if the children are happy, often the parents are too.
Kelly: I can see that days like this are a good idea for blogger outreach and in the heady days when all my girls knew was CBeebies, I would have bitten their hands off for a chance to meet The God of Children’s Television. But in all honesty he makes my skin crawl (did I mention I once had a dream about him. A very *ahem* vivid dream? Exactly
Mary: I noticed on the Disclosure of the reviewer’s post that they were not asked by Premier Inn to write about their hotel stay, but obviously the blogger involved enjoyed her time so much she wanted to say thank you. I have to say after reading the post, I was left feeling a little confused, was this merely a ‘gift’ for the bloggers involved or a definite ’review’ of one of their premier Inns.
Kelly: You never know when you might need to overnight somewhere and I value the reviews that people with children- particularly people with children the same age as mine- make. I think that this is an area where bloggers really excel. I’d be just as likely to buy a book or toy based on an Amazon review as anything else. What I really value is when bloggers review experiences: staying overnight, theme parks, festivals (see above) because I know that they will tell it like it is.
Sharon: I saw two posts and both were good fair reviews. Mentions were made of f&ck ups by Premier Inn but then they were also shown to be trying to make it right which shows they care. I think these posts can be useful – I do trust blogger reviews, bit like the blogging worlds own trip advisor! it has made me think I would stay in at Premier Inn in the future.
River Island recently invited a group of Mummy bloggers to a chocolate-making workshop with their children. This was followed by sending small gift packages to lots of bloggers including a small selection of items from their new children’s clothing range, and gifts for parents (our package included a tin of G&T, which came in handy).
Penny: I like the idea that campaigns recognise bloggers are not just parents. As a reader though, I want to know more about the clothes themselves than the treats the bloggers got or the blogger-brand relationship, I think that should be kept personal, and could detract from people’s impressions of the product.
Kelly: I knew nothing about this, saw nothing, read nothing. But I think a review will always be more positive if it isn’t expected.
Mags: What a fantastic example of a PR company knowing how to treat bloggers and make a brand popular amongst the blogging communities who will want to sing their praises. The chocolate making workshop sounds awesome and the “no pressure” to blog about it is a great approach. I loved looking at the photos people posted of their day both on their blogs and on twitter / Instagram.
Kate: I don’t really get these campaigns. Yes, it does show the brand in a good light and that’s great for building relationships with bloggers but what if the products they sell don’t stand up to scrutiny? I have been to events where there has been no pressure to blog but a lot of it has been about their product and how good it is.
Red Hot World Buffet
Finally, Red Hot World Buffet has invited bloggers to a cooking class where they all made a rather impressive looking cake, to help promote a new cake the company is selling.
Simone: The event seemed like a great idea and with the current British Bake Off more people are looking into baking and decorating cakes. Surely any opportunity to eat cake has to be a great opportunity! I was slightly aware of the chain before the invite but am now tempted to go and have a meal just to try.
Mags: I had never heard of Red Hot World Buffet until tweets began appearing and pictures on Instagram. It certainly made me aware of who they are and the fantastic new cake they are selling after reading the posts and seeing the photos.
Amanda: I thought it was great fun and very well organised. The PR was fantastic to work with, and it’s a great new service, that is little known. So I think bloggers provided a great platform to get the word out.
Laura: I have seen a lot of tweets talking about this company, and a lot about an amazing cake, but I hadn’t put the 2 together until now. Perhaps it’s baby brain?!
We’d love to know if you have thoughts on any of this month’s Brand Panel campaigns. Do you agree with our panel? And please leave a comment if you’d be interested in taking part in future panel discussions. Thanks to Amanda, Emma, Kate, Kelly, Mags, Mary, Penny, Sharon, Laura, Tina and Simone for your time this month!