So Now It Is Get 200 Likes To Review A Product?

SOCIAL MEDIA | | June 6, 2011 at 8:53 am

See update below…

I am really upset while writing this post. Mostly because I have a pile of other stuff more important to do and this was not scheduled but it had to be done. I also hate posts coming out negative – I like thinking that I should give someone the benefit of the doubt. I am naive. I also know that at times I may have to stand up and take the chance to get stoned for speaking out, but my principles are worth taking the beating (plus they will not falter). Heaven knows I have seen some really ridiculous pitches these days but I saw one today that literally knocked my socks off and I am just glad I had the strength of chai to rather vent it into a post.

I hate to diss a brand and let me say at the outset I heart Melissa and Doug toys. I do. And I will remain to love them because this rant is in no way a reflection of their products. This is what riles me – wonderful and amazing products have poor (and sometimes downright disgusting) pitches. I have always known the PR/Marketing side of the brand to shun bloggers (from shooing them off at Toy Fairs) to not even having a business card at toy press events but still I heart them and have for years. I have used their product for the past 6 years and will continue to support them. Even their customer service rocks. But then I see this pitch from Melissa and Doug for bloggers and I wanted to cry. I felt like the past couple years of social media evolution skipped them completely. You can read the pitch there but in short it is

“Get us 200 Facebook likes – where person has to write on their wall they came from your blog- and then you get to do a review and giveaway”

Here is what is WRONG with this picture:

  • I am doing free advertising for you.
  • I am doing double advertising for you (one with FB likes and the other with the review)
  • I am doing free work for you in the giveaway (do you have any idea how much work giveaways are?).
  • I am promoting you before I can see your product (shouldn’t people know a product/company before they endorse?)
  • 200 likes for anyone is freaking ridiculous (heck 10 is ridiculous)
  • We pay taxes on that product you know??
  • You are paying us in a product for work which we have to AGAIN work for by writing about it.
  • You are insulting bloggers and exploiting us too with a pitch like this.

So now I feel like they want to see the power of bloggers let’s give them to see. If you feel this way to leave a comment below and/or tweet them this link (@MelissaAndDoug). Maybe if they see us doing it in larger numbers they may sit up and take notice that bloggers deserve to be respected.

Disclosure: I DO NOT look down on any blogger doing this with them.  i know how hard bloggers work and sometimes it is hard to get opportunities. I do believe it is WRONG to have terms like these in a pitch.

UPDATE: June 6th 2011 – 10pm est

I decided not to write a separate post but to update this one so all the information is in one place (not that I would not love you clicking all over MommyNiri.com). Firstly the page with the pitch was amended (the link above) so those reading after would not understand why I started this fiasco in the first place. So I am pasting on the side the original one (yes the engineer in me decided to take a copy knowing it would be changed).

So here it is on the left in a thumbnail form. Just click on it to see it and click more to zoom. Ok, so now that we are all on the same boat I just want to add a few things.  This post needed to be written. I had already seen one of the people I follow on twitter (MommyPR) tweet to Melissa and Doug (who I followed and still do)  about the contest. I tweeted them too and so did a few others. When none got responses I knew that it was time for a post. While Melissa and Doug have certainly come around to want to listen, it did take this post and the comments and tweets to gain attention.

I do appreciate Drew from Melissa and Doug reaching out and though it was a little clear he was not sure how to stop the viral effect there are signs that Drew is trying. Seriously, look at those comments, while it may have annoyed a few I do give kudos for him baring his email out there (can you imagine his inbox?), though Drew be warned – anyone leaving their email address out on a blog like that is open to spam from web crawlers. The vein of thought is that many love Melissa and Doug but have also been experiencing a cold shoulder which may have amplified those feelings.

Drew called me on the phone to ask my help in making it all better and I suggested a simple apology. I think he has tried saying that here too, although it just started with stating it was a mis-worded at first. I do feel confident that they want to make things right, but since I do not work for them I cannot vouch anything further. Many companies use this time to either sink or soar. In fact I think the opportunity for Melissa and Doug is a ripe one. Let’s pause and give them a breather to see what they do next, everyone deserves a second chance.

My only advice to Melissa and Doug is you are in a rare (and hopefully positive) position to have all blogger’s attention on you. It is time to choose your next step carefully and in the right direction. Good luck!

285 Comments

  1. 1
    The Maven says:

    Pitches like this from brands I love make me sad. They really do. It’s things like this that just further the divide between bloggers and brands.

    I hope that this PR rep reconsiders this pitch, it’s not fair to bloggers.

    It’s especially not fair to bloggers that have amazing influence and low numbers.

    Not to mention many people will like the Melissa and Doug page for the giveaway only to unlike them next week.

    • 1.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      I just want amazing brands to work with smarter PR!

      • 1.1.1
        Drew says:

        Hello to All,

        I want to clarify what we are doing at Melissa & Doug to ensure that we work with bloggers of every size that wants to write about us. In advance thanks for all of the great work you do, and we are big supporters.

        I also want to mention how much we appreciate Mommy Niri’s post as it gives us a chance to communicate with all of you –

        The contest provides for all bloggers to receive a set of Sand Play items for the promotion – and we are responding to requests to get the items shipped out as fast as we can. What we are asking for, is to encourage your audience to like us on facebook and/or join our Treasured Toy and Birthday Club so we can share more special opportunities.

        I invite all of you to reach out to me directly via email at drew@melissaanddoug.com

        Your thoughts, ideas and feedback is very important and I want to make sure that I’m available to assist.

        Drew

        • 1.1.1.1
          Drew says:

          I’ve just re-read the blog post with the team, and see where the confusion resides. It has been changed and once again, thanks for bringing this issue to my attention.

          Drew

          • 1.1.1.1.1
            Alex P. says:

            So will you now be contact all the people who have agreed to write the review to let them know of these changes and that they will “get the product to review just for reviewing”?

            This is NOT what was written in the emails to bloggers. It was said, and I quote from the email you sent to me;

            “For every 200 fans that you help us to get, we will give you 2 of each item above – one for you and one for a lucky audience member of yours to win as a prize.”

            So in order for the blogger to receive the product, they must drive 200 fans to the Melissa & Doug fan page.

            Again, you said “You get the product to review just for reviewing”. When we emailed, I wasn’t asked for my mailing address even once.

            I actually tried to do the giveaway. I’m a smaller blog than a lot of people. I knew there was no way of ME getting 200 people to enter a giveaway, but I tried any way. I actually closed the giveaway today because only 11 people had entered. I tweeted and facebooked a lot about it and it went no where.

          • 1.1.1.1.2
            Drew says:

            Yes – the letter was mis-worded.

            Drew

          • Nicole K says:

            I’m glad to hear that there was a mix-up of words and that the post is now fixed. But still, do you have any idea how much work goes into getting a company 200 new FB likes? In my opinion, Facebook is one of the hardest sites to gain followers on (in comparison to Google or Twitter) due to it being a more personal site (I’m guessing). It’s taken almost a year for to gain just over 900 followers. Unless the blog has a massive following I can’t imagine anyone being able to reach this goal within a feasible time frame.

            Like I sad, I’m glad things are straightened out now but I do think M&D should consider the huge amount of work we (bloggers) put into promoting companies and products and perhaps offer something slightly more enticing when asking for such a huge task.

            (PS – ***If there are ANY bloggers on here who can send me 200 NEW FB likers I will personally buy you 10 new sand toys!!!) Seriously.

            Nicole

        • 1.1.1.2
          Christina says:

          Hi Drew, it sounds like things have improved from the one time I tried to reach out to Melissa and Doug about a charitable donation to an actual charity… not even asking for free products or even a review for my personal blog. If that is the case, I’m pleased to see some improvements with M&D’s PR/communication and hope it continues to grow in the right direction.
          Like Niri, I have been and will continue to be a supporter of Melissa and Doug but the response I got last year left a pretty bad taste in my mouth on the PR end of things.
          Best,
          Christina

        • 1.1.1.3
          The Maven says:

          Here’s the thing though, even not allowing to do a giveaway until 200 likes on FB is received is a little absurd for many bloggers.

          I never would suggest to my readersI that they have to comment on a brand’s page for the CHANCE for me to giveaway a product to them.

          Liking fan pages is ALWAYS an optional entry for giveaways on my blog with brands that provide gifts for my readers without both of us jumping through multiple hoops.

          I like the toys from Melissa and Doug, but this is a PR nightmare. And while in the future I’d like to work with you, it won’t be on this campaign. :( As much as I would like to provide this toy for my readers, it’s not worth hassling 200 of them to like your page.

      • 1.1.2
        Cindy C. says:

        Maybe they will consider hiring a blogger to take over their PR? ;)

        • 1.1.2.1
          Drew says:

          All,

          We appreciate how much work goes into posting. You are all very important to us.

          First, My apologies, and Second, Thanks for your posts – I am part of the team at Melissa Doug, responsible for digital commerce.

          Regarding the offer to review and post, unfortunately it was not properly worded and we should have done a better job clarifying. In re-reading it, we erred by not making it clear that the items for review were sent from us for doing the review, but to host contests, we were asking for additional support. The two got blended into one message. This was the glitch at the source.

          The original blog post was confusing and is now being revised. That’s why we made the changes at this time. I take full blame and responsibility for the mistake.

          The best way to contact me is via email at drew@melissaanddoug.com I am happy to speak with everyone who would like and turn this into a positive – where we have the best program with all of your feedback.

          In that spirit, I am the one responsible for the issue and also the one looking to make sure we resolve it to everyone’s delight so we can build the long term and enduring relationships with all bloggers.

          I look forward to hearing from you and will be working late tonight to respond.

          Drew
          drew@melissaanddoug.com

  2. 2
    karen M says:

    I agree, there is a lot of work to write up , pitch and advertise for the products. Getting 200 likes is just too much to ask for.

    • 2.1
      Drew says:

      Karen,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  3. 3
    Lisa says:

    You are 100% right Niri. The nerve of them!

    • 3.1
      Drew says:

      Lisa,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

      • 3.1.1
        Lisa says:

        I’m glad it was fixed. It took over a year for my fan page to get to 200 so that is asking for a lot! I agree, FB is more of a personal site – not like twitter where I have over 4,000 followers. Thanks for the email.

  4. 4
    Karla T says:

    Us Philly Social Media Moms have discussed poor pitches and how brands take advantage of bloggers. Thing is, someone, who doesn’t know better, will work their butt off to get those 200 likes, then turn around and get a puzzle from the “Melissa and Dougs” of the brand world. SMH

    • 4.1
      Drew says:

      Karla,

      We love Our Philly Social Media Moms.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  5. 5
    CanCan says:

    Sad, I love their toys and I always thought they would be cool to work with. There should be a name for this. Diva Brand Syndrome or something.

    • 5.1
      Drew says:

      CanCan

      We can! We are very good to work with.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  6. 6
    Candace says:

    Ugh! Everything about this pitch is awful. Great post! Will help spread the word.

    • 6.1
      Drew says:

      Candace,

      Our apologies. The pitch wording was off.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  7. 7
    Lisa says:

    Insanity. Plain and simple. Megalomania and narcissism come to mind as well.

    • 7.1
      Drew says:

      Lisa,

      Ouch!!!

      Our apologies – my mother would disown me.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  8. 8

    I’m with you mama! Tweeting now!

    • 8.1
      Drew says:

      Kelly,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  9. 9
    sarahviz says:

    Good for you for speaking out. You’re right, it’s utterly ridiculous.

    • 9.1
      Drew says:

      Sara,

      Our apologies. And we appreciate everyone speaking out.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  10. 10

    Couldn’t agree with you more! I posted it myself, because I misunderstood it. Then I reread it and said “screw that, I’m not doing that to my readers” and pulled it.

    • 10.1
      Drew says:

      Smart Spending,

      We re-read it too – and see the issue.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  11. 11
  12. 12
    Bay says:

    That’s insane! I’m not sure I can get 200 people to like me, nevertheless someone else ;-)

    • 12.1
      Drew says:

      Bay,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  13. 13
    @pluslily says:

    This is seriously madness! Good for you for writing this and calling them out on it. I got this email too and just ignored it.

    • 13.1
      Drew says:

      @pluslilly,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  14. 14
    Sherry says:

    Wow, I thought it was bad when they’d just send a super cheapy $1 sample and expect the moon when you did the review, but this takes the cake. I hope Melissa & Doug will reconsider.

  15. 15
    Jules says:

    It is VERY sad….we LOVE Melissa and Doug toys around here. They are the first thing I go for when toy shopping. It’s sad though…I don’t even have 200 FB followers, how/why would I get that many for them???!! LOL

    • 15.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      I buy them for many gifts as well – the quality does speak volumes – I sure wish the rest followed suit.

  16. 16
    Mom101 says:

    I am desperately trying to see this from the brand’s point of view…and failing.

    I have no doubt that they receive hundred and hundreds of requests from small bloggers to “review” their products, and this is their way of trying to give them an opportunity to do so. The problem is, they shouldn’t lump influential bloggers (say, Mommy Niri?) into the mix if you’ve already proven an ability to influence purchase decisions.

    The other problem: it’s a terrible idea. 200 likes? It’s almost like they don’t really want anyone to do it. I imagine them thinking, “Sure, I’ll get you home, Dorothy. First, bring me the hat of the Wicked Witch…”

    • 16.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      The biggest thing is I think it is setting up anyone for failure – hats off to a blogger who can get 200 someone(s) to like a page – because I sure would love to learn how to.

    • 16.2
      Drew says:

      Mom101,

      You are correct and thanks for your note.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  17. 17
    Jodi says:

    Niri – I thought the same thing this morning when I saw this. Obviously, they just don’t get it.

  18. 18
    Amanda says:

    Ironically, you’re also giving them free pr consulting now. here’s hoping they can turn it around and get their perspective more in line with reality.

    • 18.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      I am so ok with them taking that “advice” for free – though it is not what to do, but what they should not be doing.

    • 18.2
      Drew says:

      Amanda,

      That’s a good call out and here’s what we’re doing.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  19. 19

    No, they don’t get it.

    They demonstrated that already a couple of years ago when some of their products were recalled. There was a lot of confusion about which ones were recalled and whether the products in Canada (where the recall happened) were the same as the ones in the United States (not recalled) — i.e. were the ones in the US not recalled because they weren’t toxic or because US regulations aren’t as tight.

    In any case, people had questions and they went to twitter and e-mail to get them answered. Melissa and Doug kept pumping out the 25% tweets, but never responded to the tweets that were asking questions about the recalled products. People just wanted to ensure their children were safe and they were being ignored.

  20. 20
    Nicole says:

    They have no idea what real stats for social marketing is apprealtly. Im no marketing expert but for example. I had 525 likes on my FB fan page. I asked my fans to like a pic on a link about 3 times over a week period. I got 7 likes on the pic, 5 were people I knew and I lost about 20 fans over that time period…go figure.

    • 20.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Nicole – yes – the bigger picture of annoying our fans/readers is skipped.

    • 20.2
      geekbabe says:

      yeah but how many new bloggers will understand just how hard it is to drive fans to a facebook page, let alone to get 200 of them to also leave a comment?

      Lots of new bloggers getting their family & friends to like & comment on that facebook page but falling short of the required 200 still garners this company loads of free PR.

      • 20.2.1
        Drew says:

        Geekbabe,

        It is hard and we understand.

        Our apologies.

        The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

        If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

        Drew

  21. 21
    jerthebanker says:

    I agree with you 100% and hope that they are in a boardroom tomorrow reviewing this discussing in positive terms “OK we messed up, this a new type of media for us, how do we fix it and not make this mistake again”

    So what happnes if you get 200 comments on this post? (Just saying)

  22. 22

    Excellent post and a spot-on opinion. I’ve never been one for the review/giveaway game and it’s things like this that galvanize my decision to not partake in them.

    Perhaps the company wanted to make sure the blogger had reach before they shipped product all over but that attention to the bottom line is insulting and degrading those who could otherwise be fantastic ambassadors for their brand.

    I feel bad for any blogger who makes the push to jump over this ridiculously high hurdle for their grossly devaluing their worth and their time.

    • 22.1
      Drew says:

      Greg,

      Our apologies. Thanks for your post.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  23. 23
    Sky says:

    Plus, by asking our fans to write on their wall, it’s in violation of FB’s TOS.

    • 23.1
      Drew says:

      Sky,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review. There is no requirement to write on the wall.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

      • 23.1.1
        deb@lagniappemarketing says:

        you know, Drew you’ve spewed that apology throughout these comments.. perhaps you should have READ the pitch before it was sent out??? Apology not withstanding the error from a marketing standpoint is unacceptable.. I’m glad the bloggers, particularly Niri picked up on it. Next time, be more diligent.

  24. 24
    bonggamom says:

    I agree, that’s an epic marketing fail on Melissa & Doug’s part.

    • 24.1
      Drew says:

      Bongamom,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  25. 25

    terrible all around. thanks for sharing and urging others to give their thoughts as well.

    • 25.1
      Drew says:

      Anna,

      Our apologies. And we appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  26. 26
    neena says:

    I think you are 100% right!

    • 26.1
      Drew says:

      Neena,

      Thanks for your post.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  27. 27
    Mindy says:

    I absolutely agree with this post and respect that you were able to critique their PR strategies without feeling that you had to dismiss their product altogether. These types of pitches are insulting for all of the reasons you describe. 200 likes is a monstrous number. I feel that my time and my social networking efforts deserve the respect of PR professionals. I am shocked by the number of requests I get to simply share a special for a company – with no review, giveaway, or strong benefit for my blog or my readers involved. Thank goodness some companies recognize the value of bloggers, unlike Melissa and Doug.

    • 27.1
      Drew says:

      Mindy,

      Our apologies. We recognize the value of bloggers and if given the chance, would love the chance to show you and the community.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  28. 28

    Stuff like this is exactly the reason I started charging companies to do reviews and giveaways for them. I roll it into a “marketing package” for them and disclose that it is a sponsored review/giveaway right on the post.

    (PS–I don’t review things on my site that I don’t believe in–even if they want to pay me.)

  29. 29
    Emily says:

    Thank you for voicing your opinion on this.

    I am a blogger in my spare time, but during the day I work PR for a food company. I’m looking at this from a branding point-of-view and what M&D is doing just doesn’t make sense to me. First of all, I understand their want for building their FB fanbase, but this seems like they are “buying” fans. They are attracting fans that are only there to “win” something but may not have any interest in the company. Why not focus on building a loyal fanbase? As someone above said, these fans will probably not be fans after a week or so.

    Second, I don’t think they understand what real PR is. It’s about building a relationship with bloggers and influencers. I like to exchange messages with bloggers on Twitter before ever sending them any sort of pitch to review or giveaway our products. I like to know the people who are supporting our brand. And I like to know how that person really feels about the product.

    I’m shaking my head as to how M&D plans to get any sort of “return” on their “investment” here.

    And I understand your frustration as a blogger. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I intend to share it with my PR community so we can be sure not to make such an epic mistake.

    • 29.1
      Hey Jen says:

      As a blogger, I appreciate that you as a PR person take the time to interact with bloggers and even consumers, because standing back from a consumers perspective, I don’t like to work with companies in any capacity that can’t open the lines of communication with their customer base.

    • 29.2
      geekbabe says:

      something tells me I know you :) and if I’m correct let me say that your approach does indeed build a relationship that will last long after your current promo is over.

      Brands who work with me are companies that I come to regard as family friends & friends of my site & readers.

    • 29.3
      Drew says:

      Emily,

      Thanks for your post.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      If you would like to discuss your thoughts on PR as well, would love to do so.

      Drew

  30. 30
    Sara says:

    Thanks for this – the power of bloggers is often not taken seriously enough and pitches like these are just crazy. I hope we can stand together here and show Melissa & Doug (and others) that there are far better ways to do business.

    • 30.1
      Drew says:

      Sara,

      Thanks for your note. And you are correct. We appreciate our bloggers and I am personally writing to everyone who has posted and will be available to do so when called on.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  31. 31

    Niri, this was a variation of a pitch they sent me as well. It left such a bad taste in my mouth. I get they want to see a return on their investment, but when they are outright robbing us and putting such a tiny value to work, I’m going to have to say NO to Melissa and Doug.

    • 31.1
      Drew says:

      Suzanne,

      We’re listening and thanks for your post.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  32. 32
    Marcia says:

    Agree with you 100%

  33. 33

    Kudos for you for posting this Niri, I totally agree. I also would not fault any blogger for accepting this “challenge” to try to make a connection or build a relationship, I think it is just as important to educate bloggers on what is wrong with this as it is to educate the PR companies.

    So sad when great brands get it SO wrong :(

    • 33.1
      Drew says:

      Kim,

      Our apologies. And we appreciate Niri making this post.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  34. 34

    p.s. thanks for having the courage to write this post~! xoxo

    • 34.1
      Drew says:

      Suzanne,

      We appreciate the post too.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  35. 35

    Like you, I love Melissa and Doug toys…but this policy is ludicrous. Many of us have the same friends, many of whom have already liked the companies we…like. 200 likes is a ridiculous expectation even if you were getting paid to do it. With actual money.

    NO ONE is going to get 200 people to like M&D *and* leave a comment saying, “I liked you because ___ told me to!” Unless they are just spammy followers, in which case they’re no good anyways.

    • 35.1
      Drew says:

      Christina,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review. It’s not our policy.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  36. 36

    I agree with you 110%! There are so many brands that really are taking advantage. I don’t think they get that this is WORK for many of us… the way we pay our bills and put food on the table. We are not salaried like they are, or traditional journalists are. We get paid when we do work… and typically, we do a lot of work to write a perfectly honest review or advertorial….

    Kudos to you for posting this. I hope they see their errors, and think about how they work with bloggers in a way that will benefit all parties involved!

  37. 37
    Crystal says:

    I completely agree that this was a poor shot at bloggers. I initially posted a blurb on my blog only about the products with the understanding that I would receive a product to review. That I could handle-I did NOT do the crazy FB shoutout request. After seeing the hub-bub-a-loo that they had created online I contacted the company with my displeasure in this promotion. I let them know that by asking bloggers to do free PR was NOT a way to build relationships or work with quality sites. I am still slightly confused, but the person from Melissa & Doug that I have been in contact with is new and I’m sure heavily overwhelmed at this point!! I do not know who started this promo at their company, but the person I talked to seemed very eager to rectify the situation and save face. Just when I was about to delete everything and give up, he is sending me the products to review without a Facebook shoutout or any other stipulations and has declared to me his intention of building relationships with bloggers. I made sure to kindly let him know that they were doing a very poor job of it and more than 90% of the bloggers that I have come in contact with today refuse to participate because of this. I could almost see him blanching across the web at this fact as I am guessing they were not expecting such a response!! I think this is a lesson learned for all. Someone should officially publish a PR/Blogger relationship handbook!! :)

    • 37.1
      Mom101 says:

      I’d just like to take issue with one statement here – PR is, by definition, free. So the bloggers who write stories about M+D toys actually are building a relationship. Respectable blogs write about what interests their readers, and don’t demand compensation for editorial coverage.

      In this case however, the problem is that the balance is off. The brand benefits more than the blog does.

      Social media outreach would be more effective if the PR folks simply put themselves in a publisher’s shoes.

    • 37.2
      Drew says:

      Crystal,

      Thanks for reaching out to me earlier. It gives us a chance to resolve this to everyone’s happiness, which is always our goals.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  38. 38
    Gena says:

    Wow Niri! This is just so sad. :(

    • 38.1
      Drew says:

      Gena,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  39. 39
    Natalie z says:

    No stones being thrown from me…I think that some companies believe bloggers just want free stuff. However, providing a quality site involves expenses and time that companies are unaware of.

    • 39.1
      Drew says:

      Natalie,

      Thanks for your post.

      Our apologies. We want to build relationships with all of our bloggers.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  40. 40
    phxbne says:

    ick. I read a lot of blogs and enter a lot of giveaways – but rarely ones that require a Facebook like…..

    • 40.1
      Drew says:

      Phxbne,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  41. 41
    shelly says:

    I wonder, does that violate any Facebook rules? I know for giveaways Facebook does not allow “liking” being a mandatory entry or posting on a wall for one either now. That is a lot of expectations before you ever get your hands on the product!

    • 41.1
      Linz says:

      I was just about to post this– if you can’t have “liking” the page as a giveaway entry, maybe this is their way of getting more facebook fans? I think it’s pretty underhanded. They could just as easily ask bloggers to request that people show them some love on Facebook (but not as a contest entry)… not a good way of doing business!

      • 41.1.1
        Mom101 says:

        Liking the page is not the mechanism for entry. Because the likers are not the ones who are entering. So it seems within the rules to me.

      • 41.1.2
        Drew says:

        Linz,

        Our apologies. That was the intent.

        The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

        If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

        Drew

    • 41.2
      Drew says:

      Shelly,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  42. 42
    Catalina says:

    I agree with 100% Niri! Brands that don’t get social media will continue to trail far behind the ones that do.

    • 42.1
      Drew says:

      Catalina,

      Thanks for your post.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  43. 43
    Storm says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post – I absolutely agree 100%! There are some really great pitches out there, but then there are others that are just out of control.

    • 43.1
      Drew says:

      Storm,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  44. 44

    This irks me to no end. Do they ever know how much WORK it is for a blogger to bring them 200 likes? Not to mention what a selfish idea it is anyway. How did they plan to track it. How do they expect the BLOGGER to track it… by stalking their page to see how many people liked their page because of their rules?

    Plus, I really love how they try to get around the FB promotion rules by saying at the end of their post: *Please stay within the Facebook Promotion Rules by ASKING your audience to come by our Facebook Page to Like Us and leave a post on our wall telling us from which blog they came. It can not be mandatory for them to do this in order to enter your giveaway. The entry form for the sand play toys giveaway will be on your blog.

    That’s rich.

    • 44.1
      Drew says:

      Melissa,

      We do know and appreciate how much work it takes and thank you for the efforts. It is not mandatory to like us on FB.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  45. 45

    That is such a bummer. I have yet to do reviews/sponsorships on my site, but even I can see what is incredibly wrong about this. I guess I’m glad my kids are almost fully grown out of Melissa & Doug toys.

    • 45.1
      Drew says:

      Jen,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  46. 46

    I love Melissa and Doug products too, but this makes me sad. I recently started to follow them on twitter and “liked” them on FB, but had to unlike and unfollow b/c of the never ending promotional updates and tweets. Its one thing if you’re a new brand trying to get off the ground. Their social media strategy is all wrong (IMHO) and feels almost desperate. Thanks for posting!

    • 46.1
      Drew says:

      Sharon,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  47. 47
    jr911 says:

    I am not a review blogger, but I can certainly say that I’d NEVER accept terms like this from their company. You’re right….you’re doing all their advertising and PR to not even be guaranteed a review or giveaway. Sounds like someone needs to give a swift kick in the butt to their marketing people….what kind of a moron seriously thinks that is acceptable to do to review bloggers?

    • 47.1
      Drew says:

      Jr911,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  48. 48

    This is all kinds of terrible….great post!

    • 48.1
      Drew says:

      Tammi,

      Our apologies. And we appreciate the feedback.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  49. 49
    Hey Jen says:

    I don’t really know anything about this company, but I can safely say that I would definitely not work with them if those were the terms they were asking.

    Stumbled!

  50. 50
    Dee Brun says:

    I think this is a riot…a sad sad riot…Oh lordy did they get it wrong…but in a way a good thing…now that they have got it SOOO wrong…maybe others will know better on how to get it Right…

    Great post! Cheers

  51. 51

    I got this pitch and immediately refused it. I then pitched to them my idea and they went for it. I’ve never had a problem with working with them in the past but I blame this issue on the “new guy” Maybe he’s thinking “out of the box” and got caught up in a new idea. I’m sure there are bloggers that went for it. I love Melissa and Doug and reviewed many things that weren’t sponsored. Will I continue to love Melissa and Doug, YES. This one bump in the road isn’t going to hurt them.

    • 51.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Just a note – I was not pitched this – but read the pitch link someone tweeted. Sigh – they don’t love me back to even pitch me ;) I have no doubt that the company is fabulous – else why would they make such wonderful products. I do believe calling out a bad pitch is important though. In fact this was so off the mark they needed to see how much. I wrote about this pitch only in hopes of stopping more pitches from other brands getting similar ideas and also for M&D to stop poor pitches from tarnishing their amazing brand.

      • 51.1.1
        Kathy says:

        Mommy Niri,

        Thank you for your honest and candid post about the recent M&D blogger outreach campaign. I have been watching the recent activity on their page unfold on behalf of one of our educational toy clients in amazement. They went from 5K to 20K in one day thanks to the efforts of many social media outlets. There is much conversation in the mom blogger space about being “pitched” the right way. In an attempt to understand what you mean by that I would welcome a conversation with you so as to not be in the same position M&D is in. Our client has amazing award-winning toys and games and I know, they would welcome the mom blogger community to get to know them better. Would you be willing to have a conversation with me so as to direct them to the “appropriate” way to engage in this space? Let me know. I really appreciate your perspective.

    • 51.2
      Drew says:

      Melinda,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  52. 52
    Sharon says:

    I’m truly shocked. 200 likes? 200? Seriously? I would love to have been a fly on the wall for the conversation that happened to come to that number.

    • 52.1
      Drew says:

      Sharon,

      Thanks for your post.

      Karen,

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  53. 53
    Lindsay says:

    Wow – Reviews/giveaways are already a lot of work considering the compensation is usually nothing more than product (and rightfully so for a non-biased review) but to make us actually have to prance around and promote your company just to have the PLEASURE of doing a review (more free advertising) for your company? I’m NOT okay with that. I will not be doing any reviews for Melissa & Doug in any way until this is completely resolved.

    • 53.1
      Drew says:

      Lindsay,

      Thanks for your post, and our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      I want to reassure you of how valuable your work is to us.

      Drew

  54. 54
    Jacqui says:

    I’ve worked with a lot of brands and have NEVER come across something like this. I find it discouraging to see a company try to take advantage of bloggers who really do SO much work as it is. Like you, I definitely don’t look down on those who will jump through hoops like this, heck, I did when I first started out. Now, being part of various SM groups, I know what my worth is and I will hold out for a company who values what I can do for them.

    Thank you for this post! You are fantastic to speak out against this!

    • 54.1
      Drew says:

      Jacqui,

      Our apologies. We appreciate all of the comments and thank you for posting.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  55. 55

    Thank you for drawing attention to this. As a relatively new blogger, and one that is only beginning to research blogging as a job, I appreciate you confirming my suspicions that this is a next to impossible goal and something I’m not willing to do at this time. It’s difficult to know how to choose sometimes, and I appreciate bloggers like you that will share the truth with the little up and comers. :)

    • 55.1
      Drew says:

      Improperly,

      Our apologies. And welcome to the world of blogging :)

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  56. 56
    Tiffany G. says:

    This is one reason why I rarely do reviews on my blog anymore. So many businesses want us to jump through hoops before they “allow” us to review their product. I understand that they want to get the most out of it and should choose blogs carefully. However, asking so much and then giving so little doesn’t offer much incentive. There have been companies who emailed me about reviews and put it in a way that seems like they are doing me a favor by allowing me to write about their product. It’s hard to just grin and write back, “no thanks”. On a rare occasion, I will find a company who really values the customer opinion and has a higher level of appreciation for those that take the time to promote and give an honest review. For some it is all about the money… for others, it is about offering a good product.

    • 56.1
      Drew says:

      Tiffany,

      Our apologies. Thanks for your post. We value you and your contributions to Melissa & Doug and would like the opportunity to work together.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  57. 57
  58. 58

    Let’s hope some clueless intern dreamed this one up and didn’t run it by the top folks at M&D.

    • 58.1
      Drew says:

      Nicole,

      Thanks for your post.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  59. 59

    Honestly? The whole reviews/giveaways/awards on blogs thing that’s so trendy these days has me ill. I’m kind of tired of seeing them on blogs. I’m tired of the hoops you go through. I’m tired of how cheesy they come across. It’s just too much already. A lot of blogs take on this weird prostitute vibe and it rubs me the wrong way. What happened to the old school way of doing things?

  60. 60
    Amanda says:

    This is pure and simple lazy marketing… they are taking advantage of bloggers for sure!!!
    I noticed on the one blog she didnt get the 200 likes in time.. and SHE had to apolgize to her contestants ..unreal..

  61. 61
    jerthebanker says:

    OK, I assume someone from M&D is reading this right now and going WTF do we do now??

    Let me make this social media stuff easy for you.

    JOIN THE DISCUSSION NOW!!!

    At least say “we are going to take this feedback and review our policies”

    These forums are built to be 2 way communications. Get in here quick while you still can. Welcome to real time. You can’t send these posts to law to review.

  62. 62

    That is insane! I am just now hitting 200 likes on my own page. It took me months.

    • 62.1
      Drew says:

      Night Owls Perch,

      We understand.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  63. 63
    Alan says:

    Full disclosure: I’m a PR person and a blogger. So I’m responding from both sides. Kind of.

    Couple of people have said they don’t understand why the brand is doing what they’re doing. I do. (At least I have a theory.)

    They’re trying to find out who is influential within the community without reaching out to the community.

    There is value, of course, with brands creating real, of value, relationships with bloggers. But I don’t think it’s best practice, from no matter what POV I’m responding, to make the community do all the work.

    Good social relationships, like all relationships, are based on delivery of mutual benefit. This seems to put too much onus on people to prove they’re worth something.

  64. 64
    Candace says:

    Like you, i have quite a few of their products and am disappointed by their social media approach. This is part of their corporate culture. Just google interviewing at their company and you’ll see that this is how they approach their relationships.

    And this is also their attitude towards press, in general–they were turning all pressawsy at Toy Fair, not just bloggers.

    I had an extensive e-mail conversation with Doug two years ago. He came off very well–very knowledgable and passionate about making children’s toys that are affordable and safe.

    I showed him how mom bloggers had helped build his reputation during the toy scares and put the company at the top of search results.

    Although he seemed to “get it”, I’ve seen too much of the other side–the dismissiveness towards consumers with questions and media.

    I’d hoped they would start to embrace social media and mom influence but I am not entirely surprised to see pitches like this.

  65. 65
    Drew says:

    All,

    Thanks for all of your posts and comments –

    I wanted to respond to this directly, and invite you to reach out to me directly at drew@melissanddoug.com

    The Facebook Likes request for the Sand Toys promotion is an ask – and not a requirement. I have personally been in contact with many bloggers over the past few weeks, morning, noon and night coming up with ideas that appeal to all audiences – and look forward to working with all of you to ensure that we have a program that makes everyone happy.

    I look forward to hearing from you directly.
    Drew

  66. 66

    I am a small blogger, and have been seeing more AND more pitches like this… basically work for free and work hard for a brand and then we ‘might’ throw you a bone.

    I have also seen this in the form of write posts on our blog and show yourself to be an ‘active’ community member before you earn a review. I personally don’t have the time to go to such lengths. I am happy to promote and help a brand, but it is a mutual partnership, not a sweatshop.

    Thanks for posting. It truly is a sad trend.

  67. 67
    Felicia says:

    I think people are misunderstanding what the company is offering.

    You get a product to review no matter what if you mention on your blog the 4 new sets of toys, and ask people to like them on FB.

    THEN if you get 200 of your blog fans to like the page you can giveaway and additional set of toys.

    This isn’t get 200 fans for us and then you can get a product to review.

    It’s weird the way they word it but I can get why they are doing that as far as for the giveaways. As a newish review blogger I know it’s hard to get a large number of readers to enter an contest. They (the company/pr) don’t have enough to let every blogger out there giveaway a product, doing it this way ensures that the blogs who are getting a ton of traffic are the ones who get the giveaway.

    At the same time, it is a toe in the door so to speak for the upcoming review bloggers to start a working relationship with Melissa and Doug.

    • 67.1
      Drew says:

      Thanks for your post.

      Drew

    • 67.2
      Drew says:

      Felicia,

      Thanks for your post.

      Drew

      • 67.2.1
        Felicia says:

        Welcome. I understand all to well what it’s like to have things misunderstood and watching it blow up.

        Also thank you for correcting the blog post and letting everyone know what’s up.

        • 67.2.1.1
          Nicole K says:

          Felicia,
          You’ve come into the ‘conversation’ late. That is not how the ‘pitch’ was initially worded. It has since been reworded.

          I stand by my opinion that asking for 200 likes is waay too much but it seems that M&D have (for lack of better words) “learned their lesson” and are working to get things straightened out. I feel a bit sorry for the guy who was in charge of the pitch….I’m sure he’s incredibly overwhelmed now. But, live & learn I guess.

          Nicole

        • 67.2.1.2
          Mommy Niri says:

          Hey there Felicia, thanks for stopping by. As regards to the “blow up” aspect – it did deserve to blow up or the amended pitch you saw would not have been created. Look above for the original one that I just posted in the update. 200 likes is still ridiculous. Having said that I do appreciate Drew working to try and change things but I would not go so far as to say it was misunderstood. The wording is clear that all of us understood the same thing. We can move ahead but let’s not pretend the past did not happen.

          • 67.2.1.2.1
            Nicole K says:

            “Having said that I do appreciate Drew working to try and change things but I would not go so far as to say it was misunderstood. The wording is clear that all of us understood the same thing.”

            I’m glad somebody finally said it. I agree. I’m glad it’s fixed now but not sure it was just a matter of “misunderstanding” the wording.

  68. 68

    Just feel so frustrated that many PRs don’t do their homework before pitching. I was a newspaper journalist before blogging, and the number of PRs who rang and asked: “How often does your publication come out?” It was called The Sunday Mail – how often did they think?!!!

    • 68.1
      Drew says:

      Donna,

      Thanks for your post and thoughts – they are greatly appreciated.

      Our apologies.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  69. 69

    Oh, no! They so obviously don´t get it in so many ways!
    Aside from the fact that the blogger approach is completely offensive, it´s is just plain ANNOYING for the 27K+ people that already Like their FB wall. Last thing I want is to see a whole bunch of “So and so sent me here” M&D’s Page if I’m following them! Bad Facebook etiquette.

    LIke you, I really adore their products, but this will definitely make me shun from giving them any “free” WOM promotion. Not deserving

  70. 70

    This is very disappointing to hear of from such a good brand as Melissa & Doug. Thanks for writing about this, Niri. It doesn’t come off as negative.

  71. 71

    This is just aweful. I hate when brands do stuff like this and expect bloggers to work hard to promote their brand. UGH. There are good PR people out there and this just ruins it for people. Thank you for bringing this to light and I was so glad to meet you at BBCBOS!

    • 71.1
      Drew says:

      Eve,

      We are not asking bloggers to promote for free –

      Happy to communicaten with you directly to clarify.

      Drew

      • 71.1.1

        (not being rude here but)If not for free then what are you asking exactly? We’d all love to know.

        • 71.1.1.1
          Drew says:

          We are asking for the oppoortunity to send our Sunny Patch Sand Toys to bloggers so they can do a review. There is no requirement to do this – and this is where the confusion resides in the wording of the blog post, which we have changed as I can see how it could have been misunderstood.

          Additionally, for those bloggers that want to run a contest, we are willing to offer additional items – i.e. for every 200 fans they can encourage to like us on Facebook, we will provide a prize to the winner – so if you were able to encourage 400 fans, we would provide 2 additional items. If there is a better way for you to track – let us know.

          We are open and want to hear from all of you – great ideas you have to really create a program that works for you.

          Please reach out to me at drew@melissaanddoug.com

          Drew

        • 71.1.1.2
          Drew says:

          Please email me and I will clarify further –

          drew@melissaanddoug.com

          Drew

  72. 72
    Kathryn says:

    This is such a travesty. What really upsets me is that I’m sure there are some bloggers who value themselves so cheaply that they will go through all this work and provide all this free advertising for a $10 toy. It’s tragic to think that they feel their time is worth so little and their participation lets companies think that promotions like this are acceptable.

    Reviews and giveaways are a HUGE amount of work, and I charge for doing a giveaway without the review, because quite frankly, I feel I am entitled for compensation when I go through the time to write a post, run the giveaway, promote the giveaway, draw the winner, verify her entry and collect the information! Sad to see this from a company that has been so respected and acclaimed in the past abuse bloggers this way.

  73. 73
    Heather says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…if a brand wants to engage with mom bloggers they should hire one to consult BEFORE they unleash their PR firms. So so so many PR firms are clueless and this just proves that. I feel bad for good reps who might get lumped in with this stupidity.

  74. 74
    Jennifer says:

    That is ridoinkulous! wow! insulting and unattainable anyways

  75. 75
    Kristen says:

    Though I also love many of their products and buy them for my own children, I am another professional toy reviewer who has had many negative experiences with this company’s PR strategy. I have been rudely shooed away from their Toy Fair booth more than once. I was embarrassed at first, thinking I’d intruded in a private meeting, but that feeling passed when I realized that journalists are not welcome there. I’m well aware that some brands don’t need to pander for coverage, but that’s no excuse for being unkind and unprofessional. I just don’t cover them. If they don’t need the coverage and won’t help journalists who need PR support, they won’t get coverage from me. It’s not worth the hassle.

  76. 76
    Heather says:

    tweeted to @melissaanddoug and got this response – @HomeToHeather No, there is no LIKE requirement! If you’d like to do a review just email Bloggers@MelissaAndDoug.com

  77. 77
    SamiJoe says:

    I completely agree and have retweeted! (@MixtressSamiJoe) One of my favourite companies too…or so i thought!

    • 77.1
      Drew says:

      Sami,

      Our apologies.

      Your faith in us is very important.

      The blog entry was incorrectly worded in a confusing manner. There are no “Like” requirements to write a review.

      If you are interested in doing a review, please email me directly at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      Drew

  78. 78
    Jenny says:

    Well I guess you poked them where it hurts because they fixed whatever they said. I don’t even see that on their site. :P But seriously it’s ’cause of pitches like that I email them back and say “I’ll be taking x amount of money from you before I post anything you send me” :P I’m evil like that.

    The whole review bloggers phenom is getting ridiculous and I’m glad I pulled out of it. I don’t do anything for anyone unless I get paid. I have a rent to make. I don’t work for free and no one else should either!

  79. 79

    Well said, Niri, well said.

  80. 80
    KnitPurlGurl says:

    As a review blogger, I hate to see these blatant abuses of bloggers’ influence. And what’s worse, they prey on primarily new bloggers who want to gain recognition for their brand. Recently, I’ve had numerous companies contact me (mostly PR firms representing brands) asking me to tweet, update on FB, blog, and whatnot X number of times for a *chance* to win the product they represent. How stupid would I have to be to spend hours upon hours of my time and energy promoting a brand that I’ve never even personally reviewed for a chance to win it. Why not call it a giveaway then? It’s certainly not related to product reviews. And to link these practices to the term, product review, is misleading. Let me get this straight? You want me to promote and promote for a chance to either win the item or receive the item and then review and promote a giveaway?! Ridiculous. My time and talents are worth more than that. Brands deserve to promoted by bloggers who honestly try out the products and provide reviews based on their experiences. Anything else is just not credible.

  81. 81

    (Apologies in advance: long comment. Forgive me taking up so much space here, but tried posting to the M&D blog and my comment hasn’t shown up.)

    Drew – it seems clear you’re a representative of Melissa & Doug. At least, I believe that’s what one is supposed to assume, although you haven’t actually identified yourself.

    You’re doing the right thing by coming here to comment in this thread. That’s a good start. Might I suggest a few extra steps to really help clear things up:

    1. Apologize. Your team have done a good job of this on Twitter. A simple “we’re sorry” goes a long way;

    2. Clearly identify yourself as a representative of the company. This is no time to hide behind a semi-transparent online avatar. All the readers of this blog have right now is a first name (Drew) and an embedded link to the M&D website. How can we know you actually speak for the company?

    3. You seem willing to discuss this one-on-one with individuals. That’s great. So provide contact details. That way, the people interested in contacting you will actually be able to… you know… contact you.

    4. Provide a full explanation. Rather than just popping in with short form responses to individual comments here, I’m sure everyone would welcome a short, clear explanation of what the goof was and how you’ve fixed things. I would hope and assume you’ve contacted Mommy Niri directly by now, with a full explanation. I bet she wouldn’t mind if you were to post the explanation as a comment here. You might even get a follow-up blog post about it.

    5. Overwriting the original blog post once you revised the giveaway details was a bad idea and would not be considered “best practice”. Transparency is all out here in scary ethical purist social media land. The Internet never forgets and anyone with a passing knowledge of how to search Google’s cache can still see the original post.

    Whatever. ‘Tis done. The best thing you can do now is at least acknowledge the glitch at source. You’ve freely acknowledged it on Twitter – why not add a simple disclaimer to that blog post to say “yup, we goofed. Sorry about that. Never intended to buy Likes…” or something of the sort.

    By next week, all this will be ancient history. The best you can do is to ensure this ends up as a case study of how a smart, Net-savvy firm saved itself from a complete online meltdown by acting fast and doing all the right things (rather than a case study on social media marketing gone bad).

    • 81.1
      Busy Mom says:

      You should invoice them for this. (Seriously though, great advice, I hope they read it.)

    • 81.2
      Drew says:

      Michael,

      Thanks for your post – I am part of the team at Melissa Doug, responsible for digital commerce.

      Regarding the post, unfortunately it was not properly worded and we should have done a better job clarifying. In re-reading it, we erred by not making it clear that the items for review were sent from us for doing the review, but to host contests, we were asking for additional support. The two got blended into one message. This was the glitch at the source.

      The original blogpost was confusing and is now being revised. That’s why we made the changes at this time.

      The best way to contact me is via email at drew@melissaanddoug.com

      In that spirit, I am the one responsible for the issue and also the one looking to make sure we resolve it to everyone’s delight so we can build the long term and enduring relationships with all bloggers.

      Drew

      • 81.2.1
        Michael O'Connor Clarke says:

        Many thanks, Drew.

        All – take a read through the way Drew is responding in his comments here and on Twitter. Time for a little benefit of doubt, I believe. I’m willing to believe that the original blog post was really poorly worded but that this was in error.

        I never saw an email pitch about this, so can’t be 100% sure if there’s more to the story, but based on Drew’s actions, I’m inclined to think this was all a giant goof and the intentions were likely honorable. In apologizing and directly reaching out to everyone who is commenting to try to explain the goof, I have to give Drew and the M&D team credit.

        Heck – even if they were misguidedly trying to “buy” Likes (and I’m not convinced they were), I think we’re better to judge them by the many, many examples of good behavior than one screw up.

        All of us with kids who’ve enjoyed the Melissa & Doug toys would, I know, attest to the qualities of the brand. They seem like genuinely good people making neat things. So even if they goofed, let’s cut them a little slack here.

        Full disclosure: I have no relationship with the company other than the fact that my kids happened to own a couple of their toys when they were much younger. Drew contacted me on Twitter and I emailed him with some thoughts. He took the time to call me and we’ve talked through the whole mess.

        I still can’t say I know what the thinking was behind the original post. None of us here can. But I’m certainly convinced they’re doing all they can now to ameliorate what was either an idea that no one thought through properly, or, more likely, just a really unfortunate choice of words.

    • 81.3
      ThePapaPost says:

      Michael – very well said.

  82. 82
    Nancy says:

    Niri you are so right in this situation, 200 likes ridiculous, being asked to get fans before you get to try the product- just plain silly. But, I just wanted to chime in from a brand perspective- I have always maintained that I WILL NOT pay for a review, and I still won’t. I don’t pay the NYT’s for one or Real Simple etc. How can the review be unbiased if I pay for it, it is then an ad and not as useful. That being said, I value creative and insightful bloggers. I love working with and will pay for good contests, driving engagement, and other interactions with your readers. There are some wonderful bloggers out there and Mommy Niri you my dear are one of them! Go get ‘em girl!

    • 82.1
      Drew says:

      Nancy,

      Thanks for your post. Bloggers are very important to us and I appreciate you providing your feedback.

      Drew
      drew@melissaanddoug.com

    • 82.2
      Mommy Niri says:

      Nancy, I could not agree more. I never accept compensation for reviews (but I also feel those who do have their own reasons). Once money is exchanged it becomes a sponsorship/ambassadorship etc. Creating intelligent campaigns take time, that is what makes them work.The relationship needs to be equal and getting 200 likes is ridiculous for anyone to get. I consider myself in the know and work hard on my fanpage and it is still a challenge.

  83. 83
    Angela says:

    Way to go Niri :)

  84. 84
    DadStreet says:

    This is either a joke or someone needs to be fired at Melissa and Doug. I’m going to DM them right now. I like this company too much to let one or several individuals screw their entire marketing side of the house. What a joke!! LOL LOL

  85. 85

    This is very interesting to me as a manufacturer. I have not run into any crazy situations like this so far in the 3 years since my product was released. Most of my work with bloggers has gone very well except for poor grammar and spelling plus the ones who simply copy and paste text from my site. The way I look at it, I’m providing a product + shipping for the review and a product + shipping for the giveaway. The least I deserve is an original thought.

    As for M&D, I also love their products, but must say that at a recent trade show, my booth was directly across from theirs. They were not the friendliest to their neighbors, but were racking up the orders from retailers. I have heard from a retailer that M&D can be very difficult to work with from that side, too. I hope that they realize that they need to concentrate on making good, safe products and treating people nicely and fairly.

  86. 86
    Nancy Horn says:

    Oh my god! I’ve been reviewing products for over 4 years for major sites (we’re talking millions of page views) and when I tried to find a pr/marketing person at the toy fair this year I was told there wasn’t one. They basically ran away from me. I can’t believe you got that pitch. I work for smaller sites now, but ones I have more pull at and I guess I’m too small for notice. They can keep their free puzzle or whatever they are pitching.

  87. 87

    Aw, that’s really sad. I love Melissa & Doug. They truly missed the boat.

  88. 88

    Awful, awful, awful! Thank you for sharing this! I will share with others.

  89. 89

    So what does 187 comments, 100 tweets and 105 facebook likes (and counting) on this post get you? ;)

    • 89.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Well them pulling that campaign I hope. Respect would be a nicer aim but I won’t hold my breath

      • 89.1.1
        Drew says:

        Mommy Niri,

        Thanks for gettting my replies back to all –

        Really appreciate the opportunity to apologize and hope that we can make things right.

        Sent you an email earlier today. Please reach out to me as I would like your help developing our blogger program.

        Drew
        drew@melissaanddoug.com

  90. 90
    Chele says:

    I thought that most companies were moving towards respecting that what we do is work. We are marketing for them and working just like a person working in a cubicle (mostly cheaper than someone they would hire to come in and do what we do!) I love this company as well but good for you for noticing and speaking up. Thank you for that! One step forward, two steps back. So sad.

  91. 91

    I can’t believe the angry attitude about this (more the comments than the post). This, to me, looks like what would happen if my mom got involved in reaching out to bloggers for her brand if she had one. It’s just laughable, really. I’m guessing M&D powers that be are about my mom’s age and probably couldn’t even find Facebook for two years because they kept googling “The My Face”. Even before I got to “Drew’s” clueless comments, I thought this sounded like a case of social media naivete. “Drew”, with his vague identity and non-pertinent responses, confirmed this. It’s not a malicious dig at the hard work of bloggers, people. They just don’t get it. They don’t understand the conversion rate for social media currency, so their efforts to trade in that marketplace are highly inappropriate.

    I’m no blogger, but it seems pretty obvious to me that if you get a ridiculous offer, you just refuse. Why get angry and get your panties in a wad?

    So, ok, I guess the point of this post was to get M&D’s attention that they are floundering here. Hopefully that was accomplished, but taking offense at their overtures is silly.

    • 91.1
      Drew says:

      Stephanie –

      Would love to chat – please email me to set aside some time.

      Drew
      drew@melissaanddoug.com

    • 91.2
      Mommy Niri says:

      Ahh Stephanie – when I wrote this post it took my all to keep this post without sarcasm or meanness and I really would love the comments (all) to follow suit. If you get poor customer service at a store you love do you stop going there or do you let them know that behavior is unacceptable (because you know at times they just don’t realize it)? I love the company and I am hoping that the pitch was made in poor judgement. This is to highlight and educate and trust me it is educational for all involved – bloggers and brands.

      If you feel this conversation is not worth your time, then I will thank you for your time and hope you for your time and trust you find a blog more in line with your views. I am of the ilk that voicing thoughts, respectfully, is what a blog is about – at least what mine is. I appreciate you stopping by.

      • 91.2.1

        I thought my first sentence clarified that my comment was more about the other comments, than it was about your post. And my last sentence acknowledged your original intent (and I didn’t mean any sarcasm in it.)

        • 91.2.1.1
          Mommy Niri says:

          Stephanie, I really do appreciate you stopping by. Taking time to read a post is one thing, commenting is another so I value comments. I did want to emphasize though that this conversation was needed.

  92. 92

    Excellent post Niri. I’m a blogger, but I also handle marketing for several brands– including Corolle Dolls. I understand that Melissa & Doug probably gets hundreds of requests for free products a month, but that doesn’t excuse sending this pitch to bloggers.

    Sometimes it is not possible to send a product to every blogger that requests one because there are limited samples or because your client wants a certain minimum traffic number. But bloggers should be treated with respect. They shouldn’t be asked to jump through hoops for a review sample.

    I also think your comment about Toy Fair is important. When I attended Toy Fair in 2010 as a blogger, Melissa & Doug was not welcoming at all. I didn’t even bother to stop by their booth in 2011 as a result.

    But my clients love bloggers, and they went out of their way to invite bloggers to stop by during Toy Fair to see the new products. It’s a wonderful chance to meet some of your favorite bloggers in person and to build a better relationship with them.

    I love Melissa & Doug products, but I don’t love this pitch or the way they’ve treated bloggers at Toy Fair.

  93. 93
    Kathleen says:

    The thing that gets me about PR pitches from companies trying to get more Facebook fans is that it seems that liking a company to win a prize violates FB’s guidelines.

    http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php

    I thought this article was really helpful in explaining it too.
    http://www.out-smarts.com/2011/05/25/what-you-need-to-know-about-facebooks-promotion-guidelines/

  94. 94
    Candace says:

    Just to take the conversation out to the general for a moment, if you take out facebook ads, your average cost per new fan/”like” is about $1.07.

    I am in the camp of not charging for reviews.

    Marketing, however, is a different story. Driving new fans to your facebook page is marketing.

    It is nice to see Drew here, trying to address concerns. I hope this marks a turnaround for Melissa and Doug in their blogger relations.

    (I don’t think it is about them being “old fogeys” as someone suggested. I think Melissa & Doug are both fairly young and many of their hires are in their 20s and 30s.)

    I still think they make great products–they just have had issues with transparency and media relations. I hope they understand that this is a brand about which many online and social media-savvy moms are very passionate. Moms want a company that makes safe wooden toys at affordable prices to succeed. As to the safety issues raised earlier, after speaking with Doug at the time I am convinced it was less of a safety issue and more of that transparency issue again.

    Many of us recommend Melissa & Doug products in gift guides and to our “face to face” friends based on items we have bought ourselves. Melissa & Doug are in the unique position of not even having to win over blogging moms–just being respectful in communications with bloggers and giving us greater opportunities to share new products would produce excellent results.

  95. 95
    Christine says:

    I’m a PR person by profession and this just makes me laugh at the naivety that a company can have when choosing a PR firm to run their blogger campaigns. This is not only ridiculous but also highly unlikely that anyone would take them up on their offer. If they do, then they shouldn’t be blogging.

  96. 96
    Amy says:

    This is a testament to why posts like this need to be written. You made a difference! Proud of you, girl.

  97. 97

    Coming late to this but bravo for airing this. I’ve often wondered about working with Melissa and Doug; Max’s therapists have suggested using various toys of their for years. The p.r. person I met at a recent event, however, did not seem very into the into of working together, and I just got the sense she considered special needs too niche. That was off-putting. So is this big mishap.

  98. 98

    While I think it is important to write posts such as this to keep bloggers from being taken advantage of, I do want to say that I’ve worked with Melissa and Doug just recently on a review and giveaway in which they sent me $75 worth of products to review (which I love) and that much to give away and I didn’t have to jump through any hoops. I think this was simply a case of a company making a mistake and some of the commenters need to cut them some slack. They are obviously trying to make it right.

  99. 99

    I looked at what their example blogs had done, and their giveaway is actually illegal on FB. They are not allowed to condition entry on people writing/commenting on a wall, or changing their own status. So having them write “I want to win…. on the Melissa and Doug FB wall is illegal. There’s no excuse for a PR firm not knowing this.

    • 99.1
      Amy says:

      Hopefully this post will open eyes to other agencies/brands relating to FB policies and pitches, which is why posts like this are so important. This also shows that bloggers have an incredible voice.

  100. 100

    As always, I am in awe of the honesty and integrity that Niri displays in every single aspect of her life. Not only is she an amazing person, but her tell-it-like-it-is attitude is refreshing and so badly needed in the blogosphere.

    Rather than bashing the company, she simply pointed out what she thought had been done wrong. There are many bloggers that could learn from this. She gave the company space (her own space, I might add) to right the wrong.

    Kudos Niri for having such powerful voice in our online world.

    P.S. I would consider sending an invoice. ;)

    • 100.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Stacie – you humble me. Writing that post was really difficult for me – hate drama online and would rather steer far from it. Although I was frustrated writing it, I worked really hard in keeping the tone respectful. The fact that my friends (including you) still love me after the fact, is important to me.

  101. 101
    BusyDad says:

    Do none of you see that Drew is making the WORST kind of apology? The “sorry, we misworded it and we didn’t mean that at all” cop out? That’s not accepting responsibility. That’s blaming things on lack of caffeine.

    The apology should have gone: Sorry, we were jerks. We now see the error of our ways. Please gibe us another chance.

    Drew’s apology isn’t accepting any responsibility. It’s saying everyone misunderstood them. Which puts the blame BACK on us dumb bloggers.

    Sad.

    • 101.1
      Sugar Jones says:

      Very sad. Pathetic, really.

    • 101.2
      Leigh Ann says:

      But everyone did misunderstand them. Given the uproar, I wonder how many even took the time to read the original posting. If you read it carefully, it did not say what it’s purported to say in this post. I don’t think the apology was a cop out.

    • 101.3
      melanie says:

      I completely agree with you. Just admit it when you are wrong. That’s it. We all screw up and I believe we all are reasonable adults and would accept that apology. I agree that he should have owned up to the mistake.

    • 101.4
      Leigh Ann says:

      @melanie: If you read his apology, you will see that he did own up to the mistake. If we “all are reasonable adults and would accept that apology,” it’s time for everybody to do so. I’m disheartened at the responses here and fail to understand them. The only conclusion I can draw is that people aren’t taking the time to look into the details for themselves–read the original pitch (carefully), look at what he’s posted here, etc. If you do, you find that the company has reacted appropriately and it’s all a matter of misreading the pitch in the first place. This whole thing is making a mountain out of a molehill, and it’s part of why bloggers are sometimes looked down on. This is pack mentality at work.

      • 101.4.1
        Mommy Niri says:

        Hi Leigh Ann

        Thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate you adding your point of view, even if I don’t agree with it. You are welcome to lend your voice to the dialog here but I would need to request that you do so with respect. At the end of the day I am still a blogger and I will not allow bloggers to be called names (pack mentality??). Thank you.

        • 101.4.1.1
          Leigh Ann says:

          The term “pack mentality” is a commonly used phrase that describes the actions and state of mind a group can sometimes exhibit. It’s not name calling. Webster’s has a helpful definition in its “New Words & Slang” section.

          • 101.4.1.1.1
            Candace says:

            The implication of “pack mentality” is one of mindlessness. The connotations are definitely negative.

            I would suggest that what you see here is not a pack mentality but rather a frustration amongst individuals that has built up over time and has found an outlet in this conversation.

            You are entitled to your opinion–but to suggest that the majority here are followers, made vicious by each other’s presence, is definitely an insult.

          • 101.4.1.1.2
            Leigh Ann says:

            @Candace: Mindlessness is more like zombies. Pack mentality is a kind of head-over-heels eagerness to attack. But yes, the connotations are negative. (Still not name calling.)

          • 101.4.1.1.3
            Mommy Niri says:

            Leigh Ann – I am going to ask you again – Please be nice. I will not allow my blog to be a place of disrespect. And yes – subjective as that may sound – I get to decide on my blog.

          • 101.4.1.1.4
            Candace says:

            You are using a label to attack the people involved, rather than discuss the ideas. That fits my definition of “name calling”. Out of respect to Niri who so generously opened her blog to this discussion, I am now going to disengage from hair-splitting over diction.

  102. 102
    BusyDad says:

    gibe, give… see, I can actually blame that one on lack of caffeine.

    • 102.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Jim, the point you make is so valid – it was why in my update I mentioned that the attempts of apology were laced with mis-wording placing onus on the reader of it. In my conversation with Drew on the phone the one advice I did give him was to say sorry. Just sorry they screwed up, not if’s or but’s – an apology.

      I have no doubt that had this post not been up those several tweets to them would have fallen on deaf years and part of me wonders if they are sorry that the pitch was insulting or that they are now in this predicament.

      • 102.1.1

        That was too kind of you to provide that free PR consultation. It’s a little sad that he didn’t listen to your advice and give a heartfelt apology. Instead he placed the blame on us (the bloggers) for misunderstanding him. I hope everyone can see from his email to me that it was “no” misunderstanding. Giving me the possibility of a $15 toy for exposure to my thousands of readers is insulting. I happily went out and purchased the toys myself because my kids shouldn’t be the ones to miss out and I still love their products.

  103. 103

    Hi Niri,

    I’m going to have to agree with BusyDad, his apology was a cop out. It wasn’t a misunderstanding on our part, just poor PR on his part. I don’t know where else to post this but here was his email to me when I followed up after the Time to Play showcase where they were very interested in being reviewed for my road trip, the reps gave me their email addresses and then I got forward to Drew:

    Thanks for reaching out.

    Rob and Valerie forwarded me your email.

    Here’s one way you might be able to help us right away – I would be willing to give you a product – right now we are promoting our Sand Play Toys and Travel is not far behind, which you can offer up as a contest to your audience for Liking us on Facebook –

    The idea would be that for every 200 or more people from your audience that “Likes” us on Facebook, one lucky Fan of yours will get the prize – let’s say it’s a $50-$75 value. We can easily send you images of the product(s) and link(s) to the pages on our website for your article.

    You would link the contest to our Facebook page and your followers would simply post on our wall: I’m a new fan from MOMC – and host an entry form on your site.

    Drew

    *******
    I especially love the part where he says, he would be “willing”

    • 103.1
      Angela says:

      Drew…writing on FB walls for an entry, and requiring a FB LIKE as a mandatory entry, are both against FB rules. I would think by now SOMEONE told you that.

      BTW…thanks for never answering me on Twitter.

      • 103.1.1
        Jenny says:

        is that just a manditory entry of is it ok to be like an “extra entry” option ’cause I’ve seen people doing it that way too.

        • 103.1.1.1
          Mommy Niri says:

          From what I understand, recently it was changed so it could be mandatory to LIKE a page for an entry (someone correct me if I am wrong) but it is never allowed to make people change their status or write on a FB wall for an entry

          • 103.1.1.1.1
            Angela says:

            From what we gathered you could like as a bonus entry but not a mandatory. But no writing on a wall for an entry at all.

          • 103.1.1.1.2
            Angela says:

            You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.
            from FB rules page

      • 103.1.2

        Angela, so happy you pointed this out. Why is it that bloggers are required to keep up with the Facebook rules and regulations and have to instruct the PR reps and companies as to what is acceptable policy and what isn’t? Isn’t that they pay their employees to do, keep up with policy? Yet here we go again, consulting for free?

        • 103.1.2.1
          Cheryl says:

          Exactly…this is what I said in my post above that didn’t make it into this thread. I hit send too fast so I think my followup comment was the only one to make it. It’s the job of every blogger and every company involved w social media to read the rules. Ignorance isn’t an excuse anymore. They should have known better – or hire someone who does.

    • 103.2
      Mommy Niri says:

      Suzanne,

      See that would concern me. Reading all these comments is it quite apparent that there is some history of having this type of attitude to bloggers. In fact Melissa and Doug, if they are smart enough, should be thrilled to be reading all this feedback.

      Kudos to you for following through, I was at Time To Play and since they did not show any interest in continuing a conversation with me I did not bother. I don’t want to have make someone realize the value of relationships.

  104. 104

    Since my tweets and email to Melissa and Doug, I have received a response both on Twitter and via email. The Twitter response does mention that M&D are “sincerely sorry to have upset so many…” I think they are truly trying to make a step in the right direction. There is a email channel open now and we’ll see where that goes, but I’m happy they are making the effort to fix the problem. Even though the apology at first is placing blame on poor wording… they are making an effort that appears to be continually more open to our suggestions. As Niri said, this is a great opportunity for them to make this a positive learning experience.

  105. 105

    My online store is a current retailer for Melissa & Doug. I love their products, triple love their customer service, and I’ll continue to support their business through my business and by being a customer.

    When I see a company that I love and have supported so much falter in this way, it makes me want to go to their board room and shake up their PR/Marketing department with a “WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING?” speech. I’ve noticed that they are doing a lot in social media as of late to promote their business. That’s a good thing. However, they need someone to go in and teach them exactly what it means to have successful campaign that works for everyone.

    HUGE props to you, Niri, for this article. Excellent points, and I agree 100%.

  106. 106
    NYCSingleMom says:

    Wow thanks for posting, this as they were on my list of companies I was going to reach out to becasue we are such fans of the products. What I thought was rude, that at TimetoPlay that the guy told us to contact customer service if we wanted to do a giveaway. It was like pulling teeth. Why bother coming if you are going not want to work with us??

  107. 107
    Ashley Ruzin says:

    Ya I agree, I don’t understand this because this is against FB policy. If a company is going to act like this knowing how hard we bloggers work than it’s obviously not worth it to post for them. I only work with companies that RESPECT us bloggers. Otherwise it’s just a pain in the butt the whole time because they expect too much and if, god forbid, you make a mistake than they never work with you again. I’ve had it happen to me before. Someone had me get 25 people to say my site sent them so I could review for them and in the end their product was worht $10 each and the giveaway prizes were sent 3 weeks after the giveaway ended!

    • 107.1

      I would never do the leg work for a brand in order to do a review for them. They come to us because we are good at what we do. Jumping through hoops to review a product isn’t ok.

  108. 108

    I got here via a Facebook link. First-time reader with no connection to the company being discussed.

    What’s happening here is a misreading of the original post. I read it, and to me, what they were asking was clear: If you’ll help us promote these four products and ask that your readers like us on Facebook, we’ll give you a set of toys. Separately, if you get 200 people to like us, we’ll do a giveaway with you.

    I can see how this could be misunderstood from the way it was worded, but I think simply contacting them personally should have cleared that up.

    I respect that ethical bloggers want to see the product before promoting it, but again, simply asking for clarification may have helped the company understand that point of view. I also agree that 200 followers is next to impossible, but once more, why not address that with the company and give them a chance to respond?

    I appreciate it when bloggers stick up for themselves. (I’m a freelance blogger and writer myself.) But I think this is a simple case of a misreading and the uproar needs to be scaled back. We’re all human. Some people misread the pitch; the company could have been clearer. Done. No big deal. Moving on.

    I also believe the representative’s apology and reaction is appropriate and admirable. If I were he, I would have been tempted to get defensive. He instead took full responsibility and apologized.

    Bloggers do have a lot of power, which was pointed out in this post. We must be careful about how we wield it and remember that everybody’s human.

  109. 109
    Resa says:

    There is so much wrong with their pitch – I’m so glad you have the guts to say something about it. Cheers to you!

  110. 110
    Britton says:

    Yowza! That is really bad, but I am learning a lot from the comments portion. Thanks for sharing this and for following up on the results. Sometimes I see a post about an incident and no follow up about the company’s efforts to make it better.

  111. 111
    Cheryl says:

    I posted this on Facebook but wanted to ask your opinion in case you don’t see the comment…I find this is not only a cheesy way to ask for free advertising but there’s a really, really fine line as to whether the company was trying to get around the new Facebook contest guidelines. Asking for ‘likes’ as the sole way to win something is against the rules — and they skirted this by asking others to get the likes for them. Sneaky…or are they just ill informed about the rules? (https://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php )

  112. 112
    Cheryl says:

    I pressed send quickly as usual—I know that the company didn’t break the rules but I’m just curious as to why an established company would run a contest (in the wrong manner) just to offer up a review. I would think a business would like good quality reviews, not one written by someone who just wanted to win.

  113. 113

    This is exactly why brands should hire social media savvy mom bloggers to help them figure out their social media and blogger outreach strategy. I have always loved Melissa and Doug and did write about them after Toy Fair 2009. But they have very deliberately NOT welcomed bloggers into their world and now are way behind the curve in trying to figure out how to authentically build a facebook presence. It’s too bad and I really hope they overcome this fiasco and learn to not treat bloggers as free PR flacks and instead as partners in building an online extension of their real world products.

  114. 114
    Wendy (aka Sweetie) says:

    This is not directed at anyone, just saying.

    Okay, I agree they probably had poor judgment but maybe you don’t realize how many bloggers are doing the same thing? I see it all of the time. Visit my Facebook page and Like my post, leave a comment, comment or Like my photos. Do you know that is illegal based on Facebook’s policies? Why do bloggers get off the hook? I see even bigger brands doing it too.

    If they had offered the free toy to the blogger to get them 200 Likes that might have more acceptable but to require the toy to be given as a prize to the reader is not acceptable. I had a company argue with me one time because I refused to let them give me a $400 piece of jewelry to giveaway. They didn’t want to give me anything and I am doing all of the work. Yes, it might have brought quick traffic but that’s it so they told me that they could easily find someone else who would want to do it. Fine, go find them.

    This company probably just hasn’t learned what is acceptable today when working with bloggers but there are a gazillion other companies and bloggers who have no clue either.

    • 114.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      There are 2 points Wendy – a condition before a review is simply not appropriate. It is another thing to win a prize but earning to do a review.

      The 2nd point is the 200 likes is a crazy option no matter which way you look at it. That is setting anyone up for failure and they are trying to step around the rules of FB and making bloggers do promotion.

      • 114.1.1
        Leigh Ann says:

        @ Mommy Niri: They did not have a condition to do a review. In the spirit of holding bloggers to the same standards we hold companies, I would at the very least expect refraining from repeating things that have been disproven. Ideally, an apology is due to the company for the misreading and misrepresentation.

        As a blogger myself, I have seen too many bloggers rallying supporters against companies and never acknowledging their own mistakes along the way. If we want to be given the respect afforded traditional media (a point made in this post and in the comments), we must hold ourselves to similar standards. That means respecting restraint, balance and fact checking.

        • 114.1.1.1

          I have to say that I read the original post the same way that Leigh Ann did. Help us promote our Facebook page with your review and we’ll be happy to send you some products. Separately, for every 200 likes get something to give away. While I agree that the likes portion is seriously ridiculous in order to get a giveaway, I don’t think that anything special was required for a review (from the way I read it). Promoting the facebook page with your review is not an unusual request.

          I do agree that the wording was strange and that the 200 fans part was insulting to say the least. Which is why the apology was in order to bloggers and why it was good to bring this issue to light so they know how to better work with bloggers. I hope they can use this as a learning experience and understand that we want to work with companies that respect us and don’t expect bloggers to bend over backwards simply for the chance to work with them.

          That being said, we are all human. We all make mistakes and I don’t see anything wrong with the way that Drew apologized.

        • 114.1.1.2
          Wendy (aka Sweetie) says:

          Exactly. Mom bloggers are getting too full of themselves. They get a little influence and expect every company to work with them. Maybe Melissa and Doug doesn’t want to work with bloggers, so what! They are a business and are looking at their bottom line, selling toys. Maybe bloggers fit into that, maybe they don’t.

          Let’s start a long thread on how mom bloggers don’t follow rules, don’t think for themselves, don’t know how to write, etc. I am a mom but don’t ever call me a mom blogger.

          • 114.1.1.2.1
            Cheryl says:

            I could write endless threads on this. In the blogging world there’s a groupie mentality — and many will not speak up and voice an opposing opinion because they’re afraid they might be put in the other sandbox to play with the outcasts. Likely why I never did make it into the popular sandbox. I think there are many companies who need to hire social media advisors — but there are also just as many, if not more, bloggers who need to pay attention to the rules, too. This flash-mob mentality on any topic (trust me, I have experience in this from many years ago –I was much the hated Mom for voicing my opinion) is exactly what would turn my head the other way if I ran a company. Never burn your bridges…never know who is running the next big baby bottle or toy company! :-)

  115. 115

    I got this pitch two weeks ago. I asked for clarification, because it was a little confusing whether they wanted a review or advertising. And, quite frankly, I’ve never had a company ask me to “get them likes” on Facebook. Drew responded by telling me they send products after the review is posted because “we have quite a few bloggers and this is the easiest way to manage the process”. At that point I directed him to my PR page which clearly states I generally only review products I have had a chance to use….otherwise it’s advertising (and would be fee-based). No response from Drew.

    Then I came across your post today. I saw Drew trying to make amends, so I decided to e-mail him again. I asked to discuss the review opp, now that he’s revised his policy and expectations. His response? “Thanks for your interest – the Sand Play promotion is closed – but we will have a new promotions for bloggers soon”.

    The whole thing is just so…..frustrating to me. Melissa & Doug is a great company and I really love so many of their products. But I’ll be honest. This has left a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Disappointing for sure.

    • 115.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      That’s odd – Drew insisted on the phone that there was no email pitch sent out like this – only the one on the web. Things get weirder and weirder.

      • 115.1.1

        Just double checked my e-mail. He sent it on May 25:

        “We would love to have you do some reviews for us.

        Below are images of the products we would like covered and links to them. I’ve joined the team recently and we are working very closely with bloggers to run contests on products we feel are strongest to promote. In particular, we are asking for help driving new fans to us on Facebook, to sign up for our Toy Club, etc.. For every 200 fans that you help us to get, we will give you 2 of each item above – one for you and one for a lucky audience member of yours to win as a prize.”

        Indeed. Very strange.

        • 115.1.1.1
          Mommy Niri says:

          Wonder if any of those eagerly shouting “misunderstood” or “mis-worded” still think that was not clear enough??

    • 115.2

      I’m glad I subscribed to the updates on this post because me giving the benefit of the doubt just went out the window.

      Thanks for sharing!

  116. 116
    Terra Heck says:

    Niri, I think you wrote this post in a very tactful way to bring attention to companies on what NOT to do. Although I will not be contacting Drew myself, hopefully he makes things right to those who do.

    • 116.1
      Mommy Niri says:

      Thank you. Although several of us tweeted them before I wrote the post it was Drew who asked to speak to me. I just want us to move ahead instead now.

  117. 117

    Good for you for speaking up about this insane practice! Heck Melissa & Doug are so strict on their restrictions already I haven’t got a chance yet to even review ANY item from them. They are trying to set their standards way too high. I have a Mozz Rank of 4 & still don’t have enought “numbers” to get a review!

  118. 118

    I agree completely that it’s ridiculous for a company to expect that. My kids are way past the Melissa & Doug stage but even if they weren’t, there’s no way I would do this.

    I can’t tell you how many pitches I get every week that want me to promote their contest, blog about their sale, let my readers know about their product, or run their giveaways all for absolutely nothing. Sorry that doesn’t work for me and I think that PR companies & companies themselves need to understand that.

    • 118.1
      kathy says:

      Ellen,

      Can you answer a question for me? I am new to the blogger mom community and have been fascinated by all the conversation surrounding the Melissa & Doug PR hornets nest. You said in your post that you get so many pitches every week which I gather by your blog you are happy about that since that is what you have posted on your blog. You say that “PR” companies don’t understand and I am trying to learn about what it is they don’t understand so as to not violate any blogging/pitching “code of ethics”. Would you be able to share with me via email what is the ideal way to pitch product so in the future we have a good understanding and can develop solid relationships with you. kathy@storytellermn.com. I would really appreciate your candid feedback.

      • 118.1.1

        Hi Kathy – I don’t mind at all. I will post my reply here as well as in case anyone else is interested. According to the IRS, I have to claim the value of the item I receive for review therefore to me, this is a *business* of sorts even though I do it because I love it.

        I definitely welcome pitches from PR and most PR companies are amazing to work with. I have a number of PR companies I work with over and over again.

        Like the PR companies are paid for their work, most bloggers expect to receive *something* in exchange for work they do to promote a company/product. That may be a free product or it may be compensation or it may be a gift card. Either way most do expect to receive something for their time.

        To pitch a blogger that you have no relationship with and ask them to promote a product, service, contest, etc. because they’re sure our readers will just be so interested in it, is just down right rude in my mind. It’s like asking a blogger to work for free. I know PR companies don’t work for free so believing that bloggers should just isn’t right.

        Now don’t get me wrong, I have relationships with some PR companies and I periodically tweet, like, blog about, share, etc. their promotions simply because we do have history. I’m also open to writing for various charities/causes that I believe in for nothing. I’ll even write about products I love just because I love them.

        Ideally, if a PR company wants a blogger to write about the product, the promotion, a great event, a big sale, a celebrity endorsement or whatever, they should in some way compensate the blogger for their time whether that’s with a gift card, product, payment or opportunity to work with a larger brand. I hope that helps? If not feel free to ask questions :)

      • 118.1.2
        Candace says:

        Kathy,

        There has been a ton of virtual ink spilled on this topic. Just google “How to pitch a blogger” or “How to pitch a mom blogger” and you will see.

        I think you will find most parent bloggers give a very small business doing its own PR a lot of leeway.

        What it comes down to is the same as with any other relationship–be honest and authentic.

        And do your research. Don’t pretend to be a fan of my blog if you aren’t really a fan. Don’t pitch me products that are completely off-topic for my site.

        Some blogs focus on reviews or product recommendations–they should only require a sample to review.

        In my opinion, a sample is not compensation (unless that has been worked out previously). You are not buying anything by sending me a sample.

        I’m not personally offended by on-topic press releases (although they do clog up the inbox a bit) but most of them will be deleted. Quite simply, most of the press release are not actual “news” — they are just thinly veiled product promotion — and my site isn’t a “news” site. I do have an education site and for that site I find on-topic press releases useful.

        Bloggers need to realize that PR people send press releases out because that works with print media that have space to fill. Bloggers don’t have inches we need to fill. WE do like to post regularly–but most of us are not in need of content ideas…we have plenty of ideas, just not enough time. And time is, as they say, money.

        If you want a blogger to do work for your company, pretty much anything beyond a fair review of your product(s), you should be paying for it.

        The pitches that really annoy me, personally, are the “review my product without ever having seen it” (unethical), “post our links without disclaimer” (unethical and against federal regulations), “write a post about my product for a chance to win it (or another prize)” (my blog is content, not a way to enter contests), or “do marketing work/make videos/write five posts/send us 200 facebook fans for my company/client, on a deadline, with all sorts of requirements for no pay” (that’s advertising, content producing, or consulting and should be paid).

  119. 119
    Natalie says:

    I’m from the UK and find it fascinating what has taken place with Melissa & Doug although they are not the first and won’t be the last to do this.

    What’s important to recognise is much as we may like M&D, you can’t pretend that their employees are not the brand. Drew et al are responsible for generating online buzz around the brand and fact is, like a lot of people in this position, they are *allowed* to by the powers that be and if they could have gotten away with doing this promotion, they would have.

    Fact is, requesting that bloggers drive ‘likes’ to their Facebook page in exchange for goods or as part of a promotion breaks FB guidelines which is why Drew is backtracking and claiming that it’s badly worded. You only have to see his standard responses slightly tweaked here or there to show that this ‘digital’ man is quite out of his depth in responding to this situation.

    It’s good to be quick to respond so brownie points there but it’s not too quick to respond with bullsh*t to cover your arse. I think it’s insulting people’s intelligence to claim it was worded badly and unclear – it was worded badly but it was very clear.

    I like Melissa & Doug products but for an ethical company, I do now question their ethics. If they want their brand to be seen in a particular way, they need to operate more congruently with that.

Leave a Reply