When Life Gives You Lemons...




...you make lemonade. I've always hated that expression. When I'm in the midst of dealing with a crisis, I can assure you, the last thing on my mind is lemonade--unless that crisis involves being stranded in the desert with no water. Then lemonade is probably at the top of my list of things to think about. But as that type of situation is highly unlikely, it's pretty safe to say, I'm not a fan of the lemonade statement.

Sure I get why people say it. It's a witty way to say "make the best out of a bad situation." So why not just say that? See, it was quick and to the point. No lemons necessary. Or perhaps I've given this a bit too much thought??? Well, tough lemons, I'm a blogger. It's sort of in the job description.

Back to the meaning of this post. Ah, yes, making the best of a bad situation. It always seems a bit impossible when you're currently in the middle of dealing with your lemony situation. Like for instance, getting fired. I'm sure after getting axed, not too many people smile at their bosses (who've just done the firing) and say "well gee Bob, I've got $25.03 in the bank, but that's cool, I'm sure I'll get everything straightened out before I get kicked out of my house. Guess I'd better start squeezing those lemons!" If I had to place money on it, I'd say that getting fired with $25.03 in the bank tends to lead to curling up in the fetal position on the couch and having a hysterical weep-a-thon.

I suppose that's okay. Maybe we all need to have a bit of a cry-fest when the bottom drops out. Cry. Get it out of your system. And then start looking for possible solutions.

It's not what happens immediately after we find ourselves in a tough situation that defines us. It's what we do once we've had the time to sort through it. Do we sit down and give up? Or do we calmly get back up, look life straight in the eyes, and say "you hit like a girl."

That's where we are now. Life has been kicking us around quite a bit. And that's cool. For now. Because I know, at the end of the day, tough times never last, tough people do.

So for now, I'm just going to continue to make the best of a bad situation. One day, when Mr. A and I are old and decrepit, living in our condo in Key West (compliments of our lawyer/doctor/astronaut daughter) We'll look back at these times and smile because we made it.


5 Things Bloggers Should Know About PR Practitioners



Welcome to week two of my four week blogger help series. Today we'll be discussing simple things that bloggers can do to help make it easier for public relations practitioners.

1. Public relations is not marketing and vice-versa. So, here's the thing. PR is not paid media, it is what we in the business refer to as earned media. Meaning that instead of paying for an ad or commercial, the public relations department has done such a great job selling their story, that they are earning free placement in the media. In reality when you're getting these pitches for sponsored posts, more than likely you are dealing with someone in marketing. These are typically the guys that are given the budget to work with. Of course these days both departments are becoming increasingly integrated so it depends on the company. So basically, don't get angry if you keep getting pitches for "Story-ideas." This is their way of trying to reach out to someone who has access to a specific demographic that they are trying to reach. Besides, taking them up on an offer every once and a while can be a good thing. Remember, 75% of blogging is about building relationships.

2. Make it easy for  them.  As bloggers, we often times get angry when we open up that generic  "Hi there," email but at the same time 50% of us don't have our contact information in a visible location. Make their jobs easier by putting your information in an obvious location. Also, FYI, that cute little contact form you have? Terrible idea. Please get rid of it.

3. Please be kind. A little bit of kindness goes a long way. When someone sends you an offer, and it's a bit less than expected, please be professional. Resorting to virtual tantrums that make Honey-Boo Boo look tame in comparison gives us all a bad name. If you want to be viewed as a professional, you have to behave as one.

4. Cursing can be a turn-off. Have you ever wondered why you don't get contacted by PR reps? Perhaps it's because your blog looks like the lyrics of  the latest Lil' Wayne album. Often times, before even contacting you, PR reps will use software to search your blog to make sure you're the right "fit" for their brand.  So, if you're in the mommy blogger biz, it's best to save the cursing for another place. Besides,

5. You can build a negative reputation. Quickly. Fun little fact, PR, marketing and advertising folks talk to each other. And you can earn a negative reputation amongts them quickly. In fact, some of them even have a nice little blacklist of bloggers. You don't want to wind up on that list. Be professional. It takes years to build credibility and only moments to destroy it.

5 Things PR Practitioners Should Know About Bloggers


I'm in a pretty interesting position. Having majored in public relations in college, and now being a blogger, I sort of straddle both sides of the fence when it comes to working with each other. Since I can see both sides of the situation, I figured I should share a condensed version of everything I've learned in the past four years.

This Friday, I'm kicking off my 5 Little Things Series. For the next month, we'll be discussing things that bloggers and PR Practitioners can do to help develop a foundation of trust that can foster a mutually beneficial relationship. We will delve into everything from how to write the perfect pitch to simple blogging mistakes that can be keeping you from attracting brands.

Today's post will be centered on 5 Little Things that PR Practitioners Should Know About Bloggers.

Enjoy!


1. We have names. Please use them. Yes, I know hunting our names down on our blog can sometimes be time consuming, but you really should do it. Here's why? If I received an offer, any offer that begins with "Hi there", "Hello mommy blogger" (yes this has actually happened before) or "Dear website owner," it's going to be promptly deleted and I will continue on with my day without thinking twice. Bloggers get spammed on a daily. Mostly from shady people wanting to use our blogs to get a quick boost in their page rank. If you approach us in this manner, we are going to assume that you are one of the aforementioned "shady people", and your email will get an all expenses paid trip straight into our trash folder.

2. We don't work for free...Most of the time. Once again, having straddled both sides of the fence I understand the need to reach out to people who could expose your brand to thousands of potential customers. However, on the other hand, many of us have spent years carefully building up our readership and creating a community. If you want access to that community, you are going to have to spend a bit more than that "awesome new kiddie app" that cost 2.99.

3. Treat us as professionals. We take our work very seriously. We consider ourselves to be professionals. Think about this. We have editorial calendars, monthly budgets, media kits, business cards, portfolios, ect.  If we turn you down, please don't respond with an angry email telling us how we should be happy that you're even considering us (I've heard the horror stories). It's not professional. At all. Take the hit on the chin and walk away amicably. The absolute last thing you want is a blogger going off to tell his or her friends what just happened. As we all know, word of mouth is a powerful tool. And negative word of mouth can put you out of business. Quickly.

4. We are smarter than you realize. About six months ago I was contacted by a company who wanted me to write a review for them. I had recently changed my domain and because of this, had lost my page rank and Alexa score. However, I still had the same 9,000 readers and followers via social media as before. Imagine my surprise when I was told that they could only pay me $10 for the post because they paid according to page rank? I very politely explained that I had recently changed to a dot.com and that my page rank would be back to normal shortly. After a few more email exchanges, I realized that I was not getting through to them, so I very politely declined the opportunity.

PR people, here's the deal. You know those fancy conferences we pay big bucks to attend? Well during those conferences we spend a lot of time discussing you guys. We know how to use all kinds of fun little programs like Goggle Analytics and Tweet Reach to calculate how far our reach is. Consider this, I have 5,400+ followers on twitter. This week, my 100+ tweets reached 72,703 accounts and made 102,290 impressions. That was just with my twitter account. Not even including my blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Google+.

The point is, we're onto you. Proceed with caution.

5. We cannot and will not use follow links on our blog. You may get away with it every once in a while, but most of us know by now that follow links are a no-no. We understand that by using follow links on sponsored content, we are potentially risking being black listed by Google. We go to conferences where we discuss these things. We chat about this with our blogger buddies. It's shady. It's wrong. And is shows that you are not the least bit concerned with throwing us under the bus in order to make a few quick bucks. Please stop it.

So there you have it, 5 things PR practitioners should know about bloggers. What do you think bloggers? Have you ever experienced any of these situations? Be sure to come back next Friday for 5 Things Bloggers Should Know About PR Practitioners.


Free Redbox Rental Codes: August 2014


The weekend is nearly here and I've got a few more Redbox freebie codes to help get you through the next few days. These codes expire soon, so please pay extra attention to the expiration dates. I received a few nasty-grams about the codes having expired in my last post, so I would just like to give a bit of forewarning, these codes expire QUICKLY. I do my best to include all dates, but sometimes that's just not possible.

Before heading off to a Redbox, I will typically write the codes down on a sheet of paper, that way if one code doesn't work, I can easily move on to the next. No muss, no fuss.

As always, if you find a code on the list that no longer works, please let me know and I will add an update to inform my readers that the code is no longer available.

(DVD) 3KGV9929- Expires 8/3/2014
(DVD) DVDNIGHT-Expires 8/102014
(GAME) GAMETIME- Expires 8/102014

Bonus: Like Redbox on Facebook and receive a free 1-night rental- Expires 12/31/2014
Bonus: Join the Redbox Text Club. You'll get a text every first Monday of every month with a  Redbox code for a free one-night Redbox rental.- Expires UNKNOWN

Enjoy your rentals, but most importantly enjoy your time with your family!

Until next time,