16Oct

A Two-Faced Martha Stewart

martha stewart

I just went through my inbox and counted nearly half a dozen pitches that I’ve received from Martha Stewart’s people over the past few years. Over and over, I have explained to her publicists that I’m a culture and travel writer and that my niche does not include anything remotely domesticated or crafty. But their pitches keep coming, with constant requests to attend events and this question is asked of me regularly: “Can I send you hi-res images and you can post about the line?” Since these people are associated with the Martha Stewart brand, I’ve been polite and have kept my cool, watching from afar at the effort they’re making with the blogging community to promote their brand. Clearly Martha had her people out to capture the hearts and minds of the blogging community, even if they weren’t really clear on what they were doing or who they were contacting.

The truth is that her people have offended me over and over, but I have stayed quiet. She’s Martha Stewart, after all.

But today I am not keeping quiet. And I don’t think the blogging community is either.

martha stewart

At my first BlogHer party in 2010, I remember standing like a sardine in her NYC offices and thought it was such a thrill to be in the media mogul’s presence. Apparently she whizzed past me and I think I blinked and missed her.  Later that year, one of her publicists pitched me a furniture review and didn’t understand how or why I could refuse a post using her images and copy, furniture sight unseen.  Please know that I didn’t want the furniture and never asked for it, but she couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just slap her content on my blog.  After all, it’s MARTHA STEWART.  Forget what my blog was about and that I was trying to carve a niche for myself.

When I was invited to a Martha TV show taping, I had to politely decline.  I had young children and a job. The publicist did not understand how I could turn down such an opportunity. It was a slumber party.  Of course, after my RSVP, she emailed me this: “If you can’t tune in but are interested in sharing Darcy’s tips for a great slumber party with your own readers, let me know and I’ll get them for you!”

When Martha spoke at BlogHer in 2012, I missed her speech.  But I heard from friends in the community about how excited they were to be involved to hear her live. She has her supporters, as well as a community of bloggers on her web site called Martha’s Circle, but upon a closer look, it only features one blogger.

I last heard from one of her publicists on September 10th.  The pitch offered a year-long blogger program called the “12 Months of Martha Stewart Crafts.”  As part of the program, each month bloggers receive a box of our newest and hottest craft product, create something amazing, and post about it on their sites. They then share and promote their blogs on the @MarthaStewart Pinterest board and MarthaStewart.com. My reaction after over three years of blogging and trying to carve a niche for myself (I don’t make or pin crafts) was this: “Please remove me from your list.” After so many attempts to use my online presence to promote Martha’s brand with nothing to little to offer in return, I’d had enough. Did any of them ever look at my blog?  Doubtful.

Yet clearly Martha has her people work hard to capture the hearts and minds of the blogging community, even if they weren’t really clear on what they were doing or who they were contacting.

When she spoke at BlogHer in 2012, I think I missed her speech. But I’ve had my eye on what she’s attempted to build in the blogging community and I think she was one of the first brands to make the connection and I know that her efforts have meant a lot to many of the women.

Why am I mentioning all of this? Today she seems to have stirred the minds of a lot of bloggers, who unlike me, were her supporters in a live Bloomberg TV interview where she put down food and lifestyle bloggers, saying: “Who are these bloggers? They’re not trained editors at Vogue magazine. I mean there are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done,” she said. “So bloggers create a kind of popularity, but they are not the experts. And we have to understand that.” Look I never said I was an expert, but why does she have her people come after me year after year?  And why does she infiltrate BlogHer year after year, if this is indeed a community that she does not respect?

There seems to be something that Ms. Stewart is missing about bloggers, and about social media in general and today’s remarks proved the point.  First I saw it in how I was treated by her publicists. And now I see it in her behavior. To put down the people who work so hard to promote their work and the work of others seems counter intuitive to what she has been trying to do all these years.

Saying that, I’m sorry, Martha, but many bloggers that I know ARE experts.  They, and so many other fabulous women, who have become experts as a result of starting a blog and are constantly featured on national news programs. Look all the books that have developed as a result of blogs. I know women who are creating change and using their voices to change the world. Look at Listen to Your Mother, a play that was born and bred by the blogging community. I could go on and on. These women, and so many others, inspire me.  They empower me. And I refuse to believe that they do not know what they are doing. They were some of the first adapters to the magical use of social media and are partly responsible for its rapid growth, in my opinion.  They understand how to use it in ways that Martha’s publicists certainly don’t understand.

And these women are my IRL friends who would never offend my work as Martha has done to the people supposedly trying to help her all these years. I am sure she will be apologizing in the days to come. But when she does, don’t forget what she said and how serious she looked saying it. We are all better than her.

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Comments

  1. Bravo, Holly. I think bloggers are bigger lifestyle experts than Martha ever was. She is a wonderful stylist, and has impeccable taste, and I’m sure can cook up a storm, but an expert on lifestyles? I’ll check out a blog for that type of information ANY day. Sorry Martha.

  2. Well said!

  3. There is a huge disconnect between what (most) bloggers are doing and what (some) PR people think we are here for.

    What you described here would be like a PR person pitching a new dog food to an editor at Cat Fancy. It’s a waste of everybody’s time and effort.

    As for what is an expert, well, here’s the definition:

    expert

    Dictionary.com: “a person who has a special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority.” – See more at: http://mommasaid.net/2013/10/17/slammed-bloggers/#sthash.s3WFgkPy.dpuf

    I venture to say that if you have thousands of followers reading your work, that makes you an expert indeed.

    • Great response, Jen. I, for one, never called myself an expert but I think it’s unfair to insult the people she wants on her team. Most of the women blogging have MBA’s, law degrees, journalism degrees or specialty knowledge in an area that makes them specialized. For example, someone who considers themselves a craft or food blogger is fully immersed on they are writing about.

  4. Not every blogger is an expert. I’m certainly not. But some are and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.
    You don’t have to be the employee of a conglomerate to be an expert.

  5. It hurt to hear from her, so disparaging. So mean girl. “Who are THESE bloggers?” We are working people, with a quick immediate reach… and some of the nicest, most intelligent people I”ve ever met.

  6. As I said before … it is ‘Real Simple’ … the bloggers will stick together, family does that.

  7. Thank you for expressing this so well Holly. I feel that there is so much using going on in the blogging world. Celebrities and their huge egos, and their PR people that think that bloggers will jump at the message waiting in our inbox, just to run to praise them all. Why can’t be it okay to write from the heart and be authentic? Why can’t it be okay to make a great cake, take pictures, and share it. Is it wrong to get praise from just being real??

    • AUTHENTIC. A word I think of daily. Being true to ourselves and I’d like to hope that most bloggers involved with Martha Stewart were thinking of the potential collaboration that would take their work and collaboration one step forward. Shame she herself lost that focus on their value.

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