The Truth About the Walmart ElevenMoms

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on August 17, 2009

I’m not sure what you’ve heard about the ElevenMoms, and what we do and don’t do for Walmart, but I think it’s about time someone dispels the rumors and myths, by giving you the truth.

Let me begin by saying that everything we ElevenMoms do with Walmart is optional and fully disclosed. Walmart does not require any thing of us but to be ourselves and remain authentic to our own voice. We have never worked for Walmart and none of us are employees of Walmart.

About a year ago, Walmart assembled a group of influential mom bloggers and gave us a name, much like Frito-Lay’s Fab 15 and Sharpie’s Ambassadors. Walmart’s interactive media agency then created a micro-site that feature each of us as the Walmart ElevenMoms, with bios and links to our individual sites. None of us are paid to don the title “Walmart ElevenMom.” We are not paid to tell you how wonderful Walmart is or urge you to shop there.

In the beginning, we were asked to be a part of a campaign to bring awareness to a contest being held on Walmart’s YouTube channel. We were offered a video camera to assist us in creating as few or as many videos as we wanted to upload to this channel. The Flip video camera was our only compensation and we were okay with that. Nothing beyond what we were already doing was being required of us, really, and we could use the videos we created on our own sites, as well.

Since those first few months, however, we have been given opportunities to create content for vendor micro-sites, all of which are compensated. We are also offered to host paid Walmart and vendor ads on our sites.* All of this, of course, is optional and many of us have opted out, at various times, due to a conflict of interest.

As ElevenMoms we are given many opportunities to review products available at Walmart, as well as host giveaways for our readers, all of which are completely optional. Just as I would not demand monetary compensation from any other large corporation for providing my opinion of their product on my own site, I do not charge Walmart. However, a product sample has always been provided. In addition, it is my policy to charge a fee – in the form of gift cards, a product sample, or monetary compensation – for hosting giveaways, and I make no exceptions for Walmart.

We do not provide uncompensated consulting for Walmart. We have provided our consulting services during round-table discussions and surveys, and compensation has been made in the form of cash, gift cards, conference sponsorship, and/or products. Whether or not we think this is fair is our own prerogative, but rest assured in knowing that any consulting we do, for either Walmart or their vendors, is compensated.

Contrary to what you may have heard, Walmart – as a corporation – has not taken credit for “making the ElevenMoms.” They know that the ElevenMoms would not be as visible as we are today if not for the power we each wield as individuals. Many of us were already bloggers who were reaping the benefits of our dedication, sweat, tears, and hard work, before Walmart found us. We were already being chosen to go on special all-inclusive trips with Disney and others, not with Walmart. Most of what each of us has the privilege of doing is because we have authentic voices and have worked very hard to build relationships with all of the PR professionals whom we know and love. We are not Power Moms because we are ElevenMoms, we are ElevenMoms because we are Power Moms.

All that said, I am honored to be one of the Walmart ElevenMoms. I just wish that people would get their facts straight about this fabulous group of intelligent and passionate women, with whom I am privileged to be associated! We know better than to let a large corporation – any corporation, company, or individual, for that matter – take advantage of us. Trust me.

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*I’ve been asked about the ElevenMoms badge on my sidebar, and whether or not I get paid to host that button. It is not an ad, but a badge stating that I am a part of a group, as are my Fab 15 and Graco Nation buttons, none of which I get paid to host. In my opinion, it is very similar to hosting a ning group button or other such community button.

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{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Night Owl Mama August 17, 2009 at 12:51 am

I havne’t heard anything negitive as of yet. I think you wrote a very nice informative post and appreciate your honesty.
I’ve always been a HUGE Fan of Walmart the prices that SAVE this mom with 4 kids money, AND I dont say that just cause My son was an employee. I shopped Walmart long before my son could walk and there is nothing I can read about their products or company that can swing me not to shop there. I’M a Walmart Mom and thats that.

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Mom101 August 17, 2009 at 5:32 am

I, and I’m sure others, appreciate the clarification Christine. I still believe “products” are not compensation, however, nor are plane tickets. You do a job, especially for a large corporation, you should get paid for it. (And I’m not talking about product reviews which I continue to believe should not be compensated.)

When we as moms–all of us–are willing to work for links or “exposure” or gift cards, we make it increasingly challenging for those who follow us to be valued for their work.

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Classy Mommy August 17, 2009 at 5:44 am

Christine – Thank you for illuminating those that have questions about our relationship with Walmart.Everything is fully disclosed and as those who have done their research, spoken with the 11 moms, and are familiar with our websites already know– we do not work for “free” for a large corporation nor are we allowing Walmart to take advantage of our influence without an equal give and take. I am also proud to be an 11 Mom and associated with this passionate and smart group of women. As an entrepreneur, MBA, and full time stay at home Mom, it is not my “hobby” to work for free for anyone and I would not be an 11 Mom if that was what being an 11 Mom meant. I hope people will read this post and those who have questions about the 11 Moms will ask them to the right people so we can honestly share what it means to be an 11 mom.

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Lisa August 17, 2009 at 5:54 am

Great post Christine! I was following the Twitter conversation last night, and this really does answer a lot of questions for people wondering what you guys do!

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oh amanda August 17, 2009 at 5:57 am

Christine: I’m sad you even had to write this post…to “prove” to nay-sayers that you were WORTHY of a call from Wal-Mart. But I think it was an excellent post–authentic, real and natural. Keep your head up–you ARE a power mom…and not b/c you are a blogger…but b/c you are a great mom to your kiddos! HUGS!

a

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A Cowboy's Wife August 17, 2009 at 6:06 am

Thanks so much Chris for writing this post. I agree with Amanda, I hate that you had to write but maybe some people will finally understand now and move on….

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MommyBrain August 17, 2009 at 7:31 am

Great post Christine… thanks for writing it… I think it’s ridiculous that we have to keep defending out choices.. Hopefully people will understand a little more after this post….

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TheConsumerQueen August 17, 2009 at 7:48 am

Here ! Here! What a great post! No matter what group you belong to why do people have to be so mean and hateful and spread rumours! We should all be uplifting and supporting each other as women with the same goals and aspirations not tearing each other down.

I hope this will answer alot of peoples questions !

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Jessica Gottlieb August 17, 2009 at 7:56 am

I’m confused, last November when a walmart employee was trampled to death in the store, y’all were all over my site saying you were just enthusiasts?

Also, what really happened with pantene?

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Beth Hoff August 17, 2009 at 9:04 am

I am so glad that you cleared this up for myself and other folks. I have always wondered what exactly this was. I think it is fabulous.

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Christine - From Dates to Diapers August 17, 2009 at 9:35 am

I, too, am sad that I had to write this post. Working with (notice I said *with* and not *for*) Walmart is my prerogative, as is how much they pay me and by what means. They are being fair to us, and it’s frustrating and belittling that people continue to say that we are working for Walmart for free…. I do NOT work FOR Walmart in any greater capacity than I work for Graco or Frito-Lay. Walmart just happens to have a micro-site for us!
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Liz :: I appreciate your opinion. I know we don’t agree, since I do feel that a large amount on a gift card – especially a Visa gift card – is payment, but it’s nice to talk about this openly and peacefully.
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Jessica :: I have not ever claimed to be an enthusiast for Walmart, ever. The ElevenMoms have worked with Pantene a few times, so I don’t know what you’re referring to by “what really happened?” If you’d like to clarify, perhaps I can answer your question. :)

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Heather August 17, 2009 at 9:42 am

Thanks for sharing. I was curious as to what exactly an “Eleven Mom” was and how they were chosen since I’m pretty new to blogging. I’m sorry to hear people are bent out of shape and misinformed.

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Queen of the Click August 17, 2009 at 9:43 am

I clicked through a Twitter link because the title interested me. I am not sure what prompted your article, but it sounds like it might have been other Mom’s jealousy over not being picked as one of the Eleven Moms.(BTW, aren’t there a lot more than eleven?)

Non-Moms and visitors of the Walmart website view the Eleven Moms quite differently than you probably realize. Walmart is a non-union store and does not support fair wages for its workers. It’s a store that has been caught violating workers rights over and over. Although the Eleven Moms work independently from Walmart, I think most people consider advertising and fraternizing with Walmart as support for the store and it’s views.

In universities in NYC, advertising online is a huge topic. The use of the Mom’s pictures on the Walmart website is discussed because it is a spectacular advertising ploy. It presents Walmart as a family-centered store that Moms love. Yet, the reality is that Moms employed by Walmart are living under the poverty level and thus their families are suffering. In addition, these cashiers and stock workers can not receive federal funding (welfare) because they are employed.

So why am I writing on your blog? People’s actions speak louder than their words. If you are a “Power Mom,” then use your power to help other women and their children. You have connections at Walmart that most people don’t; bend corporate’s ears and let them know that people come first. I’m waiting for the day when the Eleven Moms make a major motion and take a stance on what’s right. We choose charities to donate money, but what about looking at our deliberate actions that are harming other families?

I’ve written to several of the Eleven Moms both privately and publically over this past year. If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.

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Cat @ 3 Kids and Us August 17, 2009 at 9:45 am

You know what’s really sad?

That this post even had to be written in the first place. It’s sad that other bloggers tear each other down out of jealousy and greed. It’s sad that as a whole we can just be happy for each others accomplishments.

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deb@birdonawire August 17, 2009 at 10:06 am

from Mom101..”You do a job, especially for a large corporation, you should get paid for it. (And I’m not talking about product reviews which I continue to believe should not be compensated.)”
And I whole heartedly agree!

Christine, while I understand your ‘perogative’ understand the message that non compensatory work sends to the large corporations. Now that Lifetime has picked up the WM11, seems that while they’re compensating they are offering virtual peanuts, which was accepted by the WM11. I don’t think Liz is saying anything else except, you’re selling yourselves short. And sending a really bad message, in effect throttling other efforts to be compensated by corporations. I don’t think there’s any thing ulterior in the message you’re sending. Maybe you just didn’t realize it.

The press has made a mockery of our demo, calling us anything from “shills” to now writing about the drunk mommies…I think honestly, its our duty, to clean it up and show the media and who ever else is buying into the “stereo type” that is NOT what we are about. We are strong, empowered businesswomen. Anything else sells us short.

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Christine - From Dates to Diapers August 17, 2009 at 10:46 am

Whoa, let me get one thing straight, right here and now :: Lifetime did not pick up the Walmart ElevenMoms, Deb. Sure, several of the Lifetime Moms are also ElevenMoms, but we established our own individual relationships with Lifetime. And, yes we are paid. What may be “peanuts” to some is a whole lot to others and I feel like what I am being paid by Lifetime is fair.
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As for being paid by large corporations – I will say it again – the ElevenMoms do NOT work FOR Walmart! We ARE being compensated for any services we provide, as independent contractors.

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Kara-Noel August 17, 2009 at 10:06 am

Interesting. I never really undersood the whole thing but I also never had negative feeling towards the 11 moms. I’m sorry you had to do a post like this because it shows how caddy people can be.
FYI I just got the cutest dress for my daughter from walmart for only $5… I’ll be posting about it soon :)

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Jessica Gottlieb August 17, 2009 at 10:40 am

Tell me about the time that the walmart 11 moms had shampoo in their hair while down in Arkansas and walmart had promised to pay them at some point in time but then handed y’all contracts while cameras while rolling.

Was Pantene as furious as I heard, or is that just a rumor?

And why did you all refuse to sign the contracts?

Walmart did expect you to work free.

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Christine - From Dates to Diapers August 17, 2009 at 11:00 am

Jessica :: It was Pantene and their digital marketing agency, who expected us to work for free, not Walmart. I can’t speak for Pantene – as I don’t rightly know if they were furious, although I suspect they were – but, in the end we were paid for our appearances in the videos posted on Pantene’s micro-site, thanks to the peeps at Walmart who pulled for us and the simple fact that we stood our ground.
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You may be interested to know that since that experience, we have worked Pantene again and have been compensated every time. In fact, several of the ElevenMoms are currently working on creating new content for Pantene’s micro-site. And, yes they are being compensated handsomely.

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deb@birdonawire August 17, 2009 at 10:57 am

clearly your choice Christine..I still think that you’re providing services as independent contractors without pay. and that sends a bad message.

If you feel you’re being paid fairly that’s your opinion and you’re entitled. I for one think you’re getting the shaft. just my opinion. to which I am entitled as well.

Understand, I don’t hate the WM11+ Many of the moms in that group are blogs I read regularly, and speak with those women on twitter, facebook and by phone. Its just my opinion, not a condemnation of anyone.

the defensiveness of your reply might leave me wondering though. just saying.

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Adrienne August 17, 2009 at 11:27 am

Just curious….on my next contract renegotiation or job interview, do I need to get the approval of the Twitterverse before accepting?

What someone is or isn’t being compensated is none of anyone else’s business.

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To Think Is To Create August 17, 2009 at 11:31 am

To Deb@birdonawire –
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In no way has Lifetime “picked up” the WM11, and I really don’t appreciate having all my work and networking reduced down to nothing and WalMart being credited for what I have done. Is it really so hard to believe that people that are friends may work together on more than one project or client? If you start working with Target, will Target be credited with anything you ever do again from that point forward? I certainly hope not.
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The blog police thing is so tiresome.
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I rarely get involved in these discussions, because people are free to disagree, but to strip my accomplishments just to suit your argument, was too obtuse an inaccuracy to ignore.

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deb@birdonawire August 17, 2009 at 11:46 am

Adrienne..and @tothink its not about blog police anymore than it is about selling out. It is about the image that mommy bloggers have been portraying. Frankly if you don’t want to be paid, so be it. We’ve been villified as a group for being sell outs. I never said WM credited anything that YOU had done.

The odd connection of only WM11 being on the lifetime site would lead one to imagine, can you not see that?

I would never purport to strip anyone’s accomplishments. You are now and have always been a writer that I read and revel in. Understand the confusion of the situation. Are there moms involved in the Lifetime site that are NOT walmart11 moms? when the site broke and i first saw it I did not notice that there were. Perhaps that has changed. It just seemed odd that the network would choose from the same pool. thats all. Sorry if you found what I say offensive. Again, opinion and nothing stripped from you to suit anything.

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deb@birdonawire August 17, 2009 at 11:49 am

Just for the record ladies. I am not a hater. I’m just commenting on my observations. not making pointed comments about any of you. Lets step back for a minute and realize that not everyone is on the inside of the WM bunch. And not everyone understands how the world turns in the world of marketing. That is all. have a great day.

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To Think Is To Create August 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm

@Deb
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Yes, there are Lifetime Moms that aren’t 11Moms, we came together due to being friends and working on another project (not LT or 11mom related) that organically evolved into a relationship with Lifetime. They didn’t choose from any “pool” but from bloggers they already had the relationship with (and some weren’t even 11moms back when this started in Dec/Jan). I’m happy to answer questions, but the whole LTMom/11mom thing wasn’t a question from you originally, it was put out there as fact.
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Lifetime Moms is a project that has amazing women involved in something very exciting, with a company that is treating us very well and are amazing to work with; and with the Lifetime Mom Affiliates we’ll be able to promote even more women. It’s not WalMart related at all.

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deb@birdonawire August 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm

@tothink…I’ll buy what you’re saying. I was speaking in a general tone of voice. I get email for email questioning just such things and its not always a question. Honestly. More times than not its an assumption and that is what I was relaying. It did get my point across. But I wasn’t suggesting that it was WM related, merely that it was curious that they picked the “same” moms that WM had…and that I think is the curiosity of a large number of people. That is all. I think we can put this to rest. Its not an attack. Not personal for any mommy involved. Again, as a niche, a community we’ve been the brunt of enough of the media’s smite. Perhaps we should start working on “crisis” managment ( don’t get upset by that word) but I do think that mommy bloggers need to repair their image. Whether WM mom or not. Thats all..I am done now . thank you.

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Jessica Gottlieb August 17, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Oh NO. I’m defending y’all now.

Yes, Lifetime moms was pitched by Jessica Smith last year when she was a Walmart mom, that is why there are so many Wal mart moms. Jessica is working for a PR firm, so she’s out now.

It is a little like being married, you can only divorce them, you’ll always have been one of them.

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Erika @ Chic Shopper Chick August 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm

@deb … Lifetime Moms is a project that I personally became involved in when it was still an unnamed, yet exciting, idea. At the time, I was not one of the 11moms. Essentially, I was a Lifetime Mom long before WalMart came knocking on my door.
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I am proud of all that I have accomplished professionally over the past year. I have worked hard and made lots of sacrifices. While I certainly don’t consider myself God’s gift to the blogosphere, I am happy that my hard work directly resulted in two large corporations wanting to partner with me.
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I understand what the perception is from your standpoint, however what @ToThink is saying is also a valid point — that it is completely logical that those who work hard could very well be recognized and valued by more than one large company out there. It is also completely logical that some people won’t like it or get it.
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We’re all entitled to our opinion, I think all Christine was trying to do was point out the facts of our relationship with WalMart. As long as those of us who are involved in that working relationship with WalMart are happy, not much else matters.

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To Think Is To Create August 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Just to clarify, Jessica Smith didn’t pitch the concept of Lifetime Moms, she pitched Lifetime itself (along with Lindsay Maines/Rock and Roll Mama) on a separate project that didn’t come to fruition, which is why I said it evolved into a relationship and something more. Just didn’t want anymore confusion.
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Thanks Jessica G. for the awesome divorce analogy. :-)

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@LuckyChica August 17, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Thanks for posting this. And unlike some other commenters, I don’t think it’s sad that you had to write this. I think in this new age of new media/social media/blogging-for-sponsors, it’s important to disclose this type of information. So that we may be all be informed. Every person is entitled to make business decisions based on what works for them, their situation and their goals. I respect full disclosure (I guess it’s the journo in me).

I am not a mommy blogger, or even a mom, (or a fan of Wal-Mart and their business practices, for that matter), but I recognize their/your place in the 2.0 atmosphere and can appreciate the parameters they are setting. So, thanks for sharing.

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deb@birdonawire August 17, 2009 at 12:56 pm

ok last post I promise..mea culpa. There’s more to my comment than just a statement about lifetime or walmart. Lets all step back. I spoke from the multiple emails I have received, people, for what ever reason form an opinion. I have nothing personal against any of the WM moms or the lifetime moms. More power to you if that makes you happy. The undercurrent of BAD press that mommy blogs are getting is what is at the heart of it all. If you all don’t see it, ask, I’ll point you to it.

Your relationship with WM or Lifetime and your compensation isn’t anyones business, least of all mine. But when its blogged about, complained about, twittered about then its out there for the world to see not just me and the people I work with. See what I’m saying here? Again, I’m hap hap happy for ya if you’re happy. It really doesn’t matter who pitched what, or how it all came about, it did and the two groups in a lot of peoples eyes overlapped. bottom line. I’m sure that I will not be the last to bring it up.

The interwebs are full of people who have a whole lot less understanding of the “beast” than the commenters here and not to be a knell of woe, will make much more of it. At any rate. Mark your calendars, you got Jessica G to defend ya. I don’t think you need defense, I do think WE ALL need to take a good hard look at the image that Mommies are giving the rest of the world. That is all. I promise.

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Erica Mueller August 17, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Great post! I’d always wondered how that worked. :-)

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Amy in OHio August 17, 2009 at 1:49 pm

What a wonderfully well-articulated position shared by Queen of the Click – brilliantly said.

I do not support Wal-Mart, and I certainly do not do so with my checkbook. As far as I’m concerned, they are destroying the American workforce and the American landscape one mega-store at a time. At some point you have to consider the name at the bottom of those paychecks, even if they are gift cards. I join Queen in hoping that those moms (some of whom I consider friends) will use that influence they’ve work so hard for to inspire real change on real issues.

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Beth - PlusSizeMommy August 17, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Thank You Christine for your post.
I wanted to leave an outsider/insider view …
I just want to say that I met the Walmart 11moms in Bentonville Arkansas after a trip I won through Communispace. Communispace for those who do not know is a survey group that collects and runs surveys and then sends the info. back to Walmart. Walmart IS INDEED trying to clear up their reputation. Otherwise, would they really be spending tons of money and time finding out peoples opinions? There is more than the 11mom program. They are doing a lot of behind the scenes things to try and find out what consumers want and what the needs are.
Anyways,
(back to meeting the 11moms)
While in Bentonville, I had no idea ANYTHING about 11moms, twitter, social media, NOTHING.. I was totally in the dark about all of this, so I think I can give an unbiased opinion.
First off my very first impression of the 11moms who I met (not all were there) was #1 Caring and Kindness. You see, I had very bad plane troubles on my flight in and got held over till very late, I was tired, hungry, and not a happy camper. Then I went into this room of woman and John Andrews who were sitting around just talking. As soon as they heard about my problems, they were helping me find food and so generous. They made me feel much better.
Then, they told me who they were and what they do. I was spinning in all directions, after all I knew nothing about this. And trying to explain social media and twitter and all to someone who basically used the computer to play SIMS and check email is a task.
Fast Forward.. By the end of the trip, which by the way we did meet with a ton of Welcoming Walmart people, who did not seem to be schmoozing us, but seemed to be genuinely interested in what we cared about and what changes we thought were needed and so on, Even the CEO came and met with us and discussed what we thought were good and not so good with Walmart, now in most companies I really don’t think the CEO would meet with a bunch of moms??? This was rare and actually made me feel VERY VALUED. He listened to all of our opinions and said changes will be coming, some of which I can already see. (especially with the going green and store remodels).
Fast forward more… The one night while there the 11moms (which I hate to keep calling them that by the way, cause they are so much more) actually sat down with me and taught me how to go on twitter, told me about becoming a blogger, and basically even helped me think of a name for my blog. Now these woman did not have to do this. But they did, and not only that, they all gave me their cards, and told me if I had ANY questions to contact them, which I have sometimes for various things.
I think that this group of moms are very caring, have nothing to hide, are extremely intelligent, helpful, and have a platform (blogging) to reach out to others and to companies to make a change. Changes are not made overnight. I think they connect the companies and consumers, and I think they have a passion for this. Sometimes things are not always about money. Don’t get me wrong, These ladies work extremely hard, (if you ever read any one of their blogs, you would know this) and I totally do think that they do deserve pay, not pay to form an opinion but pay like Christine said, for their time and energy, and as a consultant. After all is that not what they do when they show companies what consumers want and what can be maybe done better, what moms want, like, want to see in the future, etc.. ?
And 11moms is just a tag name, basically – again as Christine has said, just like twittermoms, any ning groups, just identifying the group. These woman however, are NOT JUST 11moms. They are a group of woman who (because of their status in the blogosphere, which they built before walmart came along) got chosen to be an 11 mom. Just like Kart has a group and many many other companies. I think the 11moms maybe just be more well known because of how influencial they are not JUST as an 11mom but all around the blogosphere.
I wish people would actually Stop calling them 11moms, lifetimemoms, kmartmoms, or whatever any woman bloggers are. Cause yes they are moms who happen to write about and consult for these places, but first and foremost these ladies are people, WONDERFUL PEOPLE who are the caring and passionate bloggers who I met in Bentonville. The woman who would lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it. Woman who are great intelligent moms who ARE making differences for woman.
They are smart enough to not get taken advantage of (believe me) and if Christine says her compensation (which by the way is none of anyones business, although now that she has shared it I give her kudo’s for doing so) is fine enough for her, then why does anyone else care ?
I actually wonder to myself, how many people really take the time to get to know these ladies? I mean, I feel like I am on a more than aquaintance level with some of them. And I never have thought of any of them as unintelligent. This is definitely NOT a word that comes to my mind when I think of them. Maybe instead of judging them without getting to know them first would be a better start, dontcha think ?

Enough already !

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Cheryl August 17, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Frankly, I feel what or how you get compensated or paid is none of my business. I think it all comes down to whether or not I trust you, and I do. I don’t personally know you, but I feel that you would not allow money or compensation of any form to influence your opinion. If I felt that you did allow it to influence you, I would no longer read your blog. It’s that simple.

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RookieMom Heather August 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Thanks Christine, this is very informative. I appreciate you putting it all out there.

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abdpbt August 17, 2009 at 3:05 pm

I have no problem with the Walmart 11 Moms thing, personally, even if you’re never paid, or paid in gift cards, or whatever. If it works for you guys, I say go for it.

What bothers me is the blatant paternalism (yes, it’s ironic that this is the word, but it’s the right word) and classist statements I hear being thrown around in the criticism of this program and the product review debates. For goodness sakes, if it bothers you people so much that somebody might associate you with Walmart or people who work for Walmart, or suggest that you do something for free–here’s a tip, take the word “mom” or “mommy” or “motherhood” or “mother” or “baby” out of your url! It’s really simple. And if someone offers you a job that isn’t paid, just don’t do it!

Wow!

I am talking about statements like this: “When we as moms–all of us–are willing to work for links or ‘exposure’ or gift cards, we make it increasingly challenging for those who follow us to be valued for their work.”

This is so not true. Build a quality product and people will come to you, it doesn’t matter what the other people are doing. And also, if somebody else wants a gift card as payment, who cares? Who are you to say this is not adequate, for them, for their services?

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Lucretia Pruitt August 17, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Word.

Proud to be an 11mom alumnus.

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Kelli August 17, 2009 at 6:34 pm

OK, plain and simple… I don’t like y’all! Whew, I feel better. :-D Totally kidding, I am just jealous. I wanna be an 11 mom! I want to review the electrolux washer and dryer… I would love to take my kids to Disney! Hook me up gals. ;-) I bust behind but can’t seem to get anywhere because I am not in the right clique. My stats are bigger than some of the 11+ moms, my readers are more loyal, yet I can’t catch the break. I am wanting to go to the convention but I guess I haven’t made friends with the right people. :-D

Don’t take it mean, Mother Nature visited today and I feel like whining. :-D Ok, closing the computer to enjoy my bubble bath and chocolate.

I am proud of you girls and hope one day to get the breaks, too! Keep at it and make a different!

Hugs,
Kelli – 3 Boys & a Dog

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Kelli August 17, 2009 at 6:36 pm

make a difference, too ;-)

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Alicia August 17, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I think the post was great and I am sorry you have to defend what the 11moms is. I think anyone that is having an issue with the 11moms is jealous, yes all you haters read that right, JEALOUS! You have nothing to do with how WM treats their employees.

Keep up the good work 11moms!

Alicia Herrington
The Penny Princess

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Kim/hormone-colored days August 17, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Thanks for taking time to explain what you do these days for Walmart. It makes me sad to see commenters talking about jealous bloggers because I think many who are or have been critical of the program (waving hands here) take issue with Walmart as a corporation. I don’t even enter their giveaways (well maybe once I caved, but then decided I’d donate prize to charity if I won, which I didn’t).

I agree with Amy from Ohio, Queen of the Click and Bird on a Wire in that I’d love to see “power moms” using their social media cred for good. For example, I hope you will all join me and other bloggers for the Donor’s Choose Challenge coming this Fall to raise money for classroom projects (and sometimes basic supplies) in high poverty schools.

As for the Lifetime Moms, I hope this group does well. When I introduced this group to a client via the website, there was an audible sigh, “It’s the Walmart Moms.” I realize there are some additions and pointed them out to my client. I know it’s a different project, but that’s going to be a roadblock for y’all. On the other hand, there are lots of Walmart haters, but I’m not aware of Lifetime haters, so your group has that advantage. Good luck and thanks for this post!

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priscilla August 17, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Thannk you for sharing and bringing this to my attention. i hadnt noticed the badge. :D

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Jenn Fowler August 17, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Wow, what a spirited debate going on here. This is one of the things I love the most about social media-the ability of different groups of ppl to communicate openly like this.

As a founding member of the Walmart Elevenmoms, I thank Christine for writing this and helping to clarify some of the misconceptions regarding our relationship with Walmart. I will be point folks to this post–not only to help clarify & delineate the relationship, but also for them to read the comments and understand the various opinions and perceptions out there.

I can understand that we all feel passionately about these things and our viewpoints, but I am, and always will be, proud of being part of a program that is on the leading edge of bringing social media to corporate brands. Whether you agree or disagree with Walmart as a company, whether you agree or disagree with the Elevenmoms program itself, you should recognize that such a powerful and traditionally hidebound company as Walmart choosing to participate in social media to such an extent broke through the acceptance barrier for a lot of other brands. They weren’t the first, and they won’t be the last, but by forging forward they have added to the credibility of social media in general.

Obviously some of you out there take exception with the way that they have chosen to do this. That is your prerogative. We all have different opinions, beliefs, experiences and viewpoints. As my sweet MIL is know to say “what a boring world it would be if everyone were alike”.

Remember, there were no road maps, no proven example of how to do this “right”. You couldn’t go to a text book and read the case studies. This is such a young field. . . so of course it is going to be a growing process. I’ve heard folks refer to social media in general as “The Wild West”. . . we are all creating, defining what the acceptable social norms are and will be.

I am proud to be part of such an interesting time, and such a fantastic group of women.

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Sugar Jones August 17, 2009 at 7:53 pm

You’ve done a great job clarifying for the ignorant. I’m only sorry that anybody has to do so. The attacks that have been railed against you and the other Walmart moms are so unbelievable. An opinion is fine, but to attack and disparage and question any and every move you all make is beyond an opinion and just plain ugly and mean. You all have responded with strength and grace. Good for you!

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Not So Average Mama August 17, 2009 at 9:50 pm

WOW, as a woman it embarrasses me that grown women, most of which are MOMS act like this on the internet. I am so sorry for all the bloggers that are being attacked. This is insanely ridiculous. Everyday I see another person talking smack on another blogger. It’s jealousy plain and simple. Ignore the haters and keep on doing what makes you happy. You have no one to please but yourself and your family. Tell everyone else kick rocks and get a new hobby.

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Jacqueline August 17, 2009 at 9:58 pm

I personally think it’s sad that you felt you had to write this because it’s not right to be attacked based on ignorance. No one should be attacking you or any of the Eleven Moms. It’s bitterness and jealousy that has led to the harsh comments and rumors. Great job at standing your ground and setting the record straight. I enjoyed meeting you and Tara at BlogHer and I’m so glad to see that you stood your ground with dignity and respect!!! It says a lot about who you are in my book!(((hugs)))

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Naomi August 17, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Everyone knows what is appropriate for themselves, right? Speculating on impropriety seems like making something out of nothing, if the parties in question don’t feel they are being slighted…It seems to me that grown women (mothers!) can make their own decisions regarding compensation and personal value.

Would I like to be in the situation to have to make those decisions? Sure.

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Sarah, TheOhanaMama August 17, 2009 at 11:00 pm

If you make money, you are a sell out, if you don’t they say you are making it “increasingly challenging for those who follow us {you} to be valued for their work.”

You just can’t win, huh?

I really think this is none of our business – your compensation – or rather how much compensation or in which form. For some reason when women get $$ people think it was to NOT think, be a puppet. That, to me is sad.

If we were men, noone would think anything of anyone getting any money. They would assume and would think it was for their brains.

I haven’t been following any hating going on. So to me, this post was out of left field (the tone of it) but it’s kinda neat to learn the goings on of how this all came together.

I would love to see more a more diverse group of women/voices added to any future mom consultant groups. Perhaps you ladies are paving the way for many of us to follow. As Jenn said…
“there were no road maps, no proven example of how to do this “right”. You couldn’t go to a text book and read the case studies. This is such a young field. . . ”

And it is not your fault, for lackof a better word, that you have been chosen by these companies, it’s your sucess…you should be proud. It was the companies that chose you.

Maybe turn it around and offer up advice to all those that would love to be in your position – share the wealth, knowledge, pay it forward…and say shove it to all those that criticize.

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Mom101 August 18, 2009 at 5:14 am

Hi Sarah, I’m not sure it’s fair for you to call me “they” when really I’m just a “She” with my own opinions, not speaking for anyone by myself. Especially when you conflate my words in my comment, above, with other opinions from other people and use words like “hating” which I certainly don’t do. Especially not about Christine!

Afford me the respect of addressing my comment directly. I’m always happy to discuss different opinions, just as I do with Christine.

And I think it is reasonable to talk about our value as brand evangelists/consultants/spreader of news and discounts, and how it impacts one another. To use your own analogy if it were men, there would be no doubt that they’d be paid in cash and not Walmart gift cards.

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Kim @ What's That Smell? August 18, 2009 at 6:30 am

Christine, this was very well written and you obviously took the high ground in being professional. Like some of the others I don’t believe you should have had to “defend your honor” but you did so eloquently and respectfully.

Plenty of people in all walks of life have relationships with major companies like Wal-mart, what makes the blog world so prone to thinking that this is some anomalous world where people get to be in everyone else’s business and make their decisions for them?

I do think a lot of it stems from envy, hell, I’m jealous!

I really think this says it all: “we are not Power Moms because we are ElevenMoms, we are ElevenMoms because we are Power Moms.”

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Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting August 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

Thanks for this post in clarifying things, but was it necessary? What I mean is, how much are we supposed to disclose? How much is too much – because personally and professionally, I wouldn’t go asking my neighbor how much they make. At the same time, we are supposed to disclose, yes? So what’s the rule, here, or is there one??

I am unsure about whether this is the result of the FTC about to lay the smackdown, or if it’s because the blogosphere is much more-so being flooded by marketing and PR than ever before, but, I am just not sure why everyone is so up-in-arms about everyone else’s commitments as of late? I still haven’t seen an explanation as to why. Why is it such a big deal? If they can manage all their commitments well, and their blogs, and their families, and the trips – more power to them, I say!

I, personally, would love to pick your brain some more, Christine (we spoke a little at Disney). As a mother to six myself, I couldn’t fathom homeschooling my children and doing all that you do, I would love to know how you do it! You did touch upon it some before, here on your blog, but honestly, as organized as I think I am sometimes, there are times (much like today) in which I feel I could NEVER accomplish all that some of you do, despite my love of writing, social media and marketing.

DM or Skype me sometime. I’d love to chat again :)

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Sarah, TheOhanaMama August 18, 2009 at 11:54 am

Hi Mom 101.

You said it so well, what so many (they) have said, so I quoted you. That’s all. Not looking for a fight.

I wasn’t insinuating that YOU were hating. In fact as I stated I hadn’t seen any hating…but I assume Christine was getting some “hating” going on and so she had to post this.

And if a man valued a gift card for a store as credit then yes he might very well be ok with getting that as payment. Who knows…the point is if CHRISTINE is ok with it, what does anyone (you) care…she may spend a ton of money there each week and so yes, that is considered payment.

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Andrea @ MommySnacks.net August 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm

And, the blogging drama continues…will it ever end??

Are you an 11Mom? Wow, I had no idea :) If they are paying you in gift cards, cash or peanuts, then so be it!

I wish people would stop thinking every action taken with someone’s personal blog somehow reflects upon THEM and their blog. It doesn’t! I mean, in the world of a corporate profession, one’s career path and changes they implement are not about everyone else in that specific profession. Those changes are about them as an individual career professional, right?

We all have goals for our blogs, I’m sure. If the goal is to partner with a company and receive a link back, a gift card or a pack of brownies that may achieve one or more goals we have established. It’s just like in any other profession. If goals aren’t met, from both sides, then things need changed. But, what I still get baffled by is how are yours/mine/Sally’s goals and relationships anyone else’s business?? Oh, that’s right..they are NOT!

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Dana August 18, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Well said, Christine.

I agree with Andrea- we all have different goals for our blogs. And those goals will change as our blogs grow and our personal lives change. The goals we set for our blogs are really own business. I don’t see why Christine, the 11moms, or any other blogger should have to explain and justify their business partnerships.

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Cindi @ Moomette's Magnificents August 18, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Christine – thank you for the well thought-out explanation.

What amazes me is that the gals of today have such wonderful opportunities available to all of you that weren’t even in existence when I was a young mom. You have the opportunity work from home, in whatever capacity you choose. You have the option to get compensated, and rightfully so, for your time and efforts. The possibility of regional and national exposure gives you the opportunity for job possibilities that never existed to Baby Boomers my age, who’s only option when looking for a job was to scan the Sunday section of the local newspaper.

Mom 101 (I quote) When we as moms–all of us–are willing to work for links or “exposure” or gift cards, we make it increasingly challenging for those who follow us to be valued for their work.

I agree with that statement.

Seize whatever opportunities come your way, because you are then making it easier for your daughters’ futures.

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Clemento August 19, 2009 at 1:10 am

Are you a professional journalist? You write very well.

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Melissa @Mel4Him August 19, 2009 at 9:23 am

Thank you Christine for taking the time out to explain, though I do not think an explanation was necessary. I do not understand what is wrong with some people these days. Life is too short for this petty stuff. There are more important things in this world to gear our attention on. Not whether a mommy blogger is getting paid, or not paid. Compensated, or not compensated. Who cares. They have every right to do what they see fit for them and their family. I think it is also ridiculous that some people feel the need for mommy bloggers to defend their choices. They have every right to do as they see fit just like anyone else. I say if you want something go after it and good for you. God Bless.

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Shan @ Last Shreds Of Sanity August 19, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Christine, you are a brave woman for posting this. But I think it is very sad that you felt you had to do it.

There are certain members of this blogosphere that I love so much that cannot breathe without causing drama, hating on other Moms/bloggers or spewing their jealousy in the form of vitriolic posts or tweets. It is very sad that after all the protests/marches/bra burnings for equal rights, that women are still in that same place, clawing the backs of other women and tearing them down in order to get what they want.

Some vocal bloggers want to police everyone else and make them “do as I say, not as I do”. Still others just want to create flame wars for no other reason than they have not matured past the 10th grade. It is sad to see women victimizing other women and letting petty jealousies goad them into making viscous comments about those who are more successful than they are.

I can admit I feel a bit jealous when I see friends of mine get great opportunities that I wish I had gotten. But I can put that aside and be happy that they were recognized for their hard work. So you are an 11Mom and a Lifetime Mom…Good for you! Those are incredible opportunities.

I shop at Wal Mart because sometimes that is where the best deals are, but I do not agree with their employment practices. Unfortunately, I need to be able to buy the things my family needs and I cannot always do that paying higher prices at another store.

I DO NOT feel that ANY blogger should be required to disclose how much they make from their blogs. EVER. That is your income. And much like any “real world” job having policies about not discussing salaries with other employees, I believe the same should hold true here. I do believe in disclosing that a product was recieved for a review. However, any person reading a review who does not get that the line “Company X sent me the YZ to review” is, in fact, quite enough disclosure and rather self -explanatory, needs to have some reading lessons.

Here is a novel approach…How about those that want such disclosure, transparency and integrity in blogosphere start practicing those things themselves, instead of just commanding others to do what they themselves are not willing to do?

Kudos, Christine. Stay true to yourself.

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Kristin August 19, 2009 at 10:46 pm

wow Shan @ Last Shreds Of Sanity you took words right out of my mouth.

Christine you’re fabulous!! You know this mannn!! mwah!

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MommyReporter August 23, 2009 at 2:15 pm

This definitely seems to be a hot topic. I think it’s wonderful for the ElevenMoms to be involved in what seems to be a fun and interesting project. The expectations about what the ElevenMoms should or should not do is really what is driving all the negative reactions. I think you are doing a great job and thanks for giving us the real story.

Much success to you!!

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Mamanista (Debbie) September 1, 2009 at 9:16 am

Walmart 11Moms have every right to be proud of the work they’ve done. There is a lot of interest in their compensation and the form it takes. And I’ve seen many comments saying that when mom bloggers work “for free” it hurts other mom bloggers. These comments seem to be calling for solidarity or official standards for bloggers.

But unlike Actors or members of the Writers Guild of America, mom bloggers are not in a union. There are no blogging regulations. Given the difficulty of getting bloggers to agree to uniform standards for disclosure, I would imagine that establishing any kind of pricing regulations would be impossible.

Currently bloggers are free to charge what they like for services. This is both a blessing and a curse. If some bloggers are willing to write for free, it may make it more difficult for others to charge for writing and consulting services.

But quality is the differentiating factor. I work in marketing. I know that companies will pay to work with top bloggers such as The Pioneer Woman because of the quality of their writing and their influence. When I select bloggers to work with a brand, I evaluate their writing and their reach. And I am willing to pay for the best fit for the brand. If you have a quality product, you will be able to charge a premium for your services.

Rather than focusing on what the Walmart Moms are doing and how much they are charging, I prefer to spend time focusing on my own career goals.

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