The Newseum, which is an interactive museum of news and journalism located in Washington, DC, is a reportorial buffet of information. The permanent exhibitions and traveling galleries include everything from a satellite replica and a Bell helicopter to eight, 12-foot sections of the Berlin Wall and a chronicle of other events high and low, such as an illustrated map of press freedoms around the globe and the ramshackle cabin where the “Unabomber” waged domestic terror against his fellow citizens.
And yet, there is something missing from this sleek building whose upper floors cantilever over the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue; there is a void in this 250,000-square-foot collection of glass facades, upon which a giant slab of Tennessee marble hangs and the inscription of the 45 words of the First Amendment asserts the primacy of American liberty. There is an absence.
I do not exaggerate when I write that in this illustrated evolution of media, and amidst so many theaters, pavilions and an enormous atrium, there is not even a plaque – or a signpost – on behalf of the single greatest force of online influence and credibility. There is no smartphone from this group. There is no tablet from these writers. There is no physical memento to commemorate the most powerful voice in business news and marketing.
I refer to the legions of women – the tens of millions of mothers, the mommy bloggers – who can propel brands to unprecedented heights, spread commentary like an electronic wildfire, showcase otherwise unknown products, and, when necessary, confront the mightiest of corporations with the aid of the mightiest of swords: Their own words, the (electronic) pen to paper (or screen), where a mother can refute grandiose marketing claims and not-so-subtle intimidation from major businesses.
I applaud these women because of their enthusiasm for my company. And, as the Founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye, I can attest to the thoroughness of mommy bloggers, who respect the products I develop that alleviate or eliminate a common frustration: The itching sensation induced by pests, pets, allergies and unexpected events.
I also happen to have the pleasure of writing this piece from our nation's capital, home to our marble temples of independence, our statuary of great presidents, the Library of Congress, the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool . . . and tens of thousands of mosquitoes. Yes: I have the scratches and bumps caused by these nighttime ambassadors that lobby the District while I rest.
But I owe some of my most significant professional achievements to these creatures because they are, in part, the reason my product exists – and my product is the reason I continue to meet an ever-growing number of mommy bloggers from every state and major city.
The Women of Change: The Most Sincere Advocates (or Critics) of Any Business
It is just, indeed, that I can reach the Newseum (of which I am a member) within minutes. For, I can issue a request to the building's curators – I will offer the same plea here – to update that space to reflect the changes wrought by women with a passion for respect and authenticity.
I also have some advice for executives, who may dismiss the influence of a lone individual or mock a “keyboard warrior” in pink slippers and a bathrobe: “Gentlemen (and ladies, too), mommy bloggers do their own independent research; they will scrutinize every aspect of your product, and they will test the legitimacy of every claim associated with your brand. Failure to communicate with this audience is nothing short of arrogance and incompetence.”
Does that, therefore, mean every mommy blogger is correct about the conclusions she makes about a product? Does that mean I agree with every suggestion or (mild) critique a mommy blogger writes about my product?
The answer is “no,” but I respect the investment by a mother to sample my product and provide insightful feedback. I respect the commitment each woman upholds – many without remuneration of any kind – to speak truth to power.
I respect the personal resolve to have a voice, distinctive in tone and resonant by design, where the public will listen to – and read – the words that define that voice.
To my fellow executives and entrepreneurs, I encourage you to answer that voice with dignity and kindness.
Merry Richon is an entrepreneur and the Founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye, an all-natural and holistic means of alleviating the itching sensation caused by variety of external factors.