Guest Post: Go Easy on the Swag and Other BlogHer Learnings

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi speaking at BlogHer 11. Photo: Feature Photo Service

BlogHer took place in San Diego over the weekend, and while we couldn’t be there, more than 3,000 others could.

We often hear about the importance of women and mothers to brands, both for their purchasing power and as influencers. Add the blogging element, and you have a target group that’s important to huge companies like PepsiCo.

In today’s guest post, Alyssa Galella, an SAE at M Booth and a BlogHer veteran, talks about the evolution of the event and gives us some key takeaways from this year’s conference. Click through more more.

PR Takeaways from BlogHer ’11 bAlyssa Galella, senior account executive on the FirstWord Digital and consumer technology teams at M Booth.

Each year I attend the BlogHer Conference, where thousands of female (and a few male) bloggers and brand representatives converge every summer, I’m encouraged to see that the relationship between bloggers and PR professionals seems to be improving over time. As someone who has been blogging for 10 years and working in the PR industry for more than five, it’s interesting to see how the two factions interact.

Attendance at the conference is growing exponentially each year (when I first attended, in Chicago in 2009, 1,500 people were there, compared with the 3,600 who attended in San Diego last weekend) and BlogHer has done a great job of taking the community’s feedback into account and making improvements. Here are some key insights on this year’s conference, from a PR point of view:

  • Tone Down the Swag: BlogHer 2009 was famous for the backlash against all of the free stuff provided by brands. This year’s Expo area, where brand sponsors set up booths, felt less overwhelming than in previous years, with many sponsors smartly choosing to mail giveaway items to the bloggers afterward, realizing they don’t have much room in their suitcases to tote everything home. The most valuable and interesting booths are those that provide fun experiences that are in line with the brand, not just freebies – I loved how Dr. Scholl’s offered foot massages (very necessary after all that walking, trust me) and customized shoe inserts, as measured by a special machine.

  • Check Out the Panels: Some bloggers I spoke to said they didn’t have time to attend any panels, between hanging out in the Expo and attending offsite brand events during the day, but I think they continue to provide valuable insights, especially for PR folks. The “Minding Your Own Business” track is usually very popular and features panels all about the relationship between bloggers and brands. Although I’ve seen these sessions become somewhat heated in years past, this year the panels I attended were very balanced and included people who are very involved in both the blogging and marketing communities, like Liz Gumbinner (a.k.a. Mom 101) and Susan Getgood. Sitting in on these panels is a great way to hear how bloggers like to be worked with and find new bloggers who are interested in working with your clients.

  • Understand That the Bloggers Are All Over the Map: Many people mistakenly assume that all BlogHer attendees are mom bloggers and although many do have kids, that’s not entirely true and they come from all walks of life. Conference attendees also run the gamut of their experience with brands – some work with brands all the time, some want to learn more about how to do so, and some have no interest in brands and only write for fun. Although many of the bloggers are interested in networking with brand representatives, some of them are mainly there because it’s their one weekend a year where they can hang out with their friends from all over the country. Instead of giving them a hard sell on your clients, chat with them on a personal level.

  • Don’t Call Them “Mommy Bloggers”: As someone who has worked extensively with moms who  blog for years, I cringe every time I hear someone refer to them as “mommies.” Several bloggers have told me they find it condescending and prefer the term “mom bloggers,” if the fact that they have children is relevant to your discussion. If you don’t call your own mother “Mommy,” you probably shouldn’t refer to anyone else’s that way, either!

None of the brands mentioned are M Booth clients.

Recommended articles