Here’s the thing about the BlogHer conference….it’s HUGE. Massive. Ginormous. And it’s just not about the sessions – or the learning – at least in my opinion. Now before you start thinking that I’m bad-mouthing BlogHer in all its glory, take a breath and keep reading.
This year, the conference increased in size by nearly 1000 attendees. That is a LOT of people, people. A lot. You put that many women in one spot – many of whom haven’t seen each other in real life EVER or at least for a long time – and there’s gonna be a lot of chatting and catching up and tears and hugs. Women who bring their kids are approached and asked if they wouldn’t mind letting a stranger hold/cuddle/touch/tickle their baby…there are a lot of ladies missing their kids at BlogHer (myself included – and yes, I am guilty of asking a lady if I could touch her baby’s feet). And then there are the sponsors…on the 2 floors (2 FLOORS!) of expo hall + the 2 floors (2 FLOORS!) of private suites in the hotel.
Yes, there are learning sessions taking place. And yes that is an option that many of the attendees take advantage of…but not most. And to be quite honest, why should they? There are sessions to help teach bloggers how to engage with marketing a PR reps…why attend a session where you’re TOLD what to do when you can walk right down on the floor and talk to them yourself? Get 1st hand experience? Granted some folks might be intimidated or not fully understand the process. But working in PR myself for years, I can tell you that PR folks just want to talk to you and tell you about their product/service/experience. If you don’t like it/don’t want it/aren’t interested, THEY TOTALLY UNDERSTAND.
If you’re at the conference and want to attend the session where they talk about humor writing and, coincidentally, laugh your butt off – you should! It’s hilarious and worth attending and you get to hear some incredibly talented women share their stories and their secrets. I personally avoid the tear jerker sessions because I’ve cried through too many of them in the past – but they are unbearably moving and really show a side of bloggers that is truly admirable.
But the thing I think is really important to understand here is that the interest BlogHer has received from corporations reinforces the fact that this community is a group to be reconned with. Their voices matter, their sites matter, and THEY matter. Companies are taking them seriously. And it’s NOT WRONG to respond to that. Particularly if you’re hoping to monitize your blog or create/build a small business as a result of your engagement. I say MORE POWER TO YOU. BlogHer, in my opinion, is a chance to visit, mingle, make friends, renew existing friendships, learn about new and interesting products, practice networking skills, and learn how to engage with companies. It is a WONDERFUL conference and serves a purpose. I just no longer believe that purpose to be the sessions.
So, what were some of the companies that I met with which made an impact on me?
PUR – I had an extensive conversation with the representative from PUR. She was very kind – even when I told her I couldn’t stand on-the-faucet filters because for whatever reason they have NEVER worked for me. She took the time to walk me over to the display sink in the IMPRESSIVE P&G house and show me exactly how to install it, how to change the filter, how to use it, and how it can clip on and off just by squeezing these two tiny buttons. I told her I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope that it would work, given our history, and she gave me one to take home and try on my own sink. She also told me that if it DIDN’T work to let her know – because she truly did want to know the result. I took it home. DH installed it. And guess what…IT WORKED. It’s easy. It clips off so I can wash my dishes. The water tastes REALLY clean and the filters last 3 months! It’s easier for me to mix bottles, add water to sippy cups, and refill my water bottle. We also repurposed our old filter pitcher as a water holder for the water dispensed from the tap. I love it. And I’ll never go back.
Hasbro/Playskool – Seriously, they know what they are doing. They had an adorable booth and fun, interactive toys. And aside from the Mr./Mrs. Potato Heads given out in bags delivered to our rooms, they also had a table where all those mommies who were desperately missing their wee kidlets could fill out a post card, featuring the brand new Weebles. It was black and white for the kiddos to color in when they received it – or the parent could color it themselves. I learned a lot about the new Weebles – a toy I had when I was a child and enjoyed immensely. The new Weebles are hitting stores now and they are too cute for words – with their treehouse, merry-go-round, and little cars. I can assure you, Pineapple will be getting a Weeble Treehouse for her birthday in a couple of weeks. And I cannot WAIT to play with it! I mean SHE…SHE cannot wait to play with it. *cough* Oh – and I also got some Playdoh scented Demeter cologne from them. Love. It. So. Fun.
Eucerin/Aquaphor – These people took a lot of time to talk to me not only about my skin issues (the nasty bumps on my arms I’ve lived with my WHOLE life) but also about Pineapple’s skin issues – the TERRIBLE eczema and diaper rashes. They shared some tips and tricks with me and helped me understand how to battle both of these skin issues. And they gave me a LOT of products to try out. I am a loyal user now because Pineapple has seriously benefited from using the Aquaphor on her eczema. It has truly helped her. And the new lightly scented body lotion by Eucerin is awesome…the scent isn’t to strong, it goes on smoothly, and it feel really nice. I really feel like they listened and tried to help me. And Pineapple. That matters to me.
The ecco crew had a booth upstairs in the hotel. You had to go out of your way to get there but when you did, they had PEDICURES (helllooooo) and some really fun women to tell you all about their shoes. I’ll admit, I’d never paid much attention to their shoes, though I do have a purse by them, and now, I’m paying attention. In fact, I’d sell DH to gypsies for the pair of shoes seen over to the left. Now, let’s hope DH isn’t paying attention to this post! 😉
Matmucil/Align – This crew was awesome. That had so much good information to share and a sample of their super yummy (surprisingly so) smoothie. They also had the writers of “What’s Your Poo Telling You” and “What the Yuck?!” signing books. Coincidentally, “What the Yuck” is a wonderful book and I’ve really been enjoying reading it. They also had a seperate room where they were conducting blood pressure and cholesterol checks. Mine is outstanding!…with the MILD exception of my BMI…which we will NOT discuss. *whimper* Either way, I learned a lot in their suite. And they opened my eyes to a product I would not have been inclined to try on my own. And the probiotics from Align? Let’s just say they work…and leave it at that.
Like I said before, there were a LOT of really great sponsors – and we should really appreciate them all because without them, we wouldn’t have the conference in the first place, right? And they are recognizing us – the bloggers – as a voice and a community. That’s saying something. So bottom line: Did I enjoy BlogHer? Yes. Did I enjoy the sessions? The ones I could find – and “meh.” Will I go again? You betcha! What was the best part? Catching up with my friend Bay of Queen Mother Blog! I just wish I’d been able to see so many others of my bloggy friends…but dang girl…those crowds were HUGE!
See you at BlogHer ’11!