Why all the Bloggy Events?

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on May 5, 2009

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Yes, I have been on quite a few sponsored trips in the last few months and I am hearing all sorts of questions about them. The question that I hear most often is “What are the benefits of these events for the company and/or the blogger?”

Well, first let me touch on what I see companies gain from these events. I have been to events where I felt like I was watching a great big infomercial, with products pushed at me the entire time we were together. But, I have also been to great events where it has been more of a relationship-building, learning experience.

The ROI (return on investment) for the company hosting the event may be the knowledge gained from talking to real moms (Campbell’s), establishing a focus group or word-of-mouth marketing team (Frito-Lay’s Fab 15), finding the perfect spokesperson for an upcoming campaign (J&J), or simply just creating awareness about their products, services, or current campaigns (Stouffer’s and Disneyland Resorts and Walt Disney World). The benefits may include buzz that is created around the trip or, more importantly, it could be just about creating new friendships or maintaining existing relationships.

Second, what are the benefits for the blogger attending? Relationship building, by far! The connections that I have made, both with other bloggers and with the company hosting the event, have been priceless. Because of these connections I have formed life-long friendships, have consulted with companies, become a campaign spokesmom, and even become one of Walmart’s ElevenMoms.

Another question that I am asked fairly often is how I seem to be invited to all these events and blogging trips. I’ve been asked if I’m part of an “exclusive club” or even been accused of being a part of a “clique.” That makes me sad! These trips are not “cliquish” in any way, nor are they a result of my relationship with Walmart. Believe it or not, I was invited to brand sponsored events even before I became one of the ElevenMoms!

It is important to understand that each event that I have been invited to has been because of a relationship I am forming with folks in that particular company, because a company found me through an article or my online involvement in areas aside from my blog, or because I was recommended by another attendee. It is not because I whined, begged, pleaded, or even asked. I don’t believe in weaseling my way in, pretending to be anyone’s friend, in hopes of a free trip. Instead, I have built relationships, both online and off, and it happened to pay off in ways I never expected!

If you are wondering how you can be noticed by companies planning events, take a look at what my good friend Lori Dolginoff, from Johnson & Johnson, recommends. “As a blogger you should take advantage of opportunities to get yourself noticed in a positive light,” she says. Join online communities, enter company brand contests (like the Big Bubblin’ Stars Contest), engage in positive conversations, and attend blogger conferences (like BlogHerLori will be there and she loves hugs!). Make new friends, both online and off.

Are you staying neutral in the blogosphere? Do you engage in positive conversations about brands and products? Are you a key influencer, both online and off? Are you likeable, approachable, and friendly? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are pretty great that you will be invited to an event, or two. Please let me know when you are… I want to jump up and down with you!

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

oh amanda May 5, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Great post, Christine!

(I was trying to add something more exciting…but you said it all! Or maybe I’m just still tired.)

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A Cowboy's Wife May 5, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Great post Chris! And I’m really glad that you touched on the club/clique thing because that saddens me as well. I work hard to establish a long lasting relationship with companies and participate in a number of ways. It really is all about relationships and them seeing how hard you are working in everything you do.

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Alyssa May 5, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Thanks Christine, I feel I am doing “all those things”, but I haven’t gotten much notice from companies at all. I just chock it up to being too many bloggers to choose from. Any other tips?

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Beth May 5, 2009 at 2:53 pm

This is a great post and I found it very helpful. Thanks for the tips!!

Beth@Mom Squad Blog

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Dana May 5, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Thank so much for your advice. Very helpful. I would love to be involved in a sponsored trip, but have yet to be invited. I also don’t believe in begging or weaseling my way in, so I’ve just been very passive overall. I am going to take your advice now and more actively engage in positive brand conversation. Would you suggest blogging about brands I love more often? Would that perhaps be effective in getting these opportunities?

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Andrea @ Mommy Snacks.net May 5, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Great post, C!

And, I know you will be jumping up and down with someone as they get an opportunity! That’s the beauty in all of this – it may not be you (or me) going but we can be happy for others’ getting opportunities like this as well! And, with twitter, we can hear first hand what types of information they are getting and the fun they are having!

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To Think Is To Create May 5, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I agree, and I think that what some people may be misunderstanding is that anyone who is picked isn’t just some lucky schmo who was just minding her own business and got picked.

That blogger who got picked has likely been busting her tail to make relationships, to network, to stick her neck out there and suggest projects that are mutually beneficial. When you add value and work hard, people remember your name when it’s time to choose names for a blogger event. But even if they don’t, there only so many people that can be invited, and there will always be a “next time”.

Great post! :)

-Arianne

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brandy w May 5, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Thats good to know. i have been getting discouraged lately. i don’t get much notice and never been invited anywhere,i’ve only met a few blogging people. I just feel like it’s the same people everytime, and it’s discouraging.

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A Cowboy's Wife May 5, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Well said Arianne! And I’m with ya Andrea, I know that Christine will most definitely be happy for anyone who gets chosen to go on these trips, as people should be for anyone. There’s no room for a green-eyed monster! ;)

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Jennifer James/Mom Bloggers Club May 5, 2009 at 3:10 pm

You’re so right. It’s not a clique at all. Mom bloggers who have been invited on these trips understand how important it is to network and build relationships. It’s all about relationships!

Great post!

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Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam May 5, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Great post :) It’s been fun to hear about all the exciting things that have been happening with you all, and so many are thrilled for you.
For a total newbie to working with brands, where do you even begin with the connecting? I slowly see it evolving on Twitter, but there are advantages to already having an “in” with in that circle of influence since you all know each other and can recommend each other. Please know that I think you all deserve it. After meeting many of you at Blissdom, you are all top notch, but how does a newbie begin? My blog numbers are beginning to get there, but I know that isn’t necessarily what it’s all about. I was hoping to have more specifics like this at Blissdom, but just too many great topics to cover in a short period of time. :)

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To Think Is To Create May 5, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I wanted to add — it’s not just busting your booty to do the networking, but also making sure you have a great blog in the first place. Content is king. Good writing, interesting posts, valuable information, a large and involved community, those all have to come first.

I know there are many bloggers that have just started and have amazing content, and to them I say — girl, you’re time will come too! There are plenty of eyeballs and readers for everyone, just like there are plenty of companies and opportunities for everyone. Putting out a great blog is the first step, and the rest, while it WILL come, does not come over night.

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Lisa May 5, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Great post! I often get asked the same thing because I have been invited to several events also. I meet new bloggers each time (like meeting you at Stouffers) I’ve gone, so it isn’t the same “clique”.

As for new bloggers, keep blogging. I didn’t get invited to my first trip till after I had been blogging 2 years.

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Lisa B @ simply His May 5, 2009 at 4:10 pm

This is a great post and definitely answers some questions for me. My kind of problem is two-fold. One, I blog pretty openly about my religion and beliefs. I don’t have the kind of blog that I think companies would really be interested in working with — like I don’t target moms of preschoolers … well, I guess I just don’t have a niche really :)

Which brings me to my second problem, I don’t blog on a regular basis because I’m a code junkie :) I get sucked into fixing other people’s blogs and making them do what they are supposed to do … that leaves mine, well, unattended most of the time!

I know I need to take some of my technical knowledge and put together a blog that does have a niche market — one that might be more appealing to these other companies and building relationships with them.

Oh, and if any of ya’ll in the “inner circle” hear from Harley-Davidson, I’m your gal! Send me! :D

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CarolinaMama May 5, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Awesome article. I couldn’t agree more and also personally know that believing in what you associate yourself with goes a long way. That’s when it naturally evolves when a company sees you in your element and you see them in theres – the two merge. Congratulations on your associations.

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Gwen Bell May 5, 2009 at 5:40 pm

This is spot on, Christine.

I think the key is actually in the conclusion of your post. You have to show up online and offline in the same way (to the degree that you can). Maintaining your virtual and real-life presence is what makes it click for companies. They want to know that when you show up to their event you will bring your A-Game. You won’t be thinking about some crisis or another (if you are blogging mostly about crises, there’s the chance you’ll have one while you’re at the event, right?).

They want folks to show up and really be _present_ – not just market their event for them, but to engage in the service/product in real time.

Timely post. I think we’ll see more of these events in the near future. It’s a great control group, it’s an excellent opportunity for both blogger and the company throwing the party/event/gathering.

See you at an event (Blogher 09 at the latest) real soon.

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Jen @ One Moms World May 5, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Great blog post Christine and I enjoyed reading all the comments that went along with this post. It really makes me happy to see the moms being “real” and not just someone that puts on a brand new face for the blogging world to get things and places to go. I so don’t think that is what the mom blogging community is about.

We are all unique and all have a great story to tell. We just need to get out there more and more and network. Do it positive like you said. That’s me. I have been blogging going on 4 years now and I am just Jen. I don’t try to be someone I am not… just a mom that loves to blog and loves to connect with other mom bloggers :).

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Erica May 5, 2009 at 11:20 pm

This is really interesting, I was at the Disney trip with the British bloggers and felt that I’d just ‘got lucky’, however, we found out we were actually selected albeit from a small group so there is some element of choice by the company.

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Catherine May 6, 2009 at 6:57 am

What a great post! As someone from the “company side,” I agree with your suggestions for getting noticed in the last two paragraphs. If you can answer yes to those questions, then you’re probably already being watched by a company for a potential upcoming opportunity. Just wait, your time will come!

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Musings from Me May 6, 2009 at 7:09 am

I’m a newbie blogger. 6 months at this point. I’ve gone to some fun events in DC. Very grateful to be invited. Christine — I like your point about networking. I’m learning to network. I also need a blog heaer in the worst way.

I’m wondering if the blogger’s photo has anything to do with it. The photo on my blog shows who I am — a 40-something, unglamorous mom. I’m actually kind of proud of my gray hair, and the fact that I last wore makeup when I was a full-time editor in the mid-90s. Does my age put companies off? Are companies looking for 20- and 30-something moms only?

Christine — I appreciate the tips in your post. As a new blogger/network/product spokesmom wannabe…I will take all your points to heart.

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Katja May 6, 2009 at 8:10 am

Great post Chris! You have been working your booty off for such a long time, creating great content with helpful tips and useful insights, and always remembering to pay it forward.

Hard work will not get unnoticed, and like Arianne said, the content is the king, and there are enough readers and opportunities for everyone.

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Felicia May 6, 2009 at 9:30 am

I really enjoyed this post. As a new blogger and seeing so many mommy bloggers blog about all of this, I get so excited that maybe one day it can happen for me. Keep doing what you are doing!

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ConnieFoggles May 6, 2009 at 3:44 pm

I love your post because it gives me the incentive to keep doing what I’m doing! I love blogging and have been doing it for two years now. In the beginning I had no idea what networking even meant, but with the help of other bloggers (some who have commented here, Lisa and Lori, to be exact) they held my hand through it all.

That’s one of the main things that I like about being a blogger – the community feeling and the helpfulness of that community. I am grateful for any advice I get. So thank you for this post!

I think that paying it forward helps us all too, btw. I’m signing up for your feed right now to learn more from you.

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Christy/MorethanMommy May 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Thanks for this post. I didn’t realize that people believe that the “power moms” are a clique! As a lesser-known blogger of 8 years, I know that it’s all about the relationships you build on and off line. If I have any jealousy on the matter, it’s the close bond so many bloggers have had the chance to build with each other. But the fact is, being invited to special events allows you to connect with others, opening up the likelihood of more special invites. I have had it happen in my own life. It can be hard to “break in,” which may be why many feel there is some sort of special club.

I tweeted about this yesterday, but I would like to see a bit more diversity in the pool of spokesmoms. And, although I am a woman of color, I’m not just talking about race. It does seem that the most high-profile trips and activities involve the same people over and over. I don’t begrudge the fantastic women involved – most of them have put in the time and consistently provide strong content (and presumable feedback for brands). And it’s not jealousy. Yes, I’ve got my bags packed in hopes that I’m invited on a Disney trip (just name the date, Mickey!), but I actually have my own share of great things in my blogging life. I’d like to see a bigger pool because, from my perspective at least, the repetition is starting to cause some brand confusion (who are you representing today?), loss of clear messaging from at least a few of the most tapped bloggers (some handle this better than others) and brand backlash (due to jealousy, frustration, confusion, etc.). And I don’t put any of this on the bloggers. There are experiences in life that you would be foolish to turn down.

Given that a lot of the responses to your blog are from the “inner sanctum” (with affection!), I’m not sure how popular the perspective will be, but since I had just remarked on this very topic, I felt like I should expand my comments.

I hope to meet you all at BlogHer!

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Christy/MorethanMommy May 6, 2009 at 5:14 pm

And now I apologize for my ridiculously long post which, when I wrote it, appeared to have paragraphs. =}

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Alli May 12, 2009 at 6:24 am

This is a great post. I’ve never been invited to a corporate event. And sure I did feel jealous of some of the moms going to certain events (Sony!), I never thought it was because of a clique, I always knew it was because of how I interacted (or not) and not being in the right place at the right time.

Love your blog!

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Amy May 14, 2009 at 6:39 pm

This is a great discussion and I agree the trips are so great for forming relationships with companies and brands. I am sometimes surprised to see how relationships evolve after an event. Sometimes the same PR firms are hosting events too so if you are great to work with, it is always a great surprise to make an invite list again.

I believe there has to be a balance though because I have found when I am gone so much these days that my blog and family life are suffering in the process. I am taking a small step back to try and figure out which opportunities fit the best for me and what is going to benefit my blog the most. When events don’t fit really well with my online audience or events are too similar then I need to start prioritizing. Not to mention my poor hubby who has to take over in my absence and all of that vacation time :)

I am so happy for all of your success, Christine, and it has been exciting to see you in your new spokesmom position and all that you are doing!

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Cindy Schultz May 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Thanks for the article. It inspires me to keep on keeping on. The companies I work with are great and I am sure some day, I too will be invited on a trip, to endorse a major brand etc. Thanks again!

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TwinHappyJen May 17, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for such a great post! I’m still relatively new to blogging, but I’m having such a great time exploring this whole world I was missing online! :-)

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Sarah, TheOhanaMama August 13, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Thanks for pointing me to this post! Love reading the comments too. I think I need to keep on keeping on!

And I agree that content is king.

Thanks Christine!

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Kristen August 24, 2009 at 6:48 am

Thank you so much for this! This is an awesome post and I’m probably going to be pointing some of my readers to this as well if you don’t mind.

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Anjanette aka. MommaYoung November 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Excellent post Christine.

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