Oh. My. Blog.

IMG_5927 copyOkay so here is the BlogHer post.

The post some of you have been wanting to see while others have been dreading and throwing up in your mouth just a little every single time I say the word BLOGHER. For that reason I have buried this post (predate)….It is long and will only really appeal to a few of you. Its is also not well edited or even funny. But it has THE FACTS. So I wanted to make it available while everyone was asking and wondering ‘what was BlogHer like?’….

I am hoping this post can serve as a little guide for those of you who are hoping to attend this conference sometime in the future…I made mistakes, and other things worked out great.

*NOTE: I haven’t taken the time to hyper-link to everyone’s sites. I will. I promise.

 

Mistake #1: I worried way way too much about what to wear. Most people were tragically underdressed at the cocktail parties. It was sad really. I mean you can’t ditch the frickin crocs for one weekend? That said, the ladies who did make an effort looked beautiful- so maybe my bitchen leopard print pain inducing heels were totally worth it after all.

Mistake #2: I went totally and completely alone. I thought it would be like summer camp. You know how your parents drop you off and by the time the bus is leaving you are all BFFs with everyone already. You sing kumbya and talk about who brought contra-band candy in their suitcase? Yeah this wasn’t like that. AT ALL. The first day, and most of the second I spent ALONE. I went to breakfast alone, and everyone was too busy chatting with their roommates or friends they already knew that no one even noticed me. I went to workshops and parties alone too. I ate lunch alone. But I continued to keep TRYING. I forced myself. After all I came all this way, and I was going to have a good time damn it! So I smiled and made eye contact with everyone. I did everything short of stand on a chair and say “SOMEONE BE MY FRICKEN FRIEND ALREADY!!!” Finally I saw a few people I kinda knew in real life…and they babysat me in the bar for a bit. But still? I was miserable and near tears. I frantically sent my real life friend text messages proclaiming how much I hate BlogHer. I walked thru two cocktail parties totally invisible and called it a day. I tried to focus on the ‘business’ side of it all, having productive meetings with PR peeps and media people who I had already planned to hook up with.

The next morning I woke up more determined than ever to make this worth my while. I mean I am damn charming and entertaining! I am funny and I can drink like a sailor! I WAS GOING TO HAVE SOME DAMN FUN and PEOPLE WERE GOING TO LIKE ME! And all I can say is like answered prayers I went to breakfast and I saw Kristen (We are THAT family) come towards me. We have been ‘friends’ for a long time, and I feel really close to her and it was just wonderful. Best part, she was all a little overwhelmed by it all too. We went to sessions (one on ‘Advanced’ Social Media that was way to beginner and not helpful at all) and another on SEO (that was so over my head I left early to save myself from a headache). From there I went to the Birds of a Feather lunch.. Now this is a lunch thing where you sign up to sit at different tables that have themes. When I signed up I didn’t see a theme I liked so I started my own. “HUMOR”. And I began panicking no one would show up. But I was wrong. The table was filled with funny and fabulous women including IAMBOSSY, who surprisingly is not bossy but charming in real life.

Mistake #3: I assumed I would ‘run into’ people I know. I guess it has been awhile since i have been apart of 1500 people for anything…because I thought I would just SEE people I knew. I should have made arrangements to meet or taken people’s cell phone numbers. It was IMPOSSIBLE to find anyone. Really.

I was also able to hang out with The Bitchen Housewife, who is really- very bitchen. She is gorgeous and funny and just…fun. And then it was off to the only session I was really looking forward to; The Humor Session. In a comedic twist BlogHer stuck this session into the world’s smallest and hottest meeting room at the Sheraton. There was hundreds of women there…sitting on tables and floors and standing in fire exits just to listen. Clearly BlogHer underestimated the popularity of Humor bloggers. It was here I took an opportunity to chat with Jenny (The Bloggess) and it great. (see original post on that whole hot mess of a friendship)

Off to the Shutter Sister Pajama party…and that was refreshing. It was a ‘swag free’ zone. (more on the swag NIGHTMARE below) and very pleasant. AND I got to wear pajamas and flip flops. I took a photo with the red stapler and watched a fireworks show over the Chicago river from the window. Jenny showed up there too, and we ended up sitting out in the hallway talking the whole time. Which is a wonderful memory….(back story: I once left her a comment on her blog saying I was never reading again because some post offended me. I must have been PMSing. But she reached out to me then. Which was way classy.)…

Some how I was convinced by my OC counterpart Tracy Clark (and Shutter Sister founder) that it would be a totally acceptable thing to go to the Cheezeburger party in the presidential suite in my PAJAMAS. I am sure it was the wine talking when I agreed. But the party was insane. Like a frat party kegger…and I was just not into that.. Too loud to talk, no place to sit…so I tried to leave. I was TRYING to be responsible and go to bed at a reasonable hour. But happily I was accosted by Allyson who also convinced me it was also totally acceptable to go ACROSS the STREET to Lucky Strike for the BowlHer party in my frickin PAJAMAS.. So off I went. With a gaggle of girls…feeling confident and well liked. I marveled on the walk over how extremely different day two had been from the nightmare of day one. I am sure there is a life lesson in there somewhere. Something about not giving up , blah, blah, blah…..

Finally when I woke on day three, trying to pack mounds of swag and I realized I had actually had a good time… It was productive (from a corporate business sense) and it was actually fun too. Was it AT ALL like I expected? No. NOT AT ALL. But still it was enjoyable. I really sincerely loved meeting my Kodak people and being there as their advocate. There are moments I will cherish like Nap Warden coming up to me in a packed conference and saying ‘ARE YOU THE MARCY????”….it was so sweet. After that-all the people that heard came up and asked for a card. They thought I was a rock star or something. And it was so so wonderful to see Kristen of We are THAT Family, Ali Worthington, Elise Darby, Momfluential, 24/7 Moms, Headless, The Daily Beast people, Design Mom, Allison Czarnecki and many many (super many) others.

 

Now lets talk about swag and brands and all that stuff:

SWAG WHORES.

Yeah. You heard me. The swag at BlogHer 2009 was beyond insane.

And don’t think I have anything against getting very cool free stuff….but after three days of the insanity,

I was really really bothered by the whole thing.

I heard more than once (okay like 10 times at least) “I am only hear for the swag”. And that was clear from peoples behavior. They would troll each and every party, just to collect the swag bag and then move on. And in more than one case I saw people taking much much more than their fair share. At the Kodak Sponsored SocialLuxe Lounge on Thursday night, the swag included an amazing Zi6 video camera. And this brought out the worst in people. A group of people stole bags from the swag room leaving many of the VIP and RSVP’s guests empty handed. Croc had placed boxes of flip flops at the entrance, and women took not one, not two but ARM FULS of flip flops back to their hotel. And this was only the beginning….I went to the MOM TV suite because I was filming a segment for them, and was TRAMPLED as the women pushed and shoved their way to the swag table. I have a cut on my leg to prove it. Every party or event was the same…Just a mad dash for swag with nary a thank you to the hosts. Just grab and go. DISGUSTING. And this BlogHer included an entire mini convention floor with tradeshow like booths for businesses. Everyone from PBS, Liberty Mutal, Oscar Mayer, Chevy, Pepsi, Ragu and WalMart was there (and TONS of others). Handing out bags of products and promotional info. Want to take a break for minute? Well watch where you sit…people had placed flyers and giveaways EVERYWHERE you looked. I know, I know -a group of women this size who are the perfect demographic is irresistible to sponsors. But I was drowning in BRANDS. It felt like a 3 day commercial. And when I walked into my room to see that Bounce had placed a gift bag ON MY PILLOW I felt violated. And it did not endear me to the product. (I gave mine to the housecleaning staff just to get it out of my sight).

While I love brands that support marketing to bloggers, I think this kind of blitz PR is simply diluting the message. And frankly? Did not make for a better BlogHer experience at all. I am hoping BlogHer realize something has to be done about the Swag issue.

(Additionally I would have liked to see to a session on the ethics of blog reviews. Hey BlogHer…give me a call. Happy to speak next year on this for you.)

I have heard from tons of people they will not be returning next year. For different reasons (too many people, too much swag pimping, not satisfied with the quality of the sessions etc.) AND they announced it will be in New York. The most expensive city in the US…(and also not a centralized location).I remain undecided. Perhaps BlogHer is like childbirth and as the days pass, I might forget all the pain and anguish I endured.

And just remember the many many open bars and the 3 days in 2009 that I didn’t have to do laundry.

 

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