BlogHer 2011 Observations

08.7.11

BlogHer 11 started with giggles and ended in uncontrollable laughter. I’d been promised a Nissan Murano for the drive to San Diego, unfortunately someone crashed the car a few days before the event and it just wouldn’t be out of the body shop in time.

The folks at Nissan were very apologetic, but hey, these things happen. They explained to me that there was one car left from the fleet, a Frontier. I said I’d take it, and then I googled Nissan Frontier.

OMG a pick’em up truck. A BIG ASS PICK UP TRUCK.

We drove this exact same nissan Frontier 2011 to BlogHer in San Diego

So I called my friend Carley who was driving down with me and I explained to her that we would be having a different experience. Since Carley has historically been open to my stupid ideas I felt fairly certain she’d be open to this. We had an absolute blast driving the Frontier down.

I will preemptively answer a few questions you might have about two women driving a Nissan Frontier:

  • Yes, it gets a lot of attention
  • No, I cannot park it very well
  • Yes, when we dropped it off with the valet we then made the valet take our suitcases and stuff them in the cab for safety
  • Yes, the kids think I’m the coolest mom in town
  • No, we didn’t go off-roading (but I’ve still got 24 hours)
  • Yes, the visibility is awesome
  • No, there were no problems getting in and out in a skirt and heels
  • 90 MPH is too fast to drive on a lightly curved highway interchange, though we broke no laws and absolutely were driving safely with the flow of traffic

Back to BlogHer. As I’d expected, no one cared what anyone wore. No one was judgy except me. I got one look at my friend Carly’s handbag and decided that I absolutely HAD to have one. (see not all judgement is bad). I grabbed Cassie and my pick up truck and the concierge gave us directions to Barney’s in Fashion Valley.

Except there was no Barneys, it was a Barney’s Co-Op which definitely wouldn’t have the amazing Proenza Schouler bag that I still must own. So Cassie and I hit up Neimans and I found a great dress and a pair of crisp white bermuda shorts that were on sale. Because of the sale prices Mr G now owes me $423, it’s called wife math.

Later that evening I had an amazing dinner in a sea of blones. Cassie, Kathy, Claire and I headed to Nobu and proceeded to eat and drink and chat for two hours. It was one of those dinners that you want to never end. I couldn’t get enough of their stories, the travel, the career building, the rapid ascents, the love stories. I wanted to drink in their successes and force them all to blog endlessly so that I can read about it more. I hunger for moments like these, smart women sharing knowledge. I don’t get enough of it.

I attended one session. It was good.

I met with brand representatives from a dozen or companies, some of whom I’ve worked with, some of whom I will never work with but I will play matchmaker with a friend. They were all anxious to work with bloggers, and they will have varying degrees of success if they don’t get in their own way.

I had a stumbly dinner with Cathy and Laurie and I’m hoping that someone can explain to me why shoes that fit me six months ago are now so big that I walk right out of them. My feet are not shrinking.

I changed hotel rooms. If you ever have to stay at the Marriott Marquis in Downtown San Diego do not under any circumstances accept a room with city views. Trains go by every half hour or so all night long, and just as you’re about to drift off to sleep a train whistle will wake you up. The first night was somewhere beyond miserable. The second night we faced the harbor, it was much better.

Bloggers are smart. Don’t let their cutesy icons fool you, these women are building meaningful businesses.

There are a few new startups that I fell in love with. Follow @PopSalad on twitter, it’s evolving into something fun. Parents, you’ll want to watch for Vikido. It’s good stuff. Tom was there from Cmp.ly, if you aren’t using cmp.ly you’re working too damn hard.

I hate to be negative, because 98% of BlogHer was fabulous. I have just one PR agency that I can’t work with. Over the years I’ve had nothing but terrible pitches from them followed by 2-3 follow up emails that were less like follow ups and more like nagging. They aren’t a small shop, they’re just a shop I’m not a match with. This shop recently hired a fellow blogger as part of their team. When I met up with the blogger we chatted and she told me all about the work she was up to with the agency and all the perks of blogging.

I was confused because the blogger/publicist had provided me with access to the client company yet she was telling me about how her blog got 1,000 hits a day from her interviews with executives and creatives from that same company. Then she went on to tell me that she loved working with _____ as a blogger because of the perks and she was already a fan. So I smiled and walked away.

I love when publicists blog. There are too many great PR blogs to mention. I love when bloggers find jobs within public relations firms. What I saw at BlogHer (and again, it’s just this one shop that I saw it with) is that the best access will go to the bloggers who work there. I am staying far far away.

I was sad to see so many women smoking. I won’t sermonize, but it made me sad.

The phrase I most often heard was, “I’m not just a blogger.” They would go on to talk about their other talents and social media influence. I felt badly for these ladies too, because there’s nothing wrong with being a blogger. I’m just a blogger.

 

 

 

 

BlogHer 11, Women Create Media, Summer is Over

07.29.11

Next week is a big week. I’ll be speaking at Women Create Media and then scooting on over to BlogHer.

I attened a BlogHer conference two years ago in Chicago, skipped New York in August 2010 (if you’re from NY you have to admit there’s no good reason to go there in August) and now I’m ready to give it another try in 2011.

Here are five things I will not be doing for BlogHer.

1. I will not be out after 10pm. I am not happy after 9pm and nothing is happening at parties after 10pm. Well, something is happening. People are drinking and enjoying themselves, but I’m off to BlogHer to connect with bloggers who I’m dying to meet, and to connect with marketers who I’m sure won’t be wasted in a hotel suite in the middle of the night. I plan on moderation and a good night’s sleep.

2. I will not be doing my hair or nails for the occasion. Take me as I am.  I’m a blogger who has shared her life with you. If my lack of a recent mani-pedi turns you off then it’s your issue, not mine. It’s not a beauty contest or a fashion show. It’s just a lot of women in one place. I don’t plan on smelling bad, I’m just not looking for a date so I’m going to make myself comfortable.

3. I will not be giving my business card to bloggers. If you want to reach me I’m at Jessica@JessicaGottlieb.com, you can call me at 818.486.9363 or you can text that number, either is fine, on twitter I’m @JessicaGottlieb and I’m on Google + as well. You don’t need my business card, you’ll just throw it out.

4. I will not be judging you unkindly. It’s no secret, I’m a judgy lady. I’ve got to figure out who I like and who I don’t like.  So when you have the nerve to show up to something as admittedly intimidating as BlogHer and you’re kind enough to introduce yourself and smile the judging is over. I already know I like you. Case closed.

5. Private Parties? Yes, there are quite a few of them. I was invited to some, and I’ll never be invited to others (Nikon… you never invite me… but since you don’t give away free cameras I don’t feel that bad). I’m pretty sure the private parties will be pretty good, but I’d also probably NOT attend without my own car or cab fare. 45 minutes at any party is plenty for me. If it’s super loud and we can’t hear each other anyhow why am I there?

I love meeting folks who I’ve only followed online. BlogHer is going to have 3,000 attendees this year and each of those 3,000 people only cares about him/herself so the good news is that you can come as you are and most of them will be too busy with their own insecurities to worry about yours.

Although a conference by and for women can be affirming, it’s also not particularly realistic or helpful. As much as I love supporting women in business it’s a little foolish to think that you can keep the boys out and have great success, though I know folks would argue that the boys work pretty hard at keeping the girls out. BlogHer will be fun, if you decide it will.

Here’s a snapshot of the business card I won’t be handing you.

One reason I’ve come to dislike BlogHer so much is that it signals the end of summer. I don’t like this at all.

 

Conflicted About Blogging

06.28.11

In a few weeks I’ll be joining 3,000 or so women at BlogHer. It’s a big blogging conference for women and I’d went once before when it was in Chicago.

I have mixed feelings about it. Although I’m not part of the BlogHer ad network, and I don’t participate in their community BlogHer has paved a path for women to follow. BlogHer took a hobby and turned it into a career. For that I am grateful.

But of course I’m not one to gush, so I have to find the negative too.

As bloggers we have to support ourselves with brand partnerships, advertising or by writing on someone else’s site for a paycheck (just not places like Huff Po who pay you with a thank you note). There’s a delicate balance, and I’m not sure that many people achieve it. I occasionally share product information here and it comes from one of three ways.

  1. A product has blown me away and I’ve told you about it. (like the Diva Cup)
  2. A product line has dazzled me and I’ve begged them to partner with me (like Kenmore)
  3. A brand has a message that they’ve shared with me and I’ve agreed that the message has value and shared it with you. (P&G)

The way that a product would make it’s way to me is pretty narrow, and the way that I’d share it with y’all is narrower still. Not a lot of product sharing goes on here. Which is good, right?

There’s a new kind of blogger, the review blogger. Review bloggers seem to be mostly women, but that’s just the way I see things because I’m smack dab in the middle of the mommy blogging world. I want to dislike the review blogger. You see she takes any old crap and writes glowing reviews of it. Typically the review blogger only writes positive reviews and she might even publish a press release word for word.

The review blogger is the lazy publicist’s best friend. The review blogger will almost always garner positive press for a product and almost never charge anything more than the cost of the trinket and overnight shipping.

The review blogger has also sucked the life out of the blogosphere. The review blogger often calls herself a Mom Blogger (or worse a Mommy Blogger) and her site can create confusion. You see when I tell people that I’m a Mom Blogger they’re like, “But you’re so much MORE than that.” And I smile but don’t say anything because calling your peers crap makes you only better than crap. In my head I’m screeching, “They aren’t bloggers! They’re shills.”

And I’m sure I’m going to meet a huge number of them in August. And I’m conflicted because these are nice women who I like. They’re walking down this same weird path of blogging, but they’re using it very differently.

Is it okay to like someone and really dislike their business?