First, I want to say how bad I feel that I couldn’t post anything about the conference while I was there, for those of you who were stopping by.Â Although we had a room with a wireless network and there was free wi-fi in the lobby and other areas of the hotel,Â and although I could get my computer to connect to the BlogHer network, I couldn’t get any pages to load. Not once. And it was weird because people all around me were online everywhere. My roommate had no problem logging on in our room. Me, nothing.
Secondly, I have been trying to write this post for almost 3 hours. I just don’t know how to condense my thoughts.Â The whole idea behind a conference about blogging is for bloggers to meet each other and exchange ideas and information. Or so it would seem.Â I wanted to sit in on sessions where bloggers I admire talked about how I could make this blog better. I wanted to see the bloggers whose blogs I read and whose tweets I follow and hug them in person. I wanted to bask in the warm embrace of 1400 people who know exactly what I mean when I’m asked “what do you do?” and I say “I’m a blogger”.
The BlogHer staff works for an entire year on each conference.Â That’s how long it takes to line up sponsors for the event. Why does the conference need sponsors? Because they enable the conference ticket to cost $200 instead of $1,000 and the hotel room to cost $200 a night instead of $400.Â BlogHer finds a hotel that can accomodate 1400 registered attendees plus any additional family they might want to bring, and it’s an extra bonus if the conference rooms are right there as well. They put the BlogHer name on an event that people talk about for months before and after.
So here’s an idea- let’s repay BlogHer for all their hard work by behaving like responsible adults when we go to their conference.Â Let’s remember that we are attending a professional conference where people like Tina Brown and Ariana Huffington are asked to speak to us.Â We want to be taken seriously. We want what we do to be recognized as something of value.Â Many of us want to be seen as writers with journalistic standards and a high sense of ethics.
So why were we (and I’m saying we even though I was not personally involved because BlogHer is a community and what even one person does can affect everyone), why were GROWN ASS WOMEN pushing and shoving and elbowing and complaining and THREATENING other people over…I’m shaking my head now…over FREE STUFF?Â Please, someone explain this to me.
When I read that someone elbowed Amy’s baby in his face to get to a table of free stuff at an evening reception (NOT hosted by BlogHer), when I read that a person representing Crocs shoes was threatened in the lobby by a woman who claimed she could embarrass him with her blog if he didn’t find her a pair of the free shoes given away during a different reception, when I saw that one of the (Non-BlogHer sanctioned) parties had a gift bag that contained lube and a vibrator, I wondered where the heck everyone thought they were last weekend?
To their credit, I thought that the companies who set up exhibition booths during the conference all did a magnificent job. I wish I had walked down each aisle and taken a photo of the booths because they were amazing. Zappos and Bill Me Later had a photo booth, Wal-Mart created lounge areas with comfy chairs, Mary Kay brought in a makeup counter. One company that sells Kiwi Fruit brought in bushels full of fruit and these cool plastic serrated knife/spoons for instant eating. Springpad had great little notebooks and were taking business cards for a drawing of one of four prizes (I won a really cool car seat!). McDonalds had cooking demos by Paula Deen and Rick Bayless and gave away complete sets of Teenie Beanie Babies (I won one of those too!).Â Pepsico was giving away pop and flavored water and all the little bags of chips and granola bars you wanted. GM put a Camaro right in the room with another one outside for test driving.
Suave brought in two celebrity hairstylists to give free blowouts, styling tips, and Suave hair care products. Degree had their new body sprays. Playskool gave out these adorable little toy vehicles shaped like bugs, All Laundry Detergent dressed up two people in pink clothes (they were the laundry fairies) and gave out chocolate star-shaped lollipop wands and travel size bottles of detergent.Â And that’s just a few of them!
Now, these exhibitors, who were staffed by people from the companies and often a PR rep as well, were being extremely generous with their samples. By Saturday afternoon, you could pretty much take as much as you wanted because they didn’t want to pack up and ship home any more than they had to.Â There was very little restriction on what you could take and how much.
Which makes it all the more baffling to hear about people scrambling for swag bags at the parties. How much stuff do people really need?Â And one party, that asked people to RSVP ahead of time and the first 100 people would get a special (very expensive) gift bag, somehow ran out of bags before those 100 people got there. Who were they giving them too? Why have “rules” if you aren’t going to follow them?
Every year, I come home from BlogHer and there’s some kind of controversy. This year, it’s the Great Swag Debacle. I hope this post helped clarify that BlogHer themselves and the companies in the exhibition hall were not the guilty party.Â Please don’t blame BlogHer for the actions and behaviors of others, and please don’t let it stop you from signing up for BlogHer 2010 if you are interested in attending. There was so much more value in this conference than just the stuff.