Attending your First Sponsored Blogger Event? Some Dos and Don’ts to Remember

by Melanie Edwards on April 28, 2010 · 30 comments

in Blogging

red carpet

I was recently asked by Jai of Mami’s Time Out about sponsored blogger events. She is going to be attending her first brand-sponsored event next month and wondered what she should expect. Just like attending a conference for the first time, attending a brand’s event can bring about many questions. I asked around and gathered a few more questions about sponsored events from bloggers like Carrie of the Tiki Tiki. While I’m not an expert, here I give you my personal opinion and experience from having attended brand events in the past.

Dos and Don’ts

dos-and-donts

Photo from Chromatic

  • Do bring business cards. You never know who you will run into at such events. Other bloggers you meet and share your time with during the event, will more than likely want to keep in touch. Various brand/company representatives will probably meet with you at various times during the event and you’ll want to connect with each as they may work for different departments than the folks who initially contacted you about the event.
  • Do bring a camera and video camera. You’ll find yourself wanting to document the entire event and of course, there will be plenty of photo opportunities with your new friends. You will also probably have the chance to interview different representatives of the brand or fellow bloggers.
  • Do ask questions. Since you’ll be meeting with brand representatives, you have the chance to ask questions about the company, products, services, practices, etc. You can even bring questions that your friends, family, and blog readers might have.
  • Don’t act as a company representative. Though you may be asking questions and will probably share information with your readers, you are not a company employee or contractor. They have PR people who can properly spread the message of the brand. You are not their PR person. Unless you have been hired to be a spokesperson or consultant, in which case, then perhaps you are their PR person.
  • Don’t be shy. Get comfortable with the other bloggers and get to know them. You’ll be together for quite a bit of time while attending the event. It’ll be more fun if you interact with each other.
  • Don’t get caught up in drama. Sometimes sponsored blogger events can bring about drama, especially on twitter. Many reasons can incite the drama: non-supporters of the brand, general objections of sponsored events, and even disagreements about who was invited to the event. Ignore it. Don’t get caught up in it and waste time and energy.

question mark

Photo by Lawrence Peregrine-Trousers

Other Questions

Can you hustle your own product or service at a sponsored event?

While I think that blatantly pushing your own products and services might be frowned upon, I don’t see anything wrong with the information being on your business cards and you talking about it. For example, as you network and talk with various people, it’s natural to exchange business cards. This may lead to a conversation about what you do, projects you’re working on, or products you sell. However, if you were to approach people with the sole intent of giving them your elevator pitch, then that’s probably not going to work at such an event.

What if you disliked the event/product? Should you write about it? Is it an obligation?

When you attend a sponsored event, there is no obligation to write about your experience, the products, or the brand. Not for the events I’ve attended, at least. Of course, the brand and PR company hope that you do, since that is one of the reasons they’re bringing you and the other bloggers to the event. However, they’re also bringing you so that you can get to know the brand, what they’re about, and build a relationship for future collaboration.

If you end up disliking the event and/or the brand/product, consider providing feedback directly to the PR and brand representatives. You can tell them in-person even, what it was you think they could have done better.

Do you tell other bloggers you’re talking to that they may be quoted or their experiences referenced? (Ex: When you talk to a reporter, you’re always on the record, but are you with a blogger at an event?)

Honestly, I had never thought about this. I know that I’ve had conversations with other bloggers and phrases like, “Is it ok if I blog about this?” have come up. I think it’s expected that any pictures and video taken during the event may end up on various blogs, Flickr, or YouTube. And, of course people tend to mention the names and blogs of other bloggers they met at the event. But, I’ve found that generally people ask if they can directly quote something you said. Maybe some of you can share your thoughts on this – especially if you have a journalism background.

My best tip? Have fun. The agendas for such events are normally jam-packed and you’ll be bombarded with tons of information about the brand, their latest campaigns, and products. You’ll meet lots of people – from the brand as well as bloggers – and you’ll be trying to take it all in while also thinking of any family you’re away from for the duration of the event.

Pace yourself, get to know others, and have fun. You’ll probably bond well with the other bloggers at the event, and come back home with new friends and new ideas.

If you’ve attended sponsored events, what suggestions or tips can you share for those attending their first event? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 1stopmom April 28, 2010 at 9:06 pm

These are some great tips. Especially the drama one. It can be started so easily but ignoring is the best way to deal with it. Honestly why get caught up in it? I really thought that being shy was going to work against me on the events I have been part of. But once I got there it was just the opposite. I was so happy to be there and meet other bloggers. I never thought about asking if it is ok if I blog something. Luckily I have not came across any problems personally with that. A tip that i think is a good idea is to bring a notebook and pen. If you don't have a laptop it is a great way to keep track of your thoughts. So much will be going on and you don't want to forget anything!

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2 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm

That's a good point! I forgot to mention bringing the laptop to stay connected, but a pen and notebook work great (sometimes even better) too.

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3 Dariela April 28, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Great tips!! I think it's easier than we think it is. I specially think about the posting or no cause sometimes I really like the product but I don't see a way to post about it in my blog, I get confused about that and feel bad if I don't post so basically I don't go to an event if I know that I won't want to post, just in case!

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4 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I don't think you should feel bad if you attend and don't post. You're probably spreading buzz another way – talking to friends and family, tweeting, etc. But, it's good that you think about it beforehand.

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5 acowboyswife April 28, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Great tips!! I'd also like to add “Don't judge someone before you get to know them' because so many times someone will think someone else is a snob but what they might not realize, is that they have insecurities too and might not be so good at the social networking thing. Online, we have this wall that separates direct contact so it's easy to be “me” but in person, it can be intimidating, nerve wracking, and often overwhelming so sometimes we act different…..

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6 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm

That's a great reminder! It's so much easier to act a certain way online than in person.

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7 kelbycarr April 29, 2010 at 6:29 am

These are great tips! I think the quoting question is a tough one. Journalists wouldn't quote each other at a trip, or it would be kind of odd anyway. Blogging trips also tend to have a social aspect to it in which people might be more open than they would around a reporter. Bloggers are not necessarily media savvy as well since many do not have a journalism background and/or have not regularly dealt with reporters. Even when I was a reporter, I would be more careful to be clear I would be quoting someone when I interviewed a regular citizen than when I interviewed, say, a government official. I think this is probably a case where it's better to err on the side of caution and say something like, “Oh, I would love to include that in my blog post or tweet it.” That said, I think it's a good idea for attendees to assume they are surrounded by new media journalists and to act and say things they don't mind getting out there. I hope that's helpful.

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8 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Those are great tips, Kelby. Thank you for your input. I personally don't have a journalism background and haven't really dealt with reporters, so it's good for me to learn about all this. I'll definitely keep it in mind to ask my fellow bloggers from now on.

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9 Debbie Lattuga April 29, 2010 at 9:17 am

Make sure your photo is on your business card. Then, as you collect business cards, make short notes on each one about the person and/or the conversation you had. Then I love to send a personal note to each person and include my business card. If you don't want to send a note, at least send an email and make sure your photo is attached

These events are all about the connections you make. Take advantage of it.

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10 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I've heard this tip before! I know I find it hard to remember who gave me the card, or what we talked about once I get back home.

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11 Cherrie Bautista April 29, 2010 at 9:43 am

I've never been to any blogging conference or event. But these are great tips for someone like me who doesn't know what to expect. So if you come sponsored by a company, what do you do to represent them since you're obviously not their PR person?

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12 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm

There are sponsored events by brands where they bring a group of bloggers to their headquarters or other place for getting to know the brand better. Then, there are personal sponsorships where a brand will sponsor you to attend a conference.

For sponsored events, you're there to learn and participate. It's not your job to represent them. For example, if someone bashes the brand on twitter, it's not up to you to defend them just because you're at their event.

But, when you're sponsored to attend a conference, then you'll probably be “working” in some capacity for that brand. Perhaps blogging, vlogging, tweeting, spreading buzz, etc.

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13 Jai April 29, 2010 at 6:00 pm

These were some great tips! Thank you so much for taking the time to write something up! See you in Miami! ;)

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14 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I hope they help you out! Can't wait to meet you!

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15 Jennifer April 29, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Great advice. I can't think of any other tips to ad. I really never thought about some of these things even though I've been to many events, so I enjoyed reading this.

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16 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I think a lot of it comes naturally, so we don't think about it. lol

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17 Eren Mckay April 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Great tips Melanie! Even though I'm in Brazil and have never been to these events I do plan on going someday to the U.S. to events and seeing all my online friends in person. When I do these tips will come in handy ;-) .
All the best,
Eren

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18 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I didn't realize you're in Brazil! I hope you get to attend an event in the near future. :)

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19 frogman123 May 2, 2010 at 7:10 am
20 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm

That's a good point! I forgot to mention bringing the laptop to stay connected, but a pen and notebook work great (sometimes even better) too.

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21 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I don't think you should feel bad if you attend and don't post. You're probably spreading buzz another way – talking to friends and family, tweeting, etc. But, it's good that you think about it beforehand.

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22 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm

That's a great reminder! It's so much easier to act a certain way online than in person.

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23 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Those are great tips, Kelby. Thank you for your input. I personally don't have a journalism background and haven't really dealt with reporters, so it's good for me to learn about all this. I'll definitely keep it in mind to ask my fellow bloggers from now on.

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24 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I've heard this tip before! I know I find it hard to remember who gave me the card, or what we talked about once I get back home.

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25 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 7:08 pm

There are sponsored events by brands where they bring a group of bloggers to their headquarters or other place for getting to know the brand better. Then, there are personal sponsorships where a brand will sponsor you to attend a conference.

For sponsored events, you're there to learn and participate. It's not your job to represent them. For example, if someone bashes the brand on twitter, it's not up to you to defend them just because you're at their event.

But, when you're sponsored to attend a conference, then you'll probably be “working” in some capacity for that brand. Perhaps blogging, vlogging, tweeting, spreading buzz, etc.

Reply

26 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I hope they help you out! Can't wait to meet you!

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27 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I think a lot of it comes naturally, so we don't think about it. lol

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28 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I didn't realize you're in Brazil! I hope you get to attend an event in the near future. :)

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