BlogHer '09: We listened. We mulled. And here are some of the decisions you've helped us make
By Elisa Camahort on September 17, 2009
BlogHer Original Post
Almost six weeks ago Lisa, Jory and I asked for your feedback and help on making BlogHer '10 even better than BlogHer '09 in a post we called: We're listening. And here's what we're mulling over so far...
We asked five different questions, and you answered. Thank you so much for your help. You didn't always all agree, but you all took the time to share your feedback constructively and sometimes at great length! It is exactly that willingness to jump in and help us work through the tough issues that continues to make BlogHer the conference the community built.
So, now it's time for us to respond and let you know what we took away from all of your amazing feedback. Some of this stuff is, well, complicated, and we're still mulling it over, but in other cases, we've made some decisions, now that we know how you all feel about them. Here were the questions:
1.How can we appropriately acknowledge BlogHer’s official sponsors?
2.What is the proper place for conference swag?
3.How should we respond to the many unofficial parties that are held?
4.How should we respond when members of the community do things that hurt the community?
5.Finally, who is BlogHer for, what do we discuss at BlogHer conferences and how do you think we could communicate it, so that people know it?
But, you know what? We're going to reverse the order in which we address those questions, because it seems only right to start with questions about this community first.
5. Finally, who is BlogHer for, what do we discuss at BlogHer conferences and how do you think we could communicate it, so that people know it?
BlogHer's annual conference is for bloggers who blog about every topic under the sun, and we work hard with teams of bloggers to create conference programming that reflects the diversity of our community. So, what can we do to both maintain that diversity of content and to make sure more people (including the media, by the way) know about it?
Here are some of the things we're thinking about sessions:
4. How should we respond when members of the community do things that hurt the community?
This is a tough one. While sponsored bloggers have attended previous BlogHers, 2009 was the year it became somewhat commonplace to hear about individual bloggers being sponsored to attend by companies. We don't know exact numbers, but we doubt that more than 20% of attendees had any such sponsorship.
However, we learned from your comments that, unfortunately, a few sponsored bloggers may have given the majority of them a bad name. While we already have guidelines for sponsored bloggers, we learned from your comments that these guidelines need to be strengthened in the following ways, in order to try to give sponsored bloggers even better guidance:
This approach may sound draconian, and we don't take it lightly, but we urge you to read the comments on our original post and our post announcing BlogHer '10. This is a problem for our community, and we will work to fix it. It's true that we can't control people - hey, we really don't want to! - but we can control how we respond. It's clear from our post-conference survey and other feedback that the community is asking us to help them have a better experience.
3. How should we respond to the many unofficial parties that are held?
This question may be one of the toughest nuts to crack, because we're talking about New York City! But there are some things we can change about our approach this year, in the interest of making sure that you all know what to expect when you walk into the identified "BlogHer Conference Space" - meaning all of the meetings rooms, ballrooms and exhibit space.
Like what? Well, here are some examples:
The bottom line is that you should not have to wonder if or how we are involved with any onsite event or party.
2. What is the proper place for conference swag?
Speaking of swag. We all know it was a big topic of discussion this year. Let's talk about BlogHer sponsor swag, where you can expect to see it, and how we hope to make it as opt-in as possible:
1.How can we appropriately acknowledge BlogHer’s official sponsors?
We start with the premise that our conference sponsors expect and thoroughly deserve public acknowledgement.
Why? Well, we have always believed in being transparent about how critical sponsors are to this event.
Bloggers pay only $99/day if they register with earlybird pricing, and that brings perks that most conferences do not deliver. To be perfectly clear, that means food: Full breakfast, lunch, snacks and hors d'ouevres, open bars. Food and beverage are the number one variable expense for any event, and the more people attend, the more you must spend. Each attendee pays only about one third of the cost of their care and feeding. And as we've raised the bar on what we serve (going from single drink tickets to open bars, as one example) we've kept the price per day exactly the same as it was in 2005. That means lots of inflation for us, none for you :) Sponsors make this possible.
That being said, we do think we can set more specific and consistent standards for where, when and how we acknowledge sponsors, such as:
We are dying to hear what you think of the above results from our long weeks of listening and mulling. In the coming weeks, we will also be publishing:
Our call for ideas for BlogHer '10 (look for it later this week!) Updated guidelines for sponsored bloggers The BlogHer trademark policy
We hope all of these guidelines will give you a very clear idea of how we're working to make BlogHer '10 the biggest, and also the best, BlogHer yet.
We have always enjoyed soaking up all of the post-conference feedback...the good and the bad, as crazy as that sounds. This year there was so, SO much good. We had numerous long-time BlogHer attendees tell us that '09 was the best year yet for them. Maybe after attending a few times, those folks have grown expert on making the conference their own...on seeking out what they love, and moving past what they don't. Whatever the reason, we won't be satisfied until every attendee is as thrilled as those folks! We hope we're making a great start with all of the above decisions and ideas. We're sure you'll let us know, and as always: We look forward to your feedback :)
Thank you, again -
Elisa, Jory and Lisa
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