BlogHer '13: The Good, The Bad, The Brands

This past weekend was BlogHer ‘13 in Chicago. If you have not heard of it, this is the largest conference for primarily female bloggers in the USA and has been happening for several years now. This was my fourth year attending. Last year I was a bit critical of BlogHer ‘12 and honestly I did not think I would go this year, but in the end I did and I was happy to see improvements. So here is a bit of the good and the bad and the brands from my perspective for 2013.

Just so you know, I mix in official and non-official in this because when I attend BlogHer each year I attend both types of events. I will be writing more later on individual events and brands as well.

BlogHer '13 attendee Robyn Wright

 

The Good

  • BlogHer listened!
    I know that Momo and others from BlogHer had talked on Twitter that they really were listening to attendees from BlogHer 12 and making changes based on that feedback. They did follow through on this and overall I think BlogHer ‘13 was an improvement for sure!
  • People
    Yes, I always think the people are good. There are a few rotten apples, but overall I love this group of bloggers, brand reps, and PR peeps. It is always so nice to see old friends, finally meet people in real life, and to make new friends too.
  • More space
    Last year I had thought BlogHer had gotten too big, but what I now think that perceived feeling actually was is that the space was too small. This year the conference was at McCormick Place and we had more than enough room.
  • Midlife Bloggers ROYO Session
    This was my favorite! A fantastic panel of women, my age, sharing their wisdom with us all. TheGeneration Fabulous team of Anne Paris, Chloe Jeffreys and Sharon Greenthal were the panelists and Jen Lee Reeves moderated.
  • More session variety
    It seemed that there were more topics of sessions this year and in the ones I went to I was able to get a seat this year – yay!
  • Hyatt Regency at McCormick Place
    This was not the official hotel for the conference, but I opted to stay here and was very pleased with that choice. I could walk to BlogHer via the SkyWalk and got from my hotel room door to the conference area in under 7 minutes.
  • Ree Drummond
    Yes, the Pioneer Woman was the opening speaker this year and she did not let us down. I have never met Ree (although I did shout out to her as I passed her in the SkyWalk how great I think she is), but have always heard very nice things about her as a person, not just as a blogger and media personality. I think her talk was very inspiring to show both new and seasoned bloggers that it’s okay to make mistakes, be human, and just go with the flow!
  • Sweet Suite
    This is a non-official event but I love it. Lots of toy brands here each year and just a ton of fun! I will be sharing more about the new toys I learned about soon! Plus, they are shipping our swag to us this year instead of us having to take it right then which is the most brilliant idea they have ever had!!!
  • Chicago
    Just a great city – was happy to visit!

The Bad

  • Separate hotel and convention space
    I know there was an official answer from BlogHer on why this was, but I still thought it was a goofy set up. I like it all to be in one spot which is actually why I liked having it in New York in 2010 and 2012. At least the official things in one spot.
  • Not enough Expo Hall time
    I know they have the Expo hall open on Thursday night now, but that is honestly when the majority of the major non-official events are happening too. I would love to see the Expo Hall open all day on Sunday (or half day even) without any sessions happening so we can get everything in during the conference.
  • No sponsored suites
    I always have enjoyed the suites of the official sponsors and missed having those this year. In the past they have provided us a way to have a more intimate conversation with brands than what we can usually do on the Expo hall floor.
  • Not enough Expo Hall booths
    Everyone seemed to think that there were far fewer booths this year. The rumblings I heard were about price to businesses to have a booth. I’ve heard tons of different price points though so I do not know how much of those rumblings are true or not. The brands/reps I spoke with prior to BlogHer though complained ROI just too low.
  • Weight of official swag bags
    Okay, I do not know who thought it would be a good idea to put four large bottles of drinks in our official BlogHer swag bags, but they were mistaken. That weighed a ton! I was warned by others before I picked my bag up so I promptly opened my bag, removed the 4 bottles of things I wouldn’t drink anyway, and left them there at the bag pick up area. Who wants to carry that around all day? Not me!
  • No water refill stations (at least that I could find)
    I need my water! Happy to refill throughout the day in my own cup even, but water was hard to find!

The Brands

  • Verizon Wireless
    I gave them a shout out in a full post already. They were the most improved sponsor this year by far!
  • B(l)oomers Party
    This is a non-official event and it was so fun! The event was listed as a 45+ party, but I asked to be included at 43 because I felt that the sponsors and content just were a good fit for me and I think I was right! I loved the game we played at the event, the space it was in, and especially all of the amazing women who were there that I admire so much!
  • Lean Cuisine
    I went to a lunch for them during BlogHer and have mixed feelings. The panel of chefs were fantastic, the tastings of the ingredients and sauces were amazing. Then they served us a bit of two of their actual frozen meals for our lunch. What? All those famous chefs up there and I get a microwaved meal for lunch? We could taste them at their Expo Hall booth so why could we not have some amazing food for our luncheon?
  • Lifetime TV
    Another fun non-official event. They had tarot card readings, mini make-overs, manis, and massage! My only negative there was not enough seating.
  • Best Buy
    There is bad and good here. The bad was that their booth giveaway became a total disaster by winners being notified by email that went into spam and having to return at a certain time, etc. People were not happy – however, they are trying to backtrack and make good to all those who were selected winners and reaching out to them. Good save Best Buy! I had a great talk with them at the booth also about hopefully working with them in a more long-term relationship that I hope will happen. I have shopped at Best Buy for years and years and I think it would be a great match for me and my following.
  • Coca-Cola
    Major fail here. I do not mind them sponsoring BlogHer, in fact I appreciate it. BUT, and this is a big butt (pun intended) I do not like that they tried to position themselves as a company that is about wellness. I know they make lots of things, not just soda, but they had the soda out too and I just thought it was incredibly disingenuous to claim to be part of our wellness at an event that promotesauthenticity over everything else. I do blame BlogHer for accepting this platform from Coca-Cola also.
  • Etymotic
    I had never heard of this company until I saw their name on the BlogHer sponsor list but I’m so glad I found them. Had a wonderful chat with them at the booth and you will be hearing more about them from me soon!
  • Samsung
    I just stopped by the booth for a quick second, but there was lots and lots of love from the bloggers about the Samsung booth this year – just like last year.
  • Sargento Foods
    Thank you for having turkey and cheese sandwiches at your booth – I needed that protein boost on Saturday afternoon!

Even though the conference improved, I am not sure if I will attend in 2014. At least not this original BlogHer. It seems I am not their target audience for the conference any longer maybe? They have several other conferences under BlogHer each year though and I think I might give those a try instead. There is BlogHer Pro in October of this year that sounds right up my alley and BlogHer Food is in Miami in 2014 and I have heard wonderful things about it.

Did you go to BlogHer ‘13? What did you think of it?

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