Sunday, August 4, 2013

BlogHer 13 Recap - the Expo & the Swag!

If you're just checking in to TNO, the last week or two on the blog have been filled with a few recap posts with my experiences from BlogHer'13.  You can find posts about the hotel & food here and the sessions & parties here.  I've also written a few upcoming posts with my top recommendations for BlogHer newbies, answered a few reader questions about the BlogHer conference, and have a great post lined up for all my breastfeeding blogger friends on how to navigate pumping at the conference.  Keep on the look out for those coming up in the next week or so!

But for today - let's talk about the Expo & the Swag, starting with the Expo!

BlogHer 13 Expo Hall and Swag

If you're unfamiliar with BlogHer, the Expo Hall is a large area {just like any other Expo Hall} that houses the conference sponsors and booths.  The businesses in the Expo Hall varied from baby food to pharmacies to high tech gadgets to vehicles to personal lubricants.  Lol.  There were a ton of brands represented in the Expo Hall this year.  The Expo Hall was open for three hours on Thursday night (from 6p-9p) and then all day on Friday and Saturday (9a-5p), so conference attendees were free to roam the hall before, after, or in between sessions at their leisure.

BlogHer 13 Expo Hall and Swag

Initially, I was somewhat concerned that I'd be unable to make it through the entire Expo in the time I had allotted based on the fact that I was also running back to my hotel room or the lactation lounge to pump several times per day - but I had no problem whatsoever.  I was able to chat it up with the brands I had set out to see as well as pick up a bunch of free stuff from several of the booths.

As a new blogger to the Expo Hall, here were my tips:

1. Do your homework!

Research what brands would be hosting booths at the Expo and figure out who are your top brands to see.  Make sure you look at what the company has been doing lately and understand where they may be taking their branding next.  Also - make sure you prepare your pitch.  If you had one or two sentences to get out who you and your blog are - what would you say?  Make sure it's a clear and concise statement about who you are, and have that planned and ready to go for when you hit the Expo Hall.

2. Get there early.

While I was unable to attend much of the Evening at the Expo on Thursday night, spending time in the Expo on Friday was better than spending time on Saturday.  Overall, the brands had more information, more swag to hand out, and were more open to working with bloggers or chatting with bloggers about partnerships on Friday than on Saturday.  It makes sense, right?  After a night {on Thursday} and a full day {on Friday} of talking it up with bloggers, most booths were running out of opportunities and stuff for bloggers by morning to mid-day on Saturday.  The early bird gets the worm, y'all.

3. Prioritize.

Instead of spending time walking around to each booth the first time I went into the Expo Hall, I immediately visited my top brand picks first.  After talking with several representatives at brands in whom I was most interested, I was able to spend the rest of my Expo time enjoying myself, participating in the fun activities, and - yes - picking up some swag!  Get your business out of the way first and then have some fun!

4. Take note!

Many companies will be represented at the Expo by their PR company.  Which means, when you receive a business card from someone, the name listed on the card will be, for example, "John Doe from XYZ PR Associates."  If you don't add in one extra step of taking a little note, when you get home with your - literal - stack of business cards, you're not going to have one bit of a clue which PR person's business card matched up with a specific company.  And, you know, that makes it kind of hard to follow up with a company.  On almost all of the business cards I received, I wrote a small note on the card with the brand or company name they represented and any interactions I'd like to remember for when I messaged them when I got home.  Like for example: when one PR rep was convinced that I was a spitting image of Kelly Clarkson and even googled her picture and compared me to her picture while I was chatting with one of his associates at his booth.  Anyone else not see the resemblance there?

5. Be polite!

Whether it be to the brands or the other attendees, be on your best behavior.  You are representing your brand and your interests.  I'm a firm believe that you never know who may be watching or talking to each other, so it's important to be respectful and kind to everyone.  Yes, this means taking your turn and waiting in line to talk to a brand or PR representative {or to grab that swag bag}, but it also means being kind to even those brands who may not peak your interest or may represent something against your beliefs.  Tact is your friend when word travels quickly - and you want to make sure any word traveling about you is positive.

So, speaking of swag, here's mine:

BlogHer 13 Expo Hall and Swag

Um, yep.  I definitely needed the extra suitcase recommended to pack my swag for the way home.  {This picture does include my swag from both conference-sponsored and private events.}  And, this doesn't include the rumored to be $400+ swag box of toys headed to me by mail from one of the private parties I attended.  Holy Swag Yo is right!

My favorite items I physically brought home from the conference with me were four cloth diapers from Smart Bottoms and Rumparooz, the fully Joovy Boob bottle line of bottles, a Gia by Dr. Brown's breastfeeding pillow, a 32 ounce Better Life Whatever cleaner, a 32 ounce jar of Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil, a bunch of Babylegs/neckties/bows from Zulily, Happy Family baby & toddler food, and a few Earth Mama Angel Baby products as well... to name just a few.  BlogHer really knows how to show some love for a crunchy mama!!!

While I know everyone wants to see the swag and check out what you can take home from a conference such as BlogHer, the swag is just one little piece of what makes this conference so amazing for bloggers.  The combination of the knowledge from the sessions, the connections with other bloggers and brands, the inspiration to excel at our craft, and the feeling of community from BlogHer make the swag just icing on the cake.

If you attended the conference, what was your favorite item of swag you brought home?  And how were your experiences at the Expo Hall?

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  1. holy swag! that is a fantastic amount of baby related items!


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