Monday, July 28, 2014

Parent Bloggers Work Hard & Play Harder at Blogger Bash! A Few Tips & Highlights From my First Blogger Conference #bbnyc #sweetsuite14

When I spotted a posting in my Instagram feed offering a chance to win a ticket to this years Blogger Bash by submitting a 15 second video, I said to myself "What the heck, I'll give it a shot. I'm on a budget, I'll get my two monsters involved and have some fun with it." To no surprise Blogger Jennifer S. was announced as the first winner because her video and need to escape the kids was easy to relate to & beyond hysterical. It took the boys and I about 4 attempts in about 20 fun-filled minutes to make our silly video and we were really friggin' excited when our video was chosen. Obviously me way more then them because I was going to get the chance to play with toys not even released yet, forge relationships with brands my family love and to mingle with bloggers I'd been following from behind the screen for a few years now.

Although I've been blogging for almost 3 years this summer, I still consider myself a newbie to the world of "mommy" blogging as I gradually learn the ins and outs of transitioning from blogging as a hobby about our life in NYC, to blogging to establish a community, network, make brand connections and potential income.  And from the looks of it, the possibilities and opportunities seem endless if your willing to create a blog that's authentic, has a unique voice and is creative. Luckily, I've been fortunate enough to meet a lot of NYC mom bloggers through Instagram and at events who have been really sweet and helpful and it has truly been an amazing experience filled with priceless moments that neither my family, friends or I will ever forget.

 So What is Blogger Bash NYC?

When brands like Fisher Price, Disney and Activision are in need of getting the word out about their latest and greatest products they know to turn to parent bloggers who have a digital presence and who's opinions are trusted by their vast followers. The amazing ladies who dreamed up and orchestrated this well thought out conference {Joey Fortman, Charlene Deloach & Laurie Schacht}  figured why not create an experience where bloggers could Make an Impression & grow professionally by providing them face-time with both well-known and up and coming brands through speed dating with their representatives/round table forums, events and parties.

Sounds fun right? Well it really freaking was! Leading up to the event all of the registered attendees followed Blogger Bash on Facebook where we waited to hear the latest buzz on guest speakers, contests and more! That Facebook wall itself had turned into a community allowing for people to search for roommates and travel buddies and for newbies to ask questions and gain insight from more experienced bloggers. There were even posts that shared tips on everything from what to wear to how to stay organized. I thought I'd share a few of these tips [in no particular order of importance] with you real quick because I feel that they can be applied to numerous conferences:

  1. You've brought your ticket, make sure you have your confirmations for everything, especially if you are traveling out of town. Having printed copies wouldn't hurt either, even in this age of technology.
  2. Dress comfortably! Of course you need to make a good impression, but I'd say going business casual is always a safe bet, especially if you are going to be playing with awesome toys!
  3. Make sure you know all of the hashtags being used during the event and even have them saved on your phone so you can just copy and paste.
  4. Think about how to keep track of your business cards. Lots of brands use the same pr company and their representatives don't always have business cards that say the name of the specific product you may be interested in so write the name of the product on the card so that you know why you want to stay in touch, separate cards based on what portion of the conference you met them at. Someone suggested labeling envelops and placing cards in each one. It was also recommended that while making connections that you keep business cards in the lanyard with your name badge if applicable.
  5. Make sure you remember your own business cards, I overheard a few Pr reps and guests saying that they had forgotten theirs.  Don't just give them to the companies but to other bloggers/ guests you'd like to keep in touch with or collaborate on a project with. If you ordered new business cards, use your old business cards {if the contact information is the same} for any raffles. And make sure your cards are easily accessible, don't waste time digging through your bag.
  6. Make sure you do your research on guest speakers, products etc and write down any questions you may have for brands you are really interested in working with. And it's totally fine to not have a clue about a product, because if you have great conversation and seem genuinely interested , it's all good.
  7. Lastly, just be fabulous you and have a good time! You have hundreds and probably even thousands of readers & social media followers for a reason. Show those companies why they need YOU to do their sponsored reviews and to be apart of their ambassador programs. Yes you are there to learn and network, but every now and then put down the phones, stop tweeting & texting and live in the moment with the people you have just met IRL {In real life} and truly connect.
OK, enough of the serious stuff.. Here's a few pics I had from the event and I know I missed tons of stuff but it's OK because the amazingly talented Janice Croze of 5 minutes for Mom captured some beautiful pictures that I can assure will have you excited for next years Blogger Bash, take a look at them here.

Sweet Suite & Stella Angry Birds After Party

During Sweet Suite guests got to ask brand experts lots of questions & channel their inner kids by indulging in sweets {think chocolate covered Oreos and Lemon Head martinis} while trying out the latest in video games, crafts & toys that will be on every child's holiday wishlist this year from brands like Activision, Fisher Price, VTech, Playmates Toys, Just Play, Disney Infinity, Crayola and USAopoly. Check out this fun Instagram video of me playing with the Kurio Tablet.

Once Sweet Suite was wrapped up, the Angry Birds Stella after party kicked off where guests learned all about this sassy lady's new game. After a few signature drinks and delish cookies we were able to let loose on the dance floor {cha-cha slides and all} until 11pm.
Lego Batman 3 Preview & Bat-Tastic Breakfast

While noshing on Batman themed fare to get energized, bloggers kicked of day 2 by previewing the latest installment in the Lego Batman series and were able to take home an exclusive T-shirt. After breakfast and challenging friends in some Gotham city, gaming mayhem there was lots still on the agenda. During the media panel we sat in on a discussion between influential female experts in the industry: Ciaran Blumfeld of Hashtracking & Momfluential, Deborah Mitchell of Deborah Mitchell Media and Associates, Samantha Meiler of Nick Mom and Samantha Murphy Kelly of Mashable who all delivered advise on everything from personalizing hashtags to segueing into television and being authentic.

The day continued with speed dating with various brands where we were able to engage in conversation a bit longer at a table of 4 or 5 other bloggers depending on the flow. I liked this aspect of the conference because it gave you a chance to further interact with a brand you thought aligned well with your blog after meeting with them and demoing products the day before. Another great aspect that I somehow missed seeing was the Bloganthropy awards which celebrated bloggers who positively impact their communities. 

During Mommy Tech guests were able to check out the latest in wearable technology and more throughout the day and we grooved to playlists created by our fellow bloggers who were hoping to win a set of amazing Korus speakers.

Johnny Rockets National Milk Shake Day Lunch, Baby Palooza w/ Photographer Anne Geddes & Kidzvuz Back to School Party with WWE Supers Stars Natalya & Darren Young

Our Johnny Rockets lunch was centered around National Milk Shake Day and I can surely say from the looks around me, everyone was thrilled to cool off with their own special creations. We also got to witness some amazing art made solely out of ketchup and you can watch a clip of the finishing touches on a ketchup made Statue of Liberty.

As a huge fan of baby photographer Anne Geddes in high school, I knew I couldn't miss her talk on how to take great family photos during the 2nd annual Baby Palooza. A few tips were:
  1. When taking photos, give the picture some actual thought & keep your backgrounds simple. 
  2.  Take photos of babies earlier in the day when they have the best temperament and get down to the child's level. 
  3.  Make sure to include yourself in the photos! 
There were some huge fans present and a line that wrapped around the entire room of sentimental mamas waiting for an autographed copy of her book Little Blessings, I heard a few ladies even cried. Make sure you run out and get a copy of her latest gorgeous work entitled Under the Sea which will probably be my favorite because I love seahorses and turtles and we were all lucky enough to get first looks at the images which made me really miss those tiny baby toes and button noses.

Chicken Soup for the Soul was on hand not only with their fantastic books but to demo how to make easy one pot/ pan dishes that had incredible flavor using their new broths, soup toppers, salsas and sauces combined with simple ingredients. I was convinced that even I, the 5 recipe mama could add some new yummy dishes to my repertoire, that the kids would love and that the hubby would be glad he didn't have to

During the EA Social events suite, parent bloggers ate cake to celebrate Smokey the Bears 70th birthday, chose vibrant and fun color-licious lipgloss for a makeover with Covergirl, were spoiled with manicures, tried on gorgeous Joseph Nogucci jewelry,  played with bouncy Wubble Balls and stirred Alex's Lemonade to raise funds for children with cancer.


 If you have kids and haven't checked out KidzVuz yet, what are you waiting for? It's a pretty awesome site where kids can post their own video reviews, with consent from a parent or guardian of their favorite toys and games. I wish I could say I had more photos of the KidzVuz Back-To-School party, but CJ and I had so much fun and my battery was on 2% by the time he finished meeting WWE Diva,  Natalya & Superstar Darren Young. CJ was over the moon that he got to take pictures with them both and when he asked Darren if he'd sing the words to the Prime Time Players theme song and Darren said yes and grabbed him to dance, I thought he'd nearly pass out from disbelief. 

After playing WWE 2k14 with his friends for nearly 20 minutes or so we checked out some back to school first day faves from Lands End. Of course he insisted on the button down shirt and blazer look and was really excited when he got a pretty cool new black and red Lands End backpack, because he's so beyond character themed backpacks heading into the 4th grade. One other highlight was of CJ and I taking a really fun Guardians of the Galaxy photo, where we are in a line up with some of the characters. The photo has now made it to our superhero fridge collection of pictures alongside Spider-man and Captain America.

CJ was also really proud of himself for winning a few back to school supplies for him and his brother from School Specialty which also allowed for them to donate supplies to child in need on his behalf.

The excitement didn't end at the KidzVuz Party though, the next morning CJ received a tweet from Natalya and he was in shock the entire day and kept saying he couldn't wait for school to start again to tell his friends she was following us on Twitter.

To say I had a good time, is an understatement. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go to such an an amazing event, thank you Blogger Bash team for setting the bar so high for my next conference. I don't think any of us that attended can imagine the sweat and tears that went into planning all of this, but it was definitely successful. When it was all over I had a bruised shoulder, sore feet and binged on candy for a day or two but I wouldn't have it any other way! I would recommend Blogger Bash to anyone looking for a conference where they can learn a lot from the movers and shakers in the industry while working hard & playing harder!


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