Companies attend BlogHer to mix with bloggers

CHICAGO: As bloggers visit BlogHer's annual conference this weekend, companies like Scholastic, Nikon, Bill Me Later, and Zappos.com are leveraging the event as a chance to interact one-on-one with these influencers.

CHICAGO: As bloggers visit BlogHer's annual conference this weekend, now in its fifth year, companies like Scholastic, Nikon, Bill Me Later, and Zappos.com are leveraging the event as a chance to interact one-on-one with these influencers.

"We wanted to try to build brand awareness around Scholastic and some of our brands in a way that would be personal, but also cost-effective, and still fun and memorable," said Amanda Hebert, a publicist at Scholastic. Scholastic's #findamanda campaign features Hebert Tweeting throughout the conference, occasionally mentioning her whereabouts and giving the first person to find her a Scholastic prize. The company attended last year as well.

Nikon, which is is exhibiting at the event for the first time, is working with its longtime AOR, MWW Group, and hosting a party on Friday with reality star Carson Kressley, the spokesperson for Nikon's Look Good in Pictures program.

"The idea of bringing Carson here was really to engage these women on a personal level and create an experience for them," said Alissa Blate, EVP and global practice leader for consumer lifestyle marketing for MWW Group. "We thought this was an appropriate strategy for many of the activities we're currently engaged in with the client and a way to extend communication with bloggers."

Bill Me Later, a PayPal company, is boosting its current PR campaign, "The Household CEO: What does it take to fill her shoes?" with a visit to BlogHer. The campaign, a partnership with merchant Zappos.com, encourages "Household CEOs" to submit a video of what it takes to fill their shoes for a day, awarding the winner a $2,500 shopping spree. Bill Me Later is setting up a Shoebox Confessional where attendees can film videos to be a part of the contest.

"As a brand, being supportive of this community is a great way for us to talk to our customers [and] talk to the group of bloggers who we see really as an important media outlet for us," said Sara Parker, head of PR for Bill Me Later. Bill Me Later is also a first-time sponsor for the BlogHer conference, after sponsoring some of its smaller events.

Zappos.com is sending Melissa LaPointe, the only female member of its blogging team, to the conference, allowing her to engage with bloggers personally.

"I find BlogHer to be very innovative and there's a certain spirit that I think Zappos can relate with," said Brett Houchin, the blog and video supervisor for Zappos. "I think that it's the perfect way to engage people literally face-to-face and knowing [LaPointe], she'll interview all attendees."

Recently marketers have faced backlash from some women bloggers. One group has called for a "PR blackout" during a week in August.

"I think the blogging community it's not new to us, but it's new to some people and they are growing and with that, there might be growing pains, but I think they are a valuable voice and I don't think they're going away any time soon," said Parker.

MWW's Blate added that she didn't believe it was something to be worried about, because, "We have really great relationships with all media, including bloggers."


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