Influencing the influencers at BlogHer 2011

More brands are recognizing the importance of the BlogHer conference, a pivotal yearly meeting that attracts key women influencers from across the online space.

More brands are recognizing the importance of the BlogHer conference, a pivotal yearly meeting that attracts key women influencers from across the online space.

As a first-time sponsor of the BlogHer conference in 2010, Sara Lee gave bloggers a sneak peak of its new products. Sara Matheu, director of communications for Sara Lee North America, said, “We came out of it with so many insights, so much amazing content and a great group of new brand ambassadors.”

Sara Lee is back this year – one of 100 sponsors at the four-day BlogHer event in San Diego through August 7.

Elisa Camahort Page, COO and co-founder of BlogHer, said 3,600 attendees are expected, up from 2,400 last year (and just 300 when it launched in 2005). In fact, the annual conference has become the largest of its kind, and not just for women in social media, but for social media in general.

Camahort Page credits the recognition among corporate America that women control household spending and use the Internet to talk about almost every aspect of their lives.

“The women who attend BlogHer are not just customers of our sponsors, but they influence thousands of other customers,” she says. “The event has become a powerful platform for companies to create relationships with these influential women.”

Matheu agrees, which is why Sara Lee is using the event as a springboard for two initiatives. The first introduces a new campaign for Hillshire Farm, “So Good. They'll Think It's for Them,” and includes a pop-up eatery on the BlogHer expo floor where attendees can sample new product offerings and meet campaign spokeswoman Wendi McLendon-Covey, co-star of the movie "Bridesmaids."

For its Jimmy Dean brand, Sara Lee is launching a cause marketing partnership with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign, which aims to end childhood hunger in the US by 2015.

MWW Group is providing PR support in collaboration with Sara Lee's event marketing agency, Escalate.

“The core target audience is moms,” said Alissa Blate, EVP and global practice director of consumer lifestyle marketing at MWW. “These are women who regularly participate in social media and, perhaps most importantly, women who alter their purchasing patterns based on their online engagements.”

In addition to Sara Lee, BlogHer's largest sponsors this year are HTC, Ford, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo, the latter of which has expanded its outreach. So, too, has P&G; in its first year as sponsor, it only showcased its fabric care products.

Now in its third year, P&G is featuring 22 different brands as part of “our larger, integrated digital communication strategy designed to establish a deeper connection with consumers in ways that are appealing and meaningful,” said Dave McCracken, external relations manager at P&G. “We have established what we believe are strong relationships with many of these bloggers. This [event] is an opportunity to be with many of them in person, which helps strengthen those relationships.”

P&G is the sponsor of the Life Well Lived Day on August 5, a pre-conference event to help women find more balance in their lives. Using its beauty brands Pantene, CoverGirl, and Olay, P&G is pampering bloggers poolside at the hotel through services like blow-outs and leg messages.

“BlogHer learned that bloggers wanted more opportunities to interact with each other and brands in an informal setting outside of the convention floor,” McCracken told PRWeek. “[Life Well Lived Day] was a collaborative effort that started after last year's conference.”

Virtually all of its PR agencies are involved in the BlogHer effort, McCracken said.

New BlogHer partners include Ford, the sponsor of the event's first-ever family picnic on August 7. The picnic is catered and invites attendees to test drive Ford vehicles on-site.

“We're committed to forging relationships with non-traditional media and giving them opportunities to experience Ford and help us tell our story,” said Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford. “They already have the trust of their readers; we hope that as they share their experiences with their readers, it will come across as more personal and more believable.”

Ford is working on the event with WPP partners Ogilvy 360 and Direct Impact.

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