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Posted on 08.11.2010

Brands Successfully Reach Bloggers at BlogHer

Last week, I took a few days off of work to attend BlogHer in New York City. BlogHer is the nation's largest blogging conference for women. It draws more than 2,500 attendees from across the country, as well as some of the world's largest brands. Before, during and after BlogHer, many brands have off-site, private events to cultivate relationships with bloggers. I had the opportunity to attend many of these events and was very impressed by the brands' presentations and creativity. Here is a list of my top five favorite events and why they worked.

Hallmark's Christmas in August Party: Hallmark held a Christmas party in a hotel penthouse suite that was totally transformed to look like a home decorated for the holidays. It had a Christmas tree, the mantle was decorated, a Santa, gifts, Hallmark cards and ornaments and more. Prior to the event, Hallmark sent its guests purple Christmas hats to bring and wear to the party. The relaxed, homey atmosphere caused many bloggers to stay at the party for an extended period of time, which was a fantastic opportunity for the brand representatives to interact with the guests. At the event, Hallmark promised to send a package of the brand's Christmas line. This was well-received because so much swag is given during BlogHer that much is left for the housekeeping staff. This ensured that everyone received the Hallmark products that the company wants to introduce to the bloggers.

Unilever's Penthouse Party: Like Hallmark, Unilever transformed a penthouse suite to create an experience for the bloggers. The penthouse it reserved was multiple rooms, and every room created a brand experience for the bloggers. One room was like a dressing room and featured a celebrity stylist doing hair using Suave products. Another room was a relaxation suite where bloggers could decorate sandals, have water flavored like dove deodorant scents and receive reflexology and massages. Yet another room was like a large kitchen and dining room, with areas set up to showcase Ragu, Wishbone and PF Changs. The party was spectacular because of the attention given to each brand. Attending the event truly was an experience - and experiences are what bloggers love and write about. After checking out each room (and getting a "passport" stamped in each), bloggers received a large swag bag filled with Unilever products. Getting Gorgeous by Audrey McClelland and Vera Sweeney: Audrey and Vera are two popular fashion/entertainment bloggers who came together to create an experience for bloggers to interact with multiple brands. They transformed two hotel suites into two rooms filled with beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands. Remington had celebrity stylists doing hair, Hanes shared about its new bras, Tide demonstrated its new wrinkle release product, MiracleBody gave away jeans to every guest and more. The event was fabulous because of the opportunity to interact with many brands on an intimate level and because the gifts guests received were items that would be used and talked about. Earrings, jeans, curling irons, etc. - not small items that would be tossed. I wore my jeans on day two of the conference - and talked about them to many people. I was also photographed in them and linked them on my blog. This is what brands want. ShopAtHome.com Shopping Spree: ShopAtAHome.com is an online shopping portal featuring free catalogs, Free Coupons, Printable Grocery Coupons, Local Store Coupons and Cash Back shopping incentives at more than 3,000 leading online retailers. Prior to the conference, they gave bloggers the opportunity to enter a contest to win a shopping spree in the garment district in New York. 38 bloggers were selected and given $150 each to buy clothes at wholesale prices - a perfect tie-in to the types of deals people receive using ShopAtHome.com. In addition to the shopping spree, the ShopAtHome.com representatives gave each attendee a $25 gift certificate to use on their site. This was a smart way to motivate the bloggers to visit ShopAtHome.com after the conference. The experience was organized, fun, different than a party and well-planned.

The Today Show with Today's Moms: The Today Show invited about 25 bloggers to come experience a morning at Today on the Thursday before the conference began. The bloggers were invited on the plaza and included in a shot, met several of the hosts, got lots of pictures, were taken in studio and filmed during a segment, saw the control room and had time to get to know one another. This event worked because it was not too big and because Today created a memorable experience for the bloggers. Here are a few additional brands worth mentioning:

Liberty Mutual's Responsibility Project: Liberty Mutual invited a group of about 40 bloggers to experience Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. During the bus ride to Ellis Island, the representatives showed a video about the Responsibility Project and shared its vision. Nothing over-the-top, but very thoughtful, well-planned and memorable. Ebay Fashion: Ebay Fashion's booth at the conference included samples of the great clothes and accessories you can find on the site. Their stylists helped guests try on some items and then a photographer did a mini fashion shoot. Very fun. Tide: Tide invited bloggers to one of several small dinners they hosted at a fabulous New York restaurant. These dinners had less than 20 people at each and allowed Tide's representatives to really cultivate relationships with the invited bloggers. Very impressive and unusual.

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