It was another great day at BlogHer ’09!
The morning got off to a good start when I arrived at the hotel to meet Kath for breakfast and discovered fresh pots of Quaker oatmeal lining the breakfast buffet! I loaded up on oatmeal, brown sugar and plenty of fresh fruit.
The selection was quite abundant – pineapple, canteloupe, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries…it definitely made up for the cookie + wine Friday night dinner. I also had a cup of coffee – couldn’t find the cocoa this morning, so it wasn’t quite as good 😉
The morning keynote featured a panel led by Lisa Stone (one of BlogHer’s founders) that discussed how traditional media is dealing with the “new media calling.” One of the most interesting tidbits I picked up is that now, more than ever, advertisers are moving their budgets away from print newspapers and glossy magazines and putting all of their focus and energy into online mediums. With my background in and love for journalism, it makes me sad to consider what the newspapers and magazines are going to look like in 2, 5 or even 10 years from now. Don’t get me wrong, I love the online space and everything that comes with it – but the physical pieces of journalism are important to me, too.
After the keynote, Kath and I made our way to Break-Out Session #1. Today’s session was called Business of You: Advanced Social Media, Syndication and Stats. The panel discussed a lot of advanced social media and suggested that bloggers utilize certain tools to boost their influence in the blogosphere. Some of these included:
I honestly have never used any of these! My best friend has always been Google Reader when it comes to keeping up with my favorite blogs. I’m curious, have you? If so, what’s your opinion?
After the first session, I wandered around the hotel a bit and met up with Kath again in the MicroSpa (from Microsoft) after her massage I snacked on some hummus and veggies that I found there.
We were hoping to meet a certain famous celebrity chef before lunch, but her flight was delayed, so we headed out to the buffet. Today’s theme was Mexican food – and the selection was amazing!
I loaded up on greens topped with salsa, guacamole and refried beans. But I also had to try a tamale, which was filled with cornmeal and shredded beaf. It was so. darn. good!
Kath and I decided to split the desserts again. There were four to choose from, but we settled on the Tres Leches and Chocolate Silken Coconut Cake.
We found a table and dined al fresco near the Chicago river. Doesn’t get more beautiful on a nice day!
After lunch, we made our way back into the exhibition hall and found our celeb: PAULA DEEN!!!!
This woman is just as funny, sweet and charming as she is on television, y’all 😉
The celeb sighting was such a blast, and then it was time to go to Break-Out Session #2. This one appealed to the niche blogger in me: FoodBlogging in the Time of Recession.
The panelists wanted to focus on ways of saving money while still cooking quality meals during the recession. Topics ranged from how to still “eat green” on a budget to how to use up leftover wine: freeze it in an ice cube tray and use the cubes to marinate meat! Who knew?
The best part about the session was the fact that many of the food bloggers in the audience also shared their expertise. Check out The Perfect Pantry, $5 Dinners, Once a Month Mom and Food Blog Search for some great information and recipes!
The final break-out session of the day was called How to Get the Most from the BlogHer Publishing Network. The most interesting thing they discussed was the new FTC Guidelines that could impact the way bloggers such as ourselves receive and review products from brands. Check out this BusinessWeek article for more information on the specifics.
You can read more about the issue in Kath’s post, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I just would like to remind everyone that if I ever eat a product that has been sent to me by a company, you will know it. I strive for 100% transparency on this blog with regard to featured products, giveaways, etc. and would never want to compromise my integrity and the integrity of Eating Bender by being dishonest with you. When I give reviews, they are my honest opinion. But I have to ask (in the hopes that it will only benefit you), what are your opinions of the product reviews and giveaways on my blog? Are they helpful?
Sorry for the tangent, but this issue seemed to be a big point of tension for many of the bloggers at the conference, and I think it needs to be discussed, especially if it affects your opinion of me or my blog in any way. Yes, it’s “cool” to get the chance to try free products, but ultimately, I write reviews because I want you to know about these products and whether or not they are worth your while. I will only write about something if I feel it fits in with what my blog is about: food and living, with a specific focus on the healthy, simple or cost-efficient.
Let’s insert a deep breathe right here.
After the last session, I wandered around the hotel a bit more and headed down to the exhibition area to see if there were any snacks. Great idea, since I found cookies the size of my head…
I got one peanut butter and one oatmeal raisin to share with Kath. They were both excellent! We spent a little time at the closing keynote, and then headed down to the first floor promenade for the last event of the conference: the closing cocktail party. I grabbed a small glass of white wine and we headed back outside to stand by the Chicago river again. This hotel has a nice view!
The sushi restaurant had a great atmosphere, and we decided to share as a table. We started with the seaweed salad, Mara’s goma and fresh edamame.
Then we got a sushi platter to split amongst the six of us that included: Alaskan Maki, Crazy Chicago Roll, New York Maki, Spicy Salmon Roll, Tekka Maki (tuna) and the Sunset Roll.
I tried and loved each of them, but I think my favorite was the Sunset Roll. It had smoked salmon and a dot of peanut sauce on top which gave it the most striking flavor.
What a treat – it was such a special and delicious dinner. We snapped pictures of each side of the table: Kath, me, Mara, Mary, Roni and Mizzz Carla
When we got there, the party was already packed with happy people The best part? I found out that donations were being made to Autism Speaks. As many of you know, my brother has mild autism, and knowing that the fun was going to a good cause…well, it made it even more fun!
I had another glass of white wine and snacked on a small piece of tomato + mozzarella pizza, a chicken skewer and a few handfuls of graham Goldfish, one of the sponsors. Kath and I were also able to walk down a red carpet sporting pink boas. Yes, tiaras and boas in one weekend…who am I?!
We hung around for a bit to take advantage of some great free samples, then headed back to the hotel to meet up with Kath’s readers – all of whom live in Chicago! One lovely lady has her own blog, MarathonVal, and the others are thinking about it (right, ladies?!). They were all super nice and I really hope that they contact me (hint, hint) because I would love to have more people to hang out with in the city!!
We all headed up to another unofficial BlogHer party called CheeseburgHer!
McDonald’s cheeseburgers and white wine = the perfect party companions 😉 I decided just to have a small splash of white wine because for some reason, the smell of cheeseburger (though admittedly delicious) reminded all of us of nights spent in college dorm rooms.
Good news? I picked up about 10 free burger coupons for Bobby. He’s pretty happy. Thanks ladies!
And that was that…phew, hope it didn’t take you as long to read this as it took me to write it! The Internet in my new apartment is moving at a snail’s pace!
I really am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to attend this conference. As I enter into a career in PR, the conference helped me learn that the key to effective relationships between bloggers and PR professionals is mutual research and respect for each other. As a blogger, I’ve renewed my passion for writing posts and interacting with others in the blogosphere. This community continues to amaze and astound me every day, and I am 100% thrilled to be a part of it.
R + R,