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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Blogger events are hype, don't fret over them

It's been nearly a month since some folks discussed how bloggers are invited to corporate events. I've thought about this for a long time, but had not found the right thing to say. But as Preetam would tell everyone and Nadia seems to imply, nothing's happened unless I started some kind of controversy. So here goes.

Firstly, a chronological background of what this "debate" was:
  1. It started with Shelly Sim listing a set of "criteria" for bloggers to be invited to these events.
  2. In response, Ogilvy Public Relations' Brian Koh listed some reasons that organisations needed to engage bloggers.
  3. Claudia Lim weighed in with some reasons why certain bloggers were invited to these events.
  4. Adding her two cents, Priss said that almost any blogger could get invited if he/she wanted to, and that organisations needed to engage bloggers in the modern age.
(There may have been more entries written in relation to this debate, but I am not aware of them (as of this writing).)

To Shelly and anyone who's bothered by this debate, my suggestion is: "Don't worry your pretty little head over this." There are two "truisms" about the blogosphere:
  1. Blogs are rated as the least trusted news source.
  2. In Singapore, more people from many walks of life go to STOMP.
I'm also not giving that suggestion because I'm one of those bloggers who gets invited to said events and don't want any "competition". In recent events, I've actually been the one who said, "Hey, let's find more people who are outside of the usual circle to participate." If organisations want to "engage" bloggers, then they damn well better invite every Tom, Dick and Hari blogger that they can lay their hands on!

But if you still want to attend these events, then there are avenues to aid your discovery. I personally have gone to the extent of managing not one but two calendars of events. Social Events started off as a Google Calendar. Though that is still updated, Social Events really lives on at Yahoo Upcoming. If you see an event there and its notes don't say "By invitation only", then you're welcome to attend. Most of the time, you'll rarely even see those three magic words, which means you can attend if you have time and know how to get there.

Another way to find out about these events is through other people. As the saying goes, it's not what or how much you know, but who you know. Priss mentioned that she's been invited to events because she knows Sabrina. I don't know Sabrina (well, okay, I introduced myself to her once, but seem to have fallen off her radar since then), so I don't get invited to those events. So Shelly, don't feel so excluded. I may be invited to some blogger events, but there are many that I am excluded from.

Oh yeah, they are parties. They're events by name only. They're really about getting a bunch of people together and filling their stomachs with free food and drinks and their minds with hype and politically correct niceties. I've never organised a corporate blogger event, but my guess is that the thinking goes along these lines:
"Hey, I've got this awesome new product/service that's launching in Singapore. Yeah, social media is important and all that. It'd be cool to invite some bloggers down for an 'exclusive' event. Give them some free food, throw some freebies around. But don't forget to hype up the new product/service! Get them to write about it. (And subtly encourage them to leave out the bad stuff.) Yeah, that is so cool, man. Oh, after that? *pfftt* The newspapers/TV will take care of that."
That's the impression I get, anyway. They're just a one-night-only, two (okay, three)-hour partying and networking and hype. After that, you go your way, I'll go mine, at least until the next event for the new "gee whiz" product/service.

As the saying goes in "Grey's Anatomy": "Seriously?" Shelly, is this really what you want?

Perhaps I've become jaded to all of these so-called "blogger events". Sure, they're fun, in a way. For the penny pinchers, they're great places to load up on unhealthy food and get some free entertainment. For social butterflies, they're wonderful venues to catch up with pals and make new ones. And for the organisers, they're a low-cost way to (hopefully) get more related results in a search engine.

Of course, as more people attend these events, more entries will be written about the product/service being hyped. That could lead to more irritation by readers who wish wistfully for the time when blogs were online personal diaries without the product placements. I've no answer to that except to stop reading them. Besides, blogs aren't trusted, remember?

In summary:
  • Yes, you can attend blogger events! Check out Social Events or contact the right "influencer" (that's my label, not any PR agency's or organisation's).
  • Blogger events are these delightful, free parties. And don't forget the product/service marketing hype!
  • If you don't like reading event-related entries, don't read them. No one trusts blogs anyway, so you'd be better off too.
Aside to organisers of these events: just because you invite a few self-proclaimed bloggers to your event doesn't immediately make it a "social media" event.

Aside to folks who invite me to these events (or were going to): if this entry takes me off your list of invitees, so be it. But I hope you replace me with someone who is not one of the "usual suspects". At least then my exclusion can count for something.



Anonymous said...

This feels like a letter responding to me. How sweet (and really kinda humorous with the way you wrote it).

I agree with you that the parties aren't all they are hyped up to be, which was why I noticed there seemed to be a "criteria" for those who attend (self-invited or otherwise).

Most other serious people won't really be bothered unless the "event" was honestly something bombastic.

And no. Like I've had to explain myself at least a hundred times over, I'm not worrying my pretty head over it. It was just a musing of sorts judging from what I see in the blogosphere. :)

Yuhui said...

Hey Shelly,

Thanks for stopping by!

I think the events shouldn't even be "bombastic", just something that requires different thinking from what traditional agencies and practitioners are used to.

Anyway, good to know that you're not worrying over it.

Princessa said...

"fallen off her radar since then"

I know Priss for 8-9 years. It's hard to forget her.

pris said...

I don't just know Sabrina, we've been good friends for many many years :)

And most of the time I'm more like her slave :~( haha

Yuhui said...

Sabrina and Priss: I'm not sure if you misread what I'd written, but the words "fallen off her radar since then" refer to me, not Priss.

Anyway, Priss, thanks for clarifying your relationship with Sabrina, haha.

Princessa said...

Yes, my point exactly. There's no "radar". We were introduced but we never kept in contact. So naturally it would make sense if I go with my best friend then someone I'm not close with. No offense.

Yuhui said...

Sabrina: ah yes, ok, understooded

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