I'm starting to feel like a bit of an old hand at the various careers-style events held by publications in London, but nonetheless was still very excited to attend the Cosmopolitan Superblogger event in collaboration with Next last night.
The format of the evening was similar to that of Company magazine's blogger forum, and, more recently, Cosmopolitan's Media Career Masterclass. It begin with an opportunity to mingle with the other attendees, after which we were called into a lecture theatre, where the panel were waiting for us.
The panel consisted of:
Louise Court, Cosmo editor
Pat McNulty, Cosmo digital editor
Emily Johnston, blogger at Fashion Foie Gras
Kat "I really love weddings" Williams, blogger at Rock 'n' Roll Bride
Vicky Fogwell, from Next
The panel all spoke first, giving their own opinions on various aspects of blogging, from building up followers to avoiding hackers. The realities of blogging became very real, as both Emily and Kat spoke of managing to accidentally delete their entire blogs in the past. They also touched on the problem of hackers, particularly those who sit on blogs and demand money for returning control of the blog to the rightful owner.
When Emily spoke of the "drug of blogging", a ripple of recognition ran through the room, as the majority of attendees identified with the issue - although recognition turned to shock when she told of living on four hours sleep a night for three years as she blogged along time a full time job. Another point which united many people in the room was the mention of the stigma of blogging, due largely to the reputation bloggers have for trying to blag things for free!
The best piece of advice I took away from the event, and will be attempting to put into practice, was Kat's recommendation to become a routine in your reader's lives by blogging at the same time every week. This led to a discussion amongst the panel of how often is too often to blog- From experience, Dom knew of cases where blogs cut down from three posts to two posts a week, and actually received more readers as a result, suggesting that it is quality rather than quantity that counts.
Contrary to the Company blogging event, this event focused far more on the commercial side of blogging, for those who would like to make a living from it. Whilst this is something that I would love to do, I am very much aware that for me it is a pipe dream, and not something that is ever likely to become a reality. But I was left feeling the need to justify myself for not having a niche topic in my blog, so I was reassured by Dom's statement that there are some bloggers with great work, but do not have what it takes to go commercial. I'm OK with that.
So the final tips for the evening were:
Think about brands you want to work with and how you want to work with them
Value your worth
Use social media
And the all important dont's:
Don't give up
Don't just ask for freebies
Don't assume people are interested in anything you're writing
Don't be controversial just for the sake of it
Don't get frustrated
Don't misbehave on Twitter
Don't just sit at your computer- go and look for stories!
The event wrapped up with a few questions from the audience, but for me the best was yet to come, when I summoned up the courage to introduce myself to Louise Court, the editor of Cosmopolitan. Despite spending four weeks as a workie at Cosmo, and attending various events hosted by Cosmopolitan, I'd never actually spoken to Louise, so it was great to have a discussion with her about an article which I contributed to!
As always, the evening resulted in a goody bag for all attendees! Mine consisted of the following:
Self tan mitt, VO5 heat defence cream, Body Shop Coconut Body Butter, Right Guard deodorant, Baptiste dry shampoo, Blink eyebrow pencil, Bronze Ambition tanning cream, Rimmel Apocalips, DHC deep cleansing oil, Tresemme Platinum Strength, and a lovely bag of Propercorn.
The iconic Christmas Coke ads have long since disappeared from our screens, and won't be returning until at least, oh, August, giving their marketing and PR people a chance to come up with their latest PR ploy - named packaging.
At first, the idea seemed entirely random -it doesn't link to any upcoming TV or film release, or anything else current - but therein lies its beauty; if #danceponydance and its predecessor, Cadbury's drumming gorilla, taught us anything, it's that random is good in the world of mainstream corporate advertising.
Coke have taken this one step further by making the random personal, by producing bottles with the top 150 names in the country stamped on them. I've yet to find a bottle with my name on it- although I did see a bus with an advert with my name in Oxford Street- but I know that when I do, I'll be buying it, and I know plenty of other people who have said the same. Now maths isn't my strong point, but that's a lot of people, with the 150 most popular names in the country, now buying a Coke that they probably weren't going to buy otherwise. Knowing me, if I do manage to get a bottle with my name on, I won't open it. I'll keep it on a shelf in my room, gathering dust, a la the Peter Rabbit Easter egg of 2005 (if you don't know, don't ask). Again, I know other people who have said they would do the same. But every time I look at that Coke, it's going to give me a craving for Coke. So off I'll trot to buy a can of Coke, simultaneously satisfying my craving and playing into their hands.
So far so good for Coke sales figures, and someone in their head office is heading for a sizeable end of year bonus.
But for every Laura, or Adam, or Rachel out there, there's a Jemima, or Annaliese, or, the person who inspired me to write this blog post, a Farrah.
A couple of days ago, without really thinking about it, I tweeted the following: "Retailers must be getting sick of their drink shelves getting messed up by people looking for a Coke bottles with their name on it!" Very quickly, I got this reply: "Fortunately for them, I will sadly be picking up a Fanta instead. Personalised doesn't come in size "Farrah" </3"
As well as encouraging people who wouldn't normally buy a Coke to buy one, they're also discouraging regular buyers who have been excluded from this PR ploy. Now I'm not saying that the Farrahs of this world are going to outnumber the Lauras- the very essence of this being the 150 most popular names exlcudes this possibility, but it's food for thought.