How to deal with Official Bloggers for conferences

So you organize a conference and you do your best to get as much media coverage as possible. Have you considered Official Bloggers as well? And if yes, do you know how to find them and how to deal with them? This post will give you a few tips & tricks on this, gathered from several occasions when I have been an Official Blogger (and a good example with pictures below).

What are Official Bloggers?

An Official Blogger is a person that is invited to a conference by the organizers in order to publish posts on her/his personal or professional website/ blog related to the conference content. The articles may be published during the conference (live blogging) or afterwards.

Why do you need Official Bloggers?

Even if you are a conference at its first edition or at its 10th edition, Official Bloggers will help you spread the word in new regions or niches or certain tribes. So if you want to expand internationally,  you need bloggers that are popular in their countries and write in their national language. If you target a specific group of people to attend your event, you need bloggers that write on that niche or have a great network among your target group. Even if they might bring immediate results, I would suggest however to have long term communication goals – Official Bloggers prove to be quite useful for conferences that have multiple editions and that grow each year. The number of Official Bloggers you should have also depends on your objectives and the size of the conference you run.

Why would Official Bloggers come to your event?

Some bloggers are quite frequent Official Bloggers at many conferences. They simply love it and/ or find it useful for themselves as well. Some haven’t been Official Bloggers at conferences before, but that should not be a barrier for you. They will come if the topic of the conference is in their interest or the content they can create from your conference fits their readers profile.

How to find Official Bloggers?

First of all, define your objectives: where do you want your conference to be known? Which geographical areas, which niches, which tribes? Then you mainly have 3 options (and I recommend to use them all in parallel): use google to find blogs that fit your criteria, read them and contact the ones you like; contact people you already know to make you recommendations of bloggers that fit your criteria; have open applications for Official Bloggers on your platform.

What benefits should you offer to your Official Bloggers?

– free entrance to the conference
– free and good internet connection during the conference (eventually a dedicated area)
– facilitated access to speakers (eventually schedule some meetings for them during the conference)
– an Official Bloggers “angel” (a person they know they can contact for any requirements)
– a Curator (someone hired by you, in charge of communication, that follows blog posts by Official Bloggers and can republish them on the official website)

Nice to have:
– facilitated networking between Official Bloggers (Facebook groups, official list with contacts, pre-parties for them etc)
– accommodation (if you can get a good deal or a partnership with some accommodation providers, would be great)

What should you expect from your Official Bloggers?

I have never seen organizers imposing anything to Official Bloggers. And my advice is: do not impose anything. No minimum number of posts, no time of posting, no length of posting etc. Do not worry about their commitment and professionalism (that, if you chose them well in the first place). Because the conference content is in their own interest, as well as in yours.

Below a few highlights from Next Conference 2012 (Berlin, 8th-9th May) where I have been Official Blogger:

– Before the conference, Official Bloggers were in touch with each other through a very vibrant Facebook Group: “The Next Bloggers”. Closer to the event, a contact list was put in place and emails started to flow on different arrangements. This is how me and Guilhem found out our flights land in the same time and how I got a great welcoming at Berlin airport.

- Our first destination was a party dedicated to all the Official Bloggers, organized the night before the event at the office of one of the partners, on a Berlin roof top. Our “angel”, Lea, welcomed us and took care of everything. Great for networking, meeting new people or catching up with known ones.  Free bar and chillout music helped as well to create a great atmosphere.
- Next destination of the night: a great apartment just for Official Bloggers, offered by one of the partners of the event: Airbnb. The representative of airbnb was really nice and provided us with lots of goodies. Being 5 of us from different countries in the same apartment helped again strengthen some bonds.

– During the two days of the conference, we (Official Bloggers) spread at different tracks, being able to create a huge buzz with tweets and live blogging. Lots of interviews with speakers took place as well (scheduled or adhoc). We were meeting during breaks in the dedicated area, writing or exchanging opinions.

- In the main room of the conference there was also a dedicated area for Official Bloggers: tables, plugs and cable connection (as backup to wireless) – everything a blogger could need during the speeches. Quite an international presence there :)

And don’t forget to check The official blogger happiness list for conferences, written by Henriette,  a fellow Official Blogger from Next Conference.