Are sponsorships to conferences to be expected now?

Monopoly before I started losing When conference dates and location are announced, excitement is expected. Greed is not. Trish Robinson alerted us via FriendFeed about the general response to BlogHer ‘10.  She posted:

What the hell has BlogHer turned into? Nearly every comment on the first post announcing next year’s date are people trying to find sponsors and how to get a free trip? Wow. – Trish R

Curious, I clicked the link.

I am new to the ‘blog-a-sphere’ and didn’t make BlogHer 2009, it seems 2010 is coming to my hometown here in the big apple, how do I register since I won’t be requiring the hotel? Is there a separate registration section for us NYC based bloggers? what is the rate if you don’t require a hotel?

Should I start posting for a sponsor already/now???

So much to learn, so little time! :-)

That’s a worrying reaction for many reasons, but as you scroll through the comments, you see others posting about looking for sponsorships.

I do not know when getting a sponsorship to attend a conference became the standard, but it seems somehow that the women commenting on BlogHer think it so.

I am super excited that BlogHer10 is in NYC. It’s such an exciting location. I have been Twitter-stalking BlogHer09 from my home in Minnesota and could just kick my self for not being there in Chicago–a mere 5 or so hours away. Geesh.

I have to figure out a way to get to NYC next year–BlogHer means a lot to me as do the other lovely bloggers out there who I found through BlogHer.

Perhaps I can get a sponsor for BlogHer10. Not even sure how to go about it. It’s such an important event–I have to get there!

I know that this past year with more people using Twitter, there were was a loud vocal minority bragging about their sponsorhips. To my mind, that shows a serious lack of decorum and tact. This is honestly, the first conference I’ve witnessed this sort of tacky behavior. I’ve had friends receive corporate sponsorhips to attend SXSW, E3 or Blog World Expo just to name a few. They didn’t feel the need to brag about their sponsorships the entire time. They were professional in carrying out their duties on behalf of the company that sent them. As for the bragging, there was none. Many of them posted a thank you note on their blogs, a badge or logo of the company, or disclosed it at the end of blog entries discussing what they’ve learned at the conference.

It would be great if I could bring the whole Healthy Moms team of bloggers to BlogHer 2010. How would I register as a team? Would I have to purchase all the tickets at once? How do we go about getting sponsors? I see that all over the blogosphere too. Glad to hear that we have until February to get our tickets with the early bird pricing.

Honestly, I’ve never seen such blatant greed on display. I understand in this economic climate, but companies also have to watch their pennies. It does them no favors when your “representative” tweets or blogs about parties and being drunk and offers nothing about the actual conference. This is the first year, I’ve learned next to nothing about what happened at BlogHer by attendees. The only value I received was from panelists who tweeted or blogged their experiences on the panel.

Is this the new way? Is this what a corporate sponsor is to expect when they send someone to a conference.  What value to do they get from this behavior? How are they holding their representatives responsible?

Hello! I’m new to blogging and BlogHer! I recently started a blog about my daughter and her journey through auditory processing disorder. I would like to get my blog “out there” so it can help other people. I would love to attend this event, however as a military family, our $$$ are always low! I would love to know more about sponsors! Please send me a message :)

I would have loved to attend Netroots Nation this year. The money just isn’t there. Many have suggested that I take advantage of the scholarships being offered. I declined because no matter how much I want to attend, the truth is that I’ve neglected my blog and took several months sabbatical from politics. I believe there are more active people out there who will benefit more from attending the conference in a few weeks. I really want to see friends and get out of Los Angeles.

The idea of asking a company I do not associate with regularly to send me to Pittsburgh is foreign to me. Yet in the FriendFeed link above, Tamar Weinberg says it is happening to her:

BlogHer has become a conference for freebies. That’s what most people want from it. Not value — just freebies. You have no idea how many people have pitched organizations I am involved in — organizations THEY DO NOT EVEN HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH — just to ask for free sponsorships. C’mon. I’d rather just shell out the $200. If you’re looking to benefit from BlogHer, pay for it. Stop milking people dry — you don’t deserve it, ladies. I plan on either paying to go next year or speaking. I think people forget that BlogHer is a *conference* where there are sessions. – Tamar Weinberg

What really amazes me by this entire situation is that many of the women who talked the most about receiving sponsorhips have no voice. Their blogs have limited readership, they carry no weight behind their words. They are not leaders. They are not trendsetters. They have no respect in whatever focus they blog about.

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now and would never expect someone to just toss me cash to attend a conference. How does someone who just started blogging come to believe that this begging for sponsors is standard operating procedure? Has the crass noise of the vocal minority drowned out the women who do attend BlogHer conferences to learn? More importantly, is there a solution?

I don’t think BlogHer should deny or limit those receiving sponsorships from attending. The only bonus, is that the bragging helps weed out the “momvertisers”. I do think that companies should look a little more closely at who they are dealing with. If a woman can not act mature and professional online, there’s a strong chance that she’s behaving even worse offline. That brand damaging.

And as for the sponsors, if they want to throw away their money at someone who lacks decorum with no weight behind her words, let them. As consumers, we can choose to avoid sponsors who’d help those greedy-grubbers. – Anika Malone

I stand behind that.

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  • Beautiful.

    "What really amazes me by this entire situation is that many of the women who talked the most about receiving sponsorhips have no voice. Their blogs have limited readership, they carry no weight behind their words. They are not leaders. They are not trendsetters. They have no respect in whatever focus they blog about."

    So true. Those who deserve sponsorships don't have to beg for them.
  • Ah, that is very true.
  • I saw the comments on Friendfeed and checked out the gimme-girls with a sense of morbid fascination. The only thing I can think of is that would explain what we all saw is this: if they're young moms, they're probably not just new to blogging - they may not have spent a lot of time working before they started their families.

    So maybe they never got to a level where they had to learn professional etiquette. And now they think they can just waltz into a company, announce that they're a blogger and expect a sponsorship, without any idea of what they could deliver in return that would actually be of value to the company in question.

    Remedial etiquette courses, anyone? We could make a fortune . . .
  • Mary, you just may be on to something. But they'd probably ask for a sponsorship to go to that course too!
  • I didn't even know it was possible to get sponsorship to attend a conference. It's sad that the women boasting about this are ones who have not been blogging for too long. If I go, I will pay my own way to BlogHer.
  • Companies send people to conferences. In my experience, my friends who have had sponsorships from web-based companies or special-interests groups to attend conferences. It would be like my local hardware store sending me to a conference on home supplies. In some cases it's a great fit. The attendee is professional, not only getting something out of the conference, but making sure not to damage the brand of the company paying the bills.
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