I recently had the pleasure of being invited to a dinner party hosted by Bing – yes, the search engine. Bing invited 13 Dallas bloggers to a great Dallas restaurant to demonstrate their search engine. I’ve attended a few events where companies strive to connect with bloggers. Tres Generaciones did a good job, and so did Bing. In fact, we (at the Marketing Zen group) have also hosted events on behalf of clients who want to connect with key local influencers. I find that all these events have five key elements.
1) FOOD. Is there anything more universally pleasing? Food is a great incentive to attract people. Good food gets people talking. And really good food makes them want to stay. What can I say? If you want bloggers to take time out of their busy schedule and attend your event, be sure to have food. (I hate eating in the car.)
2) Enable Networking. I loved the fact that Bing demonstrated their search engine but allowed us plenty of time to connect with each other. I finally met Cali Lewis (great gal – and we both live in the same neighborhood!), re-connected with Zane Aveton, and met some great folks from Microsoft.
3) Have your KEY players present. If you host an event, be sure that it isn’t just your PR folks handling the bloggers. It is important that someone from the company be there as well. Bing’s PR firm was represented at the event, but I also got to meet Duane from their SEO team and their online community manager. It was nice to hear the good things about Microsoft. For example, I never knew that Microsoft had a division devoted to helping people in a crisis. I learned about how they are helping with Haiti. It was truly a nice moment.
4) Follow-Up. You can have a great event, but if you expect bloggers to blog about it, follow-up. Not in a pushy way, but in a helpful way. The day after the event, I got a very nice email from Eric Berto asking for my feedback on the event. He did NOT ask me to write about it.
5) Partner Up! Bing teamed up with Central 214 to host the event. It was a great move. I experienced a new restaurant and was able to see how Bing’s visual search works. If you decide to host an offline event, partner with a complementing business to do so. You both will benefit!
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