Sunday, 13 September 2015

Lifestyle: Blogging Events - Are They Worth It?

Blogging events - are they worth it
Hi ladies, what a week it has been! I’ve been to 8 blogging events within less than six days. Yes - 8! You may ask yourself how I managed, and more importantly, why would I do that. Before I updated my blog’s profile to ‘London-based’, opportunities to attend events were rare. It has all changed now and the invitations came flying in. I wanted to make the most out of an experience which I usually don't have. That's why I went extreme and attended one networking event after another. What is it like to go to a press conference? Who will I meet at a blogger party? Is it worth meeting up with a PR agency? 

My week has been super crazy. It was busy, it was fun, it was tiring, it was simply fantastic and I don’t regret a single moment of my marathon. My little crash course in blogging and networking events has been an experience which I’d like to share with you. 

Blogger Parties (Bloggers Festival and BLFW)

I was kindly invited by Scarlett to come to her sensational #BloggersFestival on Saturday. I’ve read many great posts on her events before but Saturday was E.P.I.C. In the stunning Conrad Hotel at St. James’ Park, I met half of the blogging community. I literally couldn’t move an inch, because I was chatting all the time. The atmosphere was superb and I was so excited to see everyone. I’ve finally met Renata and Alina, my gorgeous blogging friend Laura and Nevena. Seeing Rebecca, Fii and Tania again felt so good and I really hope to meet them all again at another event soon. 

BloggersFestival Scarlett London
Browhaus Eyebrow treatment

The Bloggers Festival did not only bring together the community, we’ve also had the chance to speak to fantastic brands including JewelleryBox, the team from Small Man Media and thanks to a full-on eyebrow makeover by Browhaus, I look like a proper person again. So much love for my new eyebrows, thank you so much! Thank you so much for everyone who came over to chat and to say hello to me. I had an amazing time meeting you all and hope we'll do so again very soon in the future.

Last Monday I attended Danielle’s #BLFW and I was very pleased how the event went along. The venue at the OXO tower was perfect. With enough space and a stunning view, I met awesome brands including Perphone, Little Ondine, True Brit London, Magnitone London, Miglio, Maison Ves, Boho Betty UK and Heaven skincare. I chatted to the lovely Neesha, Lauren and Fii again and Karen joined me for the evening session.

Bloggers Hangout Fashion Week
Blogging Event Fashion Runway

Are Blogger Parties worth it? – Totally. Not only can you network with brands and learn about fantastic and unusual products, it is most likely you will bump into a familiar blogger face. It feels incredible when you finally meet all your friends from the community IRL and also make some new ones! 

Fashion Shows (Birmingham Fashion Week)

Fashion shows are another opportunity to network with the community and to connect to the fashion industry. So far I had the chance to attend Berlin Fashion Week, Bristol Fashion Week and Birmingham. 

On Friday I took the train to Birmingham to attend the 2015 Fashion Week event. You may remember my Birmingham International Fashion Week post from last year and I was excited to return to the show. However, it was the first day of the two-day event and I found it a bit disappointing. The evening started promising with some fabulous shows showcasing swimwear and dream dresses. The presentation of both collections felt very professional in comparison to last year’s shows. 

Birmingham international Fashion Week 2015
The BHFW team invited Vblogger Becky Sheeran (Talk Becky Talk) and her sister and both ladies gave a wonderful Q&A session about the world of blogging. So far so good. The evening then drifted off into a disaster when a so-called ‘fashion panel’ of industry experts came on stage. The talk was meant to focus on ‘The Impact of Abuse in Fashion Systems’ - a rather vague and academic topic to discuss on a Friday night if you ask me. The experts didn’t manage to build a conversation, with one member (a fashion graduate) giggling nervously all the time and behaving totally unprofessional. There was no discussion or engagement which was boring and hard to keep up with. The main topic wasn’t approached at all and when a member of the audience asked to elaborate more on the very vague topic, we were told ‘the impact of abuse will be approached and negotiated in more depths tomorrow [Saturday] night’. This felt odd as people like me travelled specifically to this event and wouldn’t come back the next day. It was a massive let down and I felt frustrated when I saw that there was only one more show left for the evening and Saturday would include two more shows. 

Are Fashion Shows worth it? - Despite my latest fashion week related event I'd say yes. Fashion shows are first and foremost professional environments to connect to key media and the industry. You get insights into the latest trends and expand your knowledge of style. All the shows have helped me to understand fashion in more detail and I used my knowledge to create better content. In comparison to London Fashion Week, Bristol and Birmingham are less orientated on international design art but rather on the British High Street and local designers. I found it very beneficial to get to know insights into their fashion worlds which has shaped my feeling and understanding for everyday fashion. 

PR Meet Ups (Paperblanks)

So far I talked about networking with bloggers and key industry people but there's another very important party missing in the world of blogging: PRs. PR agencies are representatives of brands and are always on the lookout for coverage and ideal opportunities for their clients. Blogging has become important for the PR industry as it provides an affordable way to get coverage. For a blogger, working with PRs means to establish a relationship (ideally a long-term one) and also to network with industry professionals. A bonus is that you get sent products for review which means unique content opportunities for your blog.

Paperblanks AW15/16 collection

Last week I was invited by Paperblanks, a brand that creates luxurious diaries, journals and planners. I've been a fan for a very long time and I got a collection of their journals at home. Some of them are too pretty to use, but others have been my life saver. I spent the afternoon chatting to Paperblanks PR representatives and had a lovely time. Not only did I try macarons for the very first time and got a sneak peek at their latest collection, I also got insights into the relationship PR and Blogger. We talked about Paperblanks, we talked about my blog, we talked about the perfect coverage but also about our latest holidays. It was great to speak to the representatives face-to-face and to establish a personal relationship.

Are PR Meet Ups worth it? - Yes, they are. As every great relationship, the one between PR and blogger lives from a well-balanced give and take. Through a meetup, both parties can get to know each other which takes the relationship to a personal level. It feels less anonymous and both sides can learn about each other's expectations, can negotiate and find a compromise to work together. In the long run, this creates trust which makes working together reliable and harmonious.

Press Conferences (BUFF)

8% of my blog is dedicated to my passion for films. As you know I love going to the movies (thanks to Cineworld Unlimited Card!) and write reviews for you, so you know what’s worth seeing at the cinema. However, I’d love to extend my film section a tiny bit and increase my coverage percentage. This would include continuing with my monthly reviews but ideally feature new DVD releases and hopefully UK premiers and film festivals.

With this in mind, it has happened that I had my first ever press invite for a film festival in my inbox the other day. After a year of blogging about films, my section got recognised and bagged me an invitation to the official press conference with The British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) supported by Channel 4. I was so over the moon when I got the invitation and last Thursday, I made my way over to C4 HQ in Westminster.

This was a proper press event with media, industry professionals and film critics. And amongst those VIPs - ME! The C4 building was impressive and the press conference was held in their private cinema. I mean is there a better way to spend your day watching films and have unlimited popcorn on your hands?

Channel 4 private cinema
The British Urban Film Festival press conference

The conference started with a general introduction to the festival which will be held from the 16th – 21st September 2015. This year celebrates the 10th anniversary which will present incredible movies made in the UK including Pray, Stereotypes, Sheila, Beverly, Superbob, Invisible Men, Lapse of Honour and Reset. All of these films include the true essence of British filmmaking and centre around conflicts of a modern British society. You may have heard of the movie Kidulthood (2006) so most of the films are shot in a similar style and quality. The Festival also supports The Act for Change Project which calls out to the film industry to represent more diversity of the nation in film and TV. This includes actors and talents of all skin tones, sexual orientation and disability.

After the conference, the press was invited to enjoy two UK premiers. I won’t give too much away here in case you’d like to get tickets, but I can tell you that there will be some fantastic films broadcasted at the BUFF which kicks off on the 16th September. Tickets are on sale now.

Are Press Conferences worth it? - Yes, yes and double yes! As I've said it took me a year for the industry to recognise my blog and my work as a film blogger. There's still a lot of room for improvement but attending an official press conference amongst film critics and industry professionals brought my work and content creation to an entirely new level. We no longer talk reviews here, but hopefully, I can establish a long-term relationship and connections to the British film industry. I'm also attempting to get a press pass for the Berlinale in 2016 so little steps at the time but they mean progression for my blog.

Launch Parties (Vernez)

Vernez Fashion Magazine App Launch Party
My Wednesday evening ended with a launch party of Vernez. The new fashion app allows users to create individual fashion and outfit inspiration in the style of their own fashion magazine. It operates through a store where you can choose your items and then create a picture collage. It's an interesting concept and I had the pleasure to speak to Vernez's founder, Moyang Yang. She explained to me how Vernez is distinctive from Instagram and how they work on the app to bring even more features to it. 

The launch was another great opportunity to network with industry professionals and fashion bloggers. After the presentation, there were also refreshments and canapes to enjoy, as well as a photo booth. The atmosphere was brilliant and I'm pleased I went, as I met Moyang and her team again at Birmingham Fashion Weeek. What a lovely coincident!

Are Launch Parties worth it? - It was my first launch party and I wasn't too excited about the product if I'm honest. I'm not the typical app user so not their target audience which made me feel a bit out of place first. However, though I probably won't use the app, I feel the evening wasn't wasted. The Vernez team are a lovely bunch of young professionals and very easy to talk to. They recognised me at Birmingham Fashion Week and I was happy to chat to the team again. Networking can work and it is nice to bump into people again and when they recognise and remember you. Furthermore, I also chatted to some very lovely fellow bloggers that evening and it has given me some ideas for content as well. The party was a complete success and though some events can be boring or you feel that they've been a waste of time, it is great to open your mind about your niche and get to know what is happening in the industry. As a blogger, I strive to improve my content and I feel I can do so if I'm interested in my niche and get to know about products, even if I'm not too fussed about them.

Summary: Blogging events

Congratulations, you've made it through the entire post! It's fair to say that blogging and networking events are generally a great way to connect to the community and to professionals. Events are the communication to all parties involved in blogging. They are your tool in IRL when you're away from Social Media and offer you a diversity of opportunities to speak to a variety of people. You can interact with bloggers (audience), connect to key industry professionals (opportunities and becoming an expert in your niche) and establish a solid relationship to PRs (content). It is vital to keep in touch with all parties involved if you take blogging seriously and want to establish yourself in the industry. It's also great fun when you meet new people and learn about quirky new products in order to write versatile content for your blog. See you very soon!!!!

Bloggers Festival Scarlett London Blogging

Thank you so much for reading today's post and I hope you've enjoyed it. Have you been to blogging events yet? Do you find them beneficial or a waste of time? Which events have been your best so far? There's a follow-up post called Blogging Events - Are They Worth It? Part 2 on my blog. Have you seen it yet?

Till next time,

xx CAZ xx

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