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Good Advice or Blogger Entitlement? A Kerfuffle Over A Post Addressed to the Host Hotel for BlogHer ’13

By cecilyk |

Okay, I doubt bloggers have done THIS much damage at a conference.

Okay, I doubt bloggers have done THIS much damage at a conference.

It’s that time of year again –time for the annual pre-BlogHer internet kerfuffle! Since I’ve been attending BlogHer (this year will be my sixth!), there is always some sort of online discussion that starts a controversy that carries into the conference.

This year’s discussion started with this post by Jen of The Martha Project, addressed to the host hotel for BlogHer. She was surprised that the reservationist at the Sheraton in Chicago – this year’s conference hotel – didn’t know what the BlogHer ’13 conference is, and thought it might be a good idea to explain it to them.

It’s a collection of online writers (blogs and otherwise) who gather to learn more about the art of blogging. It’s about 99.8 percent attended by women. The few men can be found carrying a flask to offset the estrogen hurricane they just entered. The Blogher conference covers many different aspects of blogging including writing, photography, technical, design, and probably lots of other stuff that I don’t do or understand.

It’s also so much more. For me, it’s the annual pilgrimage to meet online people that I read all year round. I can get my geek on and have not a single person think I’m strange. And I am strange.

Frankly, I think she nailed the description. But another blogger, Deg Ng (former conference organizer for Blog World / New Media Expo), felt that the post was completely unprofessional, particularly when Jen recommended leaving excess swag items for the hotel cleaning staff, and wrote her own post in response.

Here’s an idea: instead of putting the onus on housekeeping to find a home for your left behind swag, how about you don’t take it all back to your room? I assume you know how much luggage you brought with you. I assume you can eyeball everything you’re carrying back to your room. If it doesn’t fit, don’t bring it upstairs. And if you did bring it upstairs and it’s looking like it won’t fit, bring it to BlogHer’s swag exchange room where you can leave it for someone else or the people at BlogHer will donate it.

Way to get out from under the “swag whore” myth, there.

Ouch. As a blogger that has, yes, left some swag in the hotel that just didn’t fit in the suitcase (because by the time I packed up, the swag exchange at BlogHer was closed, alas), she’s got a valid point. But a point Deb makes later in the post is the real sticking point, judging by the reaction. Jen wrote the following warning to the Sheraton:

You should expect from them as you would any other customer unless you piss them off. Then? Expect your social media to BLOW UP LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. You should warn whoever* runs the twitter and or Facebook page now. Really. And buy them a bottle of vodka for each of the 3 nights that the conference is going to be there.

Deb referred to that as “social media blackmail” which I’m sure wasn’t Jen’s intention; I think she honestly was trying to be helpful, but it’s easy to see how that could be misconstrued.

Since I know both players peripherally, I feel like I get what both are trying to say – but I will say this. The Sheraton is well-positioned to host BlogHer, and is highly experienced from hosting the conference in 2009 (it was a lovely, lovely hotel). In fact, BlogHer wrote yesterday about why they chose the Sheraton, and I think their logic is sound. I suspect when Jen called the hotel she dealt with a reservation office that isn’t even onsite (and deals with Sheratons from all over the country), and therefore it’s not surprising that the woman taking her reservation had no idea what BlogHer was – she’s probably booking rooms for hundreds of conferences around the country.

Did Deb go too far by calling Jen unprofessional? Maybe. I think Jen’s intentions were good, but suggesting that a huge hotel with extensive event experience needs to get a clue isn’t kind. But what do you think? Does Deb have a point, or did Jen get it right?

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About cecilyk



Cecily Kellogg writes all over the web, including here at Babble for Voices and Tech. She neglects her own blog, Uppercase Woman. Read bio and latest posts → Read Cecily's latest posts →

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11 thoughts on “Good Advice or Blogger Entitlement? A Kerfuffle Over A Post Addressed to the Host Hotel for BlogHer ’13

  1. here’s the thing…I’ve seen this all over the interwebs. First I HEART me some Jen! Second, I may be off base but I seriously doubt she’s all too offended about being called unprofessional since she’s…(to my best knowledge at least) a hobby blogger. And honestly if other bloggers hadn’t brought attention to it in this light I seriously doubt any brands would have seen this post. So those who are all worried about it giving bloggers a bad name etc, probably should have just stayed quiet about it. I personally cosider myself a professional since I do make some income from blogging and I don’t think she was off on any of it. If you read that and don’t see some truth in it, you must live in a bubble because its the reality of the conference. Even if it isn’t you (because it’s not me at least not swagwhoring or bitchin on social media, at past blogher’s) you have to know its there, with others. And you also have to realize, it’s sarcastic humor. If you don’t do crass humor, best to stay away from Jen’s blog altogether.

  2. I read the original post last night after reading an excerpt with the social media blackmail in it. Taken out of context, it’s completely inappropriate because it perpetuates the perception that women bloggers, on the whole, are entitled bitches.

    Read as a whole, the post is clearly satire… if you’re familiar with our blogging community. Outsiders? Not so much. So EVERYTHING has been taken out of context all over the Internet by now, making us all look bad all over again.

    There’s been some discussion about individual bloggers’ responsibility for the reputation of bloggers as a whole – and I can see both sides.

    The whole “kerfluffle” and such could have been mostly avoided by a simple italicized preface to the post. This post was written with my tongue firmly in my cheek. It’s satire, y’all. Or something like that.

  3. I think part of the issue is that some attending BlogHer do consider themselves social media professionals but many others consider blogging a hobby for the most part or a wanna-be full-time job. WAIT – no, that’s not it. Because honestly, everyone should know how to act nicely regardless if you are a professional or non-professional.

    Maybe age plays a part? I know at 43 I am shocked at how much more I can see than when I was younger. The older I get the more I realize I do NOT KNOW about everything – which is a good thing.

    I don’t think that you should totally avoid using social media if you have a complaint, but you don’t have to rant and rave over and over on social media about it either. Be sure to use social media to acknowledge the GOOD that you receive in products and services also.

  4. I am living a kerfuffle-free existence. Please don’t burst my bubble.

  5. WOW says:

    *Yawn* Been on Gomi front page since before 6am yesterday.

  6. tracey says:

    She meant it in humor and if you read it,you’ll agree: it’s funny. There is some reality to it, though. A hotel SHOULD Know to up their wifi capabilities and to be conscious of their twitter/media streams during the conference; just in case. I feel some seriously good advice was given, mixed in with a lot of snarky humor.

  7. Shandra says:

    For me, the post wasn’t really funny. If talking about how you’re going to _make life hard for the maid_ or berate the front desk on Twitter for their coffee is your schtick, hey, I guess it is but personally I think it really hits that…overwrought middle class woman treats Sheraton staff like shit because they are paid to put up with it button, and it’s a tired, rom-com trope.

    Blogger conferences, IMO, need to decide if they’re girls-gone-wild spring break for mommies/would-be rock stars of the obnoxious green M&Ms only sort, or professional gatherings, and then brands and readers can ally with whichever camp they find more synergistic and interesting.

  8. Liz Henry says:

    Apparently I’ve been reading too much real news. What a waste of time. Who cares? It’s BlogHer not the G8 Summit.

  9. Jessy says:

    I fully believe it was intended as the kind of humor that is like “here, let me tell you what I really think, but I’ll do it in a funny way so as to charming.” Trouble is, it wasn’t funny, and what she really thinks is entitled, narrow-minded and selfish. There was no indication she had NOT left a giant pile of crap in her hotel room at previous conferences.

    The only funny part is that BlogHer might be one of the most diverse groups the Sheraton has ever seen. Good lord, who is dumb and/ or sheltered enough to say such a thing in public?

  10. Shandra says:

    I thought I had commented; apologies if this becomes a duplicate. I think I have gotten terser. :)

    The post for the most part wasn’t that funny because it’s a tired trope: Entitled type-a middle class woman picks on hotel staff for not providing her sufficient caffeine or wi-fi and and leaves a mess for the maids. Tee-hee.

    The reason it doesn’t work in conjuction with BlogHer is that BlogHer participants have historically behaved exactly that way (to judge from the online record; I have never been), throwing fits about swag, etc.

    As for the larger question of blogger conferences, I think the conferences need to decide if they are “spring break for bored mommy bloggers” or “advice for people who want to present their blogs in the most professional light possible that fits their voice.” There are _amazingly_ fun and pretty ways to do the latter, just ask the Blogshop people. But the former seems to be where pictures come from, at least memorable ones.

    To stave this comment off: Yes, it is possible that dentists get drunk and smash cakes and grab at swag at their conferences, but they don’t put pictures of themselves doing that up in their offices. People might not take their advice and professional cred as seriously afterwards. People’s blogs/social media streams _are their offices_, esp. if they are bloggers. So, we out here in the bigger world notice. And when a post like this goes up, it rings kind of true.

  11. KellyGomez says:

    I’m sure a hard-working hotel maid really wants left over Divacups, mugs, wrist-bands or any other junk. Jen sounds like a small-timer who doesn’t get out much. Poor thing.

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