The post Yvonne wrote yesterday about BlogPaws 2010 "A community of storytellers get together" was such a great way to sum up the event. All I keep telling people is that it was amazing and that I had a blast. No I just have to take a moment here to share some of my own thoughts and reflections on the weekend.
I had the honor of being part of the VIP committee, as well as a speaker, that helped to pull this first-time event together for pet bloggers and pet-lovers. Those of us on the committee got together over another conference call last night where we each took turns giving our assessment of the event while it was still fresh in our minds.
I was one of the last ones to speak so I listened on as everyone stated what a highly-organized event it was, not only for a first-time conference, but it was one of the best conferences some had ever attended. Some shared suggestions on little details that could be improved upon, such as the panel sessions went too long and there wasn't enough time for Q&A's. Well I'm sure many of us have had that experience before.
I was trying to think of something to say that hadn't been said yet. So when it got to my five-minute turn to speak I started out stay that I thought BlogPaws had a great mix of inspirational, keynote speakers, combined with the nuts & bolts of the panel sessions on top of all the great networking and socializing time. But what was really unique, was the people. Everyone was really having a great time, soaking up all the information and trying to meet as many people as possible.
When you're planning an event such as this you mostly have control of selecting the speakers, topics, venue, food, entertainment, but you can't really plan on who is going to show up. Everyone showed up and more! The numbers aren't final, but a close estimate is 250 or so people were there, along with the 20 or something dogs and cats. Plus there were many people that wanted to, but couldn't attend, and who followed the event through the live tweets and now viewing the photos and comments on the BlogPaws website and Facebook page. I think in time it will be remembered as the "Woodstock" of pet lovers!
I'm not sure if everyone there understood how impressive the line up of speakers were. Many speakers said they came not only because they are pet lovers and they would be contributing to animal shelters, but also because they personally know Yvonne or Caroline. Just in my panel alone we had Jenny Cisney, Kodak's Chief Blogger, who flew in to Columbus from a city she was speaking at and was then off to California for another event. Jenny wrote this BlogPaws 2010 Recap post on the Kodak Thousand Words Blog where she's got lots of great photos. Hollis Thomases was my other fellow panelist who I've seen speak before at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in NYC, who is a columnist for ClickZ that I follow and who just published a book titled "Twitter Marketing".
Another great speaker was my roommate for the weekend, Susan GetGood, who was bursting with excitement because she had just been interviewed that Friday morning on the Today Show. The funny story is on Friday morning I was in my bedroom packing to leave and happened to turn on the Today Show. Ann Curry was talking to a woman about negativity in the parenting blogoshpere. So I gave it more attention and there appeared Susan live on TV with Isabel Kallman. Susan runs her own company, GetGood Strategic Marketing and about a year ago founded "Blog with Integrity" along with a few other woman bloggers. We display the badge here on the Lipsticking blog and it's also on my blog, Donna's Promo Talk.
You can watch the video clip and read comments about it on Susan's blog Snapshot Chronicles. Susan did a great job and all weekend long she was getting emails and tweets from people she knew, and people she hadn't heard from in years, who had seen it. Susan said to me "If I had a bucket list, and I don't, being on the Today Show would be on it! Congrats again Susan. I was glad to share the experience with you.
Back to BlogPaws 2010, each keynote speaker was great, Andrea Arden, Trainer on Animal Planet's Underdog to Wonderdog, Dr. Larry McDaniel, PurinaCare blogger, and Elisa Camahort page, Co-Founder of BlogHer. As Yvonne said in her post they all told stories so they connected with us in an emotional way. This is something that I'm trying to learn how to do better in my public speaking.
Now we can't forget the four-legged friends that joined us, such as Rex the Great Dane featured here. As soon as I arrived I walked into the lobby of the Westin Hotel that was filled with people that had arrived for BlogPaws along with some dogs and a few cats. Something about having the pets there provided us with an even greater connection between us all, plus they just make you smile. I remember saying quite a few times, OHHHH how cute! I came back really missing my pets and also a promise that I was going to stop overfeeding my cocker spaniel, Izzie, who has put on quite a bit of weight since we got her last May. Izzie it's for your own good dear.
The event raised close to $10,000 in cash and gifts that are being donated to designated animal shelters chosen by the attendees. Thank you to the brands that participated, who became part of the experience and donated prizes and money to help make this all happen. They will definitely be remembered.
I am very proud to have part of this team and it's a story that I'm going to use in my own public speaking now as I talk about the power of social media. Stayed tuned to hear what BlogPaws will be doing for an encore!