BlogHer and Sponsored Bloggers: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Back in 2009, it became noticeable that some Individual bloggers were being sponsored by companies to represent them at BlogHer conferences. We created the following guidelines for those bloggers with personal sponsors, based on feedback from the community, in order to ensure a pleasant experience for all conference attendees. We update these guidelines every year to account for new questions and the evolution of our business. [These guidelines have been updated as of February 6, 2014.
Q. Is everybody sponsored to attend BlogHer?
A. Actually, no. By far the majority of attendees are sponsored by one person: Themselves.
Q. What about those non-sponsored attendees...any guidelines for them?
A. Yes. Lots of attendees will be at the event to talk about their own work and interests...their products, services, arts & crafts, blogs, causes, projects, books, web sites, etc. Even if you are unsponsored, we gently suggest that you read the below guidelines, especially the one about the perennial number one complaint: "distributing unwanted materials to other attendees." It's important to note that attendees are held to the same rules barring leafletting and other indiscriminate distribution of materials on behalf of causes, friends, or their own sites.
Q. What does my sponsor get for sponsoring me?
A. It's up to you. By sponsoring your attendance at a BlogHer Conference, your sponsor gets whatever benefits you agree to provide to them. Sponsoring an individual BlogHer conference attendee directly is not equivalent to sponsoring the event itself, and therefore attendee sponsors are not eligible for any official sponsor benefits. There are limits to what you can do on site during BlogHer, so many sponsored attendees focus on the other benefits they can deliver. For example, you may decide to offer them ad space or other sponsored content on your blog. You may agree to wear logo wear at the event. You may agree to provide other consulting services in exchange for sponsorship. And if we may editorialize? We always recommend charging a sponsorship fee in exchange for services, not seeking someone to simply cover your expenses dollar for dollar. Attach value to what you offer!
Whatever you decide to offer, BlogHer Publishing Network members should remember to adhere to the editorial guidelines attached to your contract with BlogHer. Please contact the BlogHer Help Desk if you have questions: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q. Can my sponsor have a booth or other space at the conference?
A. Only official sponsors of the BlogHer Conference itself receive official sponsor benefits, including exhibit space or booths. Should your sponsor be interested in a bigger presence at the conference, such as a booth in the conference Expo Hall, our Conference Sales Team is available to answer questions.
Q. Can I use my blog and social channels to promote my sponsor?
Yes. You absolutely may use your blog and social channels to mention that your sponsor sponsored you to attend a BlogHer event. However, please ensure your language makes it clear that the brand has sponsored you individually, not the BlogHer event in general.
Because "BlogHer" is a registered trademark, the use of our name for any unapproved commercial purpose is prohibited. This means you cannot use our trademarked name or our event hashtag (which includes our full trademarked name) on behalf of any unofficial event sponsors. That's right: You may not use the standard event hashtag to promote an unofficial sponsor or its products/services, except to mention that unofficial sponsor has sponsored your attendance at the BlogHer event. Unauthorized use of the “BlogHer” trademark for commercial purposes extends to other materials, public or private, such as email, on printouts, or in any other form, to promote that brand, including unauthorized giveaways of free items by the brand, unofficial parties for that brand, invitations to attendees on behalf of that brand, etc. But you are certainly welcome – and encouraged – to use the BlogHer name and event hashtag to promote the fact that you are attending a BlogHer event, to engage in social media conversations with other attendees regarding BlogHer event programming and parties, and to write a recap of your experience at a BlogHer event if you so desire.
Q. Can I pass out materials at the event?
A. One of the most widespread complaints we continue to receive about sponsored bloggers is that sponsored bloggers distribute unwanted materials to other attendees. We have received overwhelming feedback that unsolicited materials from sponsored attendees is not appreciated and leaves a negative impression of both the attendee and the sponsor.
Therefore, no sponsor swag, gifts or literature may be distributed within the conference space or the host hotel(s), directly or indirectly, regardless of whether the items are branded or not. Such materials will be removed if left lying on any surface at any conference venue. You may not stand in the hall or lobby to distribute such materials. And the venues will work with us to shut down such practices.
A badged attendee engaged in indiscriminate distribution of materials will be given one warning. And subsequently may have their badge revoked.
Q. Can I wear clothes that are branded with my sponsor’s information?
A. No problem! Since you will likely be passing out business cards, another idea is to put your sponsor’s information on the back side of your card.
Q. Can I host a private party for my sponsor?
A. Should you wish to host a private party for your sponsor, your event must be held at a separate venue. All of the suites and meeting space within the conference space, convention center, and hotel(s) will be held for official conference events only.
In addition you cannot use the BlogHer name, hashtag, logo or any other reference to BlogHer'14 in any references, promotions, or communications about any such event involving a sponsor. There are numerous ways, however, for your sponsor's party to become an official sanctioned BlogHer event, with the simplest being to pay an affordable "licensing fee", at which point they gain access to a hsot of other sponsrship benefits, and you become able to leverage the BlogHer name and brand in your communications. Again, our Conference Sales Team is available to answer questions on how to arrange for your sponsor to become an official sanctioned sponsor of the event.
You also may not tweet or publicly ask attendees to meet you in the lobby, or any other on-site space to get sponsored items, swag, etc.
Q. So, what is permissible?
Networking is a big part of BlogHer events. Of course, many attendees use the traditional business card to exchange information. You may include your sponsor information on your business cards.
To be clear: You may include sponsor information on your contact materials, that you would exchange in the normal course of networking. You may not pass out sponsor materials.
We are not interested in policing individual one-on-one organic conversations. We are committed to protecting the investment of the official sponsors who make the below-cost ticket prices for bloggers possible, though, so we prohibit the unethical practices commonly known in the events industry as suitcasing (definition here) or outboarding (definition here).
Finally, while BlogHer will enforce these rules within the official conference space, convention center, and hotel(s) only, we encourage sponsored attendees to consider adhering to this policy outside the official space as well. Some attendees will express direct interest in your sponsor and what they have to offer. If someone doesn't express such an interest, we recommend assuming they are not interested!
Q. What should I do if I witness an unofficial sponsor or a sponsored blogger violating the above guidelines?
A. Our goal is to ensure a pleasant and rewarding experience for all attendees. Should you witness a violation of the above guidelines, please reach out to a BlogHer staff member at our Registration/Information kiosk. Any reports will be kept anonymous. BlogHer Staff will attempt to independently verify any complaint before taking action.
As stated above, any bloggers seen violating any of the above will be given a personal warning, and asked to stop immediately.
Any second incident may result in the attendee’s badge being confiscated and attendance revoked for the rest of the conference, without refund.
If you are interested in why BlogHer works so hard to set strong guidelines for bloggers and brands when it comes to suitcasing and outboarding, and how the rest of the conferences and events industry egards and treats such activities, please check out BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page's post about outboarding from last summer.
Still have questions? Please feel free to email Lori Luna.