Blogging Conference Sponsorship Etiquette

2012-08-03 10.28.31

Pardon me for a little post about something that has been bugging me lately.

The title of this could have gone… why I’m refusing to RSVP or otherwise attend any offsite parties at BlogHer this year… but that was a bit long.  I’m a blogger.  I like going to conferences.  It’s a great place to network, learn and hang out with friends I don’t get to see very often, because people living in other states is lame.  All my friends should be within walking distance of my house.

I admit to having been sponsored to blogging conferences before.  The difference is that either my sponsor is an official sponsor of the conference, or the terms of my sponsorship would in no way interfere with the conference.  Let me ‘splain that one.  I was asked to speak at a conference about the gadgets I use to make my life and blogging easier.  I have a Windows Phone, I use a Windows laptop.  I also use Microsoft Office to blog on several occasions. I was going to be talking about Microsoft during my presentation, regardless.  I approached them and discussed what I was already planning on discussing during my panel, and asked if they would like to sponsor part of my trip. Fortunately for me, they agreed, and I had a wonderful time at the conference.  I discussed the Microsoft products that I naturally use anyway, and it worked out perfectly for everyone involved.  Most recently I was sponsored at the BlogHer Entrepreneur’s conference as Skype’s blog ambassador.  Skype was an official sponsor of the conference, and I fulfilled all of my duties as their representative to the best of my ability.

I’m not saying that everyone can be so lucky as to have sponsorship’s that work so well with the conference.  It’s ok if you can find a great company to sponsor your trip.  What is NOT OK is putting the conference at risk by promoting your sponsors products over a brand that is officially sponsoring the conference.  Using the conference hashtag to promote your sponsor (that has not paid to be part of the official conference) is not ok.  Distributing product or literature of your sponsor is not ok.  Putting the brand on your business card… totally ok.  Wearing sponsored gear… totally ok.  Writing all about them on your blog, or tweeting about them during the conference (while NOT using the conference hashtag) totally OK!

Also, PLEASE, for the LOVE… do not solicit for sponsors on Twitter or other social media as a mass callout… “I’m looking for sponsors for #BlogHer13!!  Contact me for more info!”… 1) It makes you look tacky, desperate and unprofessional.  2) Brands aren’t sitting around twiddling their thumbs just WAITING for the moment you send that tweet in order to contact you.  3) Just don’t.  The RIGHT way to go about getting a sponsor to the conference you want to go to is to approach brands you have already worked with, and have established a good relationship with.  If you don’t have any brands you have already worked with, find a brand that will fit well with you and your audience and the conference.  Put together a well thought out proposal and approach them personally (find contact information on their website or on their social media sites).

Sponsors pay the conference organizers to be part of the conference.  They help make the conference happen.  I would like to continue going to conferences.  If more and more sponsors decide that it’s cheaper for them to just throw an offsite party and take advantage of the fact that all these fantastic bloggers are suddenly in the same city, than less and less sponsors will continue to sponsor the actual conference.  What will happen when there is no one sponsoring the conference and EVERYONE decides to take their money and put it towards offsite events?  The conference will cease to exist.  While I’m not saying this is what happened with one of my favorite conferences, but that particular conference isn’t happening this year, after 3 extremely successful years.

So, I would love for the rest of my friends and bloggers to take a stand with me, that if the brands won’t spend the money to support the conferences that we love to attend, then we don’t need to attend their parties.  They not only hurt the bottom line of the conference organizers, but they take advantage of them as well.  Who is with me?

Sarah Kimmel

Sarah Kimmel

Sarah Kimmel is bringing you the tech news and tips that you want to hear! Find out more on .
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5 comments

  1. meghankrane

    Making a case for yourself to the brand is key, I couldn’t agree with you more. A sponsorship is a partnership and you want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the products and services you’re representing as well as the terms. I just wanted to stop by and extend a warm welcome from the Livefyre Community. We’re excited to have you join us, and if you have any questions about Livefyre for your site feel free to give me a shout LivefyreMeg

  2. meghankrane

    Making a case for yourself to the brand is key, I couldn’t agree with you more. A sponsorship is a partnership and you want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the products and services you’re representing as well as the terms. I just wanted to stop by and extend a warm welcome from the Livefyre Community. We’re excited to have you join us, and if you have any questions about Livefyre for your site feel free to give me a shout LivefyreMeg

    1. tech4moms

      meghankrane Livefyre LivefyreMeg Funny thing is that we mentioned LiveFyre in our panel (the one where I talked about Microsoft).  Thanks for stopping by!

  3. MommyGearest

    Holy crap! I didn’t even know “outboarding” was even a word, nor a thing and *certainly* not a frowned-upon thing until reading this post. Thank you! I’m totally guilty of (1) accepting invites to parties that are clearly not thrown by official sponsors (though admittedly, I didn’t know this until about five minutes ago…) and (2) tweeting using the #BlogHer13 hashtag with products that are going to make my weekend at BlogHer easier but are not sponsors – I just really love them and I’m a tad vocal about it. BUT NO MORE! This is the kind of info we newbies need so we don’t bite the hand and all that. Just remember that – at least some of us – may have unintentionally/unknowingly broken etiquette. Again – thanks. :)

  4. annmariastat

    This is interesting. I’d never heard the term outboarding before either. I am attending a party at an upcoming conference (not BlogHer) thrown not by an official sponsor. This is a small party, invitation only, for companies that purchase from the vendor. There will a few thousand people attending  the conference and they invited about 30. I’m not sure if I feel too bad about it, though, since they are hosting it in a suite at the conference hotel, buying booze from the conference hotel. In events I’ve been involved with, we did get free space from the hotel the more rooms we filled and bills attendees ran up.

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