By Toni Carey (@toni_carey)
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the first annual Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference in Boulder, Colo., which just happens to be one of the healthiest cities in the nation. As a full-time public relations professional and a part-time fitness and health blogger, I find pitching the media during the day and sifting through media pitches at night gives me a unique perspective and sometimes a headache.
Nonetheless, attending the conference gave me an opportunity to mix and mingle with some key bloggers in the fitness and health industry, as well as learn some new things about social media and how it relates to the health of our country.
Obesity is a very serious (and real) epidemic
One of the highlights of the conference was keynote speaker, Shellie Pfohl, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, an advisory committee of citizens who are charged with educating, engaging and empowering Americans of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to a live a health and active lifestyle. Pfohl discussed how fitness and health bloggers have a role in America’s fitness, health and nutrition and the opportunities and responsibilities of these individuals. She also gave two of the most staggering statistics I heard during the conference.
- 1 in three U.S. kids is overweight or obese.
- 55 percent of children living in poverty are overweight.
For details about Pfohl’s keynote, check out Theodora Blanchfield from Losing Weight in the City (@tblanchfield) recap that explains why you should care about food deserts and what you can do to bring awareness to these troubling statistics.
Bloggers vs. Journalists: The ongoing debate and other hot topics
I had the privilege of leading a discussion on hot topics in fitness and health blogging. And one of the hottest topics we discussed was ethics and how there seems to be a lot of discussion and confusion about how companies and PR professionals should treat bloggers. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission announced rules that require bloggers and tweeters to be open about paid endorsements, but where does that very fine line end? Should bloggers be open and honest about products they receive for review? A journalist certainly doesn’t have to be, but are bloggers and journalist held by the same standards and should they be? And most importantly, should bloggers have a code of ethics? If so, who’s the governing body or should bloggers be self-regulated? While there were lots of questions that stemmed from the discussion, most bloggers agreed that it was only a matter of time before the blogosphere would come under some type of regulation.
Three things you shouldn’t say to a blogger
I took a few minutes of my presentation/forum to get a sense of what bloggers really think about public relations professionals and their traditional approach to getting media attention. The feedback: PR people are cliché and boring. And I hate to admit it, but they’re right. So here’s three things you should never say or do when approaching bloggers:
- Never say “I love your blog.” If you actually read their blog and are a fan, that’s great but if you just read their first post, it doesn’t count. Trust me, they can tell when you’re lying.
- Never say “First ever…” Come on, just think about how many times you’ve used it in a pitch. YOU don’t even believe it.
- Never send a press release. Remember, they aren’t journalists so don’t treat them like one. Do your research and then email them and ask what they’d be interested in. Working with these guys takes a little bit of work and you have to be genuine, but it’s well worth it in the end.
Bloggers are a great resource, so add them to your budget
From the public relations perspective, it’s always interesting to hear companies who not only “get” social media and working with bloggers, but who do it WELL. Jo Rogel (@jo_rogel), social media strategist for Gaiam discussed how bloggers and businesses should build a personal brand online. To put it simply, he asked, “Why would you want to work with me if you don’t know me.” (This one phrase actually needs its own blog post.) Did you know that 88 percent of active blog readers trust information from familiar blogs? Not only that, but there’s ways to reach reporters through bloggers and Forrester research states that “4 percent of online users are responsible for 80 percent of all influence impressions.” But it’s not just about reach, it’s about their influence. Be sure to make them a part of your overall marketing campaign.
And a little note about the conference organizers….
I have to say that this is one of the most educational and fun (yes, you heard me, FUN) conferences that I’ve been to. But not just because I was among my blogger pals, but because Zephyr Adventures, the conference organizer, made sure that each session was not only informative and educational, but that the entire conference experience was engaging (literally). After every other session, we participated in a 20-minute fitness break with Body Dynamics and there were also planned fitness activities and workshops at the beginning of each day. Zephyr Adventures has also up’ed the ante and will host its 2012 Health and Fitness Bloggers Conference at the Anshutz Health & Wellness Center in Denver, Colo., which will give attendees access to 100 of the top health and wellness researchers in the country, new health research and a “consumer research grocery store” and “research restaurant” that test theories of healthy lifestyles related to everyday living.
The 2012 Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference is organized by Zephyr Adventures. Zephyr has run active hiking, biking, and multisport tours around the world for the last 14 years including such trips as hiking on the Inca Trail, bicycling in Tuscany and Umbria, and running an active tour in the area of Yellowstone National Park.
Zephyr is also a creator and organizer of conferences for bloggers. In addition to the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference, they organize or co-organize the:
- North American Wine Bloggers Conference
- International Food Blogger Conference
- Beer Bloggers Conference
They specialize in active tours related to a local area’s food, beer, and wine and only run blogger conferences related to their tours. Zephyr’s owner Allan Wright also blogs regularly on the Zephyr blog.