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Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Company That Knows How to Work With Bloggers: Lessons from GE Momsperience

I spent Saturday-Tuesday at the GE Momsperience event in Louisville, KY. And while I had an absolute blast and have some fun pics to share with you, what I wanted to write about first is the job they did working with bloggers.

We hear a lot of complaining about companies who ask bloggers to do a ton for them, without any sort of compensation in return; companies that know they "should" be working with bloggers yet they don't have a clue how to do it; companies that end up coming off as offensive to those of us in the blogging community.

But, today, I'm going to talk about GE, a company that got it right.  And no, I wasn't asked by GE to write a post about this. In fact, I was told numerous times by various GE peeps that they don't expect us to write even one post about it. While I'm sure they'd like us to, there was no requirement.

Here's what GE did right:

1. It's obvious they took their time planning this event: deciding who to invite and what to do during the event.  While Regan, who is cute as can be, came up with the idea back during Blissdom, it took GE a few months to pitch the event to bloggers.  Megan, who is usually the one tweeting for GE and who is not only darling but so incredibly personable, really took her time researching bloggers: she looked at authentic conversations on twitter and read our blogs.  They also chose bloggers from a wide variety of areas: it was not the same incentuous little group of bloggers who get invited everywhere: most of us have very different audiences.

2.  They took care of everything and valued our time.  When I first got the email from Megan inviting me to this event, I scanned it, thinking oh, this would be nice, but I'll never be able to make it work. Until I got to the point in the email where they said that all of our expenses would be paid and everything would be arranged for us. Would I have wanted to go otherwise? Absolutely- it's GE!  But, would I have been able to go if everything wasn't taken care of for us? No, unfortunately not.  In addition, anytime I thanked any GE person for having us there(including Nancy, who arranged all our travel- whom I may have almost knocked over because I hugged her so hard), they all said something along the lines of "No, thank YOU for giving up your time to be here." There was no sense of "we are putting on this fabulous event for you, so you better be thankful to be here." I WAS thankful, still AM thankful... but they knew that they wanted us there and acted that way.

3.  GE had a mix of events for us, with lots of personal touches.  On our first night, we had a martini party where we created fun hats that we'd wear the next night to Churchill Downs. We met and talked to a lot of GE employees in an informal environment.  We went to the GE Monogram Experience Center on Monday, where we heard from a variety of the departments and got to explore the products.  We donned aprons and cooked our lunches, as instructed by GE's fabulous chefs.  We went to Churchill Downs that night, all dolled up and in our hats for dinner.  Tuesday morning, we went to the Kentucky Arts and Crafts Museum, and then back to the Experience Center for a wrap up session. While this doesn't begin to describe all we did, GE had a good balance of events that were just for fun, ones to educate us about them, and ones where they were getting feedback from us.

4. Speaking of the blogger feedback, this one deserves its own point.  I really wasn't sure what to expect from the sessions. I thought it might be possible that we would get talked TO a lot. You know: GE telling us how fabulous they are. And really, they are. How did I not know about the GE Advantium? And every time I think about the GE Profile Front Load Washer and Dryer, I actually say outloud "Hello, Lover" in my best Carrie-Bradshaw-talking-about-shoes voice. Even in my sleep. Because I dream about those things. A-hem, back to my point. Sure, they gave us plenty of info about their products and their company. But, everyone we talked to wanted our feedback. They wanted to know what WE thought about their products, what we wanted in a product, what we thought about the way they did things, and how we could work together. And they listened. And even took notes.

5. GE said that this is not an "in and out relationship"- they didn't bring us there to make us fall in love with them and then never talk to us again.  Once again, it was the feeling of being valued that really struck me.

Now, as much as I adore GE and loved the GE Momsperience event, I'm going to give you my very petty short list of things that they could have improved on. It's not much. But, I tend to trust someone who can give me both pros and cons, not someone who never has a bad word to say about anything. So, here goes:

1.  Not everyone was invited.  I know some of you are wondering why I was invited and you were not- because well, some of you asked me that. Or, for those of you who are a bit nicer about it: why you weren't invited, too.  But, they couldn't possibly invite every blogger who would like to work with them. Yes, this could cause hurt feelings and they were even aware of this and felt bad about it.

2.  They used the term "mommy bloggers." Now, in case you missed it, I actually have a post about Why I'm Proud to Be a Mommy Blogger, but not everyone embraces this term- a few were not happy to be called this. "Bloggers" is probably the safest term for those who are easily offended.

3.  Breakfast was early on the last day(8am- I know, I'm a big baby).  Maybe have breakfast an hour later on the last day, because we were all tired. At least there was caffeine to perk us up.

The GE Momsperience could be used as a lesson for companies on how to work with bloggers. They truly did an amazing job. And yes, I'd totally go back if they invited me again and would work with them in a heartbeat.

Let's get all legal here: GE did pay all my expenses to attend this event. However, all opinions are my own and I was not required to write a word about them. Really, they did such a fabulous job that it'd be near impossible for me not to blog about them. 

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Blogger Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

How cool is it that you got picked to go Shell! Sounds like a really fun experience :-)

May 19, 2011 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Wow, what a great experience, nice to hear about a company doing it right and treating bloggers so well instead of trying to take advantage of us.

May 19, 2011 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger myevil3yearold said...

So cool. Glad you had fun!!!

May 19, 2011 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger Not a Perfect Mom said...

how awesome!
and the whole mommy blogger thing...I really don't get why some people get so hung up on words...
That being said, GE should have known that some do get offended by the term...
but if that and early breakfast were the only things not to fab, then I say they did a pretty awesome job!
what a great experience for you!

May 19, 2011 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

That's so awesome that you got to experience that!

May 19, 2011 at 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon said...

I think you described the experience perfectly. It WAS an incredible opportunity and everyone connected with it was genuinely interested in what we had to say. I'm thrilled to have been there and met you.

May 19, 2011 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous tracy@sellabitmum said...

Sounds so amazing! Well done GE!

May 19, 2011 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Holly Diane said...

How neat is that that you got to go ! Sounds like a wonderful time, and bravo to GE for doing it right!

May 19, 2011 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

It sounds like an awesome experience! I have to say that I've recently vowed not to buy another GE appliance. Everything in my house, although it is builder grade, has broken within the first couple of years. That being said, after reading about your experience, I'd be happy to reconsider them ... knowing what kind of company they are goes a long way in my book. Thanks for giving me a new perspective!

May 19, 2011 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Oka said...

Personally, I don't think GE should feel guilty about the process of inviting. They know what they are looking for, and how many they can accommodate.

I also don't think others should be jealous they weren't invited. Okay, maybe jealous, but not openly and outwardly jealous. You could burn your bridges if they are looking again for the future.

May 19, 2011 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger LoveFeast Table said...

It was so great meeting you at the GE Momsperience! It was great sharing some time at the table and getting to know you a little better!

Wishing you the best~ Cheers!
Chris Ann & Kristin

May 19, 2011 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Great re-cap of the event- it was an amazing experience & I, too, think that for this being their first event with bloggers they did an AMAZING job!!
in reply to Jen, I actually overheard a convo between another blogger & GE employee that they are re-investing in the company & they are aware of all the 'new' builder-grade appliances do not match up with the rest of their products and will be replacing that line with some that are better quality even though that will make it more expensive for contractors.
@ Creative Kristi

May 19, 2011 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Jamie H said...

You nailed this post on the head Shell! These are my thoughts exactly!! Thanks for the post, I will be tweeting it and linking to it in my post because you summed it up so nicely :)

May 19, 2011 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Cindi said...

Sounds like you had a great time and experience some stuff you otherwise wouldn't have. :)

May 19, 2011 at 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Caitlin {Pacifier In My Pocket} said...

Couldn't have said it better myself! You hit everything...awesome recap!

May 19, 2011 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger The Riggs Family said...

That's awesome you got picked to go and got a little getaway to meet some other cool people. We're not too far from Louisville and my daughter loves penguins, we might have to spend a night there sometime (we're like, a little over an hour away) just so we can kidnap a red penguin.

There was a time in my life where I had hoped to put a few ads on my blog, attend blogger conferences, and quit my day job (even though I really like my day job). And I'd get jealous when that seemed to be happening for other blogs I followed, but not for me. I'm past that now and think it's great when other bloggers get cool new sponsors or get to attend other great events. I'm just happy for the online community of bloggers and the support I've found there as a fairly new mom (my oldest is 3).

I love Carrie Bradshaw reference.

May 19, 2011 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

Okay, so what was the point of this conference? Was this to get to know the bloggers that they invited to do branding for them on their blogs?
Sounds like a good way to get their product out there by inviting some great bloggers to come. You deserved it Shell. :)

May 19, 2011 at 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a very cool experience & what an honor to be invited to attend! To be honest, I'm surprised people asked why YOU were asked to go ... that's gutsy. At any rate, sounds like a cool trip and I must say that I have to agree with the 8 am breakfast. Way too early for "mommy" bloggers to get up when they are sans children. ;)

May 19, 2011 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

What a cool event that you got invited too. A martini party sounds delightful although I agree with you on the 8am breakfast. Way too early for me. It's nice to hear that a company is doing something right.

May 19, 2011 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Beth @ Free Stylin' said...

Shell, what a perfect post. You wrote everything I wish I could articulate! It was wonderful to meet you - you're beautiful inside and out!!

May 19, 2011 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Courtney K. said...

Sounds like a very well planned and hosted event! How exciting to have been able to take part. :)

May 19, 2011 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger The Mommyologist said...

I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to hear more about this martini party and see pics!!!

And for the record, anyone who doesn't understand why you deserved to be at the event is J-E-A-L-O-U-S.

Shell is a rock star, people!

May 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Emmy said...

That sounds like a wonderful experience! And when I first read the GE thing, I thought, GE like the company? And sure enough. Glad you were able to go.

May 19, 2011 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Minivan Mama said...

You go girl! I don't know if you drive a minivan...but if you do, you totally rock it! Sounds like an awesome time and a great opportunity!

May 19, 2011 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

It makes me really happy to read this as I own some GE stock. :)

May 19, 2011 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Kmama said...

That is so cool. I didn't even realize you were selected for this and I didn't even know about it until you were there. So very cool. I'm just a teensy bit jealous.

May 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Very cool, Shell! And I'm surprised that there have been some who thought they should have been invited instead? Wow. When I saw that you were going, I couldn't have been more excited for you, and I knew they picked a good one to bring.

It's interesting for me to read about your experience and what they did right/didn't do right. I would agree on the Mommy Blogger thing!

May 19, 2011 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger A Mommy in the City said...

This is amazing! Sounds like you had a great experience!

May 19, 2011 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Lindsay Rudolph said...

That sounds great! They treated you like professionals and that is how you should be treated. It's wonderful to hear when companies get it right. I would be thrilled to make it on the invite list! : ) Glad you went and had a good time. Thanks for givin' us the run-down on the event.

May 19, 2011 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am so excited you got to do this. It means that moms who care about their kids, wear yoga pants, and are real were heard by a company.

You were a perfect choice!

May 19, 2011 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Elena Sonnino said...

Sounds like a worthwhile experience on so many fronts! Glad that you got to go--and so happy that you shared the positives with us!!!

May 19, 2011 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Sounds like a great experience! It's nice to know there are great companies that stand behind their products!

May 19, 2011 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is such a great overview! This was an amazing experience, and I am so grateful to my awesome host to have been able to go. Talk about a brand who knows how to do it right!

May 19, 2011 at 5:57 PM  
Blogger Liz Mays said...

What a wonderful experience, sweet girl! So glad you were able to go, and I'd be drooling all over the Advantium!

May 19, 2011 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Elena Wollborg said...

Very cool. I followed your tweets while you were at this event. I love when companies get how to work with bloggers. In my marketing class (high school teacher) I talk about worth of mouth marketing and how social media has amplified that and how companies need to realize this! Nice to see when companies get it. Glad you had a good time. ;)

May 19, 2011 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Rebecca Dot Com said...

How exciting! glad you had such a great time. can't wait to read more about your experience there :)

May 19, 2011 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Allison @ House of Hepworths said...

Great writeup about it! I'm glad we met. You are just cute as a button and your blog is so fun!


May 19, 2011 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

What a great experience and how lucky for you to be included!

May 20, 2011 at 12:38 AM  
Blogger Tracie Nall said...

I'm so happy for you that you got to go on this trip...and that it was such a success! That is fabulous.

I remember seeing a tweet or fb picture with some fabulous hats.

I hope that other companies will see this and get some good ideas.

May 20, 2011 at 4:22 AM  
Blogger Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Sounds like so much fun and one of those things that *almost* makes me want to go public and be on twitter so I can take advantage of opportunities like this... but I'll stay in hiding for a little longer.

Used to live by a GE plant and they do take good care of the folks they associate with!

May 20, 2011 at 5:35 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This sounds magical. Exactly the kind of event I would want to attend. (However, I don't have any illusions, not being located in the States).

I hope my comment goes through this time - I tried on the last post.

May 20, 2011 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

What a super cool experience! And kudos to GE for being smart with how they work with mom bloggers!

May 20, 2011 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger John said...

Absolutely an excellent write-up.

Did GE say how they went about finding bloggers to work with? Because I wondered about the "why this person and not that person" decision? I'm sure it was something like the selection committee for a college - you just had to apply by being nominated by a GE employee or something, but that is something I find fascinating.

That said, I'd be pretty upset if somebody called me a "mommy blogger."

May 20, 2011 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger TheBabyMammaChronicles said...

Sounds awesome! Couldn't think of a better blogger to choose.

May 20, 2011 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Beth Zimmerman said...

That sounds amazing! I find myself thinking I should read those random e-mails more closely because I always think it's a con! Hope I didn't trash one from GE! :)

May 20, 2011 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Michelle @Flying Giggles said...

It is fabulous when companies get it right and you were the perfect candidate to go...congrats, glad you had fun!

May 20, 2011 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Mrs4444 said...

I'm impressed! Glad you had fun :)

I'm one of those who don't identify with being a "Mommy Blogger," since my kids are much older and it just doesn't fit.

May 22, 2011 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger mypixieblog said...

It's great to hear that there are companies that value the opinions of bloggers and that they take what we do seriously. Sounds like it was a great learning experience overall and congrats on the invite!

May 22, 2011 at 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds so awesome! Thanks for writing about it. And no, I'm not one of the jealous ones. I can't imagine the juggling it would take to leave ALL BY MYSELF for 4 days. No matter how blissful it may be. Congrats - I'm glad you had a good time. :)

May 22, 2011 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I want in on this! LOL...

May 23, 2011 at 7:14 AM  
Blogger Amber_D said...

That sounds like an awesome experience. I'm not new to blogging. I've been blogging for a couple of years now (on second thought, some might consider that pretty new), but I'm always curious how one gets selected for these things. Is it determined by the number of followers a blogger has?

June 3, 2011 at 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that sounds like an awesome time. What would keep me from doing things like this is the expense part so its awesome that they covered it.

Also, how do you start getting involved with things like this. I read so many people who do and I just wonder how did it start?

June 3, 2011 at 11:22 AM  

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