Behind the #ECMEETUP…tips for planning a blogger event

With the fifth ECMEETUP behind us and the 6th already forming in the back of our minds, Luchae and I have recently found ourselves fielding the question “how do you pull it off” quite a lot.

The question increased in frequency after we managed to have experts  board Flights to Port Elizabeth   for the last two big events. First blogger and PR expert Mandy-Lee Miller from Pregnant in CT and Ever After and most recently the amazing Travelstart team.

 Since Shay and I aren’t hiding anything here (in fact we would love to be invited to a local event so we can finally win something – sour grapes? Us? Never) I thought I’d share our 10 steps to creating a blogger event.

1. Get an idea of theme and venue.
Our last meetup was travel themed so we had decor and sponsors that aligned to that. The one before we went for a happy holidays feel, it makes it easier to visualise. You know how us creatives are.

2. List possible sponsors
Looking at theme and venue we go through our little black books and chat about who we will be chatting to. Our contacts come from Shay working in corporate for years and then moving to digital advertising while I have been involved in local media so long my mom had to sign my first contract. We have both been blogging for a while as well, so have the details of quite a few PR companies who have reached out over the years. Since it’s not ethical to ask for contact details of PR agents (thanks to Megan Kelly – one of our favourite meetup speakers – for pointing that out early on) we have developed sleuth like Google skills. At most we will ask someone which company handles so and so and then search for the contacts – thanks to social media it’s not that hard. I have even emailed the contacts on the back of flyers or locally produced products…The worst they can do is say no.

3. Set up a sponsorship letter
Basically we set up a document that outlines what we would like from sponsors and what we would like in exchange. Thanks to our wonderful guests and amazing venues we have no shortage of links and pics to use to back us up.

4. Email/Meet and pray
We then mail out letters, meet with stalwart sponsors and pray that we get some good responses. We also reach out to friends who have businesses with a giant disclaimer…We would love you on board but relationships always trump “what we can get from you” so if you can’t sponsor, we get it, and it’s zero hard feelings.

5. Get ready for disappointment 
Not everyone is going to jump at the chance to work with you. Rejection is commonplace. Sometimes (a lot of the time) you get blatantly ignored. Other times it is: “We regret to inform you, unfortunately not at this time,  maybe in the future”

6. Get ready for pleasant surprises
We have been blessed with the most amazing sponsors. From venues that come with first class event planners(shout out to SARAH of the Plantation and Boma and KARIN of Fairview Racecourse) to enough prizes to give us Oprah “everyone is getting one” feelings.

7. We work to our strengths
We are aware that Shay and I are as different as they come. Our blogs are literally based on two very contradicting character traits. Hers is spreadsheet and organised mine is arty farty. So we will divide and concur when it comes to tasks. Luchae  jokes that I know how to get people to give me free things and I’m always telling her to take over from there so I don’t lose the free things.  (Also, nothing is ever free) Truth is meetup isn’t 50/50 it’s 65/45  or 25/75 or 0/0 or 100/100 based on the day but somehow it works

8. Admin and advertising
This is where we do radio and newspaper interviews. We sort out ticket sales,  make tandem lists and Luchae is in her element. Goodie bags need to be packed, deliveries organised and vendor meetings (so many meetings). We also do  social media posts hoping to get everyone excited

9. Event day
We have to trust each other as well as our vendors. We roll our eyes at each other, toast on each other, and just soak in the #sharethebay love

10. Feedback 
All the sponsors, guests, vendors then get personalised feedback from us. We send off blogger names to interested brands (it helps if you do shout outs on your platforms – just saying). We then vow to never do it again and I wait for those familiar words From Shay…”Elle, I’ve been thinking”…

This post was a collaboration with Travelstart who who sent a team to board flights from CT not knowing much about us and allowed us to share our lovely city with them, these rockstars made our year.

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