Blame it on the Altitude

The sun rises over Keystone.

So I just returned from TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange) held this year in Keystone, CO (the jetlag is setting in).  I’ve been reading the recaps and commentary and the general consensus is that it was the best TBEX yet (Gary Arndt went so far as to say it was not only the best TBEX, but the best conference he’s ever attended and here’s a great recap from keynote speaker CC Chapman).  This being my third year in attendance, I can see why the feedback was positive.  Surely it’s a testament, to not only BlogWorld’s involvement, but also the years Kim Mance has spent uniting a group of diverse individuals by the common desire to travel and share.  

Catching up with friends old and new. From left: Kelley Ferro, Mark Chestnut, Me, Blane Bachelor, Spud Hilton

And speaking of sharing, I have to pay tribute to this group, as sharing is one thing that prominently stands out to me amongst this mass of 700+ people… their willingness to share with and support one another.  The competitive nature that is often found within common groups such as this is pleasantly missing.  In its place I see support, encouragement and guidance – old timers taking newcomers under their wings, and novices and experts alike putting their heads together and sharing ideas. It’s refreshing and I’m honored to be a part of it.  So, in the spirit of sharing, here are a few of my other thoughts coming off of TBEX 2012:

1) Corporate does not have to mean stuffy.
Despite BlogWorld’s takeover of TBEX, the conference maintained its relaxed, travel blogger-esque appeal.  Evening and social events were fun (and alcohol filled) and after events and meet ups prevailed… making sure TBEX kept its well earned reputation.

2) The voice of one does not speak for many… but it can ruin it for many.  
For the most part, the sessions that I sat in on were fine. As an ‘industry attendee’ I understand that the conference is primarily geared for bloggers and I’m really there for the networking and relationships more than anything and didn’t go in expecting otherwise.  That said, there was one panel I attended that did not sit well with me.  Being given a microphone and an audience does not give one the right to preach from their soapbox, rant and rave and claim all other opinions wrong.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you likely weren’t in this session – consider yourself lucky). I don’t paint bloggers with one brush, much as I hope they don’t do the same of my industry… so I get that this voice was the exception in this room and on this panel.  But, unfortunately, the voice of one person can ruin the experience for all, in what could’ve otherwise been a very educational and mutually beneficial PR discussion.  Personally, I can easily dismiss this speaker’s tirades, I just hope she didn’t discourage or misguide others in the room.

3) Like throwing a ball, it’s all in the follow through.
In a whirlwind weekend such as this, more cards are exchanged than one can count and it’s easy to lose track of who you met, what you talked about and possible networking opportunities.  The hardest part of a conference like this is making sure it was worthwhile by following up on those hundreds of conversations and cementing the relationships and turning them in to opportunities.  Whether an industry person, blogger, sponsor or otherwise, the time and money spent is only worthwhile if the effort is made on the back end.  So get to it…
Thank you again to Blog World, Kim, Keystone, Vail Resorts and everyone involved… Diamond PR enjoyed being a part of TBEX once again and we’ll see you in 2013.  For your viewing pleasure:  Photo album.

20 thoughts on “Blame it on the Altitude

  1. Loved this post. Thanks for sharing. So bummed I missed this and after reading your post “best ever” you’ve made that sentiment worse…..that means I’ll have to TBEX twice as hard in 2013.

  2. Great recap. This was my first TBEX and I really enjoyed meeting many of the bloggers and industry people that I’ve talked to online. It looks like I missed out on meeting you though. Maybe next TBEX! :)

  3. Hey, you ever want to have a conversation about this stuff, just say when and where.

    I attended some industry sessions intentionally because I wanted to hear what kinds of questions PR folks were asking about “us bloggers.” That was interesting for me, plus, bonus, knowing what the PR side is up against makes it easier for me to create a meaningful pitch.

    And I know you people are NOT all the same. Not by a LONG shot. It was nice to see you, even briefly.

  4. Awesome seeing you again Kara! I agree with all of the above, it was a pretty great conference aside from the bummer that Jody wasn’t there. :(
    Can’t wait for the next one! :)

  5. Apparently I need to go write a blog post titled, “Yeah, I Guess I AM Rather Angry.” :)

    Much of the public feedback on our New Press Trip TBEX session was very positive, but I did get verbal private feedback from several sources that I was “obnoxious,” “rude” and “talked down to people.”

    There’s a line between “she tells it like it is” (the majority of my public feedback) and “she talked down to us.” Obviously I crossed that line, big time, which means that I failed, as a speaker, to get my points across without sounding like I was attacking PR people.

    I sounded like I was attacking because I guess I was, and believe me, I did not go into the room to do that. The root of my getting all spun up was that, honestly, I’m simply flabbergasted that here in 2012, there are so many professional communicators who do not understand or navigate the blogging/online publishing world very well. Here we are with the most important communications change since the printing press – overlaid with the rapid adoption of mobile devices – and too many are still flailing around, not accepting this seismic shift.

    Yes, this makes me kinda angry. Sheesh, where have they BEEN? I’ve been busting my butt to learn the communications craft since I retired from the Navy in early 2006 and started a travel blog. People who’ve told me, for example, that they are “22-year PR professionals” and then in the same breath tell me that they are still figuring out social media….well, for crying out loud, THEY should be teaching ME, not the other way around. They totally have the jump on me in terms of years of experience.

    Of COURSE all PR and marketing folks aren’t that way, but I’m sorry, based on the vast quantity of crummy pitches and “spray-n-pray” press releases in my email IN box, for starters, the PR industry as a whole has not really rocked my socks much with their understanding of the blogging world and blogger culture. Considering how long we’ve all been grappling with these issues, I expect a lot more from all these pros and I’m just not seeing it as much as I think I should.

    Diamond PR “got” TBEX from the beginning. PR/marketing pros like Kami Huyse, Jason Falls, Caroline Bean, Nathan Kam, Sarah Page, Dave Serino, Annie Heckenberger, Drew McLellan, Theresa Overby, Jeremy Harvey (many of them bloggers themselves, which makes a difference) and others seem to have figured it out. They are not the norm, though.

    All that being said, it does not help anybody to learn and improve if I insult them. I like clear feedback, personally (including and especially my failings, which are many) but I do respond a lot better to “Here’s how I think you’re falling short, and here’s how I want to help you fix it” as opposed to, “How can you be such a complete doofus?”

    I’m going to go back and listen to the recording of our TBEX panel, take a lot of notes, and think of a (much) better way to present my positions. If I don’t, I should not be given a microphone.

    • Sheila,
      I truly appreciate your honest and candid response. It is unfortunate that the industry has earned such a bad reputation, especially for those that do make an effort to communicate effectively and move with the times. I can understand your frustration, and I’m sure there might have been a few in the room that fall in to the “bad” category and needed your feedback, it was just a strong way to receive it. Regardless, this is an industry where we CAN help each other and hear each other out, which I like to think is what we’ve now done here :) Thank you for being confident enough to be able to receive feedback and do something productive with it, and not lash back out. It’s refreshing.

    • We all have those days, particularly working in a medium that by construct, encourages people to talk back. Acknowledging it and moving on is the best remedy.

  6. Aloha Kara,

    I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet at TBEX. Enjoyed reading your recap of things and being a first time TBEX attendee, thought the conference was very well done. Like you, I found the networking part to be most beneficial, so was glad to see how organized the speed dating (albeit intense) and other functions were to making those connections happen.

    Looking forward to TBEX ’13. Until then…

    Aloha,
    Nathan

  7. Nice blog post. I enjoyed the conference, but hope they will have some more advanced sessions next year. I felt a lot of the blogger session were for the very new bloggers in attendance. Would have liked some 400 level workshops!

    It was nice meeting you and glad to hear you had fun in “my” state. ;-)

    I too sat in on some industry sessions to get a sneak peek behind the curtain. Ha! It was interesting. I really liked all the PR people I met at TBEX. Like you wrote in your post, it was a very open environment and everyone was so friendly. There were no cliques. I’m going to give the setting a little bit of credit for this – after all, we’re all a little laid back here in Colorado!

  8. Pingback: Who’s Talking about TBEX 12

  9. Thank you for a great wrap up post Kara including the good and the bad.
    We have been overwhelmed with the glowing reviews and compliments and honestly its a little refreshing to see we still have some room for improvement.

    We certainly don’t view ourselves as corporate in anyway but we knew that was a fear many in the community had going into the show.

    We plan to increase the total number of sessions and level of expertise in the industry track. We think your post and Sheila’s reply in the comments both point to the need for 101 and 401 programming for industry pros at TBEX.

    Which leads me to Heidi’s point. We see that need for 400 level content in the blogger tracks as well. We also plan to add more programming geared to writing and and creating quality content.

    I hope to see you there in 2013 8). I know the next question is “where the heck is TBEX 2013 going to be?

    We will be announcing that before the end of the month. We are reviewing the remaining finalist host cities right now.

    Rick Calvert
    CEO
    TBEX
    CEO & Co-founder
    BlogWorld & New Media Expo #NMX

    • Hi Rick, Thanks for taking the time to comment – appreciate your response and the plans for next year sound promising. Diamond PR is looking forward to it… wherever it may be! (I hear Miami is a great city)

  10. Thanks for the post Kara. Good hearing it from a PR perspective. Sorry the one session was bad (this was already addressed in the comments above) but glad that you enjoyed things overall. Next year, I will have to introduce myself again to make sure you know who I am :)

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