Tuesday, 30 July 2013


#julylondonmeetup group
Some of the amazing bloggers that attended the #julylondonmeetup - image taken from Emma (Meet The Millards)
Blogger meet-ups and events are amazing fun and brilliant. They're a chance for like-minded people to meet, talk and indulge in what they all have in common. It's a brilliant feeling seeing everyone in the same room and enjoying yourself with people you genuinely have a lot in common with - especially for someone as anti-social as I can be at times. Planning one of these meet ups was not something I thought was going to be as hard as it was. When I originally floated the idea a year or so before the planned date I thought it was going to be so simple. Ummm... no, not at all. I didn't help myself by planning my meet up for a city that I have to travel 3.5+ hours to get to (nothing like making life harder for myself). So here are some of the things that I learned, discovered and thought I would share with you.

1) Suggesting the event well in advance is a good idea. It gives people time to look at their diaries and calendars well in advance - especially if you plan to hold your meet up during busy seasons such as Summer when people are away on holidays and taking school exams or close to Christmas when many people are juggling work, parties and family visits.

2) Bare in mind that a lot of people will initially say 'yes' to coming and then never get back to you about it or will drop out. It's nothing personal - 9/10 people will have forgotten that they said 'yes' to coming in the first place, have double booked or have been given a better offer for that day. Some will have personal problems to deal with so be understanding.

3) Limit numbers early on - especially if it's your first meet up. As fun as it would be to have 100 people turn up to meet you it limits you socially, it's a harder number to manage and provide for and it's probably best to start small if you've never organised anything like this before. It's horrible to say 'no' to people and I felt like such a terrible person for having to let people down but it made the meet up a lot easier to manage and organize in the long run.

4) Be organised. I sent out numerous emails to see which bloggers really wanted to attend and which didn't bother to get back to me. I then created a spread sheet of their names and blog addresses, emails and twitter handles so that I had all the points of contacts I possibly could get without phone numbers. I adjusted this as necessary when people said they couldn't come after all or people asked to come after the cut off point.

5) Define what you want from the meet-up early on. Do you want to shop? Stay in one place? See a demonstration from a brand? Don't try to pack too much into a short space of time though - you have to allow for people to arrive late and have to leave early for travel home etc. 

6) Get the venue sorted early on if you're having one. There isn't much point in organizing a meet-up if there isn't anywhere to actually meet. Bars and coffee shops are obvious and popular choices. Make sure it's somewhere reasonably central and easy to get to get to. There is no point in making the meet-up point somewhere that no one knows but you.

7) If you need help then don't be too proud to ask for it. A lot of people will offer their help anyway. I couldn't have organised the July London Meet Up without the help of Grace and Islay. They helped me so much and I will always be grateful for that. It wouldn't have been the success that it was without them (even if they do tell me to stop saying thank you!).

8) Be aware that you may have to spend some of your own money. Whether that's on catering if you want to provide nibbles, bags for samples or anything else you want for your event. In an ideal world everything would be for free but unfortunately that isn't the case a lot of the time. I spent roughly £200 of my own money on the meet up I held and I don't regret a penny - food predominately and travel - because it was truly appreciated by the attendees.

9) Have a contingency plan in place. As the hostess and organizer it's your job to make sure it all goes smoothly. I had funds on me to help anyone who had their money lost/stolen (well it was in London - you never know), had travel problems and/or delays, any issues with dramas or arguments should anyone not see eye-to-eye and I even carried a small first aid kit with me just in case. I also carried cellotape just in case any of the goody bags split. It sounds ridiculous but I'm lucky nothing like that happened. You just have to be prepared (nope - I wasn't even a girl scout).

10) When the day arrives relax and enjoy it. You've gone to all the trouble of organizing the event so you should really make sure you make the most of the fruits of your labors. I was nervous and I my hands were shaking so much but it was mostly through excitement. At my next event I'll be A LOT more relaxed.

Now, a word about 'goody bags' and PRs...

The trend du jour when it comes to meet ups is to give the attendees a goody bag as a way of saying thank you for coming to your event. It's not an obligation so you don't have to give goody bags at all. At the moment there seems to be a lot of bloggers that think it's acceptable to come to meet-ups and take their goody bags and then go again. ERM, NO. It's rude of them to do that and it's heart breaking for you when you've put so much time and effort into getting together the samples for them.

There's also a tendency to try and compete with other events and meet-ups to see who can produce the best bags, not helped by the numerous posts that show off what everyone got given. I fell into this trap myself and it wasn't until Islay and Ana said to me that I needed to relax and stop trying to compete that I realised it was a lot of stress for nothing more than a few samples. Regardless of this I have a few things to say about working with PRs for these bags if you are going to try and put together goodies for your attendees.

1) Be prepared for a lot of 'No' responses or no responses at all. Rejection is nothing personal when it comes to PRs as they'll be getting requests from 100s of bloggers every week that they simply don't have the time to answer properly or answer at all. Also, they'll usually already have a list of approved bloggers that they work with because they're reliable, have great statistics and they know they'll produce the coverage of the products that they need.

2) Be organized. If you really want to get PRs involved then contact them well in advance of the date of your meet up (I was in contact with the wonderful PRs I worked with two months before mine). This is also where the spreadsheet of attendees that I mentioned before came in really useful. You want to be as helpful as possible to try and make their decision about contributing as easy as possible. They will often want to know stats, follower counts, email addresses, blog addresses of everyone coming and the number of products that you want for the event.

3) Be honest. If you have 36 people attending your event and 5 of them are not bloggers then say that to the PR. Give them the option as to whether they want to contribute to everyone's bags or just the bloggers. It's deceitful to say everyone attending is a blogger when the brand will gain no exposure and no reviews from the people that aren't. A lot of PRs will include the non-bloggers as a good-will gesture but be aware that some won't.

4) Show enthusiasm. If you're enthusiastic about your event and can show how other people are looking forward to it then it will come across to PRs and rub off on them too. They're more likely to help and get involved if they believe you're event is going to be successful and fun than if you come across as disinterested and cold.

5) Don't pester. When it comes to PR priorities, in all honesty - when you truly think about it, blogger events are not exactly top of the list. In comparison to brand promotion, marketing, sales statistics, meetings about product launches, dealing with clients and everything else that PRs do each day a blogger meet up is insignificant. You will just annoy people if you pester for responses to emails and try to push your way to be given products. PRs will respond to you when they have the time and the go-ahead from the brands they represent. Patience is a virtue. I personally would say that if you haven't heard back from them after a long time (we're talking a six  to eight weeks after your last response from them) then send a small email just asking politely whether they have any more information for you and that you're sorry to ask when you know they're extremely busy. 

6) You'll be told if and when products have been sent out. If PRs send products out then they will usually email you to tell you so - have the common courtesy to let them know when the products have arrived.

7) Thank them properly for their time and help. No PR is obliged to help out a blogger - in fact there is no obligation to have responded to you in the first place. PRs are real people - not just email addresses - and a thank you can go a long way when genuinely meant. They're also more likely to work with you again if you're polite, helpful and grateful for their time and work. So many bloggers just assume that PRs are there to provide them with free stuff and that is definitely not the case at all. Have some respect.

8) Email a list of the reviews your attendees post of the products to the PR after the event. This is again about making the PR's life that little bit easier. You also want to show that their sending you those products paid off in terms of exposure for their brand. It gives them a definitive list of blog posts to show their clients and means they don't have to hunt out the posts themselves. It's also common courtesy to follow up after the event. As soon as the reviews from the #julylondonmeetup start to filter through they'll be sent to the relevant PR.

So there we have it - my tips, tricks and the things that I learned from planning a meet up. I think the most important points on here are the ones to do with PRs and that's where everyone seems to fall down when it comes to event planning.

I had an amazing time at my meet up and I can't wait until my next one but I'll be taking on board everything that I've learned from the last time and making sure that I have the next one planned well in advance with a whole lot more organisation involved. 


  1. This is such a useful post! I've always wondered about organising events and it looks like a decent amount of work, what I've seen of the London meet up looked like a massive success! Who knows, maybe one day I'll be organising a Scottish one.. xx

    Charlotte / coloursandcarousels

    1. They are a lot of work but they're always always worth it! Good luck with organizing a Scottish one - I bet it would be brilliant! xxx

  2. It was an unbelievable brilliant event and I think it is underestimated how much goes into an event. It was a huge success x

    1. Thank you so much Helen - and thank you for coming! :) xxx

  3. It was a fantastic meetup Helen, thank you so much for putting in so much effort, it really did pay off :) I helped organise a Cardiff blogger meetup for back in April, so I know how hard it is and difficult to coordinate!


    1. It's a learning curve for sure! Thank you so much for coming Georgina :D xxx

  4. This was a very useful post! I'd like to thank you for making the effort to organise the July London meetup, I had the best time! I know that it must have taking such a long time to organise and for that I am so grateful! I met bloggers I've always wanted to meet which makes me so happy and without you I never would've been able to meet them! I also met new bloggers as well who were all so lovely and overall saying it was a great day would be a complete understatement, IT WAS AN ABSOLUTELY AMAZING DAY!

    1. Awww thank you Jordan - I'm sure you would have met them at some point but I'm glad I sped up the process haha! Thank you coming along - it was great to meet you! xxx

  5. Helen, I had a great time at the meet up and thank you so much for organising it. I think it's easy to assume it all just comes together with no effort, but I know that's not the case! Great tips for anyone else thinking about doing their own one too x

    1. You're welcome Kat - and thank you so much for coming! It was fab to meet you! I think a lot of people were like me 'Oh, it's not that hard...' haha! Thank you so much for the comment :) xxx

  6. As someone who works in PR, I couldn't agree with your points more. Bloggers often forget how busy we are and how much work we have to do, it's hard to respond to them quickly when you have press and campaigns to deal with, and content to write and produce. I'm quite lucky seeing both viewpoints being a blogger and working in PR, and your points are bang on.

    Really great post!

    C x

    1. Thanks Catherine! I was trying to see from a PR perspective so I'm glad I got it right :D xxx

  7. That's a helpful post. I liked reading it.

    1. I'm glad you liked it - thank you for taking the time to read it :D xxx


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