The Event Industry and Blogging: Are Event Managers Missing a Trick?

UKBlogAwardsLogoWe are really excited to be a collaborative partner in the National UK Blog Awards, which is the first cross industry blog awards to take place in the UK.  As a blogger myself and an avid reader of blogs on a largely daily basis we are really passionate about being involved in this exciting project.  I started blogging in June 2011 and I am enjoying continually learning and developing my skills and immersing myself in the blogging community.  I am finding it truly inspiring seeing so many fantastic blogs being entered into the Awards and wish I had more time to read them all!

One of the 14 categories for individual bloggers and businesses that blog to enter is the Events Category and I have been surprised to find entries in this category lagging behind the other sectors slightly.  I never seem to have any shortage of event blog posts to read, however I realise of course that many of my favourite event bloggers are not from the UK, notably:

As the UK has such a strong and vibrant community of event professionals I believed that everyone like me would be beavering away on their blog as often as they could, knowing how important it is to post regularly in terms of improving SEO, visibility and showcasing knowledge of their niche sector.  Now don’t get me wrong – many UK event professionals ARE doing this, and some of which have already entered the awards!  I did some research and it was great to see so many established blogs with regular postings and a back catalogue of archived blog posts on interesting topics (going back several years in some cases).  HOWEVER for every great up to date blog I discovered there were numerous others with blogs which hadn’t been updated since circa 2010/2011.  This made me wonder are these companies still in business?  I wondered if it was actually more detrimental having a neglected blog on their site rather than having no blog at all?

In this quick investigation into UK event management blogs I searched for both Freelance Event Managers and Event Management Companies as it is proven that blogging is a great leveller in terms of inbound marketing returns, particularly for small businesses.  I was also however surprised at some of the biggest companies in the event industry not having a blog at all.  And others still that called something a blog when really it was just a series of news posts and self promotion.

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate how hard successful event planners work in the industry and the long hours that they keep because I do the same too!  I am certainly not saying that I am perfect in any way – you will see that I have sometimes had months when I have not posted to this blog due to work pressure, maternity leave, etc (although hopefully not recently as this is something I am improving on and committed to).  I feel however that missing a post or three is entirely different to going AWOL from your blog for 6 months plus, particularly without any explanation.  It is one thing being busy and not having enough hours in the day but not finding the time to write a post in the space of half a year or more sends out the wrong messages I would say!

It also made me laugh to discover so many sites which proclaimed “this is my new website and blog, which will be updated regularly without fail” never to have any further posts!

Generic blog logo

Universal blog icon

The UK has world class events, venues, suppliers, technology, eventprofs and event management companies but in terms of my quick blogging research it seems that the UK as a whole could be falling behind the rest of the world in the events blogosphere.  Most event managers that I know have lots to say and if the prospect appeals I would encourage you to definitely think about starting a blog and giving it a go!  Perhaps then you will be entering the awards in 2015!

One thing that I have found really inspiring is the number of students and graduates blogging.  As an employer if someone with a well written blog applied for a job in this competitive market this would potentially set them apart from the other candidates as it shows self-motivation, passion, thought and dedication – all key attributes required by an event organiser.  This heartwarming article from the Guardian Professional gives a real life example: Blogging During Unemployment Helped My Career.  Despite the difficult economic climate blogging helped this Graduate into work after 2 years of unemployment and illustrates potentially the springboard that blogging could be if you so wish, whatever your profession.

Do you think the UK lags behind the rest of the world in terms of event management blogs?  What are your favourite UK event industry blogs?  

Are you an event manager?  Do you or your company blog?  How often do you try to post and what is the longest period you have gone without posting?  What were the reasons for any breaks?  

Do you think it is best to have a neglected blog or no blog at all?  I would love to hear your thoughts on these issues below!

In a forthcoming blog post I am going to discuss the importance in engaging with bloggers as part of your event marketing strategy, before, during and after a live event.

Individuals and organisations can enter their blog for FREE in the UK Blog Awards up until midnight on 15th December 2013 via the UK Blog Awards online entry form.  There are 14 categories for individual bloggers and businesses that blog to enter – 12 industry categories (including the Events Category) and 2 sub categories including ‘Most Innovative’ and ‘Young Persons Blog Award.’  We will look forward to reading your entry!

Discover 2011

Canal Street Cart at Blists Hill Open Air Museum

Blists Hill Victorian Village (Image via Wikipedia)

Becki and Gill from Events Northern Ltd were invited to attend ‘Discover 2011’ – a familiarisation weekend to Telford and Shropshire taking place on the weekend of 16th – 18th September.  Organised by Telford and Shropshire Conferences and the Southwater Event Group the trip brought together over 150 event managers from across the UK to give them a taste of what the area has to offer.

We arrived on the Friday evening in time to check into the Holiday Inn Telford/Ironbridge, drop our bags and head out to Blists Hill.  This is a Victorian town, part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.  Here we could explore the period shops and attractions such as the chemists, drapers and sweet shop and choose where to spend our shillings and pence, which had been issued to each of us on the coach.  Characters in period costumes invited questions and interaction and set the scene for what it was like to live during Victorian times.

We explored the streets, mine and foundry, enjoyed traditional fish and chips, washed down with dandelion and burdock and eventually found ourselves in the fairground at the coconut shy, wooden swing boats and motorised chair swings.  The evening was concluded with a singsong and hot whiskey toddy.  This was certainly an unusual experience and would make a different setting for a group event or indeed a wedding – Blists Hill is licensed for Civil Ceremonies within the Club Room and the Forest Glen.

We had a range of excellent activities and trips to choose from for the Saturday and it was difficult to decide which appealed the most as we wanted to be involved in them all!  We opted to visit Weston Park for a show around the stately home and time to enjoy the

Weston Park

The house at Weston Park

Midland Game and Country Fair taking place on the site.  Becki often attends V Festival at the Staffordshire site but it was great to enjoy the splendour of the house and to see it in its true glory.

The House at Weston was built in 1671 and is set within 1,000 acres of historic Parkland.  The house can be hired for corporate events, conferences, dinners and weddings and comprises 28 bedrooms, each with its own individual character.  When you hire the house it comes fully staffed and is hired on an exclusive basis.

We were particularly inspired by the beautiful Victorian Library which homes 3,000 leather bound (and no doubt first edition) books.  The Dining Room was also impressive, overlooking the formal gardens and with Weston’s finest and most important collection of paintings, including works by Van Dyck and Lely.

Inside the house, Weston Park

The house is licensed for civil ceremonies (various rooms) and is also next door to the Parish Church of St Andrews, which is linked by a private corridor to the stately home – perfect to keep celebrity weddings private or simply if the English weather lets you down!  The Victorian Orangery has natural stone walls, complete with foliage and fairy lights and huge period windows offering superb views over the Gardens.  This would be a truly magical setting for a wedding breakfast for up to 120 people.

After viewing the house we had time to enjoy lunch and cup-cakes and to explore the Game Fair at our leisure.  Although we were a little disappointed to miss out on the jousting and ferret racing (!) we really enjoyed the falconry, gundog and dog agility demonstrations and the numerous stall holders throughout the site.

On Saturday evening we were amongst 500 guests attending a black-tie gala dinner to launch the brand new, 1300sqm Ludlow Suite at The International Centre.  With over 11,600 square meters of event space in total, The International Centre is one of the largest conference and exhibition venues in the West Midlands. The venue provides a contemporary and versatile event location for events ranging from boardroom meetings, gala dinners, conferences and large exhibitions.  The Ludlow Suite offered a stunning backdrop for the dinner, complimented by excellent food, drink, entertainment, hospitality and service.

The Ludlow Suite, Telford International Centre

Discover 2011 Gala Dinner, the Ludlow Suite, Telford International Centre

The 400 metre and relay runner Roger Black gave an after dinner speech, which was particularly inspiring and heart-warming less than a year away from the London 2012 Olympics.  It was an honour to be able to speak to Roger afterwards and to hold his beautiful silver Olympic medal – the medal for his personal best of which he is most proud (despite achieving a gold medal with the British relay team).

Telford is already a popular destination with event organisers – it is situated at the heart of the national motorway network, with direct trains from London Marylebone and over 3,000 bedrooms within a 20 minute radius of the centre.  Discover 2011 celebrated the major investment the destination has seen in the last 10 years, and promoted the ongoing developments that will take the area to the next level, including the £250 million Southwater development programme to create a new convention quarter in the heart of the town.

The weekend was an excellent taster to highlight some of the ideas and versatility of Telford and Shropshire.  It was an inspiring weekend, not only in terms of the excellent venues and facilities on offer, but also in terms of networking and generating ideas with other event professionals.  Throughout the weekend we discussed some great plans for new events, partnerships and collaborations with some of the lovely people we met; and who knows maybe some of these ideas will come to fruition in Telford and Shropshire venues!  Discover 2011 once again proved the power of bringing together people who share similar interests and areas of expertise.  The energy and ideas created by meeting face to face cannot be created in any other way and once again highlights the importance of events and the event industry.

The organising team from Telford and Shropshire Conferences and the Southwater Event Group worked tirelessly to ensure an informative and thoroughly enjoyable weekend was had by all and the variety and quality of venues on offer shone through.  These are very exciting times for Telford and Shropshire and we are looking forward to bringing more business to the area.

Thanks and credit to Southwater Event Group for providing the photos of Discover 2011 featured in this blog post.