I’m always on the hunt for personal and professional growth, and I love learning from people. As a lifestyle blogger, attending the inaugural Entertainment New Media Conference - #ENMNCon14 - at the Hyatt Regency in Anaheim, CA was on my must-do list. The Entertainment New Media Network, founded by the amazing Erica I. Peña-Vest, is a network comprised of influential new media bloggers that help promote travel, entertainment and other products via social media.
The intimate conference, limited to 150 bloggers, was an incredible learning experience with speakers from the entertainment & travel industries, professionals in PR & monetizing, junkets, panel discussions and screenings. I am very grateful to the lovely Cam Bowman of Growing up Goofy for providing me with a pass to this outstanding conference.
I arrived on Thursday afternoon, checked into my hotel and headed to the Disneyland Resort where I dropped in to visit old and new friends, CMs and favorite attractions. I capped off the night with dinner and a cocktail at Carthay Circle, my usual routine, before returning to the hotel to pick up my registration materials and swag bag.
At registration I met 4 awesome ladies and knew a great time was in store. Margaret Salmon (Margs World & ENMN), Jessica Ballard (Begin to Craft & ENMN), Laura Folos (My 3 Ring Circus) & Staci Geradi (November Sunflower). These ladies were sharp, witty and hilarious. I couldn’t wait to get this show on the road and see how many more great people I’d meet.
Our conference started bright and early Friday morning with a warm welcome by Erica herself. Our first speaker, Andrea Schroder, who appears on Hallmark's "Home and Family", spoke to us about the value of our voices. As a mom, wife, interior designer and business owner, she too has struggled with balancing all her "titles" as well as the sometimes unsolicited opinions others tend to give us throughout our lives. I could relate to what she was saying. I also thought it was particularly awesome that she and her husband Ricky Schroder both retweeted my Tweet about her speech!
Next Jessica Cribbs of Expressing Motherhood shared the inspiration behind these popular shows featuring moms from all walks of life, as well the importance of staying true to yourself in writing and in business. Then Morgan Miller and Tiffany Tse of ShareASale shared best practices and tips for blog monetization.
The mentoring session Q & A with Lisa Robertson of Babes in Disneyland, Pilar Clark of One Mom Media, Carolyn West of SoCal Lady Bloggers and Erica was a great session. There was so much to learn from all four of these ladies! I have so much respect for Lisa who has done so much with her Disneyland blog. How did she do that? By being real, by being true to herself and by respecting and nurturing her relationship with Disney. She has a strict no rumor policy on her blog which I applaud. In fact, all of the ladies stressed the importance of integrity. I live that everyday. Who I am and how I present myself is everything - for me, those I represent and my family.
Blogging guru Dan Morris of Blogging Concentrated, with his quick sense of humor & wealth of knowledge closed the speaking portion of Day 1. He provided us with valuable information. In many ways he cleared the fog for all of us with regard to blogging and business, monetizing, delivering useful content and committing to your niche.
Before our evening junkets, we took the time to mingle and snap photos. I was really pleased to meed Rachel Martin of Finding Joy. She radiates beauty and is so kind and friendly. What a lovely soul (and an incredible writer!).
Both programs were fantastic! Nashville Wives was hilarious - these ladies have great personalities, and the Cuban twins are a riot. And Dallas? Well, the entire cast of Dallas is really good looking. I've never seen anything like it! It was awesome to get a sneak peak of what's to come this season, and having a pajama party to screen the new episodes was just icing on the cake!
Day 2 of the conference was another full day of learning from the best, starting with media pro and travel marketing expert Peggy Bendel, of Bendel Communications. She shared with us 7 Tips To Build Your Reputation in the Travel Industry - and 5 Ways to Wreck It. Insightful information! Next, we heard from Twitter's Creative Director, Doug Bowman. He began his presentation with screenshots of our own tweets featuring the hashtag #ENMNCon14 - and one of the tweets he featured was this one:
Doug gave us tips on "Ruling Twitter" and answered several questions from bloggers before his time was up.
Our next topic, Introduction to Destination Marketing, was led by leading industry panelists from different Convention and Visitors Bureaus: Dan Quandt of Visit Amarillo, Elaine Cali of Anaheim Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Wendy Haase of Destination Irvine. All of the panelists agreed: they are not just looking for writers with a large amount of followers - they are looking for writers with influence. Next, Lisa Robertson of Babes in Disneyland, Cam Bowman of Growing Up Goofy & Colleen Lanin of TravelMamas.com, all published authors, discussed niche blogging & finding your topic. They were followed by Marcy Massura - who is awesome. She's so cool her name even sounds made up.
The first thing Marcy told us: "You are not a blogger. You are an influencer." She went on to cover everything from what an agency wants, what we want (what do you want!?), to analytics and media kits. Her entire presentation had a lot of meat. I pulled out the trusted purple Moleskine and my purple pen and went to town taking notes.
After all of these great sessions, we attended an expo, took a short break and went right into our junket event for the evening: the "Mom's Night Out" Screening Q & A.
Actress Sarah Drew, Actor/Producer Kevin Downes and Screenwriter Amanda Nasfell were all on hand to screen the movie with us and answer questions. I will have a full movie review and junket recap posted separately soon, but I will tell you now: the movie is fantastic! And, yes, I cried a little. I also laughed a lot.
Our final event of the evening was a firework reception at the Anaheim RV Resort where BBQ and fireworks capped off the night.
Our final day began wonderfully bright and early with none other than Mr. Sean Astin.
Sean spoke with us about "Moms Night Out", Run3rd and Vox Populi. It's a delight to hear him speak. He's very intelligent and passionate, yet so humble and approachable.
After our Q & A with Sean, we heard from entertainment publicists who shared really in-depth dos and dont's. AJ Feuerman of AEG Live, Mandy Rodgers of ThinkJam and Rebecca Levin of Hill + Knowlton Strategies broke it down for us with full blown honesty. I love that!
Yolanda Machado of Sassy Mama in LA, Ana Lydia Monaco of Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective & Daisy Teh of TheITMom.com also brought the honestly when they discussed effectively covering Hollywood and interview techniques.
Our final junkets of the conference were next. The first was with Keith Tisdell of "Criminal Minds" who is working on a documentary called TizTheTime, a documentary about viewing life relentlessly and overcoming adversities. The documentary is being crowdfunded at indiegogo. Please visit the link above to help Keith achieve his goal! He is very determined to share his story and I can't wait to see him succeed.
Our final junket event of the evening was a listening party with Genevieve Goings of Disney's ChooChoo Soul. Wow, what a treat this was! She is energetic and fun and really talented. Her album of children's songs was funny yet funky and groovy. The kind of music you could actually still leave on even after you drop the kids off at school. I do not know when this album is releasing, but as soon as I find out I will share that information with you. Moms need this CD!
After a very busy 3 days, our event was over. Erica, Margaret and Jessica did a fantastic job organizing this conference and I am really looking forward to next year's conference in Nashville! Kudos to all involved!
Many things were learned and many great friends were made.