I recently had the most amazing experience of my life (okay, so maybe not a good as when my kids were born, but it was right up there!) I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road event in San Francisco! It was held at the beautiful Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. Even in the rain, it is a beautiful hotel!
Prior to the event, a large group of bloggers had formed a group on Facebook with all of the people who had been invited to attend. Going into this day, I was so excited to finally put faces to the names of the bloggers I had met online, but I was also incredibly nervous to meet them as they all are such accomplished women and bloggers. I detailed my nervousness in a previous post. The good news is that I had no reason to be nervous, and I had the most amazing time with an amazing group of women who are now my friends.
When I arrived, I given a name tag that had not only my name, but the name of my little old blog on it. This could have been the end of the day for me because I was just floored to see that someone had actually taken the time to type out my name on a piece of paper and carefully place it in a plastic cover. Obviously, this was my first conference of any kind. A “hi, my name is:” sticker probably would have amazed me just the same though because I was that excited! This, was however not the end of the day, and there was much more to come, including the “swag” bag I was given along with the name tag. With all of the excitement happening, I didn’t even look in it until much later, so I’ll get to that after some more gushing about the conference!
Before even entering the conference room, I was greeted by smiling faces and creatively designed business cards being presented by each one! Everyone was so nice and genuinely excited to meet each other. It was the exact opposite of how I feared it would be. Some people had apparently been out there since before 5am! (Registration opened at 7:30am and the actual event started at 8:30. Talk about early birds!) Just when we were all getting comfortable in our “networking” grooves, it was time for the main event to begin….breakfast! (Kidding, I swear…well kind of. I am pregnant and it was pretty yummy.)
The room was all decked out with Disney balloons and Monsters University plushes! The set up itself was just as magical as I had dreamed it would be. The tables also had detailed information about all of the new happenings at both the Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resorts and the Beautifully Disney cosmetic line. Not to mention that there was a delicious looking crisped rice treat staring me in the face the whole conference. (It was devoured by my 3 little monsters when I got home!)
Now onto the event itself!
Maria Bailey of host Mom Talk Radio and CEO BSM Media kicked off the day’s events as our MC and hostess for the morning. I was really starstruck to meet her because that is the kind of quality she gives off. She is so professional and such an effective speaker. I can’t imagine this event being led by anyone else! Her words not only spoke to the blogger and business woman in all of us, but the mother as well. She started by shocking us all with the information that 15 years ago when she first started working with bloggers on behalf of Disney, that Disney wasn’t convinced that bloggers would be interested in building a relationship with the Disney brand. Mind. Blown. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of the magic as a blogger, or just a human being!
Then she spoke to the business woman in us all by telling us that there are 8.5 million women owned businesses, and out of those, 5.5 million women are also moms. The words “but I’m just a mom” are likely never to be uttered from my lips again. Moms contribute $1.7 trillion (TRILLION) to the U.S. economy. Just imagine if all of the moms out there really knew how big of an impact they had on the economy ….and on business strategy! I mean think about it, when was the last time your husband bought his own tighty whities? Uh huh, that is you and me heading out to Target trying to determine which brand to buy and how much to spend. While I wish I could be one of those 5.5 million women business owners making the big bucks, I am currently lacking that “big idea!” So until the light in my head full of cobwebs turns on, I can take pride in knowing that I am a huge part of this country’s economy, and you should, too!
And of course, the mom in me almost cried at this thought that Maria spoke on. Your kids are watching you. They are learning from you and absorbing all that you do and don’t do. They’re watching you as you pursue your passions and overcome your obstacles. You’re demonstrating to them the kind of person that they should try to be. “They learn from you. That’s the magic. Disney is here to support that magic.”
Next up to the podium was Michele Himmelberg, the Public Relations Director for the Disneyland Resort. Her presentation started off with an impressive video presentation of all of the happenings at the Disney Resorts! Let me tell you that I was already planning a trip to Disneyland, but after that, I am really hoping to fit in a trip to Walt Disney World sometime soon as well! They have the New Fantasyland expansion that has recently opened and I’d love to check out! They even carried the royal celebration to the west coast with the new Fantasy Faire! Disneyland park has also opened the Mickey and the Magical Map show. Plus, Cars Land recently celebrated its 1 year anniversary! If you haven’t been to Disney’s California Adventure recently, you really should get there because with all of the new additions and improvements, it is a must see! Not to mention the Monstrous Summer that is happening on both coasts. She also made sure that we knew all of the ways to connect with the Disneyland resort. (see the picture below) Be sure to follow @DisneylandToday and @DCAToday on Twitter for your next trip as they post all kinds of details that can be helpful while you’re in the parks….like rides with short lines!
Next up was Mindee Doney, of Boogie Wipes fame. She was amazing and brought most of us to tears with her very personal and very inspiring story. Please follow this link and read my write up on her presentation. It was absolutely incredible, and is a must read for all parents and especially all mothers out there.
After Mindee, Maria introduced us to our moms panelists for the afternoon, all of whom were not only momprenuers, but Huggies Mom Inspired Grant recipients. This grant is there to help moms by giving them $15,000 in funding for their brilliant ideas so that they can be one of those 5.5 million mom owned businesses. On our panel was Erin Kelly of the Hulabye Happy Changer, Alma Moussa of The Babee Covee, and Romy Taormina of PsiBands. I was able to glean so much information from each of them, but here are a couple of ideas and quotes that stood out from each of them.
Erin Kelly: “Don’t let what you don’t know how to do stop you from doing it.”
Alma Moussa: To balance her work and family life, she works around her children’s school schedule and makes sure to “unplug” when her family is present.
Romy Taormina: She pays herself for the work she does in her business because to her, if you don’t, it is just a hobby. (I totally agree!)
*On a side note, I actually became ill and incredibly nauseous the day after the event and started wearing PsiBands. Not long after putting those bands on, I was feeling much better! So check them out if you’re in need!
Last, but definitely not least, we heard from Michelle Stepney, The Public Relations Director for Global Content Development at Disney and the Disney Parks Blog Style Content editor. She had a fantastic presentation on media interviews. I haven’t had the opportunity to interview anyone yet, or be interviewed, but I am sure that the information she spoke about will be put to good use sometime in the near future! First off “Everything is on the record!” You want to be sure that everything you say while in the presence of the interviewer is okay to be in national media. She said to have a few (2-3) key messages to focus on during the conversation. Be sure to make your messages short and to the point. Also, have a hook to keep the viewers/readers interested. Keep in mind that “you only owe the reporter a response, not an answer.” And probably the most important thing that was said was “stop talking when your message is delivered.” Michelle, I hope that I can implement these things when the situation arises and that I will do you proud!
Even though she didn’t speak at our conference, I think she deserves a mention. Erin Glover, the Lead Blogger for the Disney Parks Blog, was also in attendance. It was so great to get to chat with her a bit during the conference.
And with that, folks, my Disney Social Media Moms On the Road event was over. There had been prizes handed out….too many to count! There were a few Beautifully Disney bags that went out full of their new cosmetic line and American Tourister suitcases from their new colora collection that rolled out of the room with new owners. It was an incredible day that I will not soon forget. Lessons were learned, friends were made, and I can only hope that this is not the last time I will get to be a part of this Disney Social Media Moms experience of a lifetime! Thank you so much to Maria Bailey, Disney, the speakers, and anyone who played a roll in this amazing day. I know this was long, so thank you for sticking with me! I hope that I was able to help you learn a little something new as well.
As promised, here is the picture of all the fun goodies I got to take home with me after the event! The “I have seven followers” shirt is my favorite!
Just in case any of you are heading to a conference sometime soon, here are a few of my tips that I have learned from my first conference experience!
My Conference Going Tips:
*Put your own picture on your business card, not just your logo! It makes it a lot easier to recall those great conversations you have with everyone during the day.
*Stick the business cards that you collect from your new friends inside the name tag. This was a tip I picked up from another blogger and it worked incredibly well. That way, they weren’t all lost in pockets or at the bottom of my purse.
*Take your vitamins before hand! I thought that I was just extremely nervous in the day or two leading up to the conference, but it turns out that I was actually sick during the conference! So stay healthy!
*Don’t sit behind a pole! In case you can’t tell from my pictures, I was stuck behind this large pillar and had to snuggle up with someone from the table next to me in order to see anything at all!