How to win friends and influence people

Or, as this could so easily be called, how to perfectly get a bunch of bloggers on your side.

Sometimes, you head off to an event that’s so well organised, managed and presented you just want to go up to the organisers, shake their hands and buy them a drink.

This wasn’t possible last night, due to the amount of free cocktails the organisers kept pushing into my hands.

(A reader interjects: Oh God. This isn’t going to be another London party blog, is it? We expected better from you Gary. You’ve changed. You used to write pithy stories about beard-angst, rage at grammar errors and spending your life visiting towns we didn’t know had football teams. Now you’re blogging about parties. I bet you’re only a short step away from getting thick-rimmed glasses. And a cardigan.)

A small bit of context as to why people kept giving me cocktails. At Smirnoff’s HQ no less.

A while back, Andy Bargery had the idea of organising a (mostly) monthly meetup for bloggers in London. You didn’t have to blog about anything in particular, just as long as you had blogged.

The blogger meetups attracted a wide and varying range of people, from photographers, to local government officials, to PRs (ok, there’s a lot of these), to writers to people who just blog about whatever took their fancy. Put simply, it was a great way to meet new people, and at least you’d be guaranteed to have one topic of conversation.

This month, Smirnoff sponsored the blog meetup and offered use of the bar at parent company Diageo’s HQ, just off Oxford Street. What followed was a masterclass in PR and blogger outreach, thanks to Splendid Communications, the firm representing Smirnoff.

The level of detail was quite astounding. Before the event, Splendid had researched every attendee’s blog and passed on the overriding themes of each blog to the mixologists, who created a unique cocktail designed to reflect the overall spirit of the blog. Mine contained apples (the Westcountry connection), ginger beer and cinnamon (in reference to the beard-angst), and vodka. It tasted a bit like an alcoholic apple crumble.

The hospitality was first class as well. There was free food and drink, and the people from Splendid and Diageo were friendly and welcoming, without pushing themselves – or any kind of product. It was, quite simply, a laid-back venue where everybody could kick back, relax, and socialise, without having a brand pushed in your face at every opportunity, other than the drinks, which nobody’s was going to complain about.

It might be easy to be cynical: why should a brand reach out to bloggers unless they want something. Well, they’ve already achieved it, judging by the number of complementary blog posts doing the round this morning.

Smirnoff didn’t have to go to the level they did, but by adding that personal, fun touch and giving the blog meetup a relaxed venue to chat in, the brand’s suddenly generating a large amount of buzz among some very well read blogs, and ones with ten readers such as this.

What’s more, those present from Splendid and Diageo were genuinely keen and ethusiastic about blogging, helped in no small part by Rax from Splendid, who knew about the blog meetup and had been meaning to attend for several events.

It goes to show the value of having somebody on your team who, if they don’t blog, at least reads and engages with them. It would have been easy for a company to just throw a few freebies at the group and go “Look, bloggers, we are generous. Be nice to us.”

Us bloggers who attended last night ranged from the reasonably influential in their field to a few recent starters who blogged about nothing in particular, and we were all treated the same. I’ve seriously not been so impressed by a corporate event for a long time.

Social media isn’t called social media for nothing. The whole event was a joy from start to finish, with many different topics covered and many fantastic people to keep in touch with on both a business and personal front, all of whom came away with a lovely glow from the night.

And a quick hello to some of the great people (and blogs), some the usual suspects, some first-timers, who were there last night: Melaine Seasons, Annie Mole, Flashboy, Rachel, the TV encyclopedia that is Miss Geeky, pun-loving Hayley, fellow last-to-leave digital marketing extraordinaire Lolly, Sandrine, the lovely Jaz, The Argyle-supporting Lewis Webb, Julius, the brilliant My Chemical Toilet blog, and probably one or two others who I’ve forgotten. Sorry about that.


9 Responses to “How to win friends and influence people”

  1. 1 Andy Bargery October 1, 2008 at 1:49 pm


    Good to meet you last night and to chat about ginger related angst, in particular around beards.. I’m pleased you enjoyed the night and the coktails. Rax and co at Splendid did indeed do a Splendid job!


  2. 2 Lewis October 1, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Good to see you again Gary – catch up at the next one.

  3. 3 Lolly October 1, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Good to meet you at last – had a blast! See you at the Shoreditch Twit if not before

  4. 4 Melanie Seasons October 2, 2008 at 10:30 am

    It was an awesome night and I can’t wait for the next one. I just wonder how they’re going to top it!

  5. 5 Andy October 2, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I literally cannot tell whether this is satire…

  6. 6 Gary Andrews October 2, 2008 at 11:38 am

    There’s nowt as strange as real life Andy, me old mucker đŸ˜‰ You should revive the inept orang-utan and come along to the next one đŸ™‚

    It was a great night!

  7. 7 jazcummins October 2, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Aw, flattery will get you everywhere. It was a great evening, excellent post as usual Gary – and no not satire Andy!

  8. 8 Rax October 2, 2008 at 2:05 pm


    A pleasure to met you, guv’nor!

    Kind words indeed. I have to say what a pleasure it was to meet all of you. Hope you enjoyed the cocktail? I’m send the cards out today – apologies for the delay.

    At least now you can play at being a mixologist at home. You have the technology…

    See you soon, I hope.


  9. 9 StuartW October 2, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Good to meet you Gary, see you with the Shiny crew in a couple of weeks…

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October 2008
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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com

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