Last week, Diamond and I attended BlogPaws 2018. BlogPaws is an annual conference dedicated to all things involving social media and the pet industry. This year, the conference took place in Kansas City, MO, which fortunately for us is just a three-hour drive from our home in Omaha, Ne. The location between St. Joseoph, MO and Kansas City, MO is known as the Animal Health Corridor of the United States so this brought in some excellent speakers for the conference from some of the major Animal Health companies.
Also accompanying us on this trip were Caryn and Meagen from Tevra Brands and their Future Leader Dog, Nellie, an adorable five-month-old yellow Labrador Retriever puppy. To learn more about this very special cause campaign and partnership with Leader Dogs for the Blind visit www.tevrabrands.com.
We left on Wednesday morning and arrived in KC just in time to attend the afternoon sessions. Diamond and Nellie did very well on the three-hour drive to the hotel. This was not unexpected because riding in a car is a routine activity for service dogs. We attended the first of many presentations later that afternoon, where both dogs lay quietly while the humans took notes and listened intently.
Later that evening the real fun began when we attended happy hour and a welcome dinner, where we encountered a lot of other dogs, cats, and a few other species attending the conference with their humans.
Dealing with strange dogs and other animals can be stressful for many service dogs, but Diamond and Nellie did very well. In fact, I think I was more anxious about this aspect of attending an animal-related conference than the dogs were. One nice thing about being around so many other animals was that many of them were more interesting than our two dogs, which means relatively few people wanted to pet them.
We did have some requests for photos of our dogs, which normally I do not honor. In this case, I felt a obligated to allow people to take pictures of my dog because of the nature of BlogPaws. Many of the attendees welcomed and encouraged others to photograph their pets, so in the spirit of a social media conference we joined in the fun. After dinner we went back to the hotel room to feed our dogs and let them have time to play and relieve some stress which is important, especially for Nellie, a guide dog in training.
Thursday was a day of attending sessions all day long. We learned about different ways to increase our presence on a variety of social media platforms. We also spent time in the exhibit hall, where we met representatives from well-known makers of pet products. These included Chewy.com, Halo, Stella and many others. A nice bonus was that all these companies offered free samples of their merchandise. It goes without saying our dogs came home with a plethora of treats, toys, and other conference swag!
Friday morning, the final day of BlogPaws started with a delicious breakfast to be enjoyed while listening to an interesting key note speaker. All this in a huge room with other attendees and a room full of companion animals. Afterward, I had the opportunity to do a quick interview on Facebook Live with Justin from PIJAC, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, regarding the Paws Act. This is a bill in front of congress that will allow federal funding for Veterans with PTSD who need support of a service dog after they come home from serving in our military.
Diamond and I attended a few more sessions before we left KC for the trip back to Omaha. It was time to relax after all the stimulation and information overload. I was so pleased with the content that was delivered by many respected experts in the pet industry and learned so much. I left with many ideas and know more now than I did when I arrived. One thing for sure is nothing stays the same and digital marketing isn’t going away.
Diamond and Nellie were exposed to consistent stimulation over the three days of BlogPaws which is a lot of work for them, but they did great. In summary, my BlogPaws experience was very positive, and I recommend it for anyone who is a marketer, blogger, and passionate about pets.
Diamond and Nellie did very well, despite crowds, some aggressive dogs, the challenges that come with living in a hotel on the 23rd floor, and a very busy schedule. I think us humans learned a lot as well and met some wonderful people and pets along the way.