Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Rachael Ray Nutrish. All thoughts and opinions are my own. As always, thank you for reading and supporting our sponsors.
The above quote that I found on Pinterest, to me, the perfect way to begin my recap of Barkworld 2014. Yes, as many stated on their blogs, it was much smaller, had fewer attendees than last year, (it was my second Barkworld, so I don’t have the years under my belt to compare it to as others had) and less exhibitors, but guess what? I STILL had a great time!
“It’s not the circumstances that create joy. It’s YOU.”
This was my second Barkworld but my fifth conference experience (I had attended three BlogPaws conferences prior to this conference), so I consider myself to be a veteran. Both years I was blessed to be sponsored by Rachael Ray Nutrish, I am not only proud to be one of their brand Ambassadors, I am grateful for the many opportunities for travel that they have provided.
I arrived at Barkworld with little to no pre-expectations. I learned a while back when you arrive at a conference with preexisting expectations, you are bound to be disappointed.
After staying at the Westin (the hotel that hosted Barkworld), last year and being extremely unimpressed, I chose to save money (as well as my sanity),by staying off-site. I stayed approx a mile away at the Hampton Inn Atlanta-Buckhead which turned out to be a decision that bordered on genius!
I had a shuttle that transported me back and forth from my hotel to the Westin, (except for the one day that it was being repaired, and my kind and dear friends Jobi and her partner, Geoff, transported me to and from the hotel) and the privacy and quiet that I needed to re-charge my mental (and actual cell phone!) batteries when needed. It was the perfect oasis from the conference drama, gossip and craziness that exists at ALL conferences. Call me anti-social, for me, this worked!
I arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday, which enabled me to check-in, walk to the grocery store, (a superb Kroger “Super” Store), that was next to my hotel, (did I mention I had a fridge too? No? Well, I did!), to purchase healthy food for my fridge, and I was even able to attend a Weight Watchers meeting Thursday morning before the conference officially began!
Thursday night I unfortunately missed the opening reception, because I was busy helping the Cat Writers’ Association (of which I am a member), stuff swag bags for their members/conference attendees. (This was the first time that both the Barkworld conference and the Cat Writers’ conference were held together.)
For some reason, at BOTH Barkworlds, the first “people” I run into every time, are Bunny and her adorable poodle, Carma Poodale! They make me smile whenever I am lucky enough to see them and share some laughs and they always start my conference experience off on the “right paw!”
On my way to my first Friday session I had the pleasure of running into a pack of pups attending the K9 Fit Club Bootcamp led by Diane Silver from To Dog With Love. Please excuse my poor video, the pups were all so adorable and were having a great time, my video does NOT do them justice at all!
Well, except for Carma!! She had me in stitches, because every time she made her way around the circuit, she would look at those of us sitting on the bench watching, with eyes pleading, “May I sit with YOU? PLEEEASE?” We indulged her with petting, which made her turn to her Mom asking permission to stay with US!
My favorite conferences sessions were:
1) From the Paw Up:Cashing In On Your Passions led by Cara Warren.
“Cara Warren is the Founder and CEO of Paw It Forward, LLC – a cause-driven lifestyle brand that values the human-animal bond and celebrates great dogs changing the world! She is a marketing and business professional with 15+ years of combined experience in Consumer Products with The Coca-Cola Company, Specialty Retail with The Home Depot, and Lifestyle Experiences with Club Corporation of America. “
I learned so much in her session, such as the importance of getting media liability insurance, and had a great refresher about Journalism and Ethics and tons more!
2) Fearless Photo Editing 101 led by Layla Morgan Wilde of Cat Wisdom 101 who discussed the importance of editing photos, specifically by using the popular photo editing site, Picmonkey,(my personal fave is www.ribbet.com) but I do use Picmonkey as well.
3) Lessons for Influencers: 4 Steps to gaining the attention of top brands led by none other than Julia Cantor, who is from Moxie, and is affiliated with a host of major brands such as Rachael Ray Nutrish and many more. Julia was the first person I had met from Nutrish, around 4 yrs ago, and it is always a complete joy whenever I am able to see her in person.One of the many important points that Julia mentioned in her session, was, if you seek to have a brand notice you, and you hope to work with the brand, you SHOULD ACTUALLY BE USING THEIR PRODUCT(s). Sounds like a no-brainer right? You would be surprised. That is NOT a joke. Many people will want to align with a brand and aren’t a brand advocate of that product in their day-to-day life. Authenticity is something that cannot be faked, when you truly believe in a brand it will be reflected in your writing about their products. (FYI: I have been feeding Dakota Nutrish since it first came on the market in 2008, his blog began in 2011, ’nuff said). You can find more of Julia’s presentation and her bio in the slide show below:
All in all, I had a great time. I visited and chatted it up with the exhibitors that I wanted to meet with, attended sessions based on my individual needs/interests, and re-connected with some dear friends.
Dakota and Cody had a great time too!
Now, as I attempt to shake an evil cold that I brought home from Atlanta, I am about to leave yet AGAIN! (Shhh…don’t tell the “boys!”) This Thursday I will be flying to Ft.Lauderdale (courtesy once again of Rachael Ray Nutrish), to attend the Miami-Ft.Lauderdale Pet Expo which will take place this Saturday, November 15th. The super cool part is I will be able to see my brother, two sisters-in-law and one of my brothers-in-law on this trip, so it will be a total blast! Stay tuned for updates!