by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, June 16, 2011

In 8 days, I will be flying out to Las Vegas for the 2011 SHRM Annual Conference.  One of the rites of passage associated with registering and attending the conference is the bevy of mail you receive from vendors hoping to lure you to their booth to discuss the latest in HR technology, drug testing, relocation, etc.   Occasionally, they entice you with the promise of a certain geegaw that you can't find at any other booth.  It would not be uncommon to receive 13+ pieces of mail a day in the 3 weeks prior to the start of the conference.

However, the pitch has changed.......

Last year, at the SHRM Annual Conference I had the opportunity to be part of the 1st "SHRM Blog Squad," where I had the opportunity to highlight many of the conference events.  You can read more details about it here.  Thanks to Curtis Midkiff (@shrmsocmedguy) and Jennifer Hughes (@SHRMPress), I will once again be able to share my feeble thoughts on the conference yet again.  However, because of my registration as a blogger for the conference, I have yet to receive a single piece of vendor mail.

However, I have been inundated with e-mails from vendors asking me to set up appointments to meet with their CEO or hear about their latest product, presumably as a pitch to feature him or her or the product in my blog.   In addition, I have receive numerous calls from these companies following up on their e-mails.

As a courtesy to these vendors, let me tell you about my credentials:
1.  I am an Associate Professor of Business Administration.
2.  In that role, I make approximately .1% of any decision affecting the human resources of our organization.,
3.  In the words of Lloyd Dobler, in "Say Anything:" "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that"

So, I may be the wrong audience to target.

The one thing missing is a little WIIFM: What's In It For Me.  What do I get out of taking time out of my busy SHRM Conference schedule to hear your pitch and feature your product/service/CEO in my blog?  (One company who shall remain nameless did offer a "blogger gift bag;" if it anything like actors receive at the Oscars or college football players get when they attend a bowl game, count me in).

Which gives me an idea......

In 2010, Morgan Spurlock released the movie "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold:"
In the film, he sets out to finance the movie by getting advertisers to sponsor the film, which is essentially a movie about how advertising is polluting our lives and minds.

Given how many pitches I have received in the past couple weeks, I have decided to become a sell-out myself:

1. Sponsor my blog

If it worked for Morgan Spurlock, it can work for me.  I am more than willing to rename my blog, "(Your company name) presents: True Faith HR."  I'd be glad to include your company logo in every SHRM11 blog post I write.  I'd include your company name in every tweet I issue.  I'd even include pictures of myself in your company clothing line.  As my blog and tweets will likely reach thousands of eyes, what better way to get your name out there.

Just make me an offer.

2.  Draw my name at your booth for your "Grand Prize."

This will be my 11th SHRM Annual Conference in a row.  In my previous 10 years of attending the conference, I have yet to have my name drawn as the winner of a booth's grand prize.  You lure me in with the promise of an iPod, laptop, or GPS, yet each year I leave empty handed.  I remain firmly convinced it is due to the credentials listed above; if I am not likely to buy your product, why give me the prize. 

BUT.....now I have this blog.  Why give the prize to Donna in benefits from Boise, Idaho.  Draw my name instead.  You can be sure as all get out that I will be talking about my new iPad 2 on this blog and I'll be giving your company all sorts of props here.   C'mon, what better way to make your company look magnanimous that giving this here blogger your prize?!?!?

So, vendors, what say you?   I'm not expensive....I'll take an iPad 2, Amazon gift card, Tom Toms, pound notes, loose change, bad checks, anything.   Do I have to come right flat out and tell you everything?

Serious inquiries only!


You might have just created a "movement" with your masterful writing skills. There are things all sponsors and vendors should remember: 1) the address to send the check, gift cards, cash, etc. 2) cell # so the call can be made to pick up the...check, gift cards, cash, etc. 3) Allocate enough staff days for your peoples to go by the... check, gift cards, cash, etc.

by Bryan Wempen on June 16, 2011 at 3:16 PM. #

@Bryan...words to live by...

Heck, I'll even put out the effort to make one of those "animated" videos like the Best Buy employee did for the EVO v. iPhone comparison....for the right price.

Operators are standing by....place your call now...

by Matthew Stollak on June 16, 2011 at 3:21 PM. #

I'll share some of my postcards with you as I've been inundated with promises of chances to win ipad2, kindles and starbucks cards....prizes I never win. Sigh.

by Tara Mauk Arthur on June 16, 2011 at 3:24 PM. #

Excellent! I wish you success with your plan and loads of cash and prizes. As for me, I'm going to sleep. Perhaps I'll dream of a career in kick-boxing. Think they have an annual conference for that?

by Caryn Sarvich on June 16, 2011 at 8:26 PM. #

shameless and of course i love it. we must be thinking along the same lines because i'm bashing mommy bloggers and bloggers who sell out for free in general tomorrow.



by Jessica Miller-Merrell on June 16, 2011 at 11:02 PM. #

Let me also say that I've gotten 25 direct mail pieces so far. I'm going to cold call all these people and offer them my social media services. . . they need help. I'll sell them your blog sponsorship if we can work out a deal. . .


by Jessica Miller-Merrell on June 16, 2011 at 11:03 PM. #

@Jessica - I'm in! :) If I get any more e-mails, I'm simply going to respond with a link to his post.

by Matthew Stollak on June 17, 2011 at 4:36 AM. #

Great read for my Friday. Look forward to meeting you at the conference.


by bjackson on June 17, 2011 at 5:56 AM. #

Man, I WONDERED WHY everyone was talking about all of the mail/postcards they were getting and I have gotten zip. nada. none. Now you have told me why, O Magnificent One. Because I am blogging.

Since I have a teensy tiny blog audience I guess I matter to no one except those sending me those emails and making those phone calls. But I am going to some of those booths to pitch something similar: become a vital partner of my SHRM local and I will place your name on my blog. For what it's worth.

by Joan Ginsberg on June 17, 2011 at 11:40 AM. #

@Tara - If you would be so kind...

@Caryn...I'll keep you posted on the many prizes I should win...and kickboxing...sport of the future

@Brian - It will be good to see you again after National SHRM Leadership

@Joan - that is the only conclusion I can draw as to why we are not getting the postcards...our registration as bloggers has closed off that loop. Good idea...let me know if vendors bite.

by Matthew Stollak on June 17, 2011 at 11:53 AM. #

As a journalist, I think it's absolutely fine to sell out. I've long been pleased that I've written nothing for free since college, except for a piece in the old IHRIM Journal.

But let's have complete transparency. If you are at an event as a paid representative to shill a vendor in social media, that's fine. Tell us. At the HR Technology Conference, that takes you out of the free blogger pass category into the paid PR category.

But I agree. People should be paid for what they do, especially writers. I think it was H.L Mencken who said, "Only blockheads and dilettantes write for free."

Just tell us who is paying and what exactly you're writing: your opinions or your sponsors'. Not saying is like being a sneaky product placement in a movie or TV show. The commercials, at least, are honest about what they are.

by Bill Kutik on June 18, 2011 at 5:19 AM. #


If any vendor actually takes this post seriously and offers me any number of baubles, you'll be the first to know.


by Matthew Stollak on June 18, 2011 at 5:28 AM. #

Man I've been doing it wrong the whole time...

by John on June 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM. #

Brilliant Matt! I do think there is a strategy to be mined here! Keep us posted. Your vendor audience wants to know.

by Lyn Hoyt on June 19, 2011 at 9:58 AM. #

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