Tuesday 27 September 2016

Friday Five: A Full Serving of Foodie Insights, Fresh from BlogHer Food ‘11

The third annual BlogHer Food conference was held last weekend (May 20-21) in Atlanta and was attended by nearly 500 bloggers. Edelman’s Food and Nutrition Practice also attended the conference through the practice’s co-sponsorship of the Closing Party and onsite support of several food clients.

Like past BlogHer Food conferences, this year’s event was full of high-profile industry speakers (David Lebovitz, David Leite and Laurie David to name a few), engaging sessions and insights into the world of food writing. This week’s Friday5 recaps five “foodie” themes from the weekend. For additional insights and details, you can find the full agenda on BlogHer’s website, along with live blog posts from each of the sessions.

1. The New Generation

The Kitchen Generation bloggers, Lauren McMillan, Kamran Siddiqi, Tessa Arias, Elissa Bernstein and Hannah Queen, shared what it means to be a food blogger as part of a digitally savvy, up-and-coming generation. The panel of teen bloggers, who each have individual blogs as well as their shared community, “The Kitchen Generation,” voiced their personal experiences growing up as writers at the intersection of digital and “real” life, and described how blogging has shaped their thinking and future plans. A lot can be gained from their perspectives on how a new blogging generation is “keeping it real – with guardrails,” while they publicly share their journey to find individual boundaries in a digital world, build networking skills – online and offline – and discover how cooking and blogging can, and will, influence their education and career decisions.

2. “Every issue I care about crosses my dinner plate”

Emphasized in several sessions, family dinners are not just making a comeback – they are viewed as mandatory for both personal and family health. As we’ve seen in our Field to Fork research series, consumers have a complex relationship with food and are often looking to food to meet a variety of needs. Food should provide a social experience, nourish and improve personal health, and in this case, enhance family health. Leading the charge for healthy, relational dinner moments, Laurie David, author of “The Family Dinner,” makes the point that “healthy” is not just what you eat but it’s also about your attitude. In the face of longer work hours, digital distractions, after-school activities – all of which make it challenging to align family schedules – making shared mealtimes a priority for the family, even if it’s not every night, is the first step.

3. Fresh and Natural are Mandatory

Not surprisingly, panelist and attendee sentiment was favorable towards fresh foods, farmers’ markets and anything not seen as “processed.” Food blogger Melissa Lanz told attendees that her strategy for family meals starts with shopping at the Farmers Market on Saturday. As food bloggers seek to arm themselves with the latest food knowledge to protect and nourish their families and readers, there is a strong desire to advocate for healthier foods away from home. Additionally they’d like to be vocal with schools and organizations regarding activity and sports schedules that interfere with family dinner. Generally speaking, they attempt to leverage the power of their blogs and collective voice to advocate healthy changes on the food scene that are perceived to be healthy.

4. The Business of Blogging

Food bloggers are a new generation of food writers and are actively searching for new ways to stay competitive, gain influence and, for many, monetize their blogs. Attendees were vocal about the need for a wide range of food, writing and digital skills – evidenced by the popularity of sessions focused on food photography, recipe writing, policy and regulation, digital networking and new methods for applying mobile technology, and the digital acumen of panelists like Alison Lewis, Carolyn O’Neil and Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan.

On quite a few occasions, sessions primarily focused on skill development and resource sharing turned to the ways brands could support a blogger’s growth through mutually beneficial relationships that offer research and resource sharing, educational sessions and access to subject matter experts (e.g., dietician boards).

5. Failure – and Growth – Are Part of the Journey in the Kitchen and on Blogs

Many bloggers expressed that it’s okay to fail in the kitchen and on a blog, because that’s the only way to learn and grow. For bloggers, every piece of work is documented for all to see, and it was not uncommon to hear bloggers express disapproval when looking back on their early blogging days (perhaps the pictures were blurry or the content lacked the same substance it carries today). While a lot of bloggers expressed a temptation to delete past work, they said they leave it as a representation of where they’ve come from and how much they’ve grown.

There is not one solid description of a food blog, nor is there one type of food blogger. As food bloggers individually and collectively try to find their niche in the blogosphere and the food space, each can share stories of individual struggles. In addition, they can forge mutually beneficial relationships with brands that don’t dilute their personal brand equity and share their story in a public-yet-professional way.

What trends are you seeing in the food blogging space?

 

 

 

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