Earlier this month I was invited to attend the Conversations With Coca-Cola blogger conference in Atlanta along with several other bloggers from the Southeast (holla!) and Northeast. The event organizers at Coca-Cola put together a fantastic itinerary that was not only informative and fun but, wait for it…FILLED WITH COCA-COLA history and culture. I’ve been to several brand events, but this was one of the most well-organized and well thought out events I’ve attended. Coca-Cola has held this blogger event four other times in the past and I was honored to be invited!
I had traveled to Atlanta in May with my family for Memorial Day weekend and had then enjoyed my first ever visit to the World of Coke. It was fun to return, this time, as a blogger and get an even more indepth look behind the scenes of Coca-Cola as a corporation.
But first I have to tell ya’ll about the travel craziness on the way down. Atlanta is an easy 4-hour drive from Nashville but I flew down on Southwest for the conference courtesy of Coca-Cola. I knew it would be a quick and uneventful flight, right? Wrong…as we were approaching downtown Atlanta the pilot announced that the airport was temporarily closed due to a thunderstorm and we would circle until we had to refuel. We ended up refueling in Greenville…SOUTH CAROLINA! Thank God for my Kindle. Luckily I still got in about 9 that night at the W Hotel in downtown Atlanta so I was ready to attend the first full day of the conference on the 15th.
Our first day kicked off at the World of Coke with a great session from Katherine Stone, founder and editor of PostpartumProgress.com. Katherine’s message about branding and knowing who you are and claiming it in the social media space was just what I needed to hear at this time in my life. Learning to say no but also being willing to say yes to partnerships to build your resume, “if it means something to you and your brand,” is key, she said. “I think long-term brand equity is more important than short-term brand equity.”
More sage advice from Katherine:
“Know what you are, but also what you are not…”
“As women, we have to start claiming who we are.”
Katherine’s message got me thinking about some of the brands I align with. It is very important to me as a mother to two young daughters to work with companies that are dedicated to helping and promoting women…companies that I have worked with such as Lee Jeans and Dove. I’ve been doing this “blogging thing” for more than 5 years now and so many times it seems like a frivolous hobby, but I do have a voice in online media and I would like to it count toward something besides pontificating about poop and pinot noir…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Wink!
We also spent the morning at World of Coke working on a vision board. The pile of magazines and scrapbook supplies made my inner non-Martha shudder a bit but before I knew it I was clipping photos and words that spoke to me. Having lost my job unexpectedly the end of May, I feel like I am truly in a transitional phase of life. I’m ready to embrace change and to also take advantage of this time. I am making some pivotal decisions this fall about the direction I want to take my career in. It can be a little scary not knowing what the future holds, but I know this is a great opportunity for me to make some amazing changes.
Me and my vision board. (Photo courtesy of PWP Studio.)
After a delicious and healthy lunch of salads from Wendy’s, we learned more from Wendy’s head dietician and about their new nutrition app. We also heard about how Wendy’s supports educational initiatives for youth as as well as adoption (founder Dave Thomas was adopted.)
We listened to a great panel of women executives who work at Coca-Cola. As a long-time work outside the home mom it is always insightful to learn how other working moms balance work and motherhood and to realize that we all struggle with mom guilt and the seemingly unattainable quest to “do it all” and do it all well. We ended the afternoon with a tour of the World of Coke and it was just as fun this time as it was back in May with my hubby and girls.
That night we had wonderful dinner together at the W and then I have to admit I hit my room early…I knew we’d have a full day again and I was looking forward to learning more about Coca-Cola. It was great seeing bloggers I already knew, like Jodi from Mom’s Favorite Stuff, Holly from The Culture Mom, and Sarah Viz from In The Trenches of Mommyhood.
On day two we headed to Coca-Cola’s headquarters in Atlanta where we learned more about Coca-Cola in the community and its efforts to reduce its global footprint.
The morning kicked off with a session from Chef Randy Harris who shared great tips on how to think outside the lunchbox. We had a fun competition and I realized that with a little bit of creativity I could make fruits, veggies, and sandwiches actually exciting for my girls. We also learned more about Minute Maid juices (a Coca-Cola brand.)
One of the most fun sessions that morning was with Bacardi mixologist Scott Mayer (seriously how cool a gig is that?) who showed us how to use Bacardi mixers in a creative manner. This was another hands-on session that had us concocting our own special mom cocktails with fresh garnishes. Guess what? My table won! We received beautiful hand crafted wood muddlers made by Chef Harris so we can whip up our own amazing beverages at home. My husband tended bar for years so I couldn’t wait to give this to him as a fun memento of the conference.
The Bacardi winning trio! Me with Meghan from JaMonkey in Atlanta and Toni from A Daily Dose of Toni from Navarre Beach, Florida (my dad and stepmom have a condo in this beautiful area of the Florida Panhandle!)
Our conference ended with a session on Coca-Cola in the Community and its many Live Positively programs. I was already familiar with the America is Your Park campaign, but there are so many other ways Coca-Cola strives to leave a positive impact on communities, such as DASANI’s PlantBottle packaging. It was truly impressive!
Disclosure: This trip was hosted by Coca-Cola who covered my hotel, airfare, and meals during this two-day event. I am under no obligation to write about my experience. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.