If We Don’t Go…They Win

Drew Estate

I’ve been asked by bloggers, retailers, manufacturers and most importantly, you our readers, if The Stogie Review plans to attend the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show in Orlando FL?

The short answer is yes…we will be there. If we don’t go…they win. What does that mean? Who wins? If we don’t go the forces that oppose bloggers, the forces that say bloggers get in the way, the forces that say bloggers don’t contribute to the industry, the forces that say bloggers are in it for the free cigars, they win if we don’t go.

Even though there were 15 Internet Media Members with 13 in attendance in 2011 (Walt didn’t make it and neither did Barry Stein formerly of acigarsmoker.com) there remains a perception that bloggers get in the way and of course the ‘trick a treating’ issue that has plagued and divided the IPCPR even before bloggers were around. I guess now its just easier to point the finger at the new guys?

Many will argue that we shouldn’t be at that Trade Show at all. That the Trade Show is for manufacturers and retailers. A fair argument at one time but not a valid argument today. IPCPR advertises their Trade Show as a ‘Member Only’ Trade Show. Now that IPCPR offers membership to bloggers and we embraced it by joining, we have a right to be there just like any other member.

Some want to focus on the price increase from $150 in 2011 to $295 in 2012. The $295 membership fee puts the Internet Media Membership rate equal to what the other membership categories pay although some point out that we pay the same but get less and have more restrictions. I’m not going to argue price or rules. The cost is the cost and the rules are the rules.

What I do argue and what I do question is if Internet Media Members are truly being treated and embraced as members of IPCPR? For me, it feels like decisions are made and assumptions are turned into fact without any consultation or communication with current Internet Media Members until after the fact. Is it difficult for IPCPR leadership to send an e-mail to the 15 Internet Media Members asking for comment or to address a particular grievance?

An idea for a IPCPR Media Day has surfaced as a potential solution. Speaking solely for The Stogie Review, we depend on the opportunity to produce unique content. Unique content is what makes each blog…well…unique. While some of the info from the three hours and thirty eight minutes of video content that we produced from the show floor last year can be found on other sites, having a media day would eliminate any possibility for any unique content. When do you have such a media day? Before the show floor opens when manufacturers are rushing to set up? The last day of the show when its a half day and they are rushing to get out the door? A Media Day just wouldn’t work. You’d lose the feel, the romance, the fluidity, the hustle and bustle that being on the show floor brings. We want our audience, the audience this industry depends on to buy their products, to feel like they are with us on the show floor.

Many will ask, so what is the Great Torpedo solution? The solution is simple:

1. Publicly embrace Internet Media Members as contributing members to the mission of the IPCPR. We want to help! We support you…support us!
2. Actively enforce the current standards set in the Media Badge Rules and Restrictions.
3. Work with the Internet Media Membership to continually review, fine tune, and tweak the vetting process.

During the day I work for a professional non-profit scientific society with 45,000 members worldwide that span many different membership categories. The one common membership benefit for all those categories is a fundamental one, a voice in the decision making process. For me, the real issue at hand is:

Where is our voice?