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Should Oprah Be Allowed To Speak At BlogWorld?


Wow people can really get their shorts in a twist really quickly in the Blogosphere or in this case the Twittersphere.

Tonight Twitter and the tech blogs were buzzing with talk about Ashton Kutcher’s little challenge to CNN to see who could be the first to get to one million followers on Twitter. Larry King Responded.  Many of the “real Tweeple” were put off with the entire event.

Then our Social Media Director Jim Turner Tweeted this:

So how hard would it be to have Oprah keynote blogworld on the “New Media”?

I then replied:

@Genuine let ask her. @oprah now that you are on Twitter, would you like to come give a keynote at the worlds largest social media event?

Several people were immediately up in arms.  Here is a sampling of the replies:

Kencamp: @blogworld 2 cents worth – BWE is a maybe for us, but Oprah speaking would blow credibility of it all and lead me to opt out I think.

LisaHoffman: @Genuine Guess it depends on who you’re trying to attract. I thought BlogWorld was aimed at SM fans and practitioners, not celeb groupies.

adamkmiec: @blogworld you’ve got to be kidding me

CathyWebSavvyPR: @LisaHoffmann Probably not a good choice for Blogworld. Fun, entertaining, zany, smart? but not keynot. if celeb MCHammer takes it seriously

DougMeacham: @MackCollier Having Oprah speak as an “expert” could damage blogworld expo’s cred w/practitioners but mayB they’re looking 4 a new customer

BethHarte: @Genuine If Oprah Keynotes BlogWorld, I am staying home… Because if she’s a SM expert that means I don’t have enough coin to ever be one.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. Social Media insiders tend to be a little clubby and insular but I sincerely hope the folks above and others who might have a similar knee jerk reaction reconsider their opinion.

I will come back to that but I think we need to start at the beginning. Which is how did BlogWorld & New Media Expo get started in the first place?

Most of you probably don’t know I was a political blogger. Blogging was a hobby for me but very quickly it became an addiction.   As I started building a readership and getting links from top political blogs on both sides of the aisle I was becoming more and more passionate about the power of blogging and not just a politics junkie.

As my understanding evolved I thought it would be great to go to the blogging tradeshow and meet all of my blogger friends and maybe even make some money off of this really cool hobby.  But you see in the beginning I was just as guilty as many of you. I thought BlogWorld would just be a bunch of political bloggers because that was my universe.
Honestly, when I first had the idea for BlogWorld I had never heard of Robert Scoble, or Dave Winer, or TechCrunch. I checked Memeorandum several times a day but never even thought to click on the link to its sister site Techmeme.

I was really clueless to just how vast the Blogosphere really was.  But at least I  had an excuse I wasn’t a techy or a “social media expert” and I’m still not.

So I go on the hunt for “the blogging tradeshow” and what I found instead were several insular techcentric events with the same 200 white guys talking to each other about the long tail and how it was going to change the world.

I did learn a lot and it opened my eyes to how big the blogosphere was but I have to say I was a little stunned at how these very smart people didn’t seem to notice I was the long tail sitting right there in the room and they were doing very little to advance the new media revolution sitting around talking to each other.

Over a very short amount of time it all sunk in. This might be the single biggest revolution to occur in our lifetimes and I had a chance at a front row seat.

Magazines, TV, radio, newspapers, books and movies were all being reinvented simultaneously. Thousands of years of human communication was being stood on its head and again these very smart people didn’t seem to realize just how early on it still was. It was like the web 1.0 bubble all over again.

So I knew that these little community centric conferences were not what I was looking for or what most bloggers I knew were looking for. In fact, none of the bloggers I knew were attending or had ever heard of these events.

So BlogWorld was born. This would be an all inclusive event. Every blogger, podcaster, internet radio and TV broadcaster in the world would be invited, welcomed and part of this huge community. By gathering all of us together in one place at one time we would all be stronger and better for it.

Milbloggers could meet Mommybloggers, and Godbloggers could meet SportsBloggers, and they could all meet the Techbloggers who invented and pioneered these amazing powerful wonderful tools we were all using in our own ways. We could all learn from each other and – wait for it……

Let everyone else in the world know what we were doing and get them passionate about it and convert them to this revolution too! Because in 2006 when we announced BlogWorld and in 2007 when the first BlogWorld came and went and in 2008 when the second annual BlogWorld grew by leaps and bounds and had so much buzz; most of the world still had no clue what a Blog was.  Most people in the world had only heard of FaceBook and Myspace but didn’t really understand them and Twitter was a freak show that was only understood by a few thousand people at SXSW.

From day one our goal has been to help content creators improve their craft, increase their reach and influence and monetize their content if that’s what they want to do.

To achieve that goal we welcomed PR folks and marketers, Fortune 100 brands and traditional media companies with open arms to help them understand what New Media was and how to interact with us bloggers. Because at the end of the day we as bloggers need them to grow and reach our full potential and make no mistake about it they need us if they are going to survive.

So why would we ask Oprah Winfrey to give a keynote at BlogWorld?

Because she is the single largest individual media brand in the world. She has a whole network of blogs, message boards, email newsletters, a print magazine and one of the most successful and long running TV shows in the world.

Her perspective on new media is important and relevant to every single one of us.  I would love to hear what she has to say about it on our home turf, where we control the conversation, not a TV producer. Where bloggers can ask as many questions as they like. If she is clueless about new media that would be instructive for both her and us.  If she knows a lot more than many of you think she does that would be very illuminating for the blogosphere and draw an enormous amount of attention to the blogosphere.  As I see it either way having folks like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore and Pdiddy and Shaq on Twitter is a great thing for every new media content creator.

If you think New Media is or should be a private club I think you are dead wrong and fighting an inevitable tide and maybe you don’t realize how big this revolution really is.

Now I would love to hear why I am dead wrong and you are right so please comment or post on your own blog and link back.  We are going to discuss this very issue on our show today at Noon Pacific and 3 :00 p.m. EST

This whole argument is academic btw as we have a snowballs chance in you know where of ever reaching Oprah or being able to afford her speaking fee but if that chance came along we would take it in a heart beat. The same goes for Ashton Kutcher, Shaq and Pdiddy.

For the record I think Shaq is every bit as authentic on Twitter as any A-list social media type if not more so, Ashton seems like a pretty decent guy, raised a heck of a lot of money for charity doing this and seemed genuinely excited about the whole thing and had a pretty good understanding of new media.  While I disagree with Diddy’s use of Twitter I would welcome him with open arms to BlogWorld if he ever considered joining a bunch of Bloggers in Las Vegas.

BTW who the hell are we to tell any of these folks how they should be using social media tools? For a great conversation on this check out this excellent post by Ken Camp.

Lastly based on the intense reactions I have to assume the nay sayers really love Twitter and want them to succeed. But maybe just not be too successful right? Do you think Twitter is happy Oprah started tweeting today?

Do you root for limited success for everyone you love?


A couple of folks have posted their opinons on their blogs about this. Here are some links:

Beth Harte says Celebs should be held to the same standard as Businesses who play in the blogosphere.  I agree btw.

Ken Camp says if Oprah shows up for Keynote he isn’t coming to BlogWorld.

I was recently virtually introduced to Ken and his wonderful wife Sheryl via Ken’s excellent less is more post that I have already linked to above. That started a conversation between the three of us via Twitter and Skype and I quickly realized these were two amazing and really smart people.

Ken recently said some very nice things about BlogWorld here but I simply can’t relate to his stand on this issue.  I would actually like to formally and publicly invite Ken and Sheryl to speak at BlogWorld this year even in the unlikely event Oprah decides to bless us with her presence. Ken and Sheryl both have valuable and interesting views to share on New Media that aren’t always inline with status quo. I think that is valuable to our audience.

Ironically I find someone like Oprah’s perspective valuable to our attendees for very similar reasons. I can’t understand why Ken doesn’t get that.


  • NickKnacks

    Great message and focus. How high is this “SM Expert” bar anyway? Isn’t it counter productive and anti-SM to even try and create a division of people using SM? I think some people need to take a step back and breathe a little, perhaps that altitude sickness is affecting their reaction.

  • Keith Burtis

    I think it’s too bad that folks had to be called on to the carpet here, but thats just my opinion. I think the point of disturbance here for many would be that you want Oprah to come and speak on “New media” as an expert. She is clearly a very smart woman,and we could all learn a lot from her for sure. It’s pretty clear folks ego’s have been hurt here. Oprah could most likely bring the house down at blog world in terms of an entertaining keynote. You have qualified points here Rick, but people are scared that small niche (genuine) communities that they have built will all come crashing down as celebrities come in and spoil the pot.

  • Eric

    You know, this is a sticky wicket here. If you got Oprah to keynote, your show would blow up in such a great way. Social Media has been in the “early adopter” stage for a while. But as BWE has seen with the mil bloggers, mommy bloggers and religious bloggers, it is prevalent in the “real world” as well.

    I think some of us are just jealous that we grind for years to get an audience and somebody like Oprah can crack 6 figures w/in 24 hours on Twitter.

    I think it would be great to see a “big name” keynote an event like BWE, it’s time.

  • Scott Bourne

    Good point. The social media elites who want to try to tell us how we should or shouldn’t use Twitter bore me. I couldn’t care less about stuff like that. If you can get Oprah to come – I’d bet my bottom dollar BW would sell out and more. Let the haters hate. Nobody cares. The world is full of 13 year olds who are 10 feet tall in their mom’s basement. If Oprah or other celebs start using these tools, we’ll all benefit. Besides, Oprah knows a thing or two about media in general. I bet she could teach even the smartest “social media” expert a thing or two. Thanks for having the guts to tell it like it is Rick.

  • Rick

    Thanks for the comment Keith and the conversation last night but could you please show me where I or Jim ever said we wanted Oprah to speak as an expert?

    We never did, and unless I could personally speak to her and determine that or she made some public statements demonstrating that I wouldn’t assume she was or wasn’t.

    Our whole point was she is one of the largest media brands in the world. We all of us bloggers, pocasters and new media content creators have our own brands as well. Hearing what anyone in that traditional media establishment has to say about us is very instructive for all of us and puts a spotlight on all of us brighter than we could ever imagine.

    Oprah’s entrance to Twitter has zero effect on what you or I do with Twitter except to bring more public awareness to the medium and maybe send a massive avalanche of traffic your way.

    Do Oprah’s blogs harm the blogosphere? No.

    That’s the beauty of the medium and if you watch Asthon’s celebration video that I linked to in the post it is pretty apparent to me that he absolutely gets what this medium is about and he is embracing it. We should be embracing these celebs back.

    The fact that enterprise level businesses, huge media conglomerates and traditional media celebrities have started adopting these tools is a tribute to our success. Not the beginning of the end of an amazing revolution. This is the beginning of the beginning my friend.

    At what level does someone stop being a member of our community? At what point should we exclude them?

  • Keith Burtis

    I also think part of the “paradigm” for folks in new media is that this is an intimate medium. We are talking things like word of mouth marketing, community building, and ways to personalize your brand. I’m sure many feel threatened by main stream media adoption whom are going to want to cheaply place their ads all over everything. There are enough starving bloggers out there that I’m sure a large media company could buy ads on 1,000 blogs for what it costs to run one ad in prime time television. I’m not sure if any of this is good or bad, but you can guarantee that I’ll figure out a way to go with the flow. I am finishing up a guest post for the Blog World blog, on why advertisers “Should” be utilizing niche content producers. I’ll have that submitted by the end of the weekend.

  • Christine

    i come from a sector where there’s an over-abundance of people with what I call “Marco Polo Complex” …you know, that group of small inner circle China business elitist who complain all the time about how the rest of the world doesn’t understand China they way they do… yet, do not share the information they know without somehow getting a book deal or speaking gig out of it. It’s in their best interest for the two worlds of China expertise and China interested to remain polarized. That’s where they make their money and that’s where they find their relevance.

    sound familiar?

    Since discovering Twitter last year, i had no freakin’ clue what TechCrunch was either or who Scoble was or Guy Kawasaki for that matter! I just saw this social media thing as a tool for getting my message out on trying to close the gap of understanding between China and the rest of the world. In the process of doing so, I’ve met some amazing — and humble — folks like you and Jim who are also trying to do things that connect rather than polarize.

    I don’t follow celebrities on Twitter and I don’t follow the social media experts busy creating stupid sounding buzz words for themselves and blogging about how the mainstream doesn’t get it and old traditional companies are going to die. I don’t see them helping to bridge the gap. It’s in their interest for the sake of self preservation of their lame little social media celebrity status to continue to keep knowledge within the inner circle of their minds so they continue to feel relevant. so sad.

  • Mack Collier

    I think the disconnect for me was that last week, Jim invited myself and Beth Harte and Leigh Durst to appear on his show, and we discussed social media experts. Jim made it clear that he had great distain for people that offer up social media ‘expertise’ that they don’t have, and even referenced an episode where he had called out people on Twitter that were attempting to ‘scam’ people by claiming social media expertise that they apparently didn’t have. I agreed with most/all of his points and stances, and I believe Beth and Leigh did as well.

    So given Jim’s tone during last week’s show, I was surprised to see how excited he was at the possibility of having Oprah keynote BWE. Do you and Jim *really* think Oprah is qualified to speak on social media to BWE attendees? I think we both know she isn’t, at least not right now. Now to be fair, Oprah might take to social media like a fish to water, and be a wonderful example of a celebrity that’s using social media correctly.

    But to me, it’s a massive disconnect to rail against social media ‘hucksters’ one week that claim expertise that they don’t have, then to offer a celebrity a BWE keynote, simply because they are a celebrity.

    Your conference and you can clearly do what you want, but bringing in celebrities that have little/no social media experience to keynote, isn’t a way to build credibility with your intended audience, IMO.

    • Jim

      Point to where I ever said Oprah was an expert, social media or otherwise? I would call her out if she even discussed the term. Where did I say she would speak about social media? Blog World and New Media Expo is not a social media conference. We have political bloggers, we have sports bloggers, knitting bloggers and many others. I think you are missing the point completely Mack. My stance on “social media experts” has not wavered in the least. Has Oprah said she is a Twitter expert because she had 60,000 followers in 24 hours? Is that what you are debating here Mack? As far as our intended audience we have no boundaries. All are welcome.

  • Lucretia Pruitt

    I do and don’t agree with this post. Should Oprah be “allowed” to speak at BlogWorld? Well sure. But usually keynotes *are* reserved for people we consider experts. Is Oprah an “expert” in New Media? Um. No.

    Does she have a “network of blogs” and whatnot? Sure – but she doesn’t blog. See, here’s the thing… I don’t mind Oprah being on Twitter. Don’t even mind Ashton’s “race for followers.”

    But Oprah has been on Twitter all of a couple of hours now – she doesn’t have any idea about the use or power of it yet.
    Nor, apparently, does Ashton Kutcher.
    For him, it’s about popularity. He’s just doing exactly what Jason Calacanis did when he gave away a macbook to get to 10k followers… bribing people to click on ‘follow.’
    Now, let’s see him do something really worthwhile – like say get people to do more than just click on follow – like Beth Kanter has.

    MC Hammer? Different experience. He immersed himself in Twitter and tried to understand it and become part of the community.

    PDiddy? So he authorized someone else to “ghost tweet” for him – how does that make him qualified to speak on New Media?

    I expect that BWE will stand up to its reputation of having great speakers and great keynotes. I would expect that if Oprah did miraculously decide to come, she’d actually go out of her way to provide interesting content. If she didn’t? That would be tragic.

    But there you go… it’s your conference Rick. You could “allow” anyone to speak there. Whether or not people will like that? Well, that’s their prerogative.

  • Mack Collier

    “Point to where I ever said Oprah was an expert, social media or otherwise?”

    See that’s the point, if you guys want her to keynote your conference which you want to position as being about the best of ‘new media’, then you are sending the (perhaps unintentional) message that you view Oprah as being an expert. Because otherwise, why in the world is she keynoting a conference that you want to position as being focused on the best of ‘new media’?

    And to go back to a point Rick raised in this post : “BTW who the hell are we to tell any of these folks how they should be using social media tools?” So why rail against people that you THINK are using social media as a way to scam people one week, then adopt this stance the next week?

    Again, I think if you had offered Oprah a spot on a panel about ‘How celebrities are using Twitter’, then this wouldn’t be an issue at all.

    • Jim

      I am not sure what your definition of “new media” is Mack, but mine is pretty broad. You and I are social media people and we cannot even agree on what THAT means. The point about railing on how I people are using social media is a red herring. I was saying that I didn’t think it was proper for a person to say they had 60K followers on Twitter and represent that made them a social media expert, no more than me watching an episode of ER makes me a doctor. That is the complete context and whether I’m right about that or not is up to debate and opinion as well. I like the idea about a panel on Celebrities using Twitter. How about you sponsor the panel session? 😉

  • Eric

    Twitter does not a social media expert make. I think that Keith alluded to Oprah’s PR people. They are the ones I would love to hear from. How about a panel of Oprah’s main Social media person, PDiddy’s ghost tweeter, aplusk and we get some hard ass to moderate.

    In this age of self-described guruness, having the people behind the mask showing how they are building and maintaining this online audience would be great.

    • Jim

      Eric, I think the PR people is a great thing and a great idea. Who was it that went to Oprah and said, “hey they have this thing called Twitter you should look into being on it…” I would love to have the guy that Obama hired on as the “expert” I think he was named the best internet marketing/PR/advertiser/guru on the planet. We have talked about all these things. We have reached out to many of the people we think are leaders in our space.

      Yes Lucretia, we intend to make this experience the best for our end users as possible. We want to give the sponsors the best bang for their buck and the exhibitors a chance to show their stuff, and… You see? There is much more to this than really meets the eye in most cases. We will try to uphold the best and highest standards for everyone.

  • Bob Dunn

    A lot of good perceptions here. Personally, I don’t like Oprah so wouldn’t attend. With all that has been said, all I can wonder is now many non-bloggers would come just to see Oprah?

  • keithburtis

    This is going to go round and round in circles until we all want to throw up on our shoes. (hahah funny) This boils down to what the definition of social media is, right? When we polled people last week on Social Media Sphere TV the common factor in everyone’s definition was “interactive” and Two-way”. Neither Oprah, or Ashton are being interactive and two way. If either of them “got it” to the definition we are talking about then they’d be weighing in on this conversation. Right??? I understand they don’t have time for that, but what the hell is social media??? That’s the question I guess. You guys are all arguing semantics.

    I think the position has been taken. Rick and Jim from Blog World would like to utilize the Celebrity factor to help put butts in the seats. Would these be relevant butts? Who knows…who cares??? If Blog World could actually get Oprah as a keynote that might be great, that might suck. The fact is, we’ll most likely never know.

    Twitter is not brain surgery here people, and twitter is not the ‘whole’ of social media. It doesn’t take years of use to “get it”. Again everyone’s definition of “Get it” is different as well. It is quite clear that BROADCAST is exactly that, BROADCASTING. These celebrities are used to being able to broadcast their message. The Social media Sphere is blowing back because they lack what has always been known to be an integral part of the social media equation. That is “Interactivity”

    • Jim

      Keith that is a great comment. What I am seeing and hearing is the same type of thing I hear when journalists talk about whether bloggers are journalists. Semantics and perceptions are a difficult thing to deal with. Weigh in on the show on your definitions! Oh whoa… three mins to show…

  • Oprah Twitter

    I’m a big Oprah fan and a Twitter user. I hope she is able to bring Twitter to a wider audience. But I don’t think this makes her an expert. If anything, she is late to the game.

  • Kathleen Hessert

    People, you’re taking yourself too seriously and many of you obviously look at social media like a closed clique. Never did like cliques! Of course Oprah is relevant to BlogWorldExpo. I’ll be there to share what I know about SM and as always, to learn along the way. Why not? I get my best ideas by listening to others which in turns sparks a new and relevant ideas. When I talked Shaq into getting on twitter it was a long shot but I knew it was right for him for a number of reasons. Was he a SM expert 4 months ago? Absolutely not. Is he today? Without a doubt and twitter and millions of people around the globe are better for it. Let newbies in. They may make us better!

  • Lisa Hoffmann

    We sure do like to talk hypotheticals, don’t we? And you’re very good at riling up the masses, Rick. Kudos 😉

    I’m not going to rail against Oprah or Ashton or Shaq being on twitter. They have just as much right to use a free online service as anyone. And I’m glad to see celebrities doing what they do so well – garnering publicity. In this case, it’s for something I like. That works for me.

    My tweet, quoted in your post, was motivated more by observation than condemnation. And I’m puzzled by your characterization of “social media insiders” (is there an inside of social media?) as exclusionary because we prefer keynotes with real social media experience and insights. Is the National Plumbers Expo or Association of Sandwich Makers Conference “clubby and insular”? Would they invite Oprah to keynote because she uses plumbing and eats sandwiches?

    If your main goal for BlogWorld is to get butts in seats, then by all means court celebs. Just be aware that it may change the public’s perception of your event. But you already knew that. I so enjoy this banter. Thanks for playing!

  • Rick Calvert

    Last things first; Lisa this wasn’t an attempt to generate a controversy. It was an offhand comment that Jim made and something I followed up on with a blind tweet into the ether. I really wasn’t thinking about anything other than a funny tweet at the moment.

    I had no idea a few people would act so hostile to the suggestion. But then again just about everything you say in the blogosphere will upset someone.


    We are having two completely different conversations. You are accusing us of intentionally or unintentionally positioning Oprah as some sort of social media expert when we never directly said or implied any such thing. In fact Jim and I have both stated quite clearly and repeatedly that we never said or intended to imply such a thing yet you continue with the same argument. I honestly don’t know how to further that discussion if you keep insisting we are taking a position that we are not taking.

    This whole argument that our keynote slots should be reserved for social media experts is silly. Mike Shinoda is not a social media expert. He was a smash hit last year as a keynote speaker. Please Google the reviews.

    We continually try to reserve keynote space specifically for people who transcend new media. Mark Cuban fit that bill. While he was a blogger, he certainly is not a social media expert and at the time wasn’t on Twitter.

    Guy Kawasaki is a notable speaker who again transcends social media. So does Leo Laporte. All past BlogWorld keynoters.

    As for Oprah’s credibility and relevancy to our crowd as I have stated before she is one of the largest individual media brands in the world. She has one of the longest running and highest rated broadcast TV programs in the world. She has a print publication with more than 2.6 million paid subscribers, and another quarterly print publication. Her production company produces Dr. Phil and Rachel Ray. She produces a radio program Oprah and Friends in XM satellite radio. She is absolutely a traditional media expert and that is relevant to our attendees.

    When it comes to new media credibility she may not have her own blog but she hosts a very robust online community including message boards (a part of new media imo), a successful blog network that operates very similarly to the Daily Kos one of the largest and most influential blogs in the world, Oprah.com traces back to 1997 according to the way back machine (that’s before blogs were born), she has podcasts dating back to March of 2008 that I can find. She has over 600,000 fans on Facebook and last but not least today she joined Twitter.

    Now to some of you that last item may be the end all and be all of social media but it certainly isn’t to me. It’s important. I love it, its great for our event. But most bloggers in the world aren’t even on twitter yet. So to use this one tool as the measuring stick for any ones social media street cred is quite frankly ridiculous.

    So back to what kind of value someone like Oprah could offer to our crowd of true content creators, social media experts, PR flacks and other assorted attendees is a very unique perspective on how one of the largest media brands in the world views these social media tools. How is it changing her business? Where does she see the future of new media going and how does she see it integrating with her brands and the MSM in general. Why did she join Twitter? October is six months away and that is a lifetime in Twitter years by then she could tell us what she has or hasn’t learned. Why she has succeeded or failed and a whole host of other insights or lack there of that would benefit our attendees.

    By the way there are a whole host of other MSM leaders I would love to see on stage at BlogWorld. Arthur Sulzberger, Jeff Immelt, Rupert Murdoch, Peter Chernin, Ted Turner, and on and on.

    That doesn’t mean they would supplant the rock stars of our space. We had over 300 speakers at BlogWorld last year. We will still have the Matt Mullenweg’s Anil Dash’s, Leo Laporte’s, Jeremy Wrights, Richard Jalichandra’s, Guy Kawasaki’s, Steve Rubels, Chris Brogan’s etc.

    In fact I will match our line up this year or any year against any conference any place any time. No one comes close to the coverage, depth and diversity of the new media space that we do.

    We are not a tech conference; we are not an internet conference. We are a new media conference and new media is and will continue to compete with, influence and mingle with traditional media. I see it as a core part of our mission to cover that intersection of the two.

    • Jim

      Do you see now why Rick comes from the political blogging world? LOL

      Rick your points hit home with me on a few things and perhaps we can do this in another show or another post. What is the direction of Blog World and New Media Expo. Do you see this as a graduation of media from traditional to new to just media? Is this conference going to focus mainly on blogs, podcasts, live streams, video blogs and streams? Do you see that as the new media? I think all of these things are what we are all struggling with as it relates to our present and our future and I think some are struggling with the identities of the conference and how we all seem to fit. I wold love to have this be a show separate and a blog post separate. For those of you that don’t know, a little behind the scenes look, we discuss this all the time when discussing speakers, and topics and other things. In fact we are discussing it now as I type this about how we include all of these ideas in a Twitter hashtag. So we are listening to what you say and trying to shape things the way you the end user wants to have the show in October. Great stuff!

      Now let’s go back to calling Jim a Doody Head! 😉

  • Shelle Michaels

    SIMPLY PUT… NO! Oprah is not a true blogger. Sure, she would draw lots of media, and talk about the event, and maybe even pump up the volume with sponsorship– but I think we will sell our souls if we do this.

  • James Andrews

    Kudos Rick for opening up a great conversation. I totally agree with Kathryn Hessert and her assessment that people here are taking themselves to seriously. It’s not about positioning Oprah, Ashton, Puffy or Shaq as experts but their perspective on the space would be refreshing. In full transparency I have been talking to Rick about how we could help him with the idea of integrating a diverse new group of entertainment/tech folks using social media into BWE in a concept we are talking about producing during the show. As the person responsible for introducing social media to Jane Fonda she and I most recently have been discussing how to use Social Media for Social Good and will be doing some interesting things with her organization GCAPP. How amazing would it be for Jane to come speak about her recent experiences of blogging behind the scenes of a Broadway production while learning from our diverse community of experts in her effort to change the world. Not to mention she has embraced social media at the tender age of 72 and I’m talking to brands who would like to use her as a face of aging adults who embrace SM.

    Rick, Oprah would be a hit. Shaq would be a star, Puffy would keep it loud and Ashton is getting it and by Oct would be great to hear from on his experience. And most importantly I would love to see more brown faces in a world where I’m always one of a few African Americans who speaks on digital culture. You know where to reach me and know you have my support

  • Patrick

    I really have to second the comments by Ms. Hessert and Mr. Andrews. I’m a little saddened by the exclusionary tone here and some of the assumptions that are being made by people just because one is a celebrity. Celebrities are just people. That’s all.

    I don’t want to hear from just “social media experts.” I want to hear from successful people. BWE isn’t JUST about social media, it’s also about business and marketing. Mr. Combs, for example, has a tremendous business and marketing sense. I would love to hear him or Ms. Winfrey speak and to meet them.

    This is all hypothetical and unlikely, but yeah, I’d love to see them. Having someone like that come and speak would not harm the credibility at BWE, it would only enhance it.



  • Sheryl

    My own take may be slightly different than Ken’s, and I want to just say publicly I value Ken’s opinion and don’t worry too much should we differ. Having said that, on this we don’t….much.

    I have been talking to a variety of people and my opinion has sort of evolved. You see, I believe there is a reason why Oprah would be good for BW, strictly from the standpoint of filling seats. But how does that port? Well, to have a full forum is every conference director’s dream! Now…as to what exactly Oprah can come speak about with regard to social media, that’s a whole other topic and one that should probably be considered. I find it difficult to imagine her being able to inspire anyone to use tools she herself doesn’t find value in. I find it difficult to imagine her discussing at any length her vision for the future of social networking online. I also find it difficult to imagine her presence being anything more than ephemeral, and am concerned with long lasting effects/impact from that.

    Look, just as we all see carry over from specific posts that hit high visibility, there would possibly be carry over with regard to a conference. But imagine in future years planning a conference venue, and all the booths, trying to get speakers etc. and finding future years feeling a bit of a let down should there not be the excitement over the keynote.

    Now moving on to what I see the value as, for me personally value comes from a lot of different things. I like Oprah, just so you know, I watched her for years and think she’s only gotten better as she’s aged, but that could be because I think that about myself as well. What is her value to this event OTHER than filling seats? There may be value but the struggle is in finding it and defining it.

    Part of our struggle also may be because we have neither one attended BWE before. We have attended more industry specific conferences, like ITExpo, eComm or VONx, where Ken proposed to me while we were onstage speaking. 🙂 If BWE’s intent is to be a forum where anyone gets up and speaks about whatever they like, if there are no rules, no specifications, no topic, where is the value proposition? What is it we can expect to walk away with? I would like to understand if BWE is a convergence point between old and new media – and if that is the case, this is a moot discussion. That would be the value.

    As to whether Ken and I will attend, we appreciate the extended invitation. We will do our best to attend. Would love to attend, but life may get in the way. We have no idea yet where we will even be living! 🙂

  • Ken Camp

    First, thank you so much for the kind comments, and for the invitation. Sheryl and I have talked at length about BlogWorld Expo. We think it is one of the pivotal events of the new media space. BlogWorld Expo is important. We’d love to participate.

    For us there’s also an element of reality. All our work in the social media space has been driven by passion. We have advised many companies and organizations, but we’ve done so out of passion. We don’t at this point have paying clients or any revenue stream from new media work. In short, our passion fuels our excitement, but not our bank account. At least so far.

    When we have attended industry events, it’s always out of our own pocket, and has been coupled with my taking vacation time from my full time job. We always have to weigh very cautiously the potential return for us in investing in an event. In January, I lost my job and have been unemployed since. Jim asked for a speaking proposal, but we’re quite reluctant. We are looking to relocate with a new job, and we have no idea that might take use. We could be on the other side of the world in two months. We’ve essentially had to take ourselves off the circuit since then, and missed a couple of key communications industry conferences where many people expected us.

    We would love to be at the Expo. I can only think of one other event we hold at that same level. But our reality is that we won’t know until just beforehand whether we can afford to even try. I’ve been in the position once in my life of having to cancel a very important event presentation because of an unexpected event. I’m loathe to schedule and find we can’t make it, creating a problem in event logistics.

    I think this is a very important conversation. I think we’re at a defining point for the evolving convergence of old media, new media, communications technology and PR/marketing. The vortex is at BlogWorld Expo. We hope we can attend.

    I’m committed to continuing the conversation, because it is a cornerstone of what this professional practice is becoming. I know we’ll share many conversations and blog posts on the topic between now and BWE. As I write this, Sheryl is leaving a comment here that’s more on topic than mine.

    In the event we simply aren’t able to attend BW, perhaps we could participate and present something via video. Part of the power in new media is in being there when we can’t be there. New media tools give us ubiquitous global presence in a way mankind has never before experienced. And rest assured, if I land the right gig, or our work gains sponsorship to continue, we will be there if at all possible.

    And now, I’ll step off that bit of info and return to relevant conversation.

  • Rick

    At the very end you nailed it Sheryl.

    “I would like to understand if BWE is a convergence point between old and new media – and if that is the case, this is a moot discussion. That would be the value.”

    To answer your question yes we are. Our core attendee is the independent content creator. Someone who most likely started a blog, podcast, internet radio or episodic video program out of passion. Then evolved into something greater.

    However every radio station, TV station, major broadcast network, newspaper, magazine, book publisher, and film studio is now in this space. Are they doing it well?

    My answer would be most are not, but some are. That convergence is already well under way and is of vital importance to the independent content creator. When one of the largest media brands in the world decides to play in our realm I want to know why, and what their understanding of it is and how it effects me and every other independent content creator.

    One thing is certain as the last few days have shown and I think proves my point completely, it absolutely does effect every one of us and many of us have an opinion on it being a positive or a negative.

  • Angela

    I’m disappointed that Oprah is now the center of the discussion in any way. Most bloggers work very hard on their blogs, and study for hours figuring out the “how to’s” of technology. She uses her celebrity to tell people how to think and I don’t want her in my life. IF I did, I could watch her show. But this is one woman who likes to think for herself.

  • Beth Harte

    I am more than okay with being “called to the carpet” here. And, I am pretty sure that my ego hasn’t been hurt. The point to my tweet (the one up above) was that I can’t ‘buy’ my way into being a social media expert or keynote because I don’t have that kind of fame or celebrity status…I am just a marketer.

    I could care less that celebs are on Twitter because I am not a part of that community. And I can’t comment because their community makes the rules for their engagement, not me. But, as part of the BlogWorld community (I’d like to attend this year), I wanted to have a say and Rick/Jim indulged me…that’s social media at play!

    Did you or Jim ever say that Oprah was a social media expert? No. But throwing her out as a potential keynote infers that you are. And I agree with Mack, after being on Jim’s show about experts…I was a bit perplexed. Which is why I asked in my blog post if celebs should be held to the same standards as companies. Because, Oprah is a business owner.

    But what I am really wondering now is if Oprah and her team are monitoring all these posts and comments… Hmmmm. And if they will ever come and comment. Now that would prove to me that they are truly engaged in “listening” and social media.

    • Jim

      I think the other semantic problem we are having as well Beth is that somehow Keynote=Expert. Keynote to me meant a headliner or someone that is more than a panelist or specific genre educator. Sure, it does mean an expert and leader within the industry and I can see how people thought that I meant Oprah would make an expert because they drew inference of keynote and expert being synonymous. I was using keynote to mean a superstar speaker, be that a Mack Collier or a Beth Harte, social media experts, to Oprah Winfrey, Media Rockstar. I would consider Barack Obama to be a keynoter, Steve Jobs, John Elway or anyone we wanted to showcase as a person you should not miss at an event. Limiting us to only specific niche experts makes it tough to put on much of anything. You are always welcome to provide your input here or anywhere Beth and this is a classic example of what will happen with or without the company participating. I also want to put out there that Blog World and New Media Expo is not a “social media conference” any more than it is just an entertainment conference or podcasting or side bar widget conference. We have our sights set much bigger and all of those things fall under our umbrella.

  • Ken Camp

    I have to jump back in with a comment, and to partially recant something. After lots of conversation with both Rick and Jim, I can’t say Oprah would/will keep me from attending. Sheryl and I both hope to be there. We hope to speak. BW is the biggest event for a practitioner in this space, and it’s important to us.

    That said, if Oprah or someone I don’t see as relevant to my interests does keynote, and I don’t feel they’re going to give me value I can put to use, I’ll probably be looking for like-minded folks to meet with and share knowledge over coffee during the keynote. I don’t want to miss the whole conference just because of any one speaker,

    But I’m also rethinking Oprah and the like as keynotes. None of us dispute the “butts in seats” factor, and if that brings more of the people I can forge new alliances with or gain work projects from, that’s a good thing. In Rick’s reply to Sheryl he did confirm his thinking of BW as the convergence point between old and new media. Nobody I know will dispute Oprah’s rock star status in old media.

    I had been thinking of the roots. BlogWorld & New MediaExpo leads me to think blogging and microblogging, podcasting and video. All new, not old. But Rick’s point about the convergence of old and new media rings true. And while we do both audio and video ‘casting, I wouldn’t mind some power tips on post-production, editing and the like from an old media genius.

    So while I still say Oprah doesn’t tickle my fancy much, BW is still the place to be and if we can make it there in any way, shape or form, we’ll be there.

  • zchamu

    If you wanted to get a celebrity speaker, there are far better options to choose than Oprah. I truly believe she doesn’t “get” new media or social media at all. She follows 10 celebrities who only follow other celebrities. She doesn’t understand the power; she’s only jumping on the bandwagon. Whereas there are lots of celebs out there who are using twitter and blogs and other forms of new media regularly, and they’re realizing that they can use these tools to not only connect to real people but to control their own messaging instead of letting the gossip rags control it all. It’s a completely different perspective than Joe Average Blogger and it’s incredibly valuable. So instead of jumping on the Oprah bandwagon when I truly feel she would have nothing of value to say, why not invite John Cleese? Stephen Fry? Brent Spiner? John Mayer? Demi Moore? Whether they are my favourite celebrities or not, the fact is they are using social media to change the way they deal with the public and *that* is the fascinating part.

    • Jim

      zchamu, I wasn’t Oprah specific actually but an off the cuff remark about her getting on Twitter and maybe we should ask her to come out. I really like all the names you suggest and would invite any of them to come out to Vegas and let us know their thoughts.

  • Wade Kwon

    The more the Social Media elite protest, the more I laugh. Get over yourselves.

  • Taylor Marek

    Should Oprah be allowed to speak at Blogworld? Honestly, and in my opinion, if you want publicity, fine. But do be warned that her audience is “green” and the majority have no idea what she says and follow her doggedly. When she even briefly mentioned the Kindle, it went from having a supply to “sold out for months” status on Amazon.
    But if you want to have a solid audience that is connected, then no. I expect more of BlogWorld then just throwing out celebrities to “speak” about new media. I expect to see and hear from experts in the field with a proven track record to be speaking (keynote, track, panel, etc). When I attended the New Media Expo (before the buyout) last year, I got the feeling of being special. Of being part of a select group of people with well-known speakers to flavor the expo in just a way that added to the “specialness” of the group. I felt as though I was part of an elite group, with the best people hand-picked out of that group to speak. Ask anyone who attended the New Media Expo last year, they will agree with me that they felt they were part of an elite group of people, and therefore valued. Just my thoughts, but do hear me on this.

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