I'm back from Seattle, where I covered WhitePages.com and Edelman's approach to blogger relations (and my stay in the Hotel 1000, which only got better - the management even delivered a handwritten note thanking me for the coverage), the Lunch 2.0 panel with Mike Arrington (who graciously at least pretended to remember me - we have met before but he meets a lot of people), and the WhitePages.com Blogger Day announcements.
I've literally had a chance to digest, now that I'm no longer gorging myself on hombows from Pike Place's Mee Sum and garlic fries at Safeco (they're good, but why are they world famous?). My overarching feeling is that the details were nearly flawless, but the big picture was unclear. I'm still not 100% sure why WhitePages held a blogger day now, and why they called it a blogger day. Mike Arrington was the only 'pure' blogger there, and he only stayed for a few minutes of the blogger day itself. That left blogger and research firm/consultancy founder Greg Sterling and his associate, a reporter from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and this agency guy/blogger/columnist you're stuck with here.
As for major news, there was talk about a funding round and a distribution deal with AOL, but checking news and blog search sites after coming home, I couldn't find any coverage of anything, and this from a company that's laying out ambitious plans to attack what it sees as a $4 billion potential market. There are angles relating to search engine optimization and marketing, mobile tie-ins, privacy, and all these big, hot topics, so why was this blog the most prominent source of the company's coverage last week?
That being said, I learned a few things about the local search space, both from WhitePages and Sterling, and I had a blast getting to meet a number of the top executives at one of the most visited sites online (Quantcast puts it at #41, but WhitePages not surprisingly pegs itself in the top 25, if I recall correctly). The tie-in with Lunch 2.0 was also a great move; for anyone who's having some kind of blogger day, giving bloggers a chance to meet other VIPs in the industry/region can be a major incentive. As much as I love an excuse to get to Seattle in the summer (did I mention I went to Pike Place twice for those hombows?), the blogger briefing alone wouldn't have justified me going there (full disclosure: while WhitePages covered travel and encourages me disclosing that, I paid my way for hombows, crab legs, garlic fries, and the Mariners ticket and won't get reimbursed for any of that).
I think WhitePages got a few things out of it too. Leaving me out of it, they got some honest feedback from Arrington and should have a better sense of what it takes to get coverage from him (hint: do anything cool with the iPhone). After the event itself was essentially over, Sterling shared his thoughts with them, and that conversation alone probably was WELL worth any and all costs of the event, brownies and all. If my participation provided some value for them, all the better.
I do want to thank WhitePages and Edelman for having me out there, as the experience led to some great networking, good industry information, and even some new thoughts on blogger relations from the blogger side of it.