Why did I fly across the country to attend a Mom Blogger Event at Kraft?

by Janice

A World Away

I am two thousand feet in the air, my laptop bouncing in my lap as the pilot navigates his way to smoother air. We are two hours late leaving Chicago and I am restless, anxious to get home to my kids.

I hate being away from Jackson and Olivia. In fact, you could almost say I have a bit of separation anxiety when I board a plane and leave them behind.

I miss (almost) everything about them when I am gone. I miss hearing about Jackson’s day as we snuggle up for our bedtime chat. I miss Olivia’s hugs and kisses and her sweet little voice. It tears me up imagining Olivia asking, “Where’s Mommy?” and crying for me at bedtime. And worst of all, I worry that something might happen to me as I crisscross the continent.

So why on earth do I do it? Why do I leave my kids to attend Mom Blogger events?

There isn’t a clear ROI for a trip like this. So what makes me choose to go?

Well, sometimes I do decline to go on trips. And to tell you the truth, this time I almost said “no” as well. But I didn’t. What made me come?

The quick answer is, Rachel.” The longer answer is, “Relationships.”

Lovely ladies - Rachel from A Southern Fairytale,Janice from 5 Minutes for Mom and Sandy from Reluctant Entertainers

When I received the invite to the Kraft event, I immediately dismissed the idea. “I can’t leave my kids again so soon after BlogHer. I have been traveling too much.”

But I didn’t reply right away — partly because I am a people pleaser and I have a terrible time saying “no” and partly because I was so busy I just hadn’t had the time to write the email.

So when fellow mom blogger and friend, Rachel, mentioned to me one night as we chatted on Skype that she was going to Chicago for the event, I laughed to her, “Okay then, maybe I will go so I can see you.”

Then, after a bit of thought, I decided I actually would go — seeing Rachel and spending time building relationships with the other bloggers at the event and with the people at Kraft and Edelman is important. I love building friendships! (And really, I know that my kids are well looked after when I am gone — I think it even gives them a good opportunity to deepen their bond with their Daddy.)

I figured out a way to combine the trip with a meeting I had in Orlando and wrote Rachel to tell her the good news. We were both as giddy as girls get.

And I wasn’t disappointed. As I sit crammed in my seat, weary from an eighteen hour day, counting down the seconds till I can creep into my kids’ rooms and kiss their cheeks as they sleep, I am so grateful for the last 36 hours.

The People

I met incredible women whom I hadn’t yet come across in the blogosphere and I deepened friendships with dear bloggy friends.

The seven other bloggers with me were Kim Becker from Mommy Knows, Sandy Coughlin from Reluctant Entertainer, Silvia Martinez from Mama Latina Tips, Rachel Matthews from A Southern Fairytale, Dawn Meehan from Because I Said So, Elizabeth Thielke from Busy Mom, and Liz Thompson from This Full House.

And I got to have a wonderful time experiencing the people behind Kraft. Yes — the people!

It is incredible what can be accomplished through communication, understanding and relationship building. Having the chance to delve into each others’ worlds is priceless.

Whether it is an executive curious about social media, trying to understand the relevance of tweeting, or a mom blogger touring Corporate America and learning about the process behind a product, an opportunity for people to meet together and share their perspectives is a huge return on investment for everyone involved.

Roundtable

Roundtable

Roundtable

Learning about Kraft

Kraft impressed me on many levels.

I was happy (and relieved!) to see their commitment to developing healthier products. (My kids and I love the Back to Nature granola cookies I bought at the Kraft store!) And I appreciated that they wanted to hear our feedback about what we want to see from companies.

Kraft also has a fantastic interactive website, www.kraftfoods.com.

kraft-foods-screen-shot

They have a thriving community where vistors can interact on message boards, provide feedback and share recipes. And don’t miss the Cooking School, where you can watch How To Videos, follow Step by Step Recipes, and more. There is a wealth of information over there!

salad

As we experienced first hand in their test kitchens, Kraft is committed to providing consumers with an extensive and constantly evolving recipe collection. The ideas are limitless and from the recipes I tasted, they will have your entire family gushing over your cooking!

ifood-assistant-screen-shot

Perhaps most exciting is their fabulous new iPhone app, iFood Assistant where you can find recipes, make instant shopping lists for any recipe you select, cook along with how-to videos, locate the nearest grocery store, and more. It is brilliant!

Throughout our trip, I was amazed at Kraft’s willingness to reach out and interact with the “momosphere.”

Even Kraft’s CEO, Irene Rosenfeld, came and spent time visiting with us! She was gracious and genuinely interested in our work online.

Talking with Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft Foods

Group photo

To have Kraft’s CEO make time to meet a group of mom bloggers spoke clearly about Kraft’s desire to reach out to, engage with, and better understand their consumers.

And finally, I was blown way by how many products fall under the Kraft umbrella.

Seriously — I have countless Kraft products in my home! (And since I am Canadian, I have Kraft peanut butter and an incredible cookie line that you all don’t have. You poor things down in the US apparently don’t get to indulge in Kraft peanut butter — which I must say, rocks! I am usually coveting the US products, so on this one, I will grab my spoon, dig into my peanut butter and smile that I am Canadian. And, yes Rachel, I will send you Lemon Coconut cookie care packages.)

International product sampling

The ROI

Networking is a critical part of developing an online presence. I can’t understate the importance of networking and community.

But the relationships I build go beyond what I gain for my business.

My online friendships are precious to me — not to mention, fun! And the experiences I have, the things I learn, and the people I meet enrich my life.

I am on this planet to experience, learn, and share. Having the chance to travel, meet new people, and have experiences I would never have otherwise, adds to my life.

Rachel from A Southern Fairytale and Andy Markowitz from Kraft Foods

John Li demonstrating a new recipe

Taking pics of the lunch spread

Choosing to go on a trip without my kids will probably always be a hard call for me. And I will continue to turn down trips because I can’t do them all.

But for trips I am able to go on, like this Kraft Mom Blogger event, the ROI is in the relationships — and it was a great return!

Thanks so much Kraft — you were wonderful hosts and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with you!

Photos included in this post were provided by Todd Rosenberg Photography, for Kraft. Thank you Todd!

FYI: I was invited to take part in the Kraft Foods blogger tour of the Kraft Kitchens. My travel and accommodations were provided; however, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.



Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 20 comments }

1 rachel - a southern fairytale August 24, 2009 at 7:33 am

MWAH!!!!!!
It was fantastic. Great recap of it, sweets!

2 thisfullhouse August 24, 2009 at 8:39 am

It really was a great experience and SO MUCH fun!

3 acowboyswife August 24, 2009 at 10:07 am

Well I did decline this event and wished I hadn't:( But it was so close after Blogher and I had already attended 3 different things in July. I just felt like I needed to be home. I am sad to have missed it though because I truly love Kraft and many of the folks that work for Kraft. And of course I would have LOVED to have seen you ladies!!

Thanks for the recap…I feel like I was there at least;)

4 LisaCrazyAdventuresinParenting August 24, 2009 at 11:33 am

Look at all that wonderful food! Yum!

Fabulous recap, I completely understand where you're coming from about not wanting to leave the kiddos and your ROI. It is hard as mothers to leave our children to go off on these trips, but it's nice to have a small break and to come home to snuggle with a renewed sense of self afterwards, having had time to ourselves, isn't it?

5 Silvia August 24, 2009 at 11:38 am

Hi Janice, great post! It was a fabulous experience for me too and I have lots of fun memories from all of you my fellow mommy bloggers, hope we see each other again in the future :)

6 susieshomemade August 24, 2009 at 11:58 am

Looks like a great opportunity!

7 niiwilson August 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

I love live events and gatherings like this.

Remember you can ALWAYS
get a great ROI when you meet
someone in person and strengthen
personal relationships that have been
clutivated through blogging and other
online forms of social media.

Life is all about community and building
strong relationships. Mothers share a strong bond and its
nice when there is an online place to
get support and help.

I hate leaving my daughter when I have to go
to live events but the connections I make
with other people are always valued and treaseured

8 rachel - a southern fairytale August 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm

oh BTW ~ YES TO THE COOKIES!!!
xoxoo

9 elizabethnorton August 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm

I love KRAFT!!!

10 michellesfamily August 24, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I bet that was so interesting.I too have alot of Kraft foods in the house.Including the peak freans love them.( I really love the Bourbon Cream Cookies mmm)Hubby Loves the Peanut Butter.

11 richardduarte August 24, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Loved your story; leaving the kids is never easy. But it sounds like you had a great time. If cooking videos interest you, we have a web site that features cooking videos for people who think that they are too busy to prepare a home cooked meal. Easy step by step instructions for delicious, nutritious meals in minutes. http://www.1click2know.com let us know what you think.

12 rc2000 August 24, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Great Post!

13 DebMomOf3 August 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Sounds like a great time – and you were in wonderful company! :)

I'm traveling this week too and am struggling with the 'need' to leave my kids, but I think it does come down to exactly what you said here – the opportunity to meet and get to know some incredible people, and also I think to have some time to just be 'me' and not always 'mommy'. I love the brief trips away but I'm also always so glad to get home and see my girls again. :)

14 pookyamsterdam August 24, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Absolutely wonderful to read this and yes online relationships are very important indeed! Thank you for the delicious looking pictures too and that great sense of shared experience! Moms R Us!

15 Mikki Clagett August 24, 2009 at 6:47 pm

What a great trip! That looks like SOO much fun! I would have loved to do something like that.
Now if only I had an Iphone! I would love to get an ap like that!!

16 mommyknowsq August 24, 2009 at 10:58 pm

It was great meeting you Janice.

A terrific post.

Let's keep in touch.

Kim

17 organizingmommy August 24, 2009 at 11:59 pm

This sounds like a lot of fun! You know, I'll travel for you, if you're ever in a pinch. LOL.

18 Stephanie August 25, 2009 at 1:42 am

A. You are absolutely gorgeous, Janice. Really. And you're so photogenic too.

B. The pictures in this post are fantastic. Did Kraft have a professional photographer on-site?

C. I totally understand your sentiments about traveling. I've been invited to over 6 events this past year and – so far – I've turned down them all. It's so hard for me to leave my girls – especially in this “season” of life when they are so young.

D. That iPhone app looks super cool. I'm going to check it out.

19 lorieshewbridge August 26, 2009 at 8:42 pm

What a terrific post. I'm sure it is always very difficult for women with small children to leave their children for networking events, but I am sure that you really do take home so much that it makes you a better woman, and therefore a better mother.

20 LiteralDan September 2, 2009 at 4:23 am

Even though I'm not a mom, I'm kinda wistful I didn't get to go on such an interesting trip. Their travel expenses to get me there would have been like $10. But then, I might have eaten the difference in sample food…

I'm glad you all had fun, at least. I'll stick with my Skippy peanut butter, thank you very much, but if you wanna mail me some of those cookies along with a jar of yours, I would be willing to really try to like it more and be jealous. Deal?

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