Rudi Leung on his HP blogger experience

Influential blogger Rudi Leung, who's day job is as communication planning director for Agenda Hong Kong, shares his HP blogger experience in Beijing recently and laments local marketers for focusing too much on tactical rather than brand building initiatives.

Not so long ago, I wrote an article for e-Zone, a local IT weekly magazine, expressing my love and hate relationship with local blogger events. The article was so sarcastic that I thought that no organizer will invite me for blogger event anymore.

Well, not yet. I was invited again by another organizer. This time the call was from Hill & Knowlton China representing its client HP.

If it is just another blogger event, I might simply reply "no thanks".

However, as this event was held in Beijing and it seemed quite different, I believe it was worth to give it a try.

First, I like the fact that I wasn't just given a free trip but also an assignment.

In fact, I had to prepare a 15 minutes presentation under the theme "Everything can be Green but hats".

Even better, I had to compete with 5 other bloggers from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong at the event. One of us would be voted as the best speaker of the night.

Yeah, I am a damn competitive Hong Konger. I enjoy competition even though deep down I knew my chance to win was extremely slim as my Mandarin sucks.

Second, I checked the profile of the other guest keynote speakers and I found that their background was really diverse.

Besides the notorious Hong Kong IT blogger Jansen whom I already know so well, there were also Vista Cheng, the Managing Editor of Business Next from Taiwan; Yong Jie Sun the IT veteran, Miss Faye the lifestyle columnist, and finally, Zhou Zhou the famous cartoonist.

I flew to Beijing last Friday. The event was held in a small but cozy theatre inside a boutique hotel in the heart of Beijing where the Forbidden City is only 10 minutes walk away. It wasn't a public event.

Around 50-60 local bloggers who registered earlier and probably been hand-picked attended it. It seemed that the organizer selected a group of bloggers who already had certain level of popularity.

They included bloggers from all walks of life such as I.T., New Media Observer, Lifestyle & Leisure, and even Parenting. The atmosphere was both casual yet controversial, especially when it came to the discussion about some sensitive environmental issues.

Participants were also eager to ask and interact with the speakers (At the same time, they were so excited about the drinks and snacks being served too).

As a blogger, it was a much more enjoyable experience than those events that I have to be bombarded by marketers about how superior their product is.

It is simply because all bloggers enjoy expressing their point of view rather than sitting there as a passive listener.

If you are a blogger event organizer, you must be nuts to expect we will just attend your event, sit there listen and then go home to write your "advertorial" assignment.

However, it is not fair to compare our local blogger event with the one I just attended.

At this event, there was no specific product or even product series from HP needed to be "advertised".

May I ask our fellow marketers or other agency practitioners, when was the last time you don't need to "sell" a specific product but just purely to launch a brand building campaign?

In fact, in this busy city Hong Kong, it's a shame that brand campaign is a luxury whereas tactical promotion is King.

It also led me to rethink about what consumer engagement truly stands for.

Aren't we getting too used to the way we communicate with consumers in the mass media, "talking to" them instead of "talking with" them?

In the world of social media marketing, this is probably a really wrong way to do so.

Rudi Leung
Director, Communication Planning
Agenda Hong Kong