Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bag Lady Extrordinaire - WEBMU 2012 Berlin

Wow, what can I say about putting together a WEBMU in Berlin? Actually I must say that the experience has been fun. Not just the set up, but the event itself has put a ginormous smile on my face. I mean, getting together a group of bloggers who live in Germany yet blog in English? These are my people! It is a fantastic opportunity to see some old friends and to make some new ones. 

I simply need to say that WEBMU 2012 in its current form would not have been possible without the invaluable help of Deputy Sweet No. My wife stepped up and arranged so many details that I hesitate to list them all lest the reader believe that I did nothing for the event… hm. My lovely co-hostess of No Apathy Allowed fame certainly did her part when she was actually in the city. Poor girl, I’m still not 100% certain if she truly lives in Bremen or in Berlin, she’s travelling that much. Certainly the participants have seen her at almost all of the events, but what they might not know is how much work she's been putting in with the last minute plans to make certain that all goes smoothly. I offer a sincere and heartfelt thank you to both of them.

Let’s not forget our Keymasters, the Regensbloggers. Without their continued backup and direction, these events would never come off. They are the ones who keep all the computer-based forums, Whiney Expat Bloggers Blog, Facebook, and Twitter type stuff running smoothly along with so many other little but 100% essential things. What they do is really constant work and we all owe them a deep bow of gratitude for their cooperative and may I add incredibly patient way of helping with so many things.

Coming back to Sweet No. When I told her that the WEBMU was coming to Berlin and that I would be on the organizing committee, she really didn’t look incredibly enthused. Not being an expat, she doesn’t completely understand the desire to be amongst people of your own “kind”.

But I must say that she liked the idea of the organization of the event. I tentatively asked for her help in dealing with some reservations, and she simply asked for a list of who, what, when, and where. Once she had agreed to help, I should have given her a silver star to denote her new-found deputy status. One day I casually mentioned that we needed a WEBMU bag, and some things to put in it. Well, I was thinking about a printed schedule, maybe a city map, surely a public transportation grid would be helpful, and anything else she could think of. OH, well THIS sounded like much more fun to her. She LOVES to do this kind of thing, communicating often with companies to let them know of her disapproval or gratitude as it suits her. (Someday remind me to tell you what happened when Haribo released a “new and improved” Gummi Bear!!)

The next thing I knew, she was writing to companies like Deutsch Perfekt, ExBerliner, Starbucks, Cinestar, etc. Telling them that we were going to have a blogger event and wouldn’t they like to belly up with some nice freebies for some crazy bloggers. I quietly shook my head and wished her luck. She pushed a poor KaDeWe Praktikantin to the edge with requests for the one bag I really wanted… the KaDeWe black canvas bag. In the end the young lady simply could not make it happen, but did offer a city map with a 10% discount card for Europe’s most famous department store.

One day after work as I walked into our hallway expecting a welcoming kiss, No began waving four Cinestar passes in front of my face. I was excited! I was thinking YEAH! Thanks Honey, how did you know? “They’re not for YOU! They’re for WEBMU.” Well, actually she didn’t say WEBMU per se… because she just never GOT the name. “That blogger event” is about the most she has accomplished all along. Nonetheless I was quickly coming to the conclusion that writing back and forth with these companies was actually working.

Once we walked into a favorite French café in Prenzlauer Berg and saw a local newsletter on the table. “Look Snooker, we should write them too!” Sure Honey… ‘we’ should. Potsdamer Platz was also in her line of fire and received her emails until someone came through with brochures and a walking tour on CD for that area. Ritter Sport got put on the spot as well, but was very nice in their refusal. Several others on her target list said that they couldn’t possibly give out freebies to every event coming to town, and we understood. My caffeine-crazed cranium was really hoping for Starbucks… tee hee hee… but they were in this thanks but no thanks category.

Some of them didn’t answer at all, which really upset her, so she went back at it until she got SOMETHING from them, even if it was a refusal. Deutsch Perfekt magazine (German language help) which is part of the HUGE Spotlight Verlag group wasn’t getting off the hook so easy. It was a no-brainer, as they say. English speaking expats living in Germany? Well DUH. She wrote them until they came up with an offer of back issues, which made her happy.

One day she asked me for more ideas and I suggested that searching “Made in Berlin” might be a nice place to start. That started another email blast out to local businesses catering to the Berlin crowd. By this time I think she was losing interest, but she did connect with a local startup selling chocolate pralines named Höflich Schokolade. This gentleman was very interested in her offer. He is trying to "get into" supermarkets with his product and can use all the exposure, (and web links) he can get. After personally sampling WAY too much of his rich coconut/white chocolate concoctions… I think I can say with no reservation that he should have no trouble with his product. It’s good… Too good.

iPhone photos kinda suck
Which leaves us with NO BAGS in which to deliver all of this stuff. Hmm… What to do? I had an idea for the bags. The hipsters here in Berlin seem to all have one of the simple canvas shopping bags sporting a sarcastic iron-on fashionably dangling from one shoulder. That’s what we need! Oh, and wouldn’t it be cool to have the WEBMU 2012 logo on it? Click to Amazon, oh yes… quite possible. But hey, that costs money. Damn. “What about that guy you took photos for? The one that was trying to catch illegal moving companies? He might like to help.” 

No kidding, he did. He runs an establishment which organises forwarding agents throughout Berlin and Brandenburg. Since he has an indirect interest in making certain that expats get their belongings on time and in good shape… as well as companies and whoever else ships around the world, he could see the benefit to his organisation. Instantly upon approach he smiled. “No problem, I can help”.  Before I knew it, our bags and some other incidental costs were underwritten by VVL (his organisation) which simply requested that people would check with AMÖ, a professional movers organization before they begin their move. Their basic interest is maintaining a list of moving companies with quality standards which the companies must maintain.

All in all it has been fun. Considering what to do, how to do it, where to go, and when has been a challenge. Offering as many interesting events to folks as possible in order to give them the opportunity to pick and choose how to spend their time in Berlin was the general idea. Cliff says that the next city is going to have a lot to live up to, and that maybe they will feel some pressure. But hell, since Bremen, I've known that there would be a lot to live up to. Poodle, (aka Claire of Cheeseburgers and Sauerkraut fame) really did a great job on the first one I ever attended for certain, and they've all been great in their own way, and most certainly lots of fun. 

Wiesbaden? Are you up for the challenge?
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C N Heidelberg said...

WEBMU 2012 was AMAZING. <3 <3 <3

Those chocolates were so good...mine didn't last past Sunday. The tin they were in was handy too as I had just been looking for something to store Sharpies in.

I really liked the magazines, too, actually. The more info-y stuff I passed on to some friends who are coming to Berlin in November!

Snooker said...

Thanks C!
I really had a lot of fun, and I'm happy to hear that you did too.

The chocolates... tee hee hee... I still have a few boxes. Come on up and we'll have a good time clearing up tins for pens.

Mandi | No Apathy Allowed said...

I just tried to leave a comment, but not sure it worked, so let me try again...

What a great sneak peek look at the "behind the scenes" WEBMU planning. And thanks for all your work, especially being the only blogger participating to actually live full time in Berlin! And three cheers for Deputy Sweet No -- the swag bags were awesome!

Anonymous said...

I was so impressed with everything you guys came up with! Thanks to both you and No. for all that hard work! You two are a great team! :)

stevenglassman said...

No did a kick-ass job with the bags. I just now finished the Knusperpralinen, and they were delicious.