If We Don’t Go…They Win

Stogie Talk85 Comments on If We Don’t Go…They Win

If We Don’t Go…They Win

I’ve been asked by bloggers, retailers, manufacturers and most importantly, you our readers, if The Stogie Review plans to attend the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show in Orlando FL?

The short answer is yes…we will be there. If we don’t go…they win. What does that mean? Who wins? If we don’t go the forces that oppose bloggers, the forces that say bloggers get in the way, the forces that say bloggers don’t contribute to the industry, the forces that say bloggers are in it for the free cigars, they win if we don’t go.

Even though there were 15 Internet Media Members with 13 in attendance in 2011 (Walt didn’t make it and neither did Barry Stein formerly of acigarsmoker.com) there remains a perception that bloggers get in the way and of course the ‘trick a treating’ issue that has plagued and divided the IPCPR even before bloggers were around. I guess now its just easier to point the finger at the new guys?

Many will argue that we shouldn’t be at that Trade Show at all. That the Trade Show is for manufacturers and retailers. A fair argument at one time but not a valid argument today. IPCPR advertises their Trade Show as a ‘Member Only’ Trade Show. Now that IPCPR offers membership to bloggers and we embraced it by joining, we have a right to be there just like any other member.

Some want to focus on the price increase from $150 in 2011 to $295 in 2012. The $295 membership fee puts the Internet Media Membership rate equal to what the other membership categories pay although some point out that we pay the same but get less and have more restrictions. I’m not going to argue price or rules. The cost is the cost and the rules are the rules.

What I do argue and what I do question is if Internet Media Members are truly being treated and embraced as members of IPCPR? For me, it feels like decisions are made and assumptions are turned into fact without any consultation or communication with current Internet Media Members until after the fact. Is it difficult for IPCPR leadership to send an e-mail to the 15 Internet Media Members asking for comment or to address a particular grievance?

An idea for a IPCPR Media Day has surfaced as a potential solution. Speaking solely for The Stogie Review, we depend on the opportunity to produce unique content. Unique content is what makes each blog…well…unique. While some of the info from the three hours and thirty eight minutes of video content that we produced from the show floor last year can be found on other sites, having a media day would eliminate any possibility for any unique content. When do you have such a media day? Before the show floor opens when manufacturers are rushing to set up? The last day of the show when its a half day and they are rushing to get out the door? A Media Day just wouldn’t work. You’d lose the feel, the romance, the fluidity, the hustle and bustle that being on the show floor brings. We want our audience, the audience this industry depends on to buy their products, to feel like they are with us on the show floor.

Many will ask, so what is the Great Torpedo solution? The solution is simple:

1. Publicly embrace Internet Media Members as contributing members to the mission of the IPCPR. We want to help! We support you…support us!
2. Actively enforce the current standards set in the Media Badge Rules and Restrictions.
3. Work with the Internet Media Membership to continually review, fine tune, and tweak the vetting process.

During the day I work for a professional non-profit scientific society with 45,000 members worldwide that span many different membership categories. The one common membership benefit for all those categories is a fundamental one, a voice in the decision making process. For me, the real issue at hand is:

Where is our voice?

85 thoughts on “If We Don’t Go…They Win

  1. Very well put!
    If we pay to be a member (the same price as other members) we should ge treated as members. Not asking for an ass kissing, but we as bloggers are basically giving free advertising to these companies (many people would never hear of w/o bloggers).
    If a blogger does act up in the show, pull his membership and blackball them from the show. I was there in 2010 & never once got in anyones way, nor askes for a free anything, interupted reps & customers etc…

    1. @Jerry & @Shawn I’m actually really glad to hear you guys talking about this b/c I was looking at going to the event this year and I was curious how bloggers were treated. It sounds like it’s not a very warm reception. I agree with you Shawn we’re there to learn about the new lines and promote new stuff that most smokers would never know about. We’re essentially another arm of marketing for the manufacturers. Hopefully we can all change their minds with a collective voice. Cheer & Hopefully I’ll see you all in Orlando.

  2. I’m not a blogger just a fan of the site and loved every moment of the IPCPR coverage you guys had last year. It was clearly the best coverage whether it was internet based or print based. I really did feel like I was there and part of the industry…not just a customer.

    Great piece of writing and I hope IPCPR realizes that bloggers are the future of the business.

  3. I can see it from both sides. While last years coverage was great I can see how manufacturers can feel about bloggers getting in the way.
    Why should a manufacture feel bad about blowing off an interview. Or even have to or even worry that a blogger will want to not like one of his cigars.. He is there to do business with retailers.

    I do feel like bloggers do a great job especially stogie review covering the show. There coverage keeps me in the loop on all the new cigars comming out.
    I’m just saying I can understand the problems from everyone’s side

  4. Here is a brain strom. One day of the IPCPR in a big room new conference/interview with all the cigar manufactures in the world. Where a blogger (s) can ask questions about the upcoming new cigars and yo’ll can get free cigars.

    1. T – First it’s not about the free cigars. Never has been, never will be. I could stay at home and collect free cigars. It’s about covering the show. Can’t cover the show from a media room or in one day.

  5. Just saying that the show is business for these
    People. I have never been. But I have been to trade shows working for a manufacturer and it could be make or break for the whole year in one show. Making connections with retailers
    And getting orders
    .

    1. Billy – I understand what you are saying. My point is that manufacturers can’t on one hand invite us into their booths or setup appointments with us and then on the other hand complain that we are there.

      1. Exactly! They can’t have it both ways. They can’t accept the free advertising and the hype bloggers create for their product but then complain about them being there.

        From what I’ve gathered on Twitter it is the manufacturers who are making noise not the retailers.

  6. The main point of the editorial is to point out that once we are members of IPCPR that pay the same dues and the same benefits implied and documented during the application process, we have the same right to be on the show floor.

    1. Exactly…I think folks are missing the point. Once they take your membership and your money, the issue of whether you being there or not is a moot point. You have the right to conduct your own “business”

  7. Jerry very well said…you should be the voice!

    You are right…bloggers who are members of IPCPR are kind of like DC and other US territories. You pay a tax but have no representation. No taxation without representation!

    I was talking to a couple of my local retailers and they all said they do their ordering before they even get to the show. They feel that IPCPR is a marketing event above all else.

  8. I’ve been to many trade shows both as a buyer and as a seller…the press, even more so the bloggers are a buyer’s and seller’s best friend and Jerry is right, IPCPR should embrace them. They are the future of the industry.

    I have to wait months for an issue of Cigar Aficionado before I see anything about IPCPR. I get it almost in real time from bloggers. Its invaluable.

    Jerry your point is well put brother. The industry should be proud to have you on their side…I’m proud that you are on the consumers side.

    1. Interesting point…I wonder if there is any pressure from traditional media like Cigar Aficionado to keep bloggers away since they can get information out quicker and to a diehard audience? Or traditional manufacturers who are feeling threaten by boutique owners and the attention they get from bloggers?

  9. I wonder who these manufacturers are? I mean if a manufacturer doesn’t want to talk to a blogger then don’t. It’s their loss to pass up the free exposure. I don’t think they understand that you are there for them.

    Jerry this was a very well written piece. One of your best.

  10. You’d think there was some kind of giveaway going on…LOL

    Jerry your point is well made and constructed very nicely. Being in the tech industry like you its surprising how slow the cigar industry is to adopt and embrace (to use your word) new media. Look at small manufacturers like Emilio Cigars who don’t have the budget to advertise in Cigar Aficionado. You being at IPCPR to cover the true boutiques is a God send for them.

    Get with the program IPCPR!

  11. Why not ask the “industry” this year? You interviewed the biggest names in cigars last year. Make this one of your questions. Be the voice. nanananana…….

  12. I won’t like…I thought there was a giveaway to! LOL

    I’d caution all that there are always two sides to every story all though Jerry was pretty evenhanded. There maybe even information that Jerry doesn’t know about. Which probably goes to his point about having a voice. For what its worth if anyone from IPCPR cares what a consumer thinks, I don’t think anything Jerry pointed out is unreasonable for membership based organization.

  13. What no giveaway!? LOL j/k

    Seriously Jerry a great editorial. Great balance without being overly critical. You stated your points in a clear, concise manner. Very professional…very unlike you. Did someone else write this for you? LOL

    I read this earlier and talked to my local B&M. My B&M isn’t a member of IPCPR for this exact reason that IPCPR isn’t a buying event anymore. He can get the same deals before, during and after the show. He said the TAA event is a buying event. He can stay at the shop, watch all the coverage on Stogie Review and make any new buying decisions based on the coverage. Its just not consumers who benefit from you guys being there!

  14. IPCPR has to realize that the blogosphere is perhaps the most direct link between the manufacturers and the end-user, i.e. the buying public. If they want to impose specific restrictions on digital media, then why not on all media? I have to wonder if they realize how much of an impact the bloggers have on the industry, or if they just don’t care because it’s free to them. The last paragraph in your post is correct. You’ve shown your respect to the industry. Where is the reciprocity?

  15. This is ridiculous! When will you guys finally be accepted? In any other industry you guys would have been accepted year ago. And we wonder why the cigar industry is late to all these fights about tobacco taxes and bans. Get with it IPCPR! I see more people walk into my local retailer with their iphone/ipad in hand turned to the latest episode of Week in Smoke and make their buying decisions based on it not some outdated issue of Cigar Aficionado.

    You guys deserve to be members, you guys deserve to be embraced, you guys deserve the support of IPCPR. As many have said, you guys are the future of the industry. I truly believe the industry needs you more than you need them!

  16. Man they don’t call Jerry the BlogFather for no reason do they? Very well put Jerry!

    I agree with many…you guys (bloggers) are the future. My local shop references the site all the time when looking to carry the new hot cigar and doesn’t wait on Cigar Aficionado or Cigar Journal or Smoke Magazine. The influence with consumers and retailers is in the hands of bloggers.

    IPCPR needs to wake and understand where the consumer gets its information from and bases its buying decision on…its the bloggers!

  17. So wait…IPCPR talked to CigarCraig but not to, probably the most popular, recognizable, influential blogger there is? They didn’t talk to The BlogFather! The man who made The Ruination and CAO MX3 household names for the new generation of smokers? Man no wonder we get beat up by the anti-smoking crowd!

    IPCPR you really need to get your house in order. Bloggers are your best friends whether its promoting your member products, member retail locations, fighting legislation…you name it and bloggers can help more quickly and efficiently and directly than any other form of media.

    1. I’m not sure if this if I should take offense to this or not….

      I’m working on rounding up all the “media members” to get together on a propsal, so watever you may think of me, I just want what’s fair for everyone, and If I can help bring it about, I will.

  18. Wow…what a great editorial piece there Jerry. Its head scratching that the IPCPR leadership talked to others but not to you. Don’t they know who you are? I know you don’t speak for all bloggers but if there are any blogs who disagree with you said, tell me who they are so I can unsubscribe to their stuff.

    IPCPR if you are listening…respect the bloggers. They may not have the money to throw at you like retailers or manufacturers but they can excite your base and thats us, the consumer! I challenge the IPCPR to show me any media outlet that covered the show nearly anywhere close to the depth that Stogie Review did last year!

    Like others have pointed out…no wonder we have such a hard time defeating legislation and taxes when the IPCPR can’t treat their biggest allies with any kind of respect.

  19. If 15 is too many what is the right number IPCPR? This has got be a lack of education on IPCPR’s part. I’m astonished! And these are the people who are lobbying for the industry?

    Its real simple IPCPR…educate your membership, see that bloggers are an asset!

  20. Every new comment here is making a great point! I’m pretty glued to this post now.

    Jerry aka Great Torpedo aka The Blog Father…very well down again.

    George above me is right…if 15 is too many, what is the number of Internet Media Members does IPCPR want?

  21. I went as a guest of retailer last year. I saw Jerry and Brian do nothing but work their asses off at every corner. I truly believe that a sample in the hands of blogger is worth more than a sample in the hands of a retailer. A retailer is limited to their customer base. The customer base of a blogger reaches farther and wider than most retailers. Its the bloggers that introduce us to new lines or brands that we never heard of and we, the customer, tell our retailer to carry it.

    Its a shame that bloggers get no love from the industry when bloggers are the reason for the success of many smaller brands…Emilio, CroMagnon, Tortuga!

    1. GREAT COMMENT!

      How true! The ROI (Return on Investment) of giving a sample to a blogger is much more than giving one to a retailer! Excellent!

  22. Great editorial Jerry. You lay your argument out nicely. I wonder how much of this could have been avoided if IPCPR sat down and met with you at last years show? Like with other things, IPCPR is reacting instead of being proactive. An hour meeting could’ve solved this I bet.

    I hope they are listening to The Blog Father now.

  23. I think we may be assuming by what’s been said so far that the manufacturers are the ones complaining. I assure you it’s the retail members who are complaining. Or that’s at least 90% of who is complaining. Most manufacturers like having bloggers there for the exposure. I have spoken to more than one (old school) retailer who has no idea what the difference is between a blog, a forum and an online retailer. To them it’s all just websites and it’s ALL bad for their business.

    I know that sounds hilarious and ridiculous but I am quite serious. They see ZERO difference between Stogie Review and Cigars International (whom they despise).

    And I can attest to the fact that Jerry and Brian and all the other bloggers do nothing but hustle to deliver the news of IPCPR. I think we saw them for about 60 seconds before the show started and maybe at one after party for a few minutes.

    Teresa did nothing but run around for 3.5 days. Granted she has a completely different angle and audience than the Review Crew, but that’s what is great about the different bloggers and what they do.

    This is just growing pains as old goes guard dies out and the new comes in. They just need to figure this out and at the very least consult with the 15 members of the New Media.

    I do think that for the price there should at least be parity with a retailer…$295 should get you two tickets for the show. Last year when they said “$150 was half price,” I thought….well no…not really if you only get one ticket. This year the media is essentially paying double what a retailer has to.

    Not sure at all how they came up with that. I wish they would recognize that the media, old or new, is a beneficial thing to the industry. TV is certainly not an option to get the word out about new product and neither is radio. So that just leaves print and the internet. I wish they would finally “get” that.

    1. I was told specifically that manufacturer(s) wanted fewer bloggers/new media types at the trade show in 2012. The raise in price is an attempt to reduce attendance without someone having to tell anyone “no”.

      1. Really?

        So it’s a quantity issue not a quality issue? That’s kind of short sighted. “We want fewer bloggers, even if they’re crappy and have no traffic and if we shut out the guys with the most traffic then so be it.”

        So they understand those quantity numbers in terms of how many bloggers are there but they don’t understand readership and traffic numbers? Got it.

        Plus, if that’s true then just have them pick who they want there. Raising the cost is just passive-aggressive nonsense. Grow a pair and reduce the attendance by saying “no.” Why would they not want to say “no” to anyone exactly?

        This was mentioned before I think, but the higher cost is not a barrier to entry at all. Plenty of newbies would pay the higher price just to get in and unfortunately, the higher price will keep out some of the better bloggers. Doc said he’s not going. Craig isn’t either by the sound of it. You guys would have to cough up $1200 bucks to take everyone.

        How does this solve anything exactly? I still think it’s growing pains as they try to figure this out.

        I’d be curious to know who told you that and if that’s just not an excuse similar to the answer Craig got….”members were asked about this” kind of thing. Even though the bloggers are members and weren’t asked and the 6 or 8 retailers I’ve talked to recently about this weren’t asked.

        “Oh…manufacturers don’t want as many of you there.” Sounds kind of like horseshit if they can’t be specific. Like Charlie said, what was the problem last year? What were the complaints exactly? And who specifically made them?

        1. I was told this by Bill Spann, CEO of IPCPR. I can’t account for what he may have told others, but he told me that some of the manufacturers complained that there were too many bloggers about and they don’t have time for them. He didn’t mention who had the beef. And apparently simply refusing interviews didn’t seem to be an acceptable answer. (No one should be stigmatized because they don’t want to do an interview or don’t have the time and are forthcoming about it, but I guess that’s a concern.)

          He also mentioned the “trick or treating” thing, but that seemed to be more of a lingering general complaint which may or may not tie to specific 2011 incident(s). The crux of it was the manufacturer complaint(s).

          1. Ok. I’m cool with that. Tell us who doesn’t want to be interviewed and we won’t bother them.

            Again, I suspect this is just a phantom excuse. “Well some people said they didn’t like blah blah blah asking for an interview” or they “heard of someone who saw blah blah blah ask for a stick.” No specificity means they can just pass the buck off to the other guy who is “complaining.”

            If they don’t want too many bloggers then so be it. Just come out and say that. There are too many bloggers. We only want 10. Or whatever. Raising the price will not accomplish this.

            Can the IPCPR logically explain how raising the price prevents either trick or treating or interrupting sales?? How are the two related….seems like they are just kind of making up answers when they get called on it.

            This is so easy…..Have IPCPR/Manufacturers pick a number of bloggers they want and then vet. Or simply tell us the specific 1 or 5 or 10 or 15 they want there. Easy peasy.

            Teresa was told no plenty of times because of previous appts or the head honcho being busy. We either rescheduled or didn’t interview them. No biggie.

            Who exactly was so obnoxious as to interrupt and disrupt the sales process? That was kind of a big no-no last year in the application and I didn’t see or hear of anyone doing that but if they did how about this novel idea? Just ban that person instead of punishing everyone else.

            The trick or treating thing. I dunno man. Again, who did that? Ban THEM not punish everyone. Teresa never asked for a single stick but I can assure you they were giving them to her. Same with you guys I’m guessing?

            Vet the bloggers. Look at their traffic and influence. Pick who you want there. Those seem to be better solutions. Making vague and blanket accusation…didn’t they try that last year?

  24. I totally agree with what you’re saying. However one other point is that if you’re a normal member, even if you’ve paid your dues ($600), you can’t go to the trade show. You have to buy a $1,500 booth for that privilege. I understand why that is…making connections aren’t free. But we’re talking about 15 people here…I could see the concern if it was 500, but I doubt that many bloggers have the free time (and $) to take off.

    1. I’m not sure how it matters who pays what? Like Jerry said, he’s not arguing price. The price is the price…so Jerry can complain if he spent $500 but can’t since he only spent $295? Hmmm…$295 x 3 (Jerry, Walt & Brian) = $885. Can they complain now?

    2. Actually a retailer pays $295 annually and get two tickets. I think you are equating a blogger/media person with a manufacturer maybe? Retailers don’t get booths.

      The IPCPR is a retailer association and the manufacturers set up at their trade show to sell to them.

  25. Well put! but I do have a problem with the comments which is, I don’t see any from the other members of IPCPR that are sponsors of this site and many other new media. Where are they when u need them to stand up for the bloggers they support? Where are the comments from the manufactures big or small that get recognition, love and our money because of your recommendations? Wouldn’t it be better for the manufacturers to have a face and voice on the site for the fans to see???? I remember last years best interview was from a manufacturer that blew you off but yet we loved it when he made a peace offering afterwards. Just make it fair so we fans can enjoy the news!

  26. I was confused as to who would complain but after reading Timothy Black’s post I see the light. Sounds like old school retailers are annoyed at media and think it should be business only. And they especially hate Internet media which they equate to Internet retailers.

    Well, tricky problem.

    Maybe while your there you could open up the interviews to retailers and ask them questions about what they like or are looking to buy to meet consumer demands? Mix in a few questions about their business and throw them some media love.

    They may appreciate some tech savvy free advertising. Plus I think it would be interesting to hear a retailers perspective. Bring a new unique element to Stogie Review.

    I should charge for this advice!!!

    1. It is interesting to hear that retailers are complaining yet retailers constantly give tickets to all kinds of people not even associated with their shops 😉 Well at least in the past.

      I always said about a media day but, like Jerry says, it will take a way a lot from individual coverage. Plus if there is a media day, would media pay the same price for a chance to sit in a room for a few hours, then have to go home?

      I understand it is about business but unless manufacturers release cigars at another event not associated with retailers or stop releasing them at IPCPR, there is no way to get the skinny on so many new items as being at IPCPR.

      If everyone would realize sooner rather than later that the world is changing, just ask the music industry, movie industry, etc, and embrace the change as part of moving forward, we would be in a better place.

  27. Three things that stand out for me that the IPCPR needs to explain:
    1. Did any of the 13 bloggers that attended the show last year cause problems? If so: what were they and how should the problems and/or individuals be addressed? If there answer is none. Then I fail to see why last year’s system worked. (Although, that doesn’t get to Jerry’s larger point and more on an issue below.)
    2. Media day, amongst the logistical nightmare for bloggers, manufacturers and retailers, the latter of whom presumably wouldn’t be allowed to attend(?), asinine financial costs of traveling for a single day and other aforementioned issues, really defeats the whole purpose of “covering the show.” The last day of IPCPR is a ghost town compared to the first day, meaning that blogs would give their readers an impression of a trade show that really doesn’t represent the IPCPR’s best product. Furthermore, it also ignores the blogs covering more in-depth aspects, such as what retailers are giving the most amount of attention to, what cigars are creating the most buzz, etc. That can’t be what you want, right?
    3. The sort of final elephant in the room is that there are plenty of people who go to the show that aren’t in the industry and plenty of ways to get in. If you continue to raise the price and make it more and more difficult, I’m pretty sure every single blogger who went last year would have no shortage of retailers and manufacturers who would be willing to give them passes to go. I think the IPCPR has failed to understand that working with the bloggers (collectively) is really the only way that they can improve the quality of bloggers that go. Can we admit that this happens?

    There are two underlying issues in my opinion, one of which Jerry points out repeatedly. We are members, right? If we are members, we should be members. Same rights, same price. If we are simply press: issue press passes and credentials, do your own vetting and don’t charge us for a “membership” that includes less benefits at a higher price. If you would like to see how this works: http://www.cesweb.org/faq/pressFAQs.asp

    The other issue was raised this time last year when we were having much the same discussion (sans the raise in membership costs) — all of this hoopla continues to make it more and more difficult for the legitimate websites and does little to prevent the people who “sneak in” (see above) to the show under retailer/manufacturer passes. There are some bad blogs out there and I watched individuals from a now defunct blog take trick or treating to new levels last year, but I’m pretty sure those people were there under retailer badges despite the fact they were most certainly not retailers. At the end of the day, I think most of the blogs that have been to the show for a few years would probably agree, please start vetting, it helps everyone. (And just to reiterate from last year: don’t put bloggers on the vetting committee.)

  28. Last year was my first year at IPCPR and I was grateful to be there. I ran into and talked with several of the other bloggers in attendance, Jerry & Brian, Doc Diaz, Theresa, Cigar Craig, etc. We all comported ourselves professionally – we didn’t interrupt manufacturers & sales personnel, we made appointments for interviews in advance, we didn’t ask for cigars and were grateful & thankful if the manufacturers gave us one. In fact I had to purposely avoid certain booths of manufacturers I know because whenever I’d go by I was called over to talk and given samples… and because I knew that their #1 job was to sell product rather than spend time with me I would avoid their booths so that they could do their job (there was always plenty of time to connect later in the evening around the Venetian Circle Bar).

    I feel that if IPCPR is interested in embracing and working with Internet media (IM) members that they should have a committee comprised of IM members that can help address any challenges they have, advise on how best to incorporate IM and help set standards & rules for IM members that work for everyone – manufacturer, retailer & media alike. I know quite a few manufacturers that told me directly that they appreciate the work we do, that we were there covering the show and wanted to explore ways that they could work with us better. They see the value & advantages they get from working with us and giving us information that we can share to a growing audience as well as on the various social networking sites many of us are involved in.

    We will be there this year; the cost aspect is not problematic for us… we have already budgeted for this years event and paying a bit more for membership won’t break the budget. The main thing is that a true, open dialogue between IPCPR & IM members has to be opened so that we can address any challenges and make it an equitable proposition for everyone.

  29. Jerry, Timothy, Tony or Charlie – How does IPCPR handle retailers who have their own podcasts? I know Abe has his Kiss My Ash Radio…Dave up in NH has his Cigar Authority. Do they pay twice (once as retailers and then as Press)? If not, are they/should they be allowed to conduct business for their Internet Shows as retailers?

    1. Kevin – as Kip pointed out below the membership application states that if you qualify for any other IPCPR membership you cannot apply for Internet Media Membership. I don’t know what rules, if any, prevent retailers from conducting interviews/business for their online shows.

    2. Jerry is right. One or the other.

      But I’d be surprised if guys like Abe or Garafolo had time to do anything at the show but buy for their stores. Believe it or not it’s hard to see everyone you want to see, even in 3 and a half days, either as a retailer or a blogger. I’ve never seen them do anything like a podcast or interview at the trade show and can’t imagine that is a primary concern at all.

      Correct me if I’m wrong if anyone has done that. They are there for their main business as far as I can tell, but all the new stuff is certainly fodder for their shows for weeks after the show is over.

  30. Kevin…The media rules I received from IPCPR this past week say that “If you qualify for another form of IPCPR membership, you cannot be qualified for Internet media membership in IPCPR.” So, I imagine retailers who also have a podcasts/blogs attend through retailer membership.

  31. Very well put Jerry, us bloggers get a bad rap for a few bad apples. The IPCPR is not handling this situation correctly and it’s sad.

  32. Thanks Jerry. As one of the bloggers who at this point won’t be going I appreciate that you are taking a vocal stand for us. I think it is something that the management at IPCPR need to see as an asset and embrace. I think there are a few manufacturers that see us as the nuisance and are vocal about it. There are a lot of manufacturers that embrace us too.

  33. Nothing you point out sounds unreasonable Jerry. The gist of what you are saying is you want a dialogue with IPCPR. What’s wrong with that.

    Very nice editorial.

  34. Well Said Jerry, I wouldn’t know half of what I know about Cigars (which isn’t much at all by the way) had it not been for Bloggers and Stogie Review in general. I loved the coverage you guys did last year of the Trade show and look forward to it every year. Stay the course.

  35. Another thing that strikes me is the title of this entry. It’s a shame that it really has the “us vs them” vibe. That is not a knock to Jerry at all. I know exactly why he titled it that and the the origin of those feelings. Why must it be so contentious with the IPCPR? Why must it be a battle to let bloggers with a ton of traffic and readers in to cover the show?

    Print? No problem. They get that. The Interwebs? Evil and dangerous. If only the IPCPR understood page views, alexa rankings and unique visitors.

    My feeling is that they simply don’t think they need us. Like I said in previous posts, it is primarily the retailers who don’t want us, not the manufacturers. There might be a few but it ain’t many. When we had the whole issue last year of if we’d even be allowed in, I had more than one manufacturer say “find a way, we need you guys there.” I had two offer to let us come with them. And I am sure the guys at Stogie Review have had the smaller and first time vendors practically begged to be covered on their blog.

    I have heard more than one retailer say that it is them who sell the cigars not the bloggers. True, But why can’t they see that one feeds the other? A guy might go into a shop because of a review. A guy might search the web and find Stogie Review or Teresa because of a shop owner.

    This is anecdotal but illustrates a point. After the show last year a retailer on twitter flipped out because Teresa mentioned she was going to try the new (at the time) Undercrown. He was miffed that a dumb blogger got one at the show but he didn’t. He said that it was more important that he get one, that bloggers didn’t need them. He was ready to drop all Drew Estate lines because of this (not kidding!). Johnny from Drew came on and explained that the bloggers got these cigars at a media event put on by Drew and not at the show and was apologetic he didn’t get one.

    Never mind that the Undercown Teresa reviewed some time later after it had officially come out (she doesn’t review samples or pre-releases…another topic entirely) has since gotten almost 10,000 views. Surely a percentage of people who have watched that video have gone into retail stores to purchase it. Surely people who have read about it on here or other sites have too.

    Never mind that if you google “undercrown” 6 of the top 10 results are blog reviews and the 1 video result on page 1 her video.

    Not sure when these retailers will get it. I never heard the outcome of the angry retailer but I like to think someone came in his shop looking for an Undercrown after having read about it on Stogie Review or seeing Teresa’s video.

    1. Timmeh – I agree. Even though I know the context in which Jerry meant it, it comes off as if bloggers and IPCPR are adversaries when in fact, in the grand scheme of things, they are allies.

  36. Hey Jerry, this is G over at Alec Bradley. We’ve never met, but I follow your blog as well as many other cigar blogs everyday. I run all of the social media and naturally spend a lot of time on blog sites such as yours.

    I agree with a lot of the points that have been made on here. Whether anyone likes it or not, blogging is an important part of the industry. In fact, I rely on a lot of the blog sites to keep up with the day-to-day industry news. So, coming from a manufacturer stand point, we do embrace the bloggers and love the service you all provide.

    The IPCPR show is, first and foremost, a venue made for retailers. It’s about taking orders, creating new retail relationships and getting to know the people behind all of the brands out there. That last part is where I believe the bloggers come into play. Previously we were only able to do that in person. With the explosion of the internet and social media we are now able to reach people and create relationships all around the world and blog sites play a part in that movement. We love the bloggers. Having a media day makes little sense, we just need to be able to find a happy medium.

    If there is a concern out there it is probably that there is no existing process (that I know of) for vetting these bloggers. Who is to say someone can’t jump on blogspot, create a blog, pay the IPCPR membership fee and then flood the show.

    Alan and I discussed this topic today and he agrees…we love the bloggers and what you guys do for the industry. Sales are top priority at the show and if a manufacturer is unable to meet for an interview it’s not done out of spite for any of you guys (IPCPR 2011 anyone?). Great article, looking forward to seeing you this year at the show.

    1. I mentioned this over on CigarCraig’s blog but here it is again. Is it perfect? No. But it makes simple. Original comment below:

      “Pretty easy way to vet in my opinion and it was an idea suggested to me by a manufacturer.

      If you have a national advertiser on your blog, you are qualified. You have essentially proven and vetted yourself as being valid if an advertiser feels you are a worthwhile place for them to spend their ad dollars.

      You have most likely shown the advertiser you have enough traffic, audience and clout if they inquire. And, it implies the site wasn’t started yesterday.”

    2. G – Thanks for taking the time to comment and we definitely appreciate your support. 2011 worked out for you guys, Cigar of The Year…lets miss each other again and maybe you guys can repeat. LOL

  37. Jerry,

    Great article. What many people fail to recognize is that if it weren’t for bloggers many of us consumers would never hear of new cigars, which new cigars people are really rating highly or not. Which ones are generating a real buzz from large to small manufacturers. If it were NOT for bloggers many cigars would not be tried and many reatilers would have fewer customers.
    They add to the growth of the industry and reach people on a global scale.
    That can only be good for the industry and yet they do this largely for free.
    I wouldn’t charge bloggers a cent to attend IPCPR I’d roll out the red carpet!

    regards

  38. Very well written and compelling editorial Jerry. I found the editorial and some of the comments very interesting.

    1. I agree that I’d trust a blogger recommendation over a retailer. When I retailer samples a cigar and decides they personally doesn’t enjoy it, they won’t carry it. Whereas regardless of whether a blogger likes it or not, the idea is planted in our minds to find out for ourselves and then compare experiences.

    2. Retailers may ‘sell’ cigars but I think thats the physical transaction. So while retailers handle the physical transaction it is the bloggers who plant the seed for us to get out, visit our local retailer and buy something that was featured on their site or in a episode of Week in Smoke.

    3. I know Jerry isn’t arguing this point but its unfair to charge the same dues but not offer the same rights and benefits. If a retail member pays $295, gets two passes, can ask for samples and if that retail member can generate content for their online presence then Internet Media Members should get those same benefits.

  39. Jerry you are a lifetime Washingtonian and you should know this by now. Its all politics. Its clear thats the case when IPCPR gets upset with 15 members but don’t give any specifics other than there are too many of you. Lets just make them pay more and whatever perceived problem will go away and we can show whoever is making noise that we did something. IPCPR is pathetic…I’m glad my local retailer isn’t a member but still enjoys the deals.

  40. This is quite a shame. To see IPCPR, an organization we depend on to fight battles with the anti-tobacco crowd, get something as fundamental wrong. Bloggers are Press…its that simple. Other industries, even those that are private/member based not only embrace bloggers as press but as others have said ‘roll out the red carpet’ for them. Not to brush their egos but they realize that bloggers create hype and are basically, free advertising for their products and causes and are a direct link (as seen by all these comments) to their consumers.

  41. So Mike and Brian have weighed in…and so have other bloggers from other sites. How come we haven’t heard from Walt or Charlie? Do they have a different opinion? Either way, their voice would be welcomed IMO.

  42. To be completely honest, I really wish that I could disagree with Jerry on this. I can’t help but feel slighted by what is going on, especially after just going through this whole thing last year. My knee-jerk reaction was to simply not go to the trade show.

    Letting “cooler heads prevail”, I’m now on the same track as Jerry. If we don’t go, then those few people that complained about 13 bloggers in attendance get exactly what they want.

    I think that if IPCPR were to communicate their issues with media members and actually turn people away, rather than jack up the prices until people could no longer afford to pay for membership, plus airfare, hotel, food, and other expenses, then this problem would be resolved.

    I wonder though, what is IPCPR afraid of in regards to turning down blogs for press passes? Are they concerned about a rogue blogger hitting the web airing dirty laundry about how they were unfairly turned down? Take that theoretical scenario and compare it to two blog posts (Stogie Review and Cigar Craig) generating over 100 comments on this issue. Which scenario is less appealing?

    I’m not saying that these posts have been done out of spite, just a curious observation.

    1. Thanks for chiming in Walt. I wanted to disagree with Jerry to and say “just don’t go then”. But as I read on, I understood the bigger issue and his point of view.

  43. Nicely done Jerry. You write some great editorials like your Three Things You Know to Be True and The Little Robusto Project. Anyway, I wanted to leave a comment pledging my support with others who have commented. Its truly a shame to see an industry treat our connection to the industry with such little regard. As one of the first comments said, I to believe, they need you more than you need them.

  44. Word! IPCPR doesn’t get it at all! I don’t care what the circulation is of any of the print cigar publications by the time an issue gets out, the content is months old and only appeals to the casual cigar smoker. The same casual cigar smoker who won’t take the time to contact their elected officials because they only smoke casually and won’t impact them too much.

    Its about information control. If IPCPR would’ve acted like other professional trade organizations and adopted bloggers sooner they could have avoided all this and in effect, control the message. Now to the consumer/public IPCPR looks old, dated and out of touch like many of our elected officials.

  45. Got here via Stogie Guys…figured I’d throw that out there…

    Agree totally with you! Raising the cost of something is never the answer. Lets just price bloggers out from coming, problem solved. One day IPCPR will have to look at itself as where the problem is. I’ll admit I went as a guest of a retailer last year who auctioned two passes off at a store event. I went and filled up a bag every day. If I knew what I know now, that my actions were inappropriate, I wouldn’t of done so. From first hand experience…I don’t think bloggers are the problem.

    1. Ernie, it wasn’t so much your actions being inappropriate as the retailer/member who should have known better. You had no way of knowing. Now, imagine that the retailer you were there with tells the exhibitors that he has a blog for his store and asks for an interview? Hypothetical, I know, but one can see how this would negatively impact those there with legitimate Internet Media credentials.

      1. Nice.

        I hope Mr Spann reads Ernie’s comment. I promise you there are way more than 13 tag alongs like this at every show and have been for years. This has been going on forever. And they want to fret and worry and pin the “trick or treating” on new media and bloggers. Might be time to do an internal check before blaming bloggers for this.

        Not a knock to you, Ernie. You didn’t know

  46. Man some of these retailers are ignorant. I don’t get the internet so its bad. I don’t get bloggers so they are bad. Its all bad and I’m too ignorant or old to learn anything new. I don’t like anything to change…even if it for the better…bring back the telegraph and pony express!

    Jerry you and the blogging community are awesome. You provide a great service to the industry as a WHOLE. Its a shame that the WHOLE industry doesn’t see that.

  47. Few thoughts from blogger’s (cigarphoto.net) perspective

    Let me put my corporate head on and play devil’s advocate. Before I release the dragon, let me say up front that although I violently agree with Jerry regarding Internet Media Members contribution to the overall industry’s success, I’m not on the same page when it comes to the title and what it represents. Having said that …

    1) Coaltion
    If I was in charge of IPCPR looking at this year’s editorials (looks like we have more than one at this point) and what has occured for the past couple of years, conceptually what I’m seeing is a lot of noise leading up to the convention and then it stops during and after. Then there is a lenghty pause, at least on the cover, and this topic picks up traction again few months before next convention. I’m going to challange all of you who feel so strongly about this topic and ask WHY ? Why the silence between conventions ? I have learned throughout my professional career that one has to earn a seat at the table. The seat doesn’t become available to someone without an effort. There is obviously a group of strong Internet Media Members who do make the difference, educate the audience, spread the knowledge and subsequently impact cigar industry sales, yes they do !!! I would strongly recommend to those Internet Media Members to build an official coaltion. Whether that is done on the paper or in a cloud, that colation needs to present itself as one body and one voice to be taken seriously. Similar to the CRA organization, Internet Media Members needs to shift from defense to offense. Get together, finalize a logical structure, define the Mission Statement, present the case to be taken seriously in order to EARN THE SEAT at the table. Internet Media Members are now Members of the IPCPR, correct ? If so, demand an official sit-down with IPCPR’s panel to discuss burning concerns and how to collaborate going forward. What I see today is what I saw last year, unfortunately … a noise that will go away again after this convention only to be resurfaced once again next year. Bill Spann have said that ‘IPCPR is listening.’ Listening to what and what is being done about it ? They have been “listening” to bloggers for couple years but did anyone from IPCPR asked a question ? Reached out to Internet Media Members community to open up a dialog ? NO ! Instead of collaborating to succeed, they have made decisions in the vaccum that are counterproductive. That is selective listening, not listening.

    2) Quality vs. Quantity
    I can begin to list blogs and put individuals on blast but that is not my style. However, I will challange those bloggers who have attended last year’s convention and have produced very little content OR no content after the convention. This is totally unacceptable. Either you are dedicated to this craft or you are a weasel who takes advantage. Simple as that. You know who you are !!! If you are reporting very minimal content with one video, guess what, you are NOT bringing any value and you are simply taking up space whether you ask for cigars or you are given cigars without asking. This paragraph calls for tight control and improved review process so we move toward the ‘Quality vs. Quantity’ approach. The review process could be performed exclusively by IPCPR panel or in collaboration with top 3 Internet Media Members. I would recommend the latter.

    Jerry – Great job and thanks for the platform to express my thoughts … Keep at it !!!

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