On Friday 29th April 2016, we (Janet and Esther) made our way down to London to attend the National UK Blog Awards as finalists. After 1 taxi, 2 trains, a few underground changes and a bit of a walk, we arrived at the Park Plaza Westminster Hotel where the UK Blog Awards was being held and where we were staying overnight.
After a very warm welcome from the hotel, we unpacked and went to explore (aka look for somewhere to have lunch) before going back to the room to get glammed up for the evening! As you may or may not know, I (Esther) absolutely love having a reason to get dressed up, however Janet rarely dresses up and the dress code was “Dress To Impress!” So it was also exciting to see Janet in a dress and looking all glam! We knew there were a few (OK quite a few) people looking out on social media for photos of us all dressed up, so after a quick selfie for Facebook, we headed downstairs to the ballroom for canapés, drinks and networking before the doors opened for the awards ceremony.
Odeon Cinemas were the headline sponsors of the event and they’d set up a mini cinema area in the bar area, including old theatre chairs, beanbags and popcorn vendors! The theme of the evening was celebrating the infamous author Roald Dahl and the release of Disney’s new film The BFG.
Although we felt a little daunted at first by the sheer volume of people at the awards, the networking time enabled bloggers, judges and hosts to connect and chat over a glass of bubbly (or two!). We met new people and exchanged business cards with a few finalists, including some who’d flown down especially from Scotland as well as a few locals to London too! I have to admit I was a little distracted by all the beautiful dresses…
Running up to the event (as usual) I’d taken upon a personal challenge to cover (OK more-like take over) the official event hashtag which was #UKBA16. I wanted to ensure that Social Progress was seen and wanted to experiment to see if anyone at the awards recognised us solely through our social media interaction as Social Progress, SoProJanet and SoProEsther. Interestingly enough, we had at least 2 people say “oh, you’re Social Progress aren’t you?” and to top it off they followed it with “yes, I recognised your quiff!” There is power in social media and there also seems to be super-power in my quiff too!
The award ceremony itself was presented by Kate Russell who “won the 2015 UK Blog Awards for best individual digital and technology blog”. Gemma Pears, founder of the UK Blog Awards, opened the awards with a well-spoken and heart-felt speech followed by two reps from Odeon who also gave a welcoming speech. Kate then proceeded with the awards themselves by category.
Thankfully there was a programme for everyone which listed each finalist in order of category. The listings included the blogger/company logo, their name and an intro to who they are. What we appreciated was that they all had their websites and twitter handles included within their listing! Handy for tweeting during and after the ceremony… We were finalists in the “PR, Media, Marketing and Comms” category (page 75) so we had a while to wait. Unfortunately it was a bit like a plaster being ripped off as the judge of our category, bless her, accidentally announced the winners the wrong way around – she announced the company winners first instead of the individual blogger winner – which meant we knew we’d not won this year (cue the strings). Well done to everyone who did win though and those who were “highly commended” for their blogging (aka runners up).
Although we didn’t win, we still feel very honoured to have even been in the finals! When Janet put the SoPro Blog forward for the UK Blog Awards back in January, we asked friends, family and our online network to vote (if they wanted) with no pressure or desperate plugging – not really expecting anything to come of it. We want to thank each and every person who took the time to (and actually chose to) vote for us!
Kate Russell explained at the beginning of the awards that there were 2,000 national entries from across the UK, which were judged and filtered down to under 180 finalists. So only 9% of entrants were chosen as finalists in 2016 and we were one of those!
The awards themselves were well organised and well run throughout the evening. A huge well done goes to Gemma Pears for organising such an awesome event which celebrates bloggers from across the UK, whether individual bloggers or companies. This was the third UK Blog Awards and we were honoured to be a part of it!
A special shout-out goes to our friend at the Park Plaza Westminster Hotel who made us feel so welcome and looked after us! You know who you are… Genuine and warm customer service goes a long way. We highly recommend this hotel if you’re staying in the area.