As both a blogger and publicist, I find myself feeling conflicted at media events because I empathize with both sides of the coin. I understand the pressure the event planners are under to execute everything successfully and I understand the fervor a blogger might feel, being at such an event with VIP like access to information, a product or person. So I decided I needed to put event coverage tips and tricks into a post for bloggers.
Whatever passion and excitement you may feel does not mean common sense goes out the window. And because I’m in the position I am, I pick up on a lot of shady behavior and sometimes find the biggest conflict I feel is whether or not to slap someone on the forehead, wag a finger at them and shout “STOPPIT.”
A publicist or other brand rep invites you to an event. Please, I beg you, read the whole thing thoroughly. Let’s say, for example, they ask you for your name and e-mail address but having only skimmed it, you merely put your e-mail address. Or let’s say you’re just so excited to have gotten the invite that you immediately hit reply and ask “what information do you need?!”
Publicists are people too (well, some more than others). They are as judgemental as the next person (again, some more than others). When you do little things like that, they’re rolling their eye. Just keep that in mind. Don’t be the eye-roller blogger! They’re professionals so be professional back.
Something else to consider about these reps. They work on more than one project at a time and often invite bloggers to events without being able to really, truly vet them for appropriateness. I’m not saying that’s okay, I’m just saying it happens. And a lot of the time, it’s justified with the thought that hopefully a blogger will know what is appropriate for their site. Should a fashion blogger be attending a foodie event? Should a mom bloggers be at a cocktail hour for single ladies? Yes, there are always going to be exceptions, but my point is: DO NOT JUST GO TO EVERYTHING. Seriously. It doesn’t make you look “cool” and it’s not earning you bonus points. And frankly, it’s not making you look too great in the eyes of your fellow bloggers. Find your voice, find your identity, and find blog content to match. Give it serious thought. And don’t make yourself crazy if you can’t get to something — there will be many more opportunities.
Often times bloggers are invited with a +1, often times you just have to ask and permission is granted to bring a pal. Sometimes, you’re invited solo and please know this is not necessarily the publicist’s wish or fault. Sometimes, the rep is held to the whim of a client or the frustration of a tiny budget.
Again, read the invitation thoroughly. Be mindful of RSVP deadlines. And while you may want to share the invite, best to ask the rep if it’s okay to do so, first. They may have had to get their invite list approved and again, they may be confined by budget restraints — just come from a place of wanting to help their brand and ask first.
And please, if you RSVP you are going to attend, then ATTEND. Think that seems like common sense? You’d be surprised… No-shows and last-minute cancellations never go unnoticed. Do not be surprised when people stop inviting you to things or doing you favors. Imagine how you’d feel if you’d planned a party and no one came. You’d cry. I know I would cry. That’s basically my worst nightmare. (Also? Clowns. I effing hate clowns.)
At the Event
Arrive on time. If you know in advance you’re going to be late (or may leave early), let the rep know in case that won’t work for their event’s strategy or schedule. What if they are trying to stick to a precise headcount and three people leave halfway through?
Do not show up with people you did not clear with the reps in advance. Just don’t. Friends, significant others or kids. If they were not part of your RSVP and confirmation, do not do it.
Take pictures and take notes. Because you may not write your post right away and you’ll want to be able to talk about who you met and caption photos correctly.
Bring business cards. Not only for the brand reps but for your fellow bloggers! Every opportunity to cover an event is also a terrific networking opportunity. These are your colleagues, not your competitors. There are enough events, products and brands to go around. After the event, you may not remember something and need to ask a question… Befriend your fellow bloggers and hopefully they will return in kind.
After the Event
When you get home, grab your iPhone and shoot off an email. Say thank you. A little thank you goes a long way.
Post about it. For the love of all that is holy, post about this event. Perhaps no one asked you to. But unless they specifically said (and this goes back to reading everything thoroughly) PLEASE COME AND DO NOT POST ABOUT IT, you should just give it a write-up. To kiss up if anything. Show your gratitude. And try to get the post up in a reasonable amount of time. Unless something else has been discussed, I’d try to have that post up within a week of the event.
DO NOT KEEP YOUR GIVEAWAY ITEMS! This has become one of my biggest pet peeves — I find it so unethical. Did you attend an event where they gave you something to, in turn, give away on your blog? Then give it away! Don’t keep it! And what’s more, don’t be tacky and enter to win the same item on someone else’s blog. That’s not what a brand rep wants. They’re trying to spread the word about something to the public. In this circumstance, consider that you are NOT part of the public.
Think about reporting. Consider the brand rep is undoubtedly putting together a report of some kind to prove the value of the event you just attended to their supervisors and clients. If for no other reason than to be able to have more of them. So it only benefits you to post quickly, post pics, show gratitude and send your links to the rep for inclusion. Here’s a good tip – impress them by sending not just the blog URL, but the links to the corresponding tweet, Facebook post, pin, instagram pic — anything. They are screengrabbing this stuff, I promise. They appreciate it. And if anything you posted got a lot of traffic, RTs or shares, point it out! They should know so they can brag about it. And then you can rest assured more invitations will come your way! Everybody wins!