Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blogger's Guide to Attending Events

(Updated May 28, 2011) Nowadays, bloggers get invited to attend numerous events, here are some tips I'd like to share about it on how you can maximize participation. This is also useful for bloggers who would like to cover events professionally.
  1. Check if you have conflict of interest
    If you have an exclusive contract with the competition or an active engagement that has non-compete clause provision, make sure to double check if there will be conflicts for you to attend the said event.
  2. RSVP only for yourself
    If you receive an invite for an event, assume that is only for you and can't be shared to others. If the person inviting said that you can extend the invite to others, best to tell your peers to contact the organizers directly if they are interested and avoid any misrepresentation (such as you are working for the organizer) on your end. Also, for your blogger friends not to be seen or accused as "gatecrashing".

    As Dennison mentioned in the comments area, there are cases also when you have to cancel your attendance to an event at the last minute. Best to still contact the organizer and apologize for not being able to make it as soon as you can. Don't assume that you can send a proxy. Let the organizer asked for it. For organizers, if the blogger cancels and tells you that they are sick, don't text back with a reply saying "inform me ahead next time". That will be very insensitive. Just say "get well soon" and move on. Focus on the people with you at that moment.
  3. Research
    Know the entity, organizer, and products that will be discussed in the event. Do advance reading beforehand in order to be as engaging as possible. If the topic is not in your league or you can't write about it, best not to attend the event. Personally, I have attended events where I am unsure if it is something I can write about. End up sharing it through microblogging - soundbites of the event while ongoing.

  4. Bring your camera
    Nothing beats using your own photos rather than use the ones provided by the host.

  5. Short introduction
    You will meet media, fellow bloggers, host, and organizers at events. Best to have a short introduction about yourself and your blog. They usually ask: what do you do? Where are you connected? What is your blog about?

  6. Bring business card and save contact information
    It will be helpful to have business cards with you and give to people that you meet. Get business cards or contact information of them too. Be proactive in doing this.

  7. Respect the event
    This includes coming in proper attire. Listen when the host and presenter speaks. Eat at the right time or when the host says it is ok. More importantly, don't be late. If you will be late, advise the person who invited you ahead. (Please avoid the situation when you are too late to the point you'll arrive when the event is almost over.)
  8. Off-the record
    There are discussions during an event that are considered as off-the-record. If unsure, best to ask if they can be quoted.
  9. Give-aways
    Accept give-aways graciously and not brag about it. Asking for an extra is ok, but say it without imposing and when the event is over.

    Don't claim giveaways for bloggers who are not in the event. Unless the organizer gives it to you and ask a favor to give to a blogger who is not present at the event.

  10. Post-networking
    After writing your story in relation to the event, spend time visiting the sites of fellow bloggers and connect by leaving a comment in their blog and through social networking sites (Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). Do the same to the organizers. This can yield visits to your blog and even open opportunities.
Here are additional insights that is very subjective. Not all will agree with it.
  1. Get over the VIP behavior
    When a blogger accepts an invite to cover an event, they are there clearly for that purpose. I find it amusing when a blogger tells an organizer or PR that to only invite them in events if "blogger x" is not there. Organizers, in the best they can, treat all bloggers equally. Involving / informing organizers, PR people, and clients to your "bloggers politics" is a no-no.
  2. Be careful what you say against another blogger and/or organizer.
    There are bloggers who badmouth organizers and/or other bloggers. Some react while others listen quietly. Word gets around.

    You can just imagine how an organizer will react after hearing what you said to other bloggers against them when you write to them to get paid post opportunities or be invited to their events.

    Furthermore, when you throw accusations against another blogger, others who know you will pinpoint your "questionable practices" too online or offline.
Should you have additional tips, hope you can share them.
Bloggers' Etiquette 101
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