Once more I find myself in a unique position to give advice. That may sound snobby - I apologize and beg your indulgence. As my "Five Best Basic Tips" post was so successful, I figured I'd dust off the ol' brain and take it out for a spin. It gets so rusty when I don't use it for a long stretch....
As both a blogger and publicist, I've witnessed some shady behavior among fellow bloggers - both up close and from afar - when it comes to event invites, attendance and coverage. As a result, I've been mentally making a list of advice to dish out on this subject.
Not a blogger? That's okay. I won't be offended if you skip this post. Although I'd like to believe some of the advice is transferable.
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 and having 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. They are as judgemental as the next person if not more. And when you do little things like that, they're forming an opinion of you. Just keep that in mind is all I'm saying. They're professionals so be professional back. Blow them away with your thoroughness.
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 one. Sometimes, you're invited solo and please know this is not necessarily the publicist's wish or fault. Sometimes, the rep is beholden 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. And this is that "transferrable" advice I mentioned -- I mean, planning any kind of event is work, right? I get such anxiety. There is so little worse than planning a party and having no one show up. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry. (Picture yourself in a decorated room, food out for fancy buffet time and cocktails at the ready as the "Sorry I can't make it after all" texts roll in. You're totally tearing up, right? It's like fifth grade all over again.)
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. Would you bring a friend on a date? Would you show up to someone's house for dinner with extra guests? Would you bring your kid to work without asking your boss if it's okay? (Okay, maybe you would and if you would, I shake my head at you.)
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 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. (And hey, if they don't, screw 'em. Karma will get 'em in the end.)
After the Event
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 because 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! If everyone who attends the event just enters one anothers' giveaways, it totally defeats the purpose and looks terrible.
Think about reporting. If nothing else, consider the brand rep is just like you. At the end of the day, they just want people to like them. Their clients, their colleagues and their bosses. They are undoubtedly putting together a report of some kind to prove the value of the event you just attended. 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!
No, I don't know everything. I am not proclaiming to be an expert. But I know I have experience on both sides of the table and I'm confident in what I'm telling you. And I may have unknowingly offended someone out there so I do apologize but I also stand by what I'm saying. Better you hear it from me, in this space, than from someone who, in the moment, tells you a thing or two a lot worse.
Did I miss a pivotal tip? What do you think? Comment below. I'm happy to open a dialogue about this and give out more advice if something specific is on your mind!