When it comes to event coverage, bloggers and traditional journalists should be treated differently, because they aren’t bound by the same set of content requirements.
Where bloggers get to conceptualize and write about the things they love, journalists usually have to stick to a strict set of criteria for their write-ups. And when traditional journalists get the green light from their editors to attend events, this is usually with the notion that a published recap will follow. Bloggers on the other hand, aren’t subject to the same mandate.
Established bloggers want to be viewed as a content partner for the brands/industries that they covet and write about on a regular basis. But most companies miss the mark here because they tend to view bloggers as just another media outlet, not realizing that often times the bloggers audience is more engaged and influential than the one they’re getting by partnering or being featured in a mainstream publication.
If you’re thinking about inviting bloggers to your next event, here are five things to keep in mind:
1. Never send a press release or media alert WITHOUT an invitation to the event.
It’s offensive to ask bloggers to cover an event that they aren’t invited to. Sending a press release without an invitation may be appropriate if a blogger isn’t located in the same city the event will take place in and is also unable to travel. But because most bloggers know that their peers are probably going to receive the same information, they may be even less inclined to cover events that they aren’t invited to because they are always on the hunt for fresh, original content and there’s no way to get that by paraphrasing a press release.
And for the record, most bloggers, like their journo counterparts, prefer a customized pitch in place of a press release. But if the release or media alert is well written and contains answers to any potential questions, send it. But make sure you also include a customized note that outlines why your brand or event is relevant to that particular blogger’s audience.
2. WIIFM – What’s in it for me?
Blogging is a business, and while pay for play is frowned upon (and in some cases illegal), most bloggers are interested in how attending your event or writing about your company is going to benefit them OR their readers.
- Will there be a gift bag at your event? (if the gift bags are good, the contents of it could be featured in a standalone post in addition to the event recap).
- Are you giving them product they can use in a giveaway or contest for their readers?
- Are you paying them an appearance fee? (Yup, some bloggers have agents now)
- Are you going to advertise on their site?
Maybe there isn’t any obvious benefit for a blogger to attend your event, but the key is making all of this clear up front.
Access and visibility is the name of the game. Even if you’re not giving them product, money or a partnership opportunity, if your brand has a big enough name that will give them “value by association,” then they might dismiss their usual requirements for attending/covering an event.
4. Partnership Opportunities
Bloggers are always on the look out for cool brand partnerships that reflect the aesthetic of what they’re doing. Luckily for you, events are a great way to get to know your fave bloggers and vet them for future opps with your brand. Let it be known that they are on your radar and even though there isn’t an immediate need, you’d be willing to toss around some ideas.
5. Coverage isn’t a right. It’s a privilege.
You know this, but your client may not: Media coverage is never guaranteed. Even when someone has sat for a complete interview there is a slight chance that it could end up on the proverbial cutting room floor.
In the event that a blogger attends your function, has a great time, and doesn’t post a recap, use that moment as an opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with them. Reach out and ask them if they planned on posting a recap and if they say No, then ask them if there was anything you could have done on your end to earn that coverage.
This is a much better approach than channeling your frustration over the lack of coverage into a permanent ban from all of your future events.
I’d love to get some feedback from bloggers on this. What makes you want to cover an event? What makes you say “thanks, but no thanks?”