Obviously, it’s all about the free booze.
And the amazing party… and the fabulous swag bags at the end of the night. Yes?
While these are obviously sensible reasons to go to events, there are bigger and more significant reasons that I want to talk to you about. Why? Because number one, it’s a very important step if you want to take your blog to the next level. Ad we’re not just talking about events like parties and launches but also other opportunities that requires you to go out there – TV segments, media presentations, etc. Two, I have been in this industry for a long time, I’ve been on both sides of the coin (as a blogger and a PR Director for Skyfall Blue), the inviter and the invitee, and I’ve learned a lot. There’s a reason why I chose a photo from my days of hosting ALDO’s #ALDOALIST events and photos from ARTEMANO Ottawa (when I co-hosted their grand opening party in Ottawa and when I hosted my very special #20YSxARTEMANO Dinner), examples of really massive events that I am fiercely proud of. Both are wildly magnificent companies to collaborate with and they gave me such once in a lifetime opportunities to host beautiful events that I got to invite my nearest and dearest to.
TOP 7 REASONS WHY IT’S GOOD FOR BLOGGERS TO ATTEND (AND WRITE ABOUT IT) EVENTS
For that reason and more, I’ve gained a lot of experience and learned some valuable lessons along the way. I believe that information is power and while others are fiercely intent on keeping that power to themselves, I truly believe in sharing and therefore, made it our mission to educate and guide others via this blog. So consider this our PSA – Public Service Announcement not just for Bloggers but for PR Professionals as well. (Pour yourself a drink, grab a cookie or both and read on, these tips will benefit us all in the long run!)
Third and last (though definitely not the least… you may want to pay extra attention to this one), it drives me absolutely bonkers that some bloggers do not take advantage of this (potential) opportunity. Either they don’t go to events (evidently, there are times when one truly cannot go for reasons like being out of town or the babysitter didn’t show up) or they’re not (yet) invited to one (we’ll talk about this one at length next time and trust me, it’s going to be juicy!) OR the biggest sin, in my opinion, is going to an event but not writing about it.
Yes, it’s possible that the event sucked or that you didn’t like the product but I’m not talking about those. I’m talking with a sweeping generalization that it’s always a good idea to write about events that you have been invited to. Sometimes, this is not even up to you as there are invitations that clearly ask you to write a coverage in exchange for tickets or passes to a show or an event. Therefore, by virtue of accepting said tickets, you’ve agreed to provide a write-up after you’ve attended this store launch or that restaurant testing or those blogger events, etc.
I have to be completely honest, i do not prefer these kinds of invitations. Although I understand why some invitations are explicit in asking for guaranteed review (success of events are assessed through many factors and one of which is the social media measurements) , I find this a faux-pas and makes me apprehensive in accepting sometimes. In this type of “exchange,” the understanding of a coverage is implicit, which means, 99% of the time, I’m going to write about it – at the very least, to thank you for the opportunity provided (do not ever NOT send a thank you note or a thank you e-mail). BUT when you purposely ask me to write one in exchange for me coming to your event, it takes away my editorial right, my discretion to provide my readers and followers honest reviews and feedback. It goes back to blogging integrity.
After all, a coverage is not a right, it’s a privilege. Just like tipping at a restaurant. Tipping is not mandatory, it is to the discretion of the customer based on the service received.
With that being said…
Here’s @20YS’ TOP 7 REASONS WHY IT’S GOOD FOR BLOGGERS TO ATTEND (AND WRITE ABOUT IT) EVENTS:
1. MAKING CONNECTIONS THAT WOULD LEAD TO COLLABORATIONS
Although this list is of no hierarchical order, I’ll start with the benefit the number one reason, in my opinion, that a blogger (whether they are honest enough to admit or not) goes to an event and that is the partnership opportunities. You just really never know who you would meet at any given event, it could be the PR Manager looking to collaborate with bloggers, a TV Producer searching for someone perfect for an upcoming segment or a Brand Manager hoping to meet someone they could reach out to for some insight.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen many partnerships, projects and even companies borne out of a single event. In fact, one of the biggest milestones in my life – a very significant breakthrough that brought about massive changes for me personally and professionally, was through an event I attended. Did I had the 20/20 vision that this would’ve happened to me? Absolutely not.
Truth be told, I had no idea Twenty York Street would become such a success (pardon the humble brag but I didn’t really know how else to put it) during those early days. I had just came back from Asia the day before the event so I almost didn’t go. However, as I have already sent my RSVP, I deemed it would be impolite not to show up (unwarranted cancellation is something I totally do not appreciate) at the last minute.
So, I went and life as I knew it was changed. Forever.
And I’m not the only one.
2. EXPANDS YOUR PORTFOLIO – ONLINE AND IRL (IN REAL LIFE)
Being exposed to different types of events and diverse groups of people will undoubtedly expand your portfolio. This growth is not just limited to the things you blog about online but also in real life. Perhaps you started a foodie blog focused on sharing restaurant reviews or your own homemade recipes but after meeting the above-mentioned TV Producer who gave you the opportunity to share these on live television, you discovered that you have a talent for producing DIY cooking and baking videos. Or after talking to a magazine editor, you realized you have a knack for food styling or food photography. All these expands your portfolio, it diversifies your blog to more than just one dimensional recipes. Now you have a rich online and real life body of work that talks about the things that you are passionate about, which will continue to enrich and inspire your readers for years to come.
3. SOURCE OF UNIQUE CONTENT FOR YOUR BLOG
Speaking of inspiration, we’ve all experienced its eternal ebb and flow. There are times when our ideas are abundant that we can stop taking mental notes from the moment we wake up until the time we fall asleep. Even then, we dream of things we want to write and share in our blogs. In contrast to that, there are also days that we stare at the same blank page from dawn to midnight and no matter how far up we look at the blue sky for inspiration, we come up with nothing. Zero, zilch, nada.
Events, even for this reason alone, is a great way to keep the inspiration flowing. it is a source of unique content not just for your blog but for your entire social media accounts. I say unique for many reasons. You and I will attend exactly the same event, will share probably similar key messaging but how we will share it will be completely unique to our personality. From the tone of our voice, to the angle of the photo we post and even right down to the filter we use. Events are such practical source of clever tweets, visual posts and exciting anecdotes. Events serve as the oil that keeps the engine (your blog) running.
4. ESTABLISHES YOU AS AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD
As the lovechild of points number #2 and #3, establishing yourself as an expert in your field is the by-product of producing diverse contents that are fresh and inspired. You’re not just rehashing someone else’s point of view, you’re not merely copying and pasting Press Releases, you were there, right in the middle of the action and you have something to say about it. By writing about your areas of interest, be it in fashion, beauty, parenting, DIYS and crafts, etc., frequently and consistently, not only that you significantly improve your SEO (let’s just stop there on this topic as even though I understand enough of it to know how important it is, I’m not even going to pretend I’m an expert on SEO but dammit I can say Search Engine Optimization like a Boss!) but you also establish yourself as the go-to, credible source of information on topics that are within your areas of expertise.
Now, that’s a winning formula for a blog.
5. REAL LIFE MEETING SOLIDIFIES ONLINE RELATIONSHIPS
Now, if all of the above is still not enough to convince you of the imperative goodness of events to your blogging career, let me talk to you about real life relationships. I’ve formed many lasting and meaningful ones through blogging. Some of those relationships you can actually see right here in these photos. For example, I worked with a number of photographers (these particular photos were shot by Maureen and by Mashaell of MASHAELL PHOTOGRAPHY), without whom I wouldn’t have been able to publish great images along with our event coverage. I’ve made real friends online and we’ve solidified those relationships in real life. Some we’ve given our place to when they’re in town, others we’ve sent projects their way and most, we’ve shared life’s special occasions with – birthdays, anniversaries, etc. The most notable thing about them is that these relationships now goes beyond blogging, a gift that certainly keeps on giving and is one of the most priceless benefits of events and taking the meeting offline, in real life.
6. YOU ARE YOUR OWN BILLBOARD AND EVENTS ARE LIKE THE HIGHWAY
There is no better advocate for you, than you. Or if you’ve followed tip #5 religiously, your friends who has your back and will take a bat for you. I get it, it’s oftentimes easier to talk about others and praise their accomplishments. It takes such a toll on us to promote ourselves as we are afraid to come braggy or obnoxious or just plain ‘ol know-it-all. While it’s certainly an art knowing how to get yourself out there, coming to events and WRITING about it takes half the battle. How? Because just your presence alone serves as a visual reminder of your blog, you are the representative of your blog and like your own billboard, you hoist it up the highway for all those in the highway to see.
I have so many success stories to share on how truly effective this is and how much it has accomplished tip #1 – the ultimate goal of securing sponsorships,paid gigs or brand collaborations. I also have my share of tales of woes, of examples of those who failed to take advantage to further opportunities given to them.
7. JUST LIKE MONEY BRINGS MORE MONEY, ATTENDING EVENTS BRINGS MORE INVITATION TO EVENTS
One of the most popular blog posts (ever!) that we’ve published here at Twenty York Street is the post on HOW TO SCORE INVITES TO EXCLUSIVE MEDIA BLOGGER EVENTS. Since it was written more of a parody (which has inspired similar how-to post), we’ve received a lot of request the real how-to and I definitely intend on doing that, which will cover this last point. It’s the same as the job and experience or the chicken and egg conundrum. As I’ve mentioned above, maybe you haven’t been invited to an event YET but once you do and you’ve written about it, the next one will come and the one after that.
It’s very simple really. In preparing the invite list for events, PR Agencies or Influencer Relations Specialists (same difference) will scour different avenues to look for top local influencers in say, health and fitness or interior design and renovation. Oftentimes, they will look to different social media platform: Instagram, Twitter, Blog, etc. and this is where YOU WRITING ABOUT PAST EVENTS will come in handy as this will come in their search and your corresponding tweets and Facebook and Pinterest posts will re-enforcethat too. Other times, they will reach out to other influencers, like @20YS for example, to seek insight on who to invite in Ottawa for this particular event or that specific soiree.
That’s why it helps that you NOT ONLY attend these events but ALSO WRITE ABOUT them too. At the very basic level, it sets a precedence. For example, knowing that FORD of Canada has collaborated with us many times in the past gives a certain comfort and level of credibility to other brands that may potentially be looking at Twenty York Street for partnership. Moreover, from the perspective of an event organizer, looking at a previous list of invitees from another event gives that instant impression (whether rightly or wrongly) that these may be right people to invite. It’s a practical and easy way of getting a guest list done and in the world of PR and Marketing, where everything was due yesterday, these folks can certainly use a shortcut!
l hope you’ll find this guide helpful. Please do note that all these may be easier said than done. (Although it certainly was not easy writing it all down!) Post-event coverage is also distinct type of post and not everyone is thrilled about it. It takes a lot of time and energy but like anything that’s worth working hard for, taking your blog to the next level is certainly deserving of all that time and energy.
Let me know if I’ve missed anything. In the meantime, I wish to see you at the next event, cheers!