The latest PR crisis regarding a blogger media event that turned bad made me think that it is about time that I write a Blogger Media Event 101 guide. I already published about the art of pitching to bloggers at Media Sidekick.
I will not go into the details of the event hosted by ConAgra Foods and organized by Ketchum since I do not have all the facts. I did not even see the invitation. But after reading several tweets and the article on the New York Times, it is clear that someone in the creative/planning committee failed to understand, not only their targeted audience, but the basis of blogging culture. Transparency and authenticity are two values share by most bloggers.
Hosting a successful blogger media event relies on common sense, creativity and giving back. My food for thought for brands and PR agencies goes like that:
1. Bloggers attend an event based on their own agenda, not yours.
2. Deliver on their Expectations. Bloggers expect to get something out of the event: a potential story line, mingling with peers, networking with potential advertisers, learning something useful to them or their readers. Your goal is to provide as many chances as possible to get coverage. Be imaginative in the way you present the products. If you wish for bloggers to do interviews with the invited celebrities, provide the video equipment and the cameraman. Be sure to publish a professionally edited video hosted on Vimeo or You Tube a few hours after the event, and send them their link as soon as possible.
3. Do not waste a blogger’s time. It is not rare for a blogger to receive many invitations per week. They often have to choose between two events. Make sure that your invitation enables the bloggers to screen if the event is for them. Therefore, your invitation must give a clear idea of what is in it for them.
4. Set up an Hashtag and a Foursquare place. Make sure every guest knows the official hashtag by displaying it at the event. Ideally, you should provide the hashtag in your invitation so they can mention it before going to the event. A good practice is to use the hashtag as the name of the place when you create your event on Foursquare. An official hashtag enables you to easily track all the tweets and conversations that refer to your event.
5. You must earn your post. Tweets are easy to write but writing a post requires more work. You must host a stunning event and give them something to talk about if you want a post.
One last thing…
Instead of giving printed press files that are awkward to carry during the event, give a USB key or publish a microsite that does not require a password to download the material they need. Even if it is obvious that you increase your chances that they will share a recipe if you provide a digital version, I went to many media events where I had to write an email after the event to request a digital copy of a recipe.
I hope that that my little guide will help you to host more successful media events in a near future.
+ photo by Kim Vallee – taken at exhibitIKEA 2011, which was well organized, btw.