a peek inside the fishbowl

03 Mar, 2015

How bloggers get invited to exclusive events (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t happen overnight)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: The business of blogging

Awhile back I was at a blogging conference, in the audience, listening to a panel of speakers. I can’t even remember what the topic was about, but someone I knew from the blogging world stood up during the question and answer time and shared her exasperation about (a) not being on the receiving end of swag and (b) not getting invited to exclusive blogger-related events. I was shocked at her outburst at the time, but I get it. Some people don’t like seeing other people getting stuff all of the time. I guess it’s because the person on the receiving end of those invites has achieved something he or she hasn’t, whether it’s in the form free stuff, an invitation to an exclusive event, a trip, or a book deal. Instead of stewing, I think it’s healthier to accept the fact that some people make different choices, and choose to spend time on different things. I ALSO think it’s healthier to channel bitterness or envy or exasperation into something else and see where that takes us, but I digress.

The other day I wrote this post about the Secret Supper, and then Marilou at 20 York Street wrote this one, and THEN there were a few twitter conversations, and now I find myself here in front of my computer mulling it all over.

So how does a blogger get invited to exclusive events?*

*By this I mean invite-only movie premieres, store and restaurant openings, product launches etc.

It’s no big secret really. Most bloggers who are invited to attend special events are frequent and reliable content creators. They write, they take photos, they tweet. And they do it well, to an engaged audience who respects and trusts them.

The bloggers on that invite list match a target demographic that a brand wants to reach. So, for example, at the Secret Supper, the participants were evenly split between local TV and print media, and parenting and lifestyle bloggers. Generally they all had one thing in common, they were the most likely to write about the event because they are already writing about food/fashion/gear in Ottawa. Makes sense, considering the client was Giant Tiger, right?

Bloggers who have a declared interest for a particular area, are more likely to be invited to an event in that area. So fashion bloggers might land invites to fashion-related events such as store openings and fashion shows. Political bloggers, pet bloggers, poets, and knitters are probably NOT going to get invites to fashion shows and store openings because it doesn’t make sense from the brand’s perspective. Brands generally invite people who might tweet and write about them. In other words, the reason bloggers get invited is not because they’re cool, it’s because the brands hope they’ll get something. That something is exposure. This is huge.

HERE’s the secret you may not know: brands are already be looking for people like you, even if you have a blog or social media presence with a relatively small following. Not every agency is looking for blog veterans with legions of followers. In fact, many are actively avoiding those people because they’re less likely to be interested or have time.

Am I bothered when I don’t receive an invite to some event? No. I can’t expect to be invited to everything, nor do I want to. Many of these events take place in the evenings and I do like to spend time with my family too!

So. Do you want to be invited to those special events? If not, that’s ok. You have other priorities, and that’s fine, but if you do, and you’re not hearing from anyone, please consider the following:

  • Maybe you haven’t been online very long, and you aren’t on anyone’s radar yet. That’s ok. Give it time, and keep working at it. The next time you hear about an event about to take place, ask the organizer for an invite. (What’s the worst thing that can happen?) If it’s a no-go, follow along at home on Twitter and get involved that way. The event organizer will notice, and who knows, maybe you’ll be put on the list for next time. Here’s a thought, you can blog about the event, if you didn’t attend.
  • Look at your last 10 blog posts right now. Next, look over your last 25 tweets. What do they say about you? Do you only talk about yourself, or do you engage with others? Do you seem like someone that an organization or company would like to work with? Here’s something to consider: personal chemistry is actually pretty important here. The people who are choosing which bloggers to work with – regardless of whether the hosting company or organization is the Government of Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, or Big Company X  – will naturally gravitate to people they like. Is this person friendly, and funny? Do they know how to turn a phrase, and get people talking? Are they professional? These people are making their lists, and consciously or subconsciously considering all of these factors… and more. Depending on the situation, the PR people might also be choosing people they will be working with directly, over a longer period of time. There is no way they’d choose someone who is a bully or a jerk online. This is why it’s always good to be your best, most authentic, professional self at all times.

Related: So where does swearing fall into all of this? Good question. I totally support writers who want to be their true selves online, but if you are using your social media presence to find work, I’d personally put a lid on the bad language. You don’t know who’s reading, and how many opportunities you may be losing. No one wants to work with someone who appears to be a loose cannon or have anger issues.

If you want to take your blog to the next level – whatever that may mean for you – you need to invest in yourself. Keep your blog and all social media channels current. Get business cards. Get a professional headshot. And make it easy for companies and PR agencies to find and contact you. Before you know it you’ll be reaching your blogging goals, no matter what they are.

 


6 Responses to "How bloggers get invited to exclusive events (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t happen overnight)"

1 | Michael

March 4th, 2015 at 3:11 pm

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EXCELLENT advice Andrea! We often forget the most obvious things. Thanks for the reminders.

2 | andrea tomkins

March 4th, 2015 at 6:03 pm

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You’re welcome! I’m just happy to get people thinking and talking about this kind of stuff. :)

3 | Ray

March 20th, 2016 at 8:52 am

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Great post! This really gave me a lot of great information I’m starting a blog and need all the tips I can get. Thank you!!

4 | Lydia

April 9th, 2016 at 8:56 am

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This is one very informative post!
Thank you for the tips.

http://www.lydiaschronicle.wordpress.com

5 | Madison Taylor

November 3rd, 2016 at 4:13 pm

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Thank you for posting this! It greatly helped and gave me a better understanding.

6 | Tanvi

January 13th, 2017 at 2:33 pm

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This was a great post! I’m definitely coming back for more

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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