Making the most of the blogging event invites that come your way is essential. Heading to press events can be a.) expensive b.) time consuming so you're going to need a plan. As you can see from my schedule, the invites can quickly spiral out of control. I'm going to break down the tips to making the most of these opportunities.
1.) Keep a calendar. I use google to keep track of contact names, emails, etc. and also a paper daytimer. The paper version is essential for me. I will over-commit when it comes to emails--when I start seeing how my week looks on a piece of paper I stark to freak out and say "No" to more things.
2.) Ask for the moon. When a press agent or brand ambassador invites you to an event you can ask for the following:
A fee to attend and cover the event
Travel expenses reimbursed (or in the case of urban areas car service)
On site childcare or reimbursement of your babysitting expenses
No, you're not likely to get all three of these things, but it doesn't hurt to ask. More and more, I am pushing back with brands and making them aware that babysitting costs $20/hr and traveling to events isn't free. Sure, swag is nice, but it doesn't pay for preschool.
3.) Take advantage of the events where kids can come. We saw Strawberry Freckleface The Musical over the weekend--I got to bring the entire family for free. The show was adorable with an upbeat message. This was a great event for the family.
4.) Figure out if the event is right for you. I get invited to many game launches and tv-related events. These are not a great match so I say no. Even if there will be a celebrity. I recently attended a Bright Starts launch with Bethenney Frankel. The event was more about her than the products--not a great match for me. Fortunately, I did find a rep from Bright Starts that was able to give me all the information I needed away from the media circus.
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5.) Get what you need right away. Are you dying from a quote from the company CEO? Will life not be complete if you don't get a photo with one of the Real Housewives? Do you want your cookbook signed by Paula Deen? Knock it out right away and don't be afraid to ask. Once you've got what you came for relax, grab a canape and mingle. At the toy preview event I went to last week I was inundated with bad battery-operated toys. I made a bee-line to Victoria Kahn, author of Pinkalicious. Got a great interview (to come!) and a photo. Score! It was worth all the noisy, shoot-em up toys surrouding me.
6.) Meet at least one new person. Have business cards on hand and introduce yourself. You never know what it might lead to next. I met Jen, Dina and Vera at different blogging events over the years--now they are all great pals.
7.) Cut your losses. Is the event a bummer? Don't feel obligated to stay or to say nice things. While you don't have to get negative, you also don't have to write anything. I got ticked-off at this event and wanted to make my voice heard. I should have left and taken my daughter out to the park or grabbed a pedicure--either would have been better use of my time.
8.) If you do post, make sure you send a link to the press person that invited you. You might get a link on the brand's page or a true paid partnership down the road.
9.) Have fun. One of the main reasons I attend events is to have grown-up conversations with other moms. Ask if you can share the event invite with another blogging friend--brands will often say yes.
Momtrends was not paid for this post.