Are you hosting or attending a big event this fall?
Events are secret treasure troves of great content. At Rep Cap, we help clients turn events into content that keeps living long after the conference ends. It can be a challenge, though, to cover an event fully, especially if your writers don’t have a background in journalism.
“If you’re at an event where there are multiple speakers or multiple booths and stations with things going, it can be nerve-wracking to feel like you have to talk to every single person or type down what’s being said from every speaker, verbatim,” says Molly Phillips, a journalist-turned-PR person who still covers live events for clients as senior account manager at GreenRoom, a public relations firm. So let go of the idea that you have to report on every last moment and instead focus on efficiency and value.
Here are the event coverage tips we’ve learned (and gathered from journalists and marketers who turn events into content every day).
Research Before the Event Starts
Journalists research new topics before they start writing, and it’s a good practice for writers covering events, too. Read up on speakers and companies, recommends Jessica Navarro, director of communications for the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston.
If an agenda isn’t provided, request one from organizers so you know what’s coming up. Map out a plan that covers who will attend which events, and what they’ll be expected to produce from it.
While it’s important to pace yourself and not feel like you have to cover everything, trying out live-blogging or live-tweeting on a lower-key part of the event can help you get into the swing of things. That might mean live-tweeting a seminar in preparation for the keynote, or attending a low-stakes event a couple of weeks before your big show.
Find the Hook
In journalism, the “hook” of the story is what answers the question, “so what?” At an event, this may be a new piece of information, a trend that multiple speakers mention, or a theme that is hammered home by the most powerful part of the keynote’s message, Phillips says.
She recently covered a food and technology event where one of the main speakers talked about how fast food sales are slowing thanks to GrubHub and Eat24. “He presented real data on this trend and demonstrated it through charts; I instantly knew I’d found my news nugget,” she says.
If you have a team of writers covering an event together, encourage everyone to clearly label their hook at the top of their notes. That way, if a different writer or an editor is culling everyone’s notes at the end of the day, they will have a guidepost about what’s most important.
Don’t Stress About Transcribing
When you get caught up in coverage, you may feel like you have to share every last quote — essentially turning yourself into a transcriptionist. Resist the urge, says Sally Albright, a communication strategist. Instead choose topics and quotes that make good copy and concise, interesting tweets. Data points and insights are always a good bet. “Pay attention to how something is playing in the room. If it’s notable to the live audience, it’s probably notable to your readers,” Albright says.
Need help creating great content from an event? Download our full guide:
Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, email newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.