Basically, the PR firm not only requires journalists attending the event to use its predesigned hashtags during the event, but even went so far as to write some suggested Tweets they should send out.
Requiring a journalist to agree to a minimum level of reporting about an event before letting them attend it is pretty much about the biggest No No any PR firm can do, so there is justified outrage from journalists.
As a mere blogger I am not the sort to be invited to such major events, but I have been occasionally invited to their lesser cousins, or to music venues — and been told what the minimum level of tweeting/photos/etc I am required to deliver if I want a free ticket to the event.
Frankly, those sorts of things are not the sort of thing I would attend anyway, but it does seem that the “minimum coverage” requirement seems to be prevalent within the entertainment industry as — in my experience — they are the main ones demanding it.
When I receive invites of this nature, I smile to myself wondering which bloggers will suddenly develop an interest in a holiday somewhere, or a new electronics gadget, or some thing else they have never written about before.
And, as some have commented, it might seem like a fair deal. Send out a few tweets and get a free night out. What’s the problem?
Setting aside the ethics of it, what people forget is that for most of us, it is still a work night. OK, it’s a very pleasant work night, but ultimately, most writers attending an event are there to work.
It is in the venue’s best interest to ensure we have a good time, so sometimes, yes, the alcohol can be generous, and frankly, as a writer, some of my better stuff is best written when ever so slightly drunk — and very heavily edited the next morning when sober.
But I never forget that it is still work, or at least, I try to approach it with a work frame of mind — even if that relaxes later in an evening. I am still looking around for things to write about when I get home.
OK – I’ll take the occasional freebie, but even then I wont promise to write about it.
However, no matter how enticing, I will never ever attend an event where I am told what the minimum amount of writing will be required for a “free ticket”. If the event is notable for some reason, then I will freely write about it anyway. That after all is why I am there in the first place, to get the necessary so I sit down later and write something.
As a self-publishing blogger, I don’t have to attend everything in a certain topic as a journalist might have to. So I am lucky in that I tend to pick and choose what to go to, so rarely come out of a venue thinking — what the bloody hell can I write about that?
But it has happened.
In fact, as a writer, those are the worst events ever. A good event is easy to write up. A bad event, actually also quite easy to write up. The bland average venue or event. Sheesh — they are the ones that will give any writer a headache as we struggle to think of something worth saying.
So, partially as personal insurance against a wasted night, I would never attend a venue or event where a minimum amount of writing or tweeting is required, simply because I might not be able to deliver.
But mainly because I just happen to think it is crass for a venue or their PR to expect it, and judging by the fuss generated today, most writers are of the same opinion. Which is actually quite a good thing.