Since we are in the midst of all the summer events and festivals I thought I’d pull back the veil a bit on how Pagan media and bloggers cover events. Although I’ve chatted about this with many reporters and bloggers, inside PNC and outside the PNC family, take these words as only mine. Except they aren’t, if you know what I mean.
There are two main things for event organizers to know when interacting with Pagan, and non-Pagan media – we’re lazy and our mission is not to market your event. That sounds kind of harsh, doesn’t it? It isn’t. Let me break it down.
We’re lazy Not really. What we are is busy. Most of us have full time jobs, families, and other obligations in addition to writing or blogging or podcasting. There are times when we simply don’t have time to pee, let alone write an article. Oh, and it’s never just the writing time. It’s gathering background information, finding people to interview (more than just the organizer), finding story angles (why is this of value to readers), attending the event, and then writing the article and formatting it. Having another person look at it and suggest changes or edits. And then it’s published.
There are all kinds of events I’d love to attend. Events I drool over attending, but time and money precludes me from going to even a small portion of the interesting events out there. I’ve been trying for four years to get to a Heathen festival and haven’t had luck yet. Same with three other festivals right in my local area, and that’s just festivals. This makes our coverage lopsided because what we attend, we cover. What we can’t attend, gets marginal coverage.
So what if I’m at an event? It gets covered, but even there people have different ideas over what I should be doing while at the event. If I’m at an event I’ve spent time and money to get there just like every other attendee. If it’s a festival or conference it’s my vacation and time to connect with friends. Also, between the hours of 2pm and 7pm I’m drunk. Perhaps not the most professional thing to admit, but there it is. Vacation and friends, remember? So if you see me spending the afternoon sitting in my lawn chair drinking and laughing with friends, you may think I’m a slacker not doing my job. But you also don’t see me up at 5am spending the next 3 hours writing an article. Or interviewing someone while you are in your camp kicking back with a drink after dinner. Or editing video at 1am while you’re at the drum circle.
So what can you do to get coverage if a reporter or blogger is unable to attend your event? Make it easy. We’re lazy/busy/drunk, remember? Get all the event information to us early and offer up people to interview, at least one of whom should not be an organizer. Send us a photo from the event last year or photos of a special guest. Offer to guest write an article before, during, or after the event. But contact us first because that will save you much time and effort as we get to the second tip…
Our mission is not to market your event Sure we like to keep readers informed of events that are coming up that they may want to attend. That’s a service to our readers and our community. And yes, we love to report on what happened at events and how awesome, or not-so-awesome, the event was. That may, or may not, create some buzz about your event and you may be able to use the article to market your event. However, that’s secondary to what our primary mission is: to provide primary source reporting for our community. I’ll include editorials in there.
When you approach us with your event and you’d like coverage, there is only one question we care about – why is this newsworthy? Phrased another way, what information are you offering that is of a benefit to our readers? If your only answer is, well, I’d like some marketing for my event, you have a low probability of coverage. I’ll give you some ideas of what we’re looking for. Is there anything new and awesome happening this year? Were there any issues or challenges that were resolved and will you talk frankly about them? If it’s a brand new event, tell me what need, that wasn’t being served before, your event is serving.
If your event isn’t being covered it could be due to many reasons. We don’t have the time or money to attend. You aren’t pitching a story angle we can use. You’ve made it too much of a pain in the ass to deal with you. It’s not because we hate you. Trust me, I’ve covered many stories where I sincerely disliked the person I was interacting with and I’ve not covered stories where the point of contact was a good friend.
Does that help? Run your ideas past us and listen to our suggestions. We’re always looking for ways to add additional content that is easy for us to create or is created by others, but we have to balance that against what is of value to our readers. I hope this helps because there are a ton of really great events out there that aren’t getting coverage and we need to work together to change that. Documenting what happens in our community is not only our sacred task, it’s vitally important.