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The Right Way to Cover Events with Social Media

Press events are often filled with new product demonstrations, overflowing gift bags, and enough food for a filling dinner. However, the tradeoff for fun is that editors are expected to cover these events via Twitter and other apps in an instant—and in PR people’s hopes—on magazine pages later. Ed knows that first assignment to cover an event on social media under your mag’s handle is a moment that’s equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. With all the responsibility and followers relying on your title’s expertise, the task can be daunting. Fear not, Edsters! Here are some tried and true ways to hang with the social masters when it comes to engaging, thorough event coverage.

Do your social homework. Chat with the social media editor about what’s expected of you. Look back at event coverage on your mag’s social channels for things like how much personality goes in to posts, and if tweets include attributions. Ask if it’s OK to announce on your personal handle that you’ll be covering the event. Make sure you’re following and have a cheat sheet of the event sponsor’s social media handles before you arrive. You don’t want to lose precious event time searching and following accounts.

Plan image use for social channels. Several back-to-back updates are the norm on Twitter, but won’t work well on other channels. Twitter is where readers follow along for the minutiae, whereas Facebook algorithms keep page fans from seeing every post. So you’ll want to save up photos for a day-after Facebook post. Behind-the-scenes details excel on Instagram. Talk to the social media editor at your mag about the kind of images he or she wants for channels and later content, like blog posts and magazine pages. Ask if you can use image filters, as some may change the color of beauty or other products.

Use the official hashtag. Most events will have an official hashtag designated for the social conversation. Use it! It should appear on event handouts, signage, table settings, and more. If you don’t see it, ask a PR person. He or she will be happy to help because that means it will be easier for them to track the conversation about a client’s campaign.

Know what you can reveal. Ask before taking any photos of new products or displays. You don’t want to upset anyone about revealing something too soon. Just because a brand is revealing something to you in person, doesn’t mean they want the whole world to see just yet.

Ask before you tag. Events may be packed with glamorous magazine editors, bloggers, and celebrities. But, that doesn’t mean you should take paparazzi style snaps of them to tag on Instagram. That practice can hurt relationships for your editors and title. If you feel compelled, politely ask if you can photograph and mention them.

Keep it positive. The worst thing that you can do for your title is post something negative or embarrassing about the event. Keep a positive social face, even if the event coordinators are rude, the space is hot and cramped, or you think the featured product is subpar. It’s all about maintaining and building relationships with brands, event coordinators, and PR people so that your title and readers will get the scoop on great new stuff.

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