The Press Chronicles: Chapter 2: The Perks

Conventions, Personal

Continuing on in the saga:

First off we had some questions come in after the first chapter.  Namely, how long our site had been running, our readership numbers, and if we were approved the first time we attempted.  I cannot speak for the entire site as a whole, but I did not start applying for press until after I had been contributing to the site for a little over a year (I think it was like eighteen months.  By then the site was a few years old and had a pretty solid reader-base.  Barb was already being recognized by other attendees at conventions. Personally, I did get accepted to the first con I applied, which was C2E2, but I think I had a few things working in my favor – it is a smaller con and it was also fairly new to the convention scene.  This was the first year I had applied to cover SDCC as press and I was fairly confident that I would be denied.

For those thinking of applying themselves for press, I say to go ahead and try.  The worst that can happen is they say no (which is pretty much my philosophy on life itself; that and the Golden Rule).  My suggestion is to start small and build up to the big shows.

If you are just looking to gain access to a convention as cheaply as possible, I suggest volunteering.  Also very rewarding and you still get to go the convention!

So, what are the benefits from being press?  (another very popular question)

Ah, the loaded question.

If you’re wondering if press gets preferential seating and/or guaranteed access to panels – usually no.  If there are panels we want to attend, we often have to wait in line just like everyone else.  However, sometimes the individuals who are on the panel or the companies they represent will invite members of the press to sit in a special section (this has yet to be offered to me).

Early access to the convention floor?  Not that I’ve encountered.  Maybe higher level publications or at a smaller con, but I have not encountered early access.

Freebies?  Nope.

Anything?

You will always have an inbox full of emails.  We get a lot (hundreds) of press releases from varying companies and PR firms in the days leading up to a con.  Usually they are just firms announcing the presence of their client(s) at the Con.  This could include anything from a appearance at a certain booth to a panel and/or press room or an opportunity to interview an individual.

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Here’s a sampling of emails in my SDCC inbox

I’ll cover more about interviews and press rooms in a later chapter.

If there are off-site events, you may get invited to attend as press.  Some come with additional perks (early access, car service to/from convention center, food or “refreshments”…) however this is not always the norm.

Most emails you receive are offers to come check out the latest from a company, be it new graphic novel, a hotly coveted collectible, or even swag.  But usually it’s just that — to look at, hold and see the product and hear a pitch.  Which is fine, but know this upfront.

Yes, you do get some invites to some parties, but again not a lot and usually it’s to cover “the red carpet”, not actual access to the party itself.

I’d say 99% of the parties we’ve (Barb and myself) attended we either won or bought our access into, so please don’t think because you’re press you are going to gain access to the EW Party at SDCC.  Doesn’t happen.  I’ve NEVER been to that party (or worked the red carpet).

Okay, so I’ve pretty much said you get jack-crap on the benefits side, but that’s not completely true.  Because of being press, I’ve got to meet some really awesome people.  Yes some are celebs.  Some are other press people, most are some of you and some are personal idols.

In short:  Nothing is free, except sometimes.  You get some perks, but not a lot and probably not what you’re thinking.

Do press credentials grant  access to special events? (I paraphrased a question from Lisa G.)

Usually, the con itself is a special event and CCI, reedPOP, and Wizard World generally have no say in any other events coinciding with the convention (like off-site events, NerdHQ, etc).  However, having those credentials may help you in gaining access to those other events as press if they are offered by whomever is putting it together.

Again, it’s all about invites and acceptance.

The only thing I can say as far as getting special access to something is that when I had to attend a few press rooms at the Hilton, I could only go beyond a certain point if my badge said press.

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