A great way to get extra traffic to your website is to cover major events in person. Rather than sitting in the stands like a fan, try to get press credentials so you can have access to great photos and inside info.
Time Required: variable could take weeks
- Pick the event you want to cover. Start out with something relatively easy to get your foot in the door then move up to really big events. Travel to and lodging at these events can get expensive so budget for it.
- Find out the procedure required for getting credentials. This will probably mean calling the venue although some places put media info on their websites now.
- Start the request process. Generally you will have to get your editor to request credentials on company letterhead and you may have to fill out a form or meet insurance requirements. If you are the editor, then you will need to make letterhead and do this yourself.
- If liability insurance is required (i.e. the Kentucky Derby requires you to have $1 million in liability insurance to cover the races from the track), you will probably have to purchase this on your own. If you associated with a company, they may already have it so check there first.
- Follow up with the venue until you get the OK. Some big events will be reluctant to credential a website so you may have to do some convincing. This is one reason why you should start small, you need a portfolio of live coverage to show them you are legitimate media.
- Don't be surprised if you have to submit paperwork more than once. Losing your paperwork is one way to discourage too many people from coming. Be persistent.
- Once you get the credential, read the instructions carefully for any policy info or rules of behavior. Some places will have a dress code and will specify exactly where you can go. If you have any questions, be sure to ask their media relations person when you arrive but don't call them in advance.
- At the event, always wear your badge. Security will be looking for it and it will likely be coded in some manner to say what kind of access you have.
- There will be a press box or center that you may or may not get access too. Generally I don't get access since I am not filing on a strict deadline. It may help you get credentials if you specify you don't require a space in the press box as it can be quite crowded for big events.
- If you are taking photos, follow the rules they gave you carefully. Don't get in front of TV cameras or the other photographers and block their shots. This is their bread and butter so be curteous, especially if this is just a sideline for you.
- Have a decent camera to take, digital preferably, that has settings to take nice action shots. For heaven's sake don't show up with a disposable camera and be sure to practice before hand if you are using a digital as some can be tricky with quick action shots.
- You could get free box lunches or hot food, media guides, or even shirts, hats or other merchandise. Don't be greedy about this if you are a newbie but accept gratefully if it is offered. Eventually you will get on the 'A' list for the freebies but never act like you expect them. Do be sure to request a media guide if you aren't given one automatically as they are VERY useful.
- Be sure to introduce yourself to as many people as possible, especially the media relations people for the event. You want them to remember your name and site for next year and to have a good impression of you. Give out lots of your business cards and network with other press people.
- Usually there will be a press conference with the winning person/team. Go to these to get quotes and/or photos for your article. Even if you don't ask something yourself, you can write down comments to the other reporters' questions.
- Post your story in a timely fashion, preferably the night of the event. It helps to have the basics of the story ready before hand and then just plug in the details, commentary, and photos afterward.
- Don't be nervous. Websites are legitimate media even if some events don't recognize that yet. Act like you should be there and not like a fan.
- Practice taking action pictures as you won't get a second chance for most shots at the event.
- Keep your eyes open as you never know when something worthy of a photo will happen. Don't miss that once in a lifetime shot by being inattentive.