Experiment: Great Live Event Coverage for Hire. What do you think?

As I mentioned in my previous post, today I’m liveblogging and tweeting a daylong Las Vegas event by Metzger Associates: Social Media for Executives. It’s a small event for a select group of executives representing several types of companies.

I’m doing this as a pilot test for a new professional service I’d like to start offering: Great live event coverage.

In my experience, most online event coverage isn’t so great. A few folks will be tweeting or blogging in several places, some hashtags will be used, but it’s all rather confusing and inconsistent to follow. Also, a lot of people tend to tweet items like “Jane Doe is speaking at this session now.” Uh-huh… AND….?

Liveblogging/tweeting has turned out to be a real strength of mine — I’m good at it, and I enjoy it. I’ve also had the good fortune to collect a sizable Twitter following among folks whose interests in media, business, and other fields overlap with mine — and who enjoy my particular blend of reporting, analysis, and attitude. (Or at least I guess they do, because every time I do live event coverage my Twitter posse swells noticeably and those folks tend to stick around afterward.)

I do a lot of live event coverage via Twitter and CoverItLive. For instance, earlier this month for my client the Reynolds Journalism Institute I liveblogged/tweeted J-Lab’s Fund My Media Startup workshop at the 2009 Online News Association conference.

So, being a longtime entrepreneur always on the lookout for new opportunities, I’m looking for ways to offer live event coverage as a service for my clients. Today’s event is an experiment on this front.

I want to figure out how this service could work in a way that would appeal to my Twitter posse, maintain my integrity and independence, and provide value to clients who’d pay for it.

Here are some of the issues I’m wrestling with, that I’d welcome your thoughts on…

QUALITY AND RELEVANCE

I wouldn’t accept just any live-coverage gig. It has to be a good fit for my interests, and those of my Twitter followers. So I’d be concentrating on events in areas such as:

  • Media and journalism
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Government transparency and civic engagement/action
  • Key media technologies (mobile, mapping, databases, collaboration, etc.)
  • Social trends/dynamics (including race, gender, sexuality)
  • Offbeat entertainment (science fiction, indy arts & music, strange festivals, zombies, etc.)

INDEPENDENCE

I’m a lousy lapdog. I don’t generally go out of my way to be rude or snarky — especially when someone has invited me to their event and given me a platform. But I do have attitude, a sense of humor, and I say what I think. I must always feel free in my event coverage to disagree, question, criticize, or challenge.

The people who hire me to cover their events need to understand that at some point I will say something they won’t be 100% comfortable with. I am not their mouthpiece. I am providing a service of visibility and engagement. That’s always going to be a bit uncomfortable. In fact, that’s the point.

So, hiring me is not like hiring a PR agency to make you look good. It’s more like issuing a press pass — but knowing that there will be consistent coverage throughout the event. I’ll also work to make sure the online audience gets represented in the live event, by posing questions and comments on their behalf.

TRANSPARENCY

Here’s the background on today’s gig, so you know what the terms of this coverage are.

Doyle Albee, president of Metzger Associates (a PR/communications firm based in Boulder, CO) has hired me to cover this event. I chose to do this because:

  1. Doyle is a cool guy and a friend of mine from Boulder. He appreciates my perspective, even though we regularly disagree. He likes how I cover events and wants me to just do what I do — which includes allowing me to question or critize what happens at the event, if I see fit to do so.
  2. Dave Taylor, another longtime Boulder friend of mine, is co-leading the event. Doyle and Dave are both great presenters, and I learn much from observing them.
  3. The lineup of speakers looks pretty good.
  4. This isn’t a mob scene. While I like covering events, major mob scenes like South by Southwest tend to put me on sensory/info overload pretty quickly, and leave me quaking in a fetal position. I prefer covering events for small-to-medium groups where I can get a real sense of what participants think, how peoples’ thinking evolves, and which takeaways are most meaningful.
  5. It’s not summertime. Vegas summers slay me. Today is a pleasant, cool early autumn day, more my style.

Full disclosure: Metzger has paid my expenses and waived my fee to participate in this event. I did not ask for a fee for this coverage since I’m fine-tuning this service offer. However, for future live event coverage with this or other clients I will get paid a professional rate for the service.

I decided to not ask for a fee for this event because I want to engage my Twitter posse in a discussion about how I can do event coverage as a professional (fee-based) service in a way that works well for my Twitter followers. That is, I didn’t want to start selling this service before talking to my tweeps about how I can make this work for them.

My liveblog is appearing on Metzger’s site, and I’ll be cross-tweeting to Metzger’s own Twitter account. So while I might occasionally have something to critize, since they’re opening up their platforms for me to use I’ll be civil. Unless something truly egregious happens — and in that case, I’ll still be civil, but I’ll say what I mean.

Anyway, that’s the general plan. What are your thoughts, opinions, questions, criticisms? Please comment below, or tweet me @agahran, or e-mail me.

Again, this is an experiment. I’m not expecting everyone to be happy, or everything to run smoothly. But I do expect to learn a lot. Let me know what you think.

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2 thoughts on Experiment: Great Live Event Coverage for Hire. What do you think?

  1. Great idea Amy. Good quality coverage is hard to find. And we can’t all go to all events. I think it is a valuable service. I hope events will consider doing this and not just rely getting free coverage.

  2. Pingback:   Twitter @ replies & how I’m changing my live event coverage — contentious.com

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