As event producers, we get a lot of requests for press passes to attend. Although many are legitimate media organizations, around 70% are people who email asking for (often demanding) press credentials with no further information. Almost always, the sender is using a free email address (yahoo, gmail, even aol) adding to their wonderful legitimacy.
Here are some examples of press request emails we’ve gotten for our events:
“Give me a press pass. – Press”
(Yes, they signed it ‘Press’)
(This one didn’t even have body text, just lowercase ‘press credentials’ in the subject line)
“I’m make stoner comic books. Where do I get my free press badge?”
“I have a blog and would like to cover the event. Can I please get a press pass?”
(No details on the blog, just that she has one… at least she said please.)
“We are interested in covering your event. We are requesting 7 press passes.”
(Seven passes!? This has deep issues… explained later)
“Considering the coverage I bring I would need a comped media credential.”
What continues to surprise us is the sense of entitlement people asking for a press pass have while simultaneously providing almost no credentials to validate why they should be there.
If you’re going to make a press pass request, at least give us some data to work with…
For us, there are essentially 3 basic qualifiers to a press pass:
- You’re a full time writer/journalist and are writing for a legitimate blog, magazine, newspaper, etc.
- The event/conference/tradeshow you’re attending has relevance to your readers.
- Your proposed content will actually be produced, and produce measurable value to the event.
The third one is always the hardest, as many press come with no intention of ever writing a single word and are just there ‘because they said yes’.. that’s why barring a few major organizations or groups we’ve worked with in the past, #4 has become an almost de-facto standard for us:
4. Include our event in an upcoming article, in ADVANCE of the event.
We’re not suggesting you do a fully researched article before engaging with our event, but a mention of the event in some form goes a long way. It shows us that you’re serious about using our event to produce content for your outlet and you’re investing in the relationship. Afterall, we’re footing the bill for your attendance under the assumption your presence will have value to the event… if you want us to continue that relationship, we need to see results.
Having been on the publisher/media side, we can also say that ‘free’ access to events for press has become such commonplace that the ‘entitlement’ is almost expected. However, this is also counter-intuitive in some ways.. Media organizations are like any other business with profits and losses, but their profit comes from the content they produce by drawing eyes. They need content, and events are content hotbeds. Why should press have access to something they need so critically, for free, while others have to pay for that same access?
Another issue is who these organizations actually plan to send. While we allowed up to 2 members from a single press outlet, we were shocked when more than once we received requests for 5+ staff. The example above requesting 7 press passes was asked who they planned to send… we received a list of 7 marketing/sales job titles. Not a single writer/journalist, just salespeople for their magazine. Their intent was to come as press for free, and then pitch exhibitors at the show advertising in their magazine. This is an exceptionally unethical practice, and also known as ‘suitcasing’ a show… something frowned upon heavily by event producers.
In my opinion, press should at the very least earn their free access, if not pay a modest fee to attend for the content they desire. What real benefit are we getting from ‘giving up’ access to anyone with a press badge when we have no idea whether it will result in anything? (And, from what we’ve found doing various size events for the past 8+ years.. only a small group go on to produce any content from it.. )
What do you think…
Should press attend for free? Should they pay a discounted rate? Should they pay full price like any other attendee?