As we run into the last month of the year, our calendars start to pack up. There are last-minute things on everyone’s agendas to be ticked off before we go off on holiday. There are parties to attend and people getting married. It’s a busy month and (hopefully) a good one for everyone around.
My twelfth BlogAdda post and the last one for this month is up. This week I talk about something every blogger faces at some point of time – covering an event. It could be a personal do like a wedding or a party. Or it could be a professional one like a conference or a seminar. It could even carry semi-journalistic tones if you’re invited to a press conference to write about it. Writing about a one-time event has its own special nuances and that’s what this post is about.
There is a point in every blogger’s life when the blog starts to feel like an extension of their self. You’ve done time staring at a blank screen, trying to think of something just so the topmost post on your blog won’t date back to a month ago. You’ve started seeing future posts in the everyday occurrences of your life. Suddenly you realize that, at work or traveling or talking, you catch yourself thinking, “Can blog about this”. That, my dear friend, signals the fact that you are well and truly a blogger by identity now!
No matter what your blog is about, at some point of time, you’ll have (or at least consider) an event that you want to post. It could be a friend’s wedding, a blogger meet, a press conference, a music concert or even a short vacation. Blogging about a one-time event is a special case and has its own unique tricks.
Firstly, in a lot of cases, you already have some information about the event, days in advance. Date, time, venue, objective, agenda are some of the details that can be put down beforehand. You can use these to create an advance draft and populate it with other aspects of a post like categories, title, post date etc. It frees up your mind space for the actual things that happen during the event and saves time when you’re posting.
Secondly, it’s a good idea to give the format of the post a little prior thought. Photographs always enhance any post. However, be sure to check that cameras are allowed at the event. Sometimes, official events provide attendees with images for use, which are professionally shot and save you the effort of carrying and using a camera. You could also arrange with someone else who is attending, to use their pictures. But make sure to discuss the kind of pictures you are looking for, in advance.
Some events, especially corporate or technology-related ones may have norms on gizmo usage. Check if you can carry a laptop and whether internet connectivity is a provision. If you get to the venue and find you’re in possession of an expensive gadget that has to be left behind in someone’s car or at the security desk, you’ll spend most of your time worrying about it rather than focusing on the event. Better to get that sorted out beforehand.
Whether or not you’re an ace lensman or not is immaterial. An event account is just incomplete without pictures. You absolutely must plan for images of some sort. If you don’t own a camera, try and get at least mobile phone shots of some key images. Logos, motifs, banners, posters are good visual references and are easily captured even in a low-res camera.
When you’re shooting, remember that these are for illustrating your post. This requires different photographs from the kind you’d shoot to preserve memories. Wide-angle shots of hordes of people talking will not add value to your post, even if they are significant moments to you. Most events have dozens of such moments and trying to explain all that in caption, will detract from the quality of your post.
Do try and get some shots with people in them but not too many. People like to see other people, especially recognizable ones. Shoot celebrities, friends and other known people (with their permission of course) in groups of two or three. Make sure the people being shot know that they’re going to feature online, to avoid future hassles.
If the event involves a stage of some sort (like a wedding reception or an award ceremony), get a couple of those shots too. In all likelihood, it’ll be difficult to see what’s actually going on in the scene, in a small blogpost-sized photograph. But such pictures give you the much-needed bird’s eye view of a post. One or two of these in the post will not hurt. For the more intricate photographs, readers may not mind clicking through to see the full picture on a new page.
When you’re uploading these for the final post, do ensure the following:
- You have the permission of all the people in the picture to put up their photographs on the internet.
- None of them are blurred beyond recognition.
- Key details like people’s faces are visible
If you’re planning live coverage of the event, remember time is of essence and you may need to trade-off quality for speed. This means it is permissible to let some spelling errors slip through or use SMSese (otherwise a shudderworthy idea) while you’re live-blogging. The focus is on getting an update online as soon as possible, so readers will generally forgive a few typos. Pictures also need not be super-high quality as long as they’re visible.
Of note, it’s usually unrealistic to expect to be able to operate a camera and a laptop/mobile phone through the same event. Pick one to go with and find a way to share what you can’t capture with other people.
Twitter is generally a great way to do live-coverage due to its ease of use and access. Get started early, even on your way to the event. Use a hashtag if you can and make this an easy and short one. This means other people will pick on it and follow suit. You’re starting a conversation and that’s always a big plus on social media. Make sure to check your photo-sharing mechanism beforehand because if your tweets catch attention, there will be someone or the other clamoring for images, soon enough.
I find when I sit down to write such a post, my head is buzzing with details and my writing may not be up to par. You may not have the luxury of waiting till you settle down as generally event coverage posts should come up within a day or two or not at all.
One way to start is just put down whatever you remember. Write it as you would tell it to a friend. Chronological order is a tried-and-tested and still very acceptable way to go. Begin with the agenda and the opening, adding a description of the place and sights (this is like taking the reader with you as you enter the event). Once you’ve gotten into the flow of it, you can be more relaxed about the order. You can mention little incidents, quote people or even conversations, refer to specific things that happened during the event.
If you’ve live-tweeted the event, do go back and look at your and other people’s tweets. There are all kinds of interesting sub-stories that pop up when you read these, which you can incorporate in better detail, in a post.
If you have an image that illustrates something in the post, insert it close to the words. Be consistent in how you do this. I like to put the image before with the paragraph below explaining why it’s there, as a sort of extended caption. General images like logos etc can be placed anywhere near the top of the post. Don’t fill your post only with images (unless you are a photo-blogger). Try and put some text between two images.
Ending this account well makes the big difference between your blogpost being one of the several write-ups about the event or the absolute reference point for anyone reading about it. Don’t lose steam. Conclude in a neat way. If you have an anecdote or a moral or some sort, use it. But even if you don’t, just end by telling the reader how the experience was for you (in a couple of sentences), what you brought away from it and whether you would ever like to repeat it. If the event was a gig of some sort, you could include details on where a reader could get more information on future such events.
When you finish writing the post, comb through it again for linking opportunities. You should definitely link to the official site (if there is one). In the absence of a site, make sure you link to organizers, sponsors or even just Twitter pages/blogs of some of the key people concerned. Through the length of your post, look for mentions of actual people and provide links where possible.
Fact verification is a very important part of event coverage. Make doubly, trebly sure you get people’s names right and correctly spelt. If necessary, contact people who would know. This is one mistake that could destroy an otherwise well-written post and cause bad blood, if you know the people well. Also get dates, times and other factual details absolutely straight. Invariably the days following an event see people scouring the internet for any write-up about it. Some of these will not be bloggers or regular blog-readers and they are usually quite unforgiving of even the smallest goof-up.
Finally, if this is an event that other people are also likely to blog about, add a few links at the bottom, to other people’s coverage. If your photographs were done by someone else, do be sure to credit them for it.
Carry your blog with you where you go and I’ll see you around on the blogosphere!
Other articles in this column:
- Checklist For A Blogger
- Building Access: Feeds & Link-sharing
- Protecting Your Privacy
- Is Your Blog Facebooked?
- The Twitter Birdie At Your Blog
- Dress Up Your Blog
- Dear Reader, Stay Awhile Longer
- Group Blogs: Becoming A Part Of The Online Community
- The Internet Undesirables
- Blogger Profiles: Creating An Identity For Your Blog
- Reader Devo Bhava!
- “This happened today…”: Blogging An Event