My friends affectionally call me “the plug” because I seem to have a knack for staying in the know about local events around town especially foodie events. There are two avenues that keep me abreast of what is going on in my hometown, the first is my blog. After almost five years in the game, most of the events I am interested in fall in my inbox in the form of press releases, invites or promotion partnerships. The other side of this is just me being a Houstonian that wants to say informed on what is going on in the city. Keeping up with the events around town has kind of been my thing long before I started my blog. The questions I get from bloggers and my followers is “okay girl but HOW??” How are you keeping up with everything?! Welp, I cannot say there is a science to it, but here are some things that I think have helped over the years. Here are my tips on Getting Invited to Blogger Events.
Here are a few tips for bloggers
What is the big deal about blogger events?
I will be honest and say everyone is not in this for the right reasons. Many people want these invites just so they can appear to be up on things, do a little stunt for the gram. You know the type! No shade to them, but there are legit reasons that bloggers want/need to attend events.
Blogger events are generally exclusive meaning it will just be us in the venue or restaurant before it opens to the public. We are then able to take over the space. Find the best lighting. Climb on chairs for the good aerial photo and ask questions of the owners/PR staff.
We also like the early access. A new restaurant is opening in two weeks, bloggers or food writers visit before it opens during a preview and then go back and share the details with their audience. In short, blogger events provide exclusive and early access which help bloggers create good content for their readers.
Be a Tastemaker or Influencer
Brands like working with bloggers because we influence our audience to purchase items, visit restaurants or attend events. We build authentic connections with our followers through engagement. Followers see us as “their friend in their head” so it is easy to go to an event because Black Girls Who Brunch recommended it rather than a big brand. These types of influencers are the ones that brands want to invite to events and work with. Often times you demonstrate that first, and then brands fall in line.
Once you understand that concept, it is important to tap in to that. How are you influencing your followers? Are you providing them useful events/places? Contrary to popular belief, I do not get invited to everything around town, but I make a point to share things with my followers that I think they may like. Guess, what. Your followers also include PR people. They see the content you are sharing with your audience and want to tap in to that. It is important to demonstrate the type of blogger you want to be and it can easily becomes cyclical.
- Add your location to your bio on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Brands/Businesses need to know where you are in order to invite you!
- Add your email address to your account as well. Calls to action such as “email or DM for collaborations” also seem to work.
Do not be the blogger who goes to the event simply to be in the building. This is not why you were invited. Brands invite us for coverage so it is important that we provide that in the form of blog posts or social media posts. The challenge with events is it may not always fit your curated feed. It is important to find a way to make it work to ensure the brand gets the coverage they are seeking.
Here is an example. I work with a lot of PR companies who promote upcoming movies. Sharing a movie poster on my feed does not really make sense with the all of the food posts. So I will only share the poster on my feed if it is connected to a giveaway (free passes to the preview showing or movie swag). At the premiere, I will share on my Instagram story or find a way to sneak in a food and movie picture. In the end, I stay true to my brand and the PR company gets the coverage they want. Most importantly, these are movies that my audience wants to see so they enjoy it as well. In this same vein, be willing to tell PR companies or brands what works best for your audience.
Make Blogger Friends
I hear newer bloggers complain about this space being cliquish and perhaps it can be. Despite the challenges to force your way IN to the clique, knowing other bloggers is essential! Brands hire bloggers to serve as hosts of their events. Rather than hiring an agency, they will contract local bloggers and have them curate a guest list. Guess who gets invited? The friends of the blogger. So when you are at these events with other bloggers, network and make friends.
Also, bloggers get plus ones. A lot of us prefer to bring other bloggers as our plus ones because this is essentially work and can honestly get boring. For example, my family and friends are OVER waiting for pictures to be taken before they can eat. Anywho, building a blogger crew that allows you to share plus ones is valuable!
Be Honest AND Positive
When I started Black Girls Who Brunch, I decided to only share places that I like. One, it is hard to write a hate post. Two, writing about things I enjoyed is much easier and lighter on the spirit. Now, that does not mean I am not honest with my critiques. But finding the balance is the key.
Here is the headline… if your social media or blog posts are focused on the negative, brands are not going to be so inclined to work with you. In the instances when I did not care for something, I let the brand know directly and did not post about it. Simple as that.
- The first obvious answer is to follow bloggers! I even learn about events by following bloggers, PR agencies or brand reps. It is one of the easiest ways to stay in the know. (@365_Houston and @VisitHouston on Instagram are great ones)
- For Houstonians, join the Houston Insider group through Visit Houston. It is a best kept secret that will allow you access to a lot of the cool things you see bloggers do, without being a blogger! If you are not in Houston, check to see what your Convention and Visitors Bureau has going on! Perhaps you can get in on inside stuff.
- Sign up for newsletters as well! (Downtown Houston, Jaison Oliver Event List, Eventbrite,Culture Map)
More than anything, getting invited to blogger events is about creating a brand that brands want to work with and people want to follow. I know it is easier said than done, but it takes time and consistency to build.
I hope these tips help and please be sure to comment below with tips you have!