For events GSN will piggyback on the success of “Eli the Computer Guy”. ETCG is a well known brand name within the tech community, and with 770K+ subscribers on the YouTube channel it is easy to convince PR representatives for events that we should get a media badge. To this end if a writer for GSN wishes to attend a tech event they should let me know, and I’ll make contact to procure a badge.
Media Badges generally allow holders to attend everything at an event. Whether it’s the keynotes, expo, premium seminars and even bootcamps. Personally when going to InterOp I generally go for the full week and attend the premium workshops that are held the two days before the main event.
Writers will attend as “writers”, and should have at least one business card that says “Eli the Computer Guy” with their name, and position as writer. This can be a simple laser jet printed card. Business cards are used by some events as a way to prove that you are actually part of the industry. One benefit of using an actual picture of yourself for the Gravatar in your author bio is that you can also use that to prove who you are.
When you attend the event please remember that you have no authority as far as GSN goes. Vendors will try to get you to agree to things that you have no legal ability to agree to. You can nod, smile, take a sample, and say “I’ll see what we can do.” Beyond that please do not feel pressured to write posts that you do not think are appropriate. I put a huge value on being able to trust writers decision making abilities. I don’t care why you may make stupid decisions, but at the point I can’t trust your decision making abilities the relationship between GSN and you will become strained.
Many vendors will offer demo items that you can keep with the expectation that you will write about them. If the item legitimately fits into GSN this is fine, but I have zero interest in paying for posts about headphones, smartphone cases, or other run of the mill gadget crap. Think, “Is this actually cool, or am I just being greedy?”, before accepting items. If you do write a post about an item you accepted let me know so we can add an FTC Compliance statement.
Additionally we do not publish “reviews” about items. We simply write informational posts about items. You can write about what an item is, what it does, what the specifications are, whether it’s use case makes sense, whether the price point make sense, is it good build quality, and even if you’d be willing to try it out in your environment. BUT… DO NOT PASS JUDGEMENT on the item. Again, between FTC Compliance and reader optics reviews are a minefield. Leave the reviews for CNet. A key lesson I learned as a content creator for IT products is that “good” is in the eye of the use case. A $50 Android tablet may be horrible for 99% of use cases, but be exactly what’s needed for small digital signage in a mom and pop convenience store. Conversely the $1000 Wacom Cintiq display I just purchased for doing the live show is great for me, but would actually be a poor option for someone who simply needs a basic touchscreen display.
At this point GSN does not pay for travel to events. We will offer a maximum buy order for posts from an event though. Such as Kyle will be attending CES this year, and I have agreed to purchase 40 posts about what he learns there.
When writing about vendors, products, ideas learned at an event please leave out the event name in the post. When you writes, “CES 2017…”, it immediately dates the post. If someone reads the post even a few months after it was written it will seem like old news, even if there have been no improvements to the product. We are trying to create content that is evergreen that should retain value for 2-3 years.
You can write about the event itself, but this is not preferred content. 10-15% of the posts in relation to an event can be about the event, “CES 2017 Security was Brutal”. Ask yourself for these posts are you relaying information that is useful, or simply complaining because your feet hurt?
Remember a very significant rule for GSN is that writers cannot be paid by outside parties for their posts to GSN. If a vendor wants to purchase sponsored posts we can arrange that, but it must be setup by me. There are a host of legal, and optics issues if writers are paid directly by third parties.
When writing about an event you can submit the posts for publication as fast as you can write them. They will then be reviewed and scheduled for publication on GSN. Your payment for these posts on the weekly earning distribution day will be based on the posts that have been either published, or scheduled for publication. We will try to process your posts as fast as possible, but if you submit over 10 posts in a day it will simply take extra time to proofread and approve them.
For images from an event when talking about a product or company it would be preferred you use material provided in Press Kits by the vendors. Frankly they paid a lot of money to have someone take the prettiest pictures of their products so those images will be hard to beat. If there are no images with the Press Kit you can either find images from the vendors website, or take pictures yourself with your smartphone. DO NOT… DO NOT… randomly search images on Google and simply grab one to use. CNET and other major publications pay good money for their photographers and those pictures are copyrighted works. When in doubt about the sources of images you can leave the featured image blank and I’ll find something appropriate.
Finally a few pieces of hard learned advice:
- Wear comfortable shoes, and clothes. No one cares if you’re in sneakers and jeans, and you’ll be happier for it.
- Afterparties kind of suck. If you want to be cheap they’re a good way to get free food and alcohol, but they are miserable for networking and doing anything useful.
- Be careful with alcohol, especially beer. There is generally a lot of free beer at tech events, and a lot of people wanting to drink as if they were on vacation. Especially with events in Las Vegas it can be easy to drink far too much. With the dry air, walking, and talking you become more thirsty than you realize and one beer to take the edge off can turn into a forgotten number surprisingly quick. I recommend leaving the beer for non social events after all your work is done for the day. Drink water during networking and socializing, and then with a real dinner have a drink if you want. At the very least drink a bottle of water before you start with beer while socializing.
- Bring a small bag with water, lunch and snacks for the day. Lines for food and water can be ridiculous at events, and it may be further to walk for food and water than you realize. Especially in Las Vegas the physical scale of events can be hard to imagine.
- Live Tweeting is a good way to promote yourself, and GSN. I would suggest you use the picture function in Twitter vs. Instagram. Twitter pictures automatically show up in the feed, whereas Instagram only displays a link. (One of the stupidest decisions Twitter ever made)
- Accept business cards, don’t give them. Vendors that really care about you will take the time to write down your email information. Vendors that want business cards will end up spamming you for the next 3 years. I find it’s best to take their card. Good cards I want to follow up with go in one pocket, the other cards go in a different pocket. So if I’m wearing a jacket and I get a good card I bend an edge of it, and put it in my right breast pocket, the other cards simply are put in my right rear pocket.
- Bring an external battery, or power cord for your smart phone. You’ll use more data at an event like this than you realize. Simply checking Google Maps, the Event Agenda, and basic research of vendors will burn through your battery time.
- Your media badge will allow you to move to the front of the line, and find your own place to sit at key notes and events. I personally hate being surrounded by hundreds of sweaty geeks in chairs way to small so I always just wander to the back of the room of keynotes and find suitable place to stand or sit. Some times I’ll just grab a seat and drag to somewhere people won’t bug me…
- Think twice before agreeing to any meetings at events. Since they are so big, and chaotic running around at specific times for meetings can be surprisingly difficult. If you want to talk with someone setting up a Skype call after the event can be a much better way to go.
- Don’t feel like you have to accept every catalogue, brochure, widget that you are offered. You’ll quickly realize you simply can’t carry everything and all those items become an issue. A good vendor should have all of their important information on their website so simply taking their business card is all you need.
- Please remember as far as GSN is concerned you’re on your own. You are a contractor, and our responsibility ends with paying for your posts. Make sure you do enough preplanning. Make sure you review all of the documentation about the event you’re going to. Make sure you read the fine print about “resort fees” and such at where you plan to stay. To be brutally honest there’s just not much support we can provide even if we were inclined to, and since most events are out west we are on a 2-3 hour time difference to complicate things.
If you have any general questions always shoot me an email.