A large part of content marketing is writing blogs that answer customers’ questions and offer insights about your industry, but companies are getting creative about the variety of information they provide. Live blogging, for instance, has gained popularity as a way to get the most out of trade show attendance.
In addition to going to conferences for the sake of learning and networking, brands with mature strategies and refined content marketing solutions are sending writers along to provide event coverage.
I recently sat down with our live blogging expert, senior section editor Dan Maloof, to get some tips on event coverage from his experience going to trade shows on behalf of clients.
Here’s what he suggests if you want to get the most from live blogging:
1. Make a game plan for coverage in advance and know your goals
In the chaos of planning for trade show travel, preparing for speaking gigs and remembering not to forget all of your brand collateral, it’s easy to put off reviewing the event agenda. But according to Dan, looking over the schedule line by line is a must.
“It’s important to meet the night before or early the morning of the conference to go over the schedule. If you’re going to a show where there’s 30 sessions going on throughout the day, your writers need to know which five or six to cover,” he said.
“It’s important to meet the night before or early the morning of the conference to go over the schedule.”
“We can always narrow it down based on what’s most relevant to the topics we normally cover for the blog strategy. But if there’s some sort of product push or seasonal promotion, it’s good to know what presentations we should go to.”
When your writers know that you’re looking to expand into some topic areas you don’t address as often or increase your focus on a specific subject matter, they can be sure to attend those presentations.
“If you have multiple people covering different sessions going on at the same time, that’s different. We had two writers cover this year’s INBOUND 14 conference, and they could divide and conquer to hit all of the sessions. But if you only have one writer there, we need to know what’s most important.”
2. Set up a system that allows you to act fast
The business-as-usual publication process can become an issue when you’re live blogging, Dan pointed out. A lot of the time, we’re sending edited articles to someone who reads them and approves them manually to set them live on the site, but that can be a major bottleneck for live coverage.
“The goal is to be timely and responsive. It’s about building momentum on the topics that are being covered that day. If you’re using hashtags in the article or mentioning speakers, you want to get that article up quickly so it’s there when people are searching for it,” Dan explained.
“If you’re using hashtags in the article or mentioning speakers, you want to get that article up quickly so it’s there when people are searching for it.”
Usually, writers aim to have the piece written up about 20 minutes after the session is over.
“If there isn’t someone available on the client’s end to approve the article when it’s ready, you can lose that momentum. A lot of times, it’s easier when the companies we’re working with hand the keys over so we can set the pieces live when they’re finished.”
3. Tell us if you know someone there
If you have a good relationship with speakers or attendees, trade show coverage can become a great platform to feature those people and share their expertise on your blog. It’s also a great way to network and build some goodwill in your industry.
“I’ve started to recognize speakers the more I’ve gone to shows for clients. We can interview them for something exclusive from the show,” Dan said.
“Other times, we’ve done coverage on our clients’ presentations at the show to share with their customers.”
4. Take advantage of the topic diversity
If the conference is niche to begin with, consider how you can get some diverse coverage by attending a variety of sessions. Even if you have a pretty tight focus at the event, sprinkling in a variety of presentations can liven up the coverage.
“One of the best presentations I’ve seen was the Keynote speech at the New Media Expo. The speaker was talking about QR codes. He was engaging and funny. It was interesting and got everyone pumped up for the day,” he said.
“Other times when I’ve gone to really technical shows where there are all engineers speaking, you can tell they’re not presenters and the influx of technical information can seem like a lot.”
In general, it’s a good idea to use conferences to widen the scope of your coverage and get your hands on fresh information that readers may want. If you’re already at an event, you can easily get first-hand insights from leaders in the field as a way to educate yourself and your audience.
We do it all the time here at Brafton. Here are some pieces we’ve live-blogged during conferences:
- Big data, big money: Marketing by the numbers at #SMX West
- BuzzFeed’s non-SEO strategy: Inside the web’s most shared content #SMX
- 11 tips to learn from the top bloggers #CZLNY
Empowering writers to provide exclusive coverage
A lot of our clients view content writers as an extension of their marketing teams, and a conference or tradeshow is a great way for them to gain exclusive industry insight while representing the brands they write for every day. Writers have the editorial prowess to craft stylized blogs and then seamlessly step into the role of journalist to get the stories that matter most to your readers.