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How to Cover Your Bases When You’re Covering Live Events

imagesWhen you attend industry events, you may get excited about all the networking and educational opportunities on hand; but remember that you also have an opportunity to collect a lot of content that you can share with your audience.

The challenge, of course, is deciding how to capture all of this content and share it when you are on the go. Whether you are attending Content Marketing World, or any other event, here are some ideas to help you get the most out of your conference experience:

Make a plan

Choose your sessions in advance. If you are attending an event with multiple tracks, schedule which sessions you’ll be attending and covering in advance. If you don’t want to cover everything you sit in on, consider what your readers will benefit from the most. Once you decide what you will be covering, prep your posts with these basics to save time:

  • Name of the session
  • Speaker: Make sure you can provide a bit of background about the speaker, including links to his/her company, Twitter handle, etc.
  • Details of the session: Is there a Slideshare available that you can review in advance? if so, it may help to type up the basic structure of the presentation and then fill in the details as you listen.

Bonus tip: If you have multiple people covering an event, set up a Google spreadsheet with the list of all sessions, times, and people covering the conference. From there, writers can indicate which sessions they are covering so they are not duplicating efforts.

Bonus tip: If you are attending CMW, you can view and plan your schedule on the event app!

Decide on a writing platform. In addition to deciding which sessions you want to cover, decide how you want to capture information from each session. Because internet connections can never be relied upon 100 percent, my suggestion is to write in Microsoft Word or a text editor so you don’t have to worry about connectivity.

Decide what kind of content to produce

There are a number of ways you can cover sessions at an event, and you should decide what format will work best for your audience before you get on-site. Here are a few general options:

Live blogging: This is reporting from a session in real time.

  • Pro: You can provide immediate coverage of an event.
  • Con: Depending on how many posts you publish, your audience may feel a bit overwhelmed.

Daily wrap-ups: This is providing highlights from the conference from each day.

  • Pro: These posts are easy to digest.
  • Con: It’s not a good option if your audience wants detailed information.

Post-event coverage: Collect content that you can then use after the event. This content may be a bit more refined, and it could have a bit of a different spin than “straight coverage” of a session.

  • Pro: You can focus on the best content from the event and in essence be a filter for your audience.
  • Con: This is not a good option if the information is time sensitive, or there are a lot of other people covering the event quickly.

Regardless of if you are publishing your content in real time or dripping it out, here are some ways to generate interest in your coverage:

Announce what you will cover. If you are going to be changing your regular posting schedule and publishing live blogs throughout a conference, it’s a good idea to let your readers know. You can also use this post to announce if someone from your organization will be speaking.

Example: Check out how Outspoken Media announced what they would be covering at LinkLove Boston.

Tease your session. If you are speaking at the event, you may want to write about your session before it occurs. Not only is this is a great way to repurpose content that you have spent a lot of time creating, but it also builds anticipation for your session.

Example: Lee Odden wrote about a content marketer’s guide to social media and search strategy, which was a preview of the presentation he gave last year at CMW.

Step-by-step posts. One classic way to cover a session is to do a rundown of the ideas the speaker shared, following the same structure as the presentation. This is especially easy to do if the speaker is covering a process or another well-organized topic.

Example: Amanda Maksymiw shared her wrap-up of a panel discussion on how to distribute content from last year’s CMW.

Bonus tip: If you are doing live blogging, I like this tip from Beth Kanter: “I put a live blogging disclaimer at the top of the post that says, ‘I’m live blogging, excuse lapses of grammar, spelling errors, and typos. I will clean this up later.‘” Alternatively, if you are writing for a company blog, you can have another set of eyes review the post for any grammar errors before publishing.

Summary of tweets. Another fun thing you can do is follow the Twitter stream during the presentation and record the most insightful and popular tweets and share them in a post.

Example: Michael Brenner provided 28 Tweetable Moments from Sirius Decisions Summit #SDD12

Comprehensive notes. Instead of publishing live blogs to your site, you can store all of your notes in a Google doc and then share that doc publicly.

Example: Here is a great example Tracy Gold shared when she attended Social Fresh Baltimore 2011. I like the comments Tracy includes throughout to engage with other attendees and get clarification. 

A compilation of Instagram photos. There are a lot of intangibles you experience when attending an event. Capture them by taking photos or curating what others have shared.

Example: Mashable published 45 Insider Instagram Pics from Bands at SXSW.

Wrap-up posts. Instead of covering individual sessions, consider writing a wrap-up post that outlines the key points you found most valuable or compelling.

Example: Deana Goldasich wrote Content Marketing: 5 Rules We Can’t Ignore from her key takeaways from CMW 2011. 

Slideshare highlights. You don’t need to stick to blog posts to share your content. Consider creating a Slideshare that features your favorite takeaways.

Example: This Slideshare with insights from SXSW 2012 has more than 54,000 views!

Post curation. Not feeling like writing a post yourself? Curate posts that others have created about an event.

Example: I created Content Marketing World: Updates from Around the Web at the end of CMW last year. This year, I have a section of the website devoted to coverage from CMW 2012

Share your post

After you write your post(s), you need to give it a bit of love. Here are some easy ways to increase the distribution of your conference content:

Include the event hashtag in the title. An easy way to help spread the word about your post is to include the hashtag in the title of your post so it is automatically included in the Twitter stream.

Send your content to the event’s organizers. While your audience will hopefully benefit from your coverage of the event, the event organizers will likely want to see and share your post, as well.

** Are you going to be writing at CMW? If so, I would love to include your post(s) in our ongoing event coverage. All you need to do is shoot me an email at michele [at] with a link to your post, and we’ll get it added to our site. ** 

Set up a tag. If you are going to be publishing multiple posts from one conference, consider setting up a tag with the name of the conference that all bloggers use. This way, you can easily create one page with all posts from the event for easy reference. For instance, with CMW, bloggers could be using various tags — such as CMW, CMW 2012 or Content Marketing World — so it’s good to standardize on one, so that your efforts aren’t fragmented.

While it may sound like a lot of work to get content from covering live events, the benefits are great. For me, I generally get more out of a session when I am taking detailed notes, and I feel like I am retaining what I have learned more effectively. Additionally, it helped me feel more connected to the event, as I’m actively engaged in the content.

What other tips can you share about how to capture and share content from an event? Any examples you would like to share? Let us know in the comments! And see you next week!