Covering live events can be a chaotic, stressful and sometimes unfulfilling experience. Battling with the digital elements can mean the finished product is disappointing.
However- there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself
(feel free to comment with more below – I will also add to this as ideas come to me!)
Find out as much about the event as you can.
Where is it? – how are you going to get there? Public transport? Where can you park?
When is it? – what time does it start? What time do you need to be there?
Where will you be – do you have an allocated desk? Will space be tight (should you get there early to secure a good seat?)
Who is running the event – are you on the event mailing lists?
who is going – try to get a list of speakers / delegates beforehand. This is useful to make contacts and arrange interviews ahead of time!
Make sure you have all the information with you and easy to find. I often make a crib sheet for myself of the address, directions, contact names / numbers etc.
See more on content and research in Live Blogging, below
With the increase in laptop and smartphone use at events, the demand on power outlets is great. Always take a power lead for your device and a LONG extension lead (this means you can share one plug amongst many devices – great for charging phones, laptops etc at the same time).
Vital if you are going to live blog, tweet or in any way cover the event online.
In the days before the event, check with the venue/event organisers if there will be free wifi available and that you will be able to use it. Don’t rely on 3G (especially in old buildings where often traditional mobile coverage tends to drop off).
If there is no wifi available invest in a 3G dongle (although often these struggle in old buildings / internal rooms).
If you are worried, try to visit the venue ahead of the event to check internet coverage. This gives you time to solve any issues.
There are several ways you can cover an event – a straight forward article written after the event for online or print, social media updates (eg Twitter, or Google+), web streaming, audio capturing and live blogging
As with any form of reporting, preparation is key. However, with live blogging especially, ANYTHING you can do to make your job a bit easier once the event gets underway, the better.
If you are using a live blogging tool such as CoverItLive – save as MUCH content in the tool library as you can:
- photographs of speakers
- build a quick contact sheet for each of them, with Twitter links, websites etc which you can paste in when they begin talking
- links to statements, policies, etc.
- running orders
- presentations – easy to embed and link to with tools like SlideShare.
A few other ideas:
If you are there with other reporters, get them to take pictures from different parts of the event and tweet them with a #hashtag. You can then add these into the live blog stream …