Thursday, 11 June 2015

Tutorial Thursday - A Blogger's How-To for organizing Event Coverage

I have been wanting to do this Tutorial for a while now, and even saved one of my event folders, just for this purpose.

I often hear, from blogger friends, my own store's bloggers, as well as other people I admire in the community, that inventory organization is a problem, and more so when dealing with big events.

Now think about this from my perspective. I am not only a blogger, but am also a designer. So my inventory is basically double what any sane blogger probably has.

I am not going to be talking today about organizing your inventory as a whole, but how to keep your Event Coverage organized.

In today's example I will be using the folder I created for Skin Fair 2015.

Keep in mind, this is just the way I personally do things. I am not trying to tell anyone my way is the best way. This is more a guide of those of you who don't have a current system in place.

For the sake of the Feeds that Free*Style is on, I will be placing a cut here. If you are interested in this topic, feel free to hit the link to continue reading.

I am using Firestorm for this Tutorial.
Skin Fair is one of the few events I choose to officially cover each year. I usually set time aside from other sl activities to do coverage on this event. Due to this, I like to optimize my time, so I can get as much done in the limited free time I have set aside.

I typically create a folder, and as my inventory is set to "Sort System Folders on Top" and "Sort Folder Always By Name". This forces folders to go in a certain order. I will add an Exclamation Mark(!) and a bunch of spaces to the folder name, to make it jump other important folders I have set up that week.

To switch to these options, go down to the bottom of your inventory screen, and hit the little cog button, shown above(left). A window will pop up with a whole bunch of options, at the top you will see the ones shown above(right).

The "Sort by Most Recent" and "Sort by Name" I turn switch through constantly. You don't have to worry about those as much.

Next I set up the folders within the main folder. Since we switched on "Sort Folder Always by Name", I order them with numbers. The order after this doesn't really matter, you can title your folders how you want.

1 - Info

I place all my event info in this folder. Any official ads, official press info, press packages, landmark notecards, and so on. If an event doesn't have an official link list, either on the event site, or inworld, I will make my own, and place it here. This way I have direct links to all the booths, and I know who is on what sims. Skin Fair was only 2 sims, so this undertaking was not too horrid of a task.

2 - Demos

I am the type of shopper that makes a budget for each event. I don't tend to impulse buy. I need to think of my sim payments for the store, so I have to be more careful with how I use my money on my main account. Demos are helpful with this, not every designer participates in handing out reviews to bloggers, so you can always expect to pay for a few things, when doing event previews. This also helps you figure out who your want to ask for reviews from, as some items you might like, but wont suit your avi/mesh body&head.

3 - Gifts

It is common for a few booths at any event to have a gift or promo out. I consider anything between Free to L$10 as a "gift". So in this folder I have separate folders of different denominations, 0, 1, 5, and 10. Sometimes there will be a group gift, or something in a subscriber placed in the booth. They get their own folders too. This way I can sort quickly, and not have to rename the folders right away. I would be at the event at this point, and want to get through everything before it gets too crazy during the bloggers preview.

4 - Bought

Don't really have to explain this too much, haha. All the things I purchase go here. I price each package with what I bought it for. After the event, the folders get renamed something like this:

[:T:] Neve / tone 0 - 11/03/2015 - Skin Fair - L$890

That way I know when I got the item, from where, and for how much, once it gets sorted into my general inventory folders.

5 - Reviews

Some events have a group for bloggers to join, which do sendouts. Some have automated systems that send out things when you come online. Some events do things the old school way, and have designers place out signs, to indicate to bloggers that they are willing to send out review copies. This was the way Skin Fair was done. Any booth without a sign was to be left alone, as that might mean those designers are busy, or are hand selecting who gets to have their reviews.

What I do for events that require bloggers to contact the designers for review is this:

A) I make a notecard of all the booths which are handing out reviews
B) I make a second notecard with my whittled down list, of who I would like to blog
C) I make a third notecard, with the items I wish to blog

Why this process? Well when doing event coverage, you never want to request more than you can possibly cover. It is nice to think you can cover every single thing, but chances are, some of it wont suit you, or you just wont have the time to get to it all.

So after making the first notecard, I should have a fairly good idea of how much I can blog, and who I'd like to concentrate on. 

The second notecard will be my condensed list of who I will contact for requests. I would then follow this list, going back to all the stores, and write down what I'd like from their booths. Most events require an exclusive for the duration of the event, now-a-days. Sometimes that isn't the item I actually want to use. This is where I note all that.

The third notecard will have all the item names, the designer/store manager names. I sometimes put notations, haha.

I try to make my list large enough so if half don't send, I still have enough to actually cover, but not so full that I couldn't do it all.

I had 36 Stores on my list, and I got packs from about 25.

As packs come in, I make them a folder, and they go into the main folder. The packs that don't have information, I will make my own notecard for, and go back and get the info, if preview is still on. If the pack doesn't make it to me before Official Opening, I will just leave that item to later, to blog, since I don't want to fight the crowds to get prices and info.

Now, sometimes a designer will ask a request in exchange. Sometimes it is a stipulation "I will give you this pack, if you can cover it 3 times during the event.", sometimes it is a request, to blog an additional included item, that might not have been on your request list. I will add that notation to the various folders.

I also add, as I blog, how many times a store has been covered. This helps me know who still needs to be put up, and who could use a bit more. Sometimes I do only get one post out, but that is okay, you can't be super blogger all the time.

6 - Designer's Notecards

This folder ties in with the one above. This is where I have all my request notecards. I make each on personalized, with as much relivent info, as well as the items I wish to receive in my pack. Some designers have premade packs, but some read the notecard, and send you what you actually request.

If you are making a request for a store that you have never blogged for, or asked as a blogger for packs in the past, make sure you put some kind of lure in here for them. If you have blogged them on your own accord before, put links to those posts, or to your flickr. If you have not, maybe show them some of your blogging style, something that compliments their store, or the product you are trying to receive. 

Below is just one of the notecards I sent out. Each was personalized to the store/designer, some were more formal, some less, some funny and goofy, if I knew the designer personally.

I then made a folder for each store/designer, placed the notecards in as I made them, and sorted them out as things got done.

So the folders went into 1, I would paste a "blank" of the base notecards into each folder. Once the notecard was personalized to the store, I put it into 2. When I had a batch ready, I would send them out, and then place them into 3. As the packs came in, the folders would move from 3 to 4.

I would then proceed to make a list of all the designers who DIDN'T send, so I would know who next to feed to my tentacles. JKS, I keep them for morbid curiosity, and well, knowing who doesn't enjoy my style of blogging saves me time when I do other events. I know who not to bother blogging for.

7 - Blogged Notecards

When I am Officially blogging an event, I feel it is only right to let each designer know they have been covered, personally. If I am just blogging for the sake of blogging, I rarely contact each designer, however I will tag them on flickr, by store name. I will also tag them on any wordpress site I blog on. I don't do it on Free*Style often, as we only get 100 characters for tags.

I contact them in the form of a notecard. I have a template one, and I just fill it out, and put the relevant links in there.

As you can see above, I actually forgot to put my flickr link of the shot, but i did have her tagged by store name, and flickr account, so she was able to view and fav it there.

I normally paste in my blog link, flickr link, then a note, if I feel like it, the rest stays the same for the duration of the event.

Within the folder, I have the event's dates, and as I blog, the coverage notecards get created here, and then sent out once everything is live over all my media. There have been times where I have had things go live, and have passed out before sending the notecards out, but I normally do it first thing in the morning.

These I typically don't keep, I delete them after the event is done. I had only keep everything intact for this eventual tutorial.


Well I think that is it, I hope this helps you bloggers, either new or old, to streamline your event coverage experience, and keep your inventories a bit more organized during those hectic days of event openings.