Surprisingly, in the first five years, no blogger has requested media (that is, free) access to Northern Voice. We’ve had a smattering of mainstream media in attendance, and we’ve been glad to give them media passes.
This year we received our first request for media accreditation from a blogger. I’ve kind of been waiting for this to happen, as it raises this interesting question: how do you handle media access when everyone is media?
It’s really not a big deal for Northern Voice–it’s more a thought experiment than anything else. A few possible approaches:
- Media access for anybody who asks.
- No media access at all. We’ve let media in for free in the past, but from here on in, everybody pays. After all, it’s a pretty cheap event.
- Only media access for bloggers and online publishers who meet a certain threshold of popularity or authority.
- We only grant media access to those bloggers and online publishers who cover the social media space. This is analogous to giving hockey tickets to a sports reporter, but not a theatre reviewer.
Clearly #1 won’t work. #2 seems a little Draconian. #3 is quibbling, time-intensive and very hard to police. #4 might be the right approach, though many (most?) bloggers could conceivably count the social web as part of their ‘beat’.
It’s an issue that marketing and PR professionals will increasingly face, and it’s a question we get asked about in our workshops from time to time. My answer: most organizations have a too little, rather than a too much, attention problem. Most marketers are happy to accredit anybody who shows up with a notepad, camera or website. I haven’t requested accreditation very often–usually just to theatre shows and the like–but I don’t think I’ve ever been refused. Mind you, I’m not asking for tickets to Beyonce or free flights to Bali.
What do you think? Who would you handle media accreditation for Northern Voice?
UPDATE: Another possible option: set a total number of ‘media tickets’ and grant them on a first come, first served basis to mainstream media and bloggers alike. That’s a crude approach, and probably favours the bloggers who hear about the conference early. And, really, are we going to turn down the Globe and Mail reporter who wants to come at the last minute?
UPDATE #2: Another possible criteria arose in private conversation with some folks: give accreditation to bloggers who have audiences that are currently under-served by the conference. For example, if somebody had a blog read by Vancouverites (or Canadians) who speak Mandarin as a first language. This seems like a thoughtful, sensible approach.