This post wasn’t on top of my to-blog-list yet, but since the topic is in discussion now, I shall push this up from the list. After reading Van Tan’s feedback, Daryl’s feedback, Benjamin’s thoughts and a chat over msn with Pat Law, I’ve few points to share on the recent increase of Bloggers Outreach events – my reflections, feedback and suggestions.

First my take on the differences of a media event and a blogger only event…

{-} A media event is held during office hours, as journalists are there as part of their job. Hence not every blogger is able to attend such media event unless they take leave to go. But a blogger only event is usually held after office hours as bloggers mostly have to work or attend classes in the day.

{-} Journalists attending media events come and go on the dot because they’re on official working hours. While the bloggers, whom have slightly more time, usually hang around a little more to check out the launched products or to interact with the people around. This is also the best time for companies and PR folks to get to know the bloggers better. Cause we run our own “magazines”! And we write whatever we want to write about your product, company or event! (More on this later…)

At blogger only events, usually it’ll overrun and ends too late. Why? Hmm… cause there’s too much to talk about! Be it the product or social media stuff!

{-} Media event usually attended by big group of people and the interaction is somehow restricted. Bloggers event are for smaller group of people and hence better bonding and interaction is easier between people.

{-} A media event is more “serious” and sometimes “boring” as compared to a blogger only event. (Ok! I know I’m going to be killed or blacklisted from future media events but I still have to say this.) Firstly because the companies want to feed as much information to the journalists as possible during that short few hours. There is also this feel of “unhappiness” from the journalists when bloggers are around. Yes! I do feel it. And I’m sure some other bloggers felt it too. Perhaps due to the “noise” created by bloggers at the event or the non-stop camwhoring that irritated the journalists who are there for serious work.

At a blogger only event, usually everyone there already have met before or are friends. Hence the atmosphere is less stressful and friendly. The companies take a more casual approach and the setting usually informal. Bloggers can make all the noise they need without having to worry about stares. When I said noise, it’s not unrelated kind of noise. Its the “Ooohs!” and “Ahhhs!” and the “I want this!!” “I like this!!” kind of noise. Yes, bloggers do get excited easily! We’re humans who simply adore new gadgets and toys!

I’ve learned how to behave and what to do and what not to do at both types of events. Have you?

————– reflections ————–

I’m very honored and happy to be invited to these events. I can’t remember how I got started receiving these invitations. (I think this was the first I attended.) But the numbers seem to be increasing – good and bad. I don’t know if I’m right at the bottom of their contact list and get invited only when those above me couldn’t make it, or am I one of the few that they send invitation to only. Whichever it is, its good that I get to preview first hand the latest gadgets (my favorite toys!) by the various brands. Its also good cause it helps provide me with content to blog about. Especially when the product is something close to the blogger’s heart. If the blogger is interested in photography, attending camera launches help expand his/her knowledge of the various features and also allow him/her to make better recommendations when asked which camera to purchase by his/her followers in his/her micro-community.

The bad comes when you’ve attended too many in a week and is lacking behind the blog posts. Yes, we’re not obligated to blog about it. But when we do blog about it, we decide which aspect of the event we want to write about. As Van Tan mentioned, we do not want to be a photocopier by duplicating the press releases on our blog. If the product has nothing that fascinated me, I’ll probably not blog about it or talk more about the event itself than the product that was launched. But is this what the company wants? I guess they’re also still confused as to how they should approach the bloggers at such events. Many are afraid that they might say the wrong thing and get quoted on our blogs.

The other bad is when you see so many new toys, you want to own all of them! If only we had all the money in the world! But it does make decision making for future purchase a little harder. A way to overcome this is to try get a review set of the product to try it out for awhile and than eliminate the ones that failed to meet your needs. Having a review set also makes your blogging more tedious as you’ve to review the product in greater aspects! This can be very time consuming!

In order to have more time to do this for my personal passion and interests, I had to switched my full-time job so that I can attend media events and have more time reviewing the gadgets given/loaned to me! Crazy I know! But I just enjoy doing it! I wonder if this make me a “professional blogger”? Now to find a way to earn some money from it. Anyone wants to sponsor me?

————– feedbacks and suggestions ————–

If you are trying to reach out to bloggers in your next media launch, here are some feedbacks and suggestions based on my personal experiences, expectations and thoughts.

{+} Getting in touch with me
I don’t mind receiving the same email you send out to everyone on your contact list if I’ve worked with your or your company before. If you’re getting in touch with me for the first time, please tell me a little more about your company and why you think I should attend your event. Unless the product you’re launching is a camera, new mobile phone or the latest invention that everyone should have!

And very importantly, give me sufficient time to respond to your invitation! At least 1 week in advance is good.

{+} Let me play with your toys
As mentioned, I don’t want to retyped your press release on my blog. I want to be able to share my personal experience with the gadget with my readers. I want to show them what your product can do. I want to be able to write an entry like this or this and this on a product that I like. So let me play with that gadget and give me time to experience it. Having the gadgets on display for trial at the event itself is not enough. I need more time.

{+} Talk to me
The last thing I want to do at an event is to enter the room and not know a single person in the room. And no one seem to be interested in talking to me. Then told to sit and listen.

I want to be able to interact with the people marketing the products. Don’t just tell me how good your product is, I’m not there to buy it. Instead, tell me how you plan to market it. Who are your target audience. Why I should give that product a second look. I want to be able to share my thoughts with the product manager so that he/she will get direct feedback from their users (me!). If I were to just sit and listen and then leave, I might as well stay at home, wait for HWZ or other sites to announce your product and read from there instead.

{+} Get connected
This I’ve to say some of the PR folks are doing a very very good job. They connect thought MSN, facebook, plurk and read my blog! They don’t need you to send an email to them when you blog about their product. They know it when you do! Cause they subscribe to your RSS or they spend time reading and searching for their brands on your blog.

When you’re connected, you’ll come to realise that I’m not just into cameras and mobile phones. But I do visit interesting places, likes art and craft, into good movies, loves beauty treats, likes taking photos of toys and enjoys traveling too.

{+} Don’t expect me to just write about your product and ignore the other brands
As I’d mentioned above, I see my blog as my own “publication” or magazine. I am the editor, the writer, the photographer, the designer and the publisher. I write about things I want to write or things that I think my readers want to read. And I know what topics will drive more traffic to my site from search engines (thanks to google analytics and statcounter). Although I may not have the 100k/day kind of traffic, but at least my reviews and posts are read by those who are searching for related topics.

Since it is my own magazine, I want to be as neutral as possible in my reviews and posts. So don’t expect me to only blog about the good things and not the bad. And don’t expect me to only blog about your brand and not your competitors’. If you want to get more attention on my blog, why not sponsor it with a banner ad or request for your post to be on the featured story for a longer period of time?

After an hour of rumbling in this post, I hope I’ve not written incoherently. I’ve to admit I’m not a good writer. I find it hard to write my thoughts and reflections in words too many times. If only there’s a device for me to record my thinking than it arranges and translate it into coherent paragraphs out for me! If there’s ever such creation, contact me! I’ll review it!