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Access all areas: your guide to credentials and press passes

One of the biggest misconceptions that floats around in relation to press passes is that they guarantee you automatic entry into concerts, sporting events and other such fun occasions. The truth is, a press pass may make it easier for you to obtain media credentials for a particular event, allowing you free entry as well as freer access to cover it, but it doesn’t guarantee any of this.

Taken at the Miami International Wine Fair 2010
Taken at the Miami International Wine Fair 2010

Abuse versus opportunity

What needs to be remembered is that a press pass and event crednetials are privileges, and they shouldn’t be abused. It does all journalists a disservice when people try it on. The general rule is that the more prestigious the event, the harder it will be to obtain credentials. And it definitely helps if the event pertains to your journalistic niche. If you’re a food blogger, you’ll find it easier to secure credentials for a food festival than you will if you write about finance! There’s no reason you shouldn’t try, of course, but you must do so with the intention of publishing on it afterwards.

Obtaining credentials

The key to securing crednetials is to contact the public relations person before the event, preferably weeks, or even months if we’re talking about an event like the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which draws people from all over the world every February. It also helps if you’re able to send them a letter with a letterhead containing your company logo. (This is a good example of when maintaining a brand for your work is beneficial.)
Credentials iii
Even if you decide at the last minute you want to cover the event, show up and ask to speak to the public relations person in charge of distributing press passes. Be sure to look the part. Bring your cameras, your business cards, your press pass and leave your family or significant other at home. You’re there for a job, not a date. You also need to act like you belong there. Don’t be rude, but don’t be humble either. Just be professional. Tell them that you understand they are busy, which they will be, but that it’s extremely important that you cover the event.

Confidence

Confidence is something that journalists seem to have in bags but can sometimes be lacking in bloggers who don’t have that sort of professional experience. Don’t be too shy to ask for credentials and when you do manage to speak with the person in charge, don’t act as if you’re trying to gain access to somewhere you don’t belong. That’s a sure-fire way to be denied! Act as if you do belong there. The chances are much higher that you’ll be granted credentials.
It’s all about attitude, really. If you regard yourself and act as a professional then others will view you that way.
Empower yourself to report on events around you with Carlos Miller’s The Citizen Journalist’s Photography Handbook. Miller is a seasoned independent journalist and his book is packed with dramatic stories, tips for capturing the moment, and advice on protecting yourself when things hot up.
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