“Does a company cover the expenses to a media event?” should not be your 1st question you ask.

SOCIAL MEDIA | | October 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I know the question about whether expenses should, could and would be covered for media events have been covered extensively before, I am not going to discuss that. There is an even more important question to be asked. No, I am not saying that financials are not important; heaven knows I know how hard it is not to keep your eyes focused on the bank balance. What I am saying is that before you ask that question there is another question you should be asking.

The question is “What does this event mean to me?”. Because seriously the same event means different things to different people. If you are focusing on just the money aspect you are saying that as long as someone is willing to fork money out you are willing to jump – no matter the impact. You, and your brand, should be the most important focus point.

Here are some reasons you may want to go to an event

  • It’s in your neighborhood.
  • You have always wanted to go to this event.
  • You are doing it as a favor for a friend/client/PR
  • You want to hang out with your friends
  • It makes me look important
  • I can get rich content for my site.
  • The swag!
  • There is a blogger/client/PR that you have been trying to meet
  • You believe that you will add value to the event
  • You are trying to build your community
  • More…I am sure I am missing out something.

So that trinket you get may not be worth your time. Getting to events takes time, yours, your child’s, your spouse’s and more. It takes effort – prepping up kids for events, school, arranging pickups, drop-offs , extra activities, setting special activities, calling on favors from friends/family, parties etc. Getting to the airport- eating the crap while you wait after sitting in traffic getting there. And when you are exhausted as hell when you get back home, as much as you would like to plunk in your own bed, your spouse happily hands you the reigns before you step in the front door.

So that event better be worth what you are giving up to be there. And if it is then talk expenses. Or not. I recall making my way to some events at my own expense and using creative means to get there cheaply. People snickered and sniped as they learned I left home at 4am to drive 2 and half hours  to the next state  to take the local train for almost 2 hours. It was easy on the budget, but not so on the body. I could see the deriding looks from people thinking “man I could never be that desperate” but I knew I wanted to network among bloggers and brands. I also knew I did not want to spend my time moaning about opportunities but rather working hard to earn them. Some of my best opportunities came from moments I invested my own time and money, and some when money was the tightest ever. Having met some of my goals I am reaping those investments this year and can be a little more selective.

So to bring back to my original point; look deeper into that media opportunity to see what it affords you before seeing whether you can afford it.

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    Nancy Horn says:

    Niri, I think you are wonderful and I DISLIKE that anyone would snicker at you for doing what you needed to do to get to an event. Shame on them.

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    Niri, this is an EXCELLENT post. Every point was bang on.

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    So true. I try to look ahead a bit to see if the relationship with the company (or even just the rep) will be important. I’ve paid my way to a couple of events (flights from FL to NY), because I felt that the relationship with the organization was too important to allow money to get in the way.

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    Alicia says:

    Great article Niri. Lately, I ask myself what an event means to me AND to my readers. I think bloggers and editors too often accept an invitation because it is a nice trip or event for themselves and/or their family to go on or attend but in the case that a company is paying big bucks for us to attend, I want to be sure that my readers will appreciate it too. So now I ask myself “what would this trip or event mean or do for my readers”, before committing to the event.
    - Alicia

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    Great post, Niri!!

    I remember you telling us about that 2 hour drive/train ride for that event. I’ll admit I thought you were crazy at first, but your point about connecting with people is a good one and your decision makes complete sense.

    I for one am absolutely all about making an investment. Whether it’s time or money. That trip was an investment for you in some capacity and I’m willing to bet it has resulted in what you were anticipating. Sure, we’re not going to do that all the time (as you also point out for the reason in even going to these events), everyone needs to weigh the family and/or business decision in each situation. But, in doing so, the results could yield way more than the investment.

    And, sometimes it’s just plain FUN to see our friends at these events too! Here I am thinking I’m going to spend some $$ out of pocket to go hang with a few friends at an organized event (after their event is over, their all staying over an extra day). It’s not a business decision at all. I just love these women and I want to hug their necks! I guess I’m able to do that because I’ve made investments of various kinds along the way…and I’m budgeting for it :)

    So, now my question is where are you gonna be next so I can invest in going there?? :)

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    Kelly says:

    I love this post. What a great reminder to think before you say yes to every opportunity.

    I also have done many trips on my own dime (or without payment) but as you said that takes away from your family, and does require herculean planning efforts.

    That’s why I’m planning to take trips further apart, and make sure I have plenty of time off after. I always feel like I need a few days to recover when I come home.

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    Good points! I’d personally add (and I suspect you might too), that another reason to attend is to contribute to an important cause or give back to your community.

    By the way, as someone who stared at you in shock over your travel arrangements, I want to make sure you know that it wasn’t derision. I was impressed by your commitment to getting where you felt like you needed to be. The toll on my energy level is far too great to embark on a journey like that. Then again, looking at your schedule always makes me feel tired!

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    Hollee says:

    Niri — I love the way you dig deeper in this post. I have been dealing with a similar situation trying to figure out what I am willing, and perhaps more importantly, not willing to do for my book launch. My heart is so tied in the project that part of me would go to the ends of the earth to sell a copy. But that simply does not make sense. Lucky for me, I have a business partner and a husband to keep me grounded when my mind gets ahead of me. But I am trying to think about more than the end game, and about what I want to give up and what I don’t. Such meaty stuff here — thank you!

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    Candace@mamanista.com says:

    This is why I turn down 95% of the trips that are offered, even though expenses are covered. I have to take time away from my young family and the paid work I do from home so that I can be home while my children are young.

    You are right… first it has to be a fit… then it has to be doable.

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    Well written – at comes at just the right time for me and my developing philosophies in this biz ;)

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    I have been in your shoes. Twice drove to train station to take a 3-hour train to NYC. Well worth it both times I did this “crazy to some trip.” In my own neck of the woods I regularly drive 1 hour plus to go to events in two local cities. If I cannot make the event work, for family/scheduling reasons, I don’t go. If PR, offers parking I gratefully accept it. If no parking is offered, I keep the receipt for taxes.

    I’m proud of what you have accomplished. I am slowly but surely seeing some return on my investments of time, too.

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    Yakini says:

    This is fantastic, Niri!!! I agree whole-heartedly. It’s important that we pinpoint what the value of the event is to us….. and that should be what we base our decision to attend on, independent of finances.

    I, too, have footed the expense for certain events in the past, but the networking/opportunities that it led to were priceless!!!! I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

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    Qim says:

    Sometimes an event is important enough to spend the time there, but not enough to spend $1000 in airplane tickets and hotel or driving 1000 miles.

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