Last month we journeyed to Atlanta for an amazing hip hop festival called A3C! It was my first time going to such a big event and certainly my first time trying to cover one. Here are the tools I used and tips I’ve learned that will hopefully help you survive your next event.
For the purposes of this article I’m going to skip the basic things like your phone and laptop. I think everyone knows if they’re going to cover an event they’ll need those items. Instead I rather focus on the things you didn’t know you’d need until now!
Business Cards & Other Materials
You’re already learning how important it is to build your brand and being at an event in our field is a goldmine! Business cards, flyers, stickers, apparel, anything and everything you can stick your logo and website on is an opportunity. There’s so many places you can brand your stuff online a few of my favorites are MOO and PSPrint.
Not all phones are equal. Some smartphone cameras are terrible and not suitable for journalism of any kind (looking at my OnePlus One as I type this), while others are champions like the past few iPhones and many recent releases. Those of you who aren’t blessed in the smartphone camera department will definitely want to take a decent camera. On the high-end I’d hit the Sony NEX-6L/B, but if you need something more affordable and still quality the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS is a great alternative.
Portable Battery Charger
This is a necessity! You will be tweeting, you will be texting back home, you will be trying to run your business/life from the event, and obviously you will have a battery dead before the end of a long day. Not to mention cameras or tablets can benefit from this too. I have a Lumsing 11000mAh that I got for a steal at $20, but it seems as it’s disappeared off the Internet. This Lumsing 10400mAh is pretty comparable at the same price! Of course there are tons of other options.
I can’t justify a whole paragraph on just a flashlight, right? However make sure you have the essentials like an LED flashlight, a laptop sleeve, a microfiber cleaning cloth, snacks (gum at least), a bottle of water, a small towel (outside gets hot!), common wires like USB, and a flash drive with your business logo. Think it seems like overkill? I ended up using every single item.
Backpack To House It All
Just think about it. You have your necessities, snacks, drinks, and whatever you get while at the event. Do you want to bug down your pockets or have to hold it all? Nope. Get a nice comfortable backpack of some kind to help lug your stuff around. I have a super comfortable Flud Tech Bag, which comes in a plethora of colors and materials. There’s also some pretty cool bags from Herschel Supply Co. Just don’t go for the drawstring as your back and shoulders will hate you after one day.
Have A Plan, But Deviate From It
To say we didn’t stick to our schedule is an understatement. That’s not saying we didn’t have fun, we had a blast. Things come up, moods change, opportunity knocks, and the next thing you know you’re at a showcase or panel you never thought you’d end up going to. Having your plan is a solid idea, but when something better comes up you bet your butt you should take it! We ended up discovering a ton of new artists we like this way!
I love rocking a hoodie and a fresh pair of AF1s. In fact I bought a new pair just to wear at A3C. We all know how uncomfortable new shoes are, right. Well fortunately I also bought my first pair of Timbaland boots too. They were so damn comfortable and roomy I never even laced up my new sneakers. My feet didn’t even hurt in the least bit, which made the whole event pleasurable – even though we walked a lot. And hoodies? Forget about that. Atlanta in October is still way too hot for that!
Maps & Apps
It’s obvious that if you’re in an area you don’t know that you should be using Google Maps. Though what will slip your mind is the extra apps for navigation through a city you don’t know. One of our problems was finding parking everyday, a web app like ParkMe takes the frustration of having to Google parking lots. Some other good apps to use are Yelp for food places, Uber / Lyft for rides between venues (so you don’t have to lose your parking), and the official app of your event (most big events have one).
Promotion & Networking
Also a bit redundant from the above section, but I think it goes without saying – networking is the key part to any business, project, or even life. I had gotten us 500 business cards and a pair of shirts to promote ThinkDope and my design business. Sure, we weren’t just there to advertise, but with so many artists and like-minded people why wouldn’t we?
Goto mixers and other networking meetings at the event you’re covering. Exchange cards, chop it up about your favorite musicians, talk about what you’ve experienced this far. People love authenticity so be genuine. Don’t just shove your card down someone’s throat. A few people were doing that and everyone else would just toss out their cards. So just mingle and mention what you do when the time is right.
Remember To Relax and Have Fun
Going back to authenticity for one second, people can tell when you’re enjoying yourself or not. Truly kick back and enjoy the event. There has to be some reason other than work-related purposes. Favorite musicians, meeting up with friends, whatever the case be – enjoy it!
Can you add any tools or tips to survive any event? Drop them in the comments!