Saturday, 11 July 2009

Do Your Homework!

Having recently been thrown head first into the madness that is writing articles I decided to push myself a little further and attend the Olympian Games in Muchwenlock. After several phonecalls I went to Muchwenlock this morning and was issued with my Press pass and media pack and I will be returning tomorrow for the main portion of the games: Athletics, road race, fencing, and bike race.

I've never attended an event like this in a professional capacity before and so I feel a mixture of nausea, elation, anxiety and excitement at the prospect of coming well and truly out of my comfort zone and doing something new. I'm assured it's all good fun and character building! I didn't think it would be so easy to get permission to become part of the press pack as, although I've had some articles published before, I would hardly call myself confident, or an expert in this area. I am, however, determined to give it my best shot and write an article that the Olympian Society can be proud of. And thank you, Simon Whaley, for your help so far! I had a panic on yesterday when I knew I was going to the games and he managed to calm me down!

So here are some tips on preparing for an event like this.

1. Don't panic - it's not going to kill you! Stay calm and enjoy the experience as you will learn more this way.

2. Do your homework - find out as much as you can about the event and its organisers before you attend. Go on the internet, ring/visit the organisers and look out for pictures/info on previous year's events. It will make the organisers feel that you are committed to their cause and that you know what you're talking about.

3. Be honest - if it's one of the first events you've attended and you have only been published a couple of times tell them. There's no point lying, and they will appreciate your honesty. They want publicity no matter how low key - so any publicity in your article writing you can give them they are not going to turn you away.

4. Be confident and friendly - don't be frightened of them; they won't bite! Honest.

5. Be prepared - don't forget to take your notes, pens, dictaphone (if you use one) and camera with you. You will just look unprofessional if you're rooting around in your bag for a pen, or paper and it's likely to annoy the person you're talking to.

6. Dress for the occassion - I don't mean don your best dress/suit, just make sure you're wearing something suitable for the environment you're in. It's no good wearing killer heels and a smart skirt if you're going to be yomping over muddy fields. And make sure you're comfortable - no one wants to talk to a writer/journalist who is grimmacing and shuffling about in their seat because their shoes are pinching and their skirt/trousers are too tight.

7. Be vigilant - look through the media pack and other information they give you. Be very careful re copywright and read the forms they may ask you to sign. You may need written permission to take photographs and use some of the literature they give you.

8. Cough up - some organisers of events will ask for a percentage of the sale you make on any articles you sell using details of the event: interviews, photographs, historical info etc. This may not be up for negotiation so unless you want to run the risk of being barred from the event, and any future one, pay up!

9. Be professional - You are more likely to get the info you want by being polite and playing the game their way. The way you behave at events could lead to having more work or less, so make sure you behave appropriately at all times an ensure that the tone of your articles are favourable to the event and its organisers. You don't want to upset anyone. If you have any complaints about the event then talk to the organisers instead. They would much rather you brought the issue to their attention first and not slate them in an article.

10. Enjoy yourself - it's work but that doesn't mean it has to be tedious or painful! Your articles are likely to be better if you go with the flow and have fun.

Julie xx


  1. Hi Julie
    This is a great blog, it has re-kindled my interest in article writing and I shall be following your progress. I have been stuffing information away for years with a view to putting them into an article so I now feel inspired to 'do something' with them all now.
    Well done

  2. Hi, Di! You wouldn't have been inspired by my next post then! All the article writing stuff was driving me mad! I just find trying to find appropriate markets and waiting for editors to get back to you on your proposal a very slow and frustrating process!

    Some editors get back to you within hours and say no and that's fine - at least you know where you stand. But some editors take months and then either contact you and say no or, even worse, you hear nothing at all and within all this time you catch sight of a similar article to yours in other magazine and wail "that should have been mine!!" Stunning!

    Feeling much better now by the way and I'm going to have a clear out of my desk so I can see what I'm doing!

    See you Saturday
    Julie xx