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Media Access to Events • What You Need To Know

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Gaining media access to events can be tricky and depends on a number of factors.

This post will examine some best practices for requesting media access to events you wish to cover for the International Press Association and what you need to do to increase your odds of obtaining that access. Access isn’t automatic just because you flash a press card. In fact, media access is more elusive than ever due to heightened security globally.


The Event Itself Can Dictate Who Obtains Access

First, determine if the event is considered a major media event and one that will receive tons of press coverage.  If it is, it will be more difficult to gain access.  If it is a lesser-known or smaller event, they will most likely welcome the publicity and coverage you can give them at IPA.

Now, you shouldn’t be discouraged even if it is considered a major media event or opportunity, because many IPA members and staff have covered these events as well.  It can be a challenge to gain the access to these opportunities, and your Profile and work will probably be the deciding factor in your getting the thumbs up. Remember that these highly publicized or popular events (like a major concert or show, a national sporting event, a red carpet event with limited space for members of the media) will be more difficult to gain entry and may not be obtainable at all for you,  unless you are on an assignment for a major publication and can supply proof that you are.

But our philosophy at IPA is to try and present your best samples of your published works, including those on the IPA web site.  As I have always said to my students over the years, “What is the worst thing they can say to you?  No…but they just might say yes, what do you have to lose?” I hate to use cliches but, “You have nothing to gain if you don’t try,” so give it a shot, you have nothing to lose. I have personally gained access to everything from major concerts to exclusive, invitation only parties thrown at many Vegas conventions and shows I have attended.


Why Should You Receive Access?

Imagine how many people in the US alone represent small local newspapers, magazines or web sites? Oh, let us not forget our digital friends, the bloggers, too.  All would love to have access to a major sporting event or a great concert too. Well today, those that grant this access will check carefully to make sure you can give them quality coverage in a legitimate media outlet with a strong readership.  They also want to see your work and verify it meets the highest standards. If you don’t qualify in this category, then this type of access will be difficult even with your IPA press ID.

Now if it is a smaller or less popular event – a concert in a smaller venue (and even big stars hold concerts in intimate venues: IPA reviewed a Bonnie Raitt concert in Atlantic City), a high school or college sporting event, trade shows, consumer shows, press conferences announcing something new that a company or local business is holding – then the odds of you gaining access is much greater.

Now again, this is not to say you will be relegated to covering local soccer games and cookie sales at the local school, but you should understand how this all works and learn the fine art of good communications and salesmanship.  Quite often, it is how you speak to, or write people, that makes them decide to grant you the access.  If they like you, they will invite you and it may not have anything to do with how much publicity you can give them.  This is why it is so important to begin to communicate with the PR people before the event.

Help them get to know who you are and if you have to, pick up the phone: call them, introduce yourself and sell them on why they should grant you the access you desire.  Learn the ancient art of schmoozing [To converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.] It will help you for sure. Remember, no one has to grant you media access because you have a press card, that is the most common misnomer. It is an invitation to cover the event, remember this and be grateful when that access is granted.

In order to gain any access, you must understand a few basic rules.

  • You need to have IPA press identification to even request the access. Without our identification or other legitimate media outlet ID, you don’t stand a chance.
  • IPA members must have published works they can show the public relations or corporate communications personnel (hereafter referred to as “PR Rep” where possible to save space) to prove they are capable of covering the event properly, and are therefore deserving of this access.
  • IPA members must develop a strong portfolio on our web site that contains published articles and/or photos, as well as a professionally written resume.

You can view my profile once you login at:

You can also visit a past Showcase Member’s profile MIGUEL RAMO DEL VALLE at:


Step 1. Your “Resume”

You will note that both these profiles have brief resumes that describes the work we have done as it relates to relevant professions: as photographer, journalist, videographer, correspondent.

It is NOT important to indicate where you live, how many children you have or the fact that you would like to be a professional photographer or journalist one day. If you want a media exec to hire you for an assignment or you want to obtain media access from a PR Rep, ask yourself what it is that the media team would want from you. This is their business, pure and simple. What benefit will the media exec or PR Rep receive by having you cover their event?

You might write something like this:

I have been a photographer for (number of years). My work has been published on a number of web sites and printed media during that time, including (name some of the more prestigious publications of sites if you have any).

 I travel extensively both here in the United States and abroad and specialize in travel and leisure assignments.  Much of my work is published in a number of travel magazines and web sites a full list and references are available on request. (Again, tailor this so that it matches your expertise and references.)

I am currently available for freelance assignments in the New York (substitute your region/area) and will consider other assignments both domestic and international. I have strong expertise in other types of photography including but not limited to sporting events, concerts, shows, public events, studio and breaking news assignments.

This is just an example of what you may want to use in your profile. It is not a template. Be creative, think about what others will think when they read your profile and by all means remember what Len posted on this very blog: “You Only Get One Chance To Make A Good First Impression”.


Step 2: Your “Portfolio”

After you have your resume written, be sure you have published some samples of your work on our site.

Len gives some great tips on this in “Videos and Slideshows Make Articles and Profiles Shine”.

Articles are also quite easy to publish on  our sites.

Working on a WordPress blog is easy to do once you understand how it works. It is a good idea to create your copy first in a word or note pad app then simply copy and paste it into our WP form.  See our videos and articles about publishing on our sites.

Remember to skip a line between paragraphs and make your paragraphs shorter for easier reading on our web site. Unlike printed material, it is harder to read long text sections on a web page.

So now we have a resume, we have some great photos and we have a few well-written articles. Once you have a solid profile you are ready to gain that important access.


Step 3: Properly Requesting the Access

You want to cover that concert, trade show, attend that media party or event, but not sure what to do first or who to contact for the permission?

Below is an outline of the procedure that IPA members should follow.

  • Find the event on the web! It is easier than you think and most PR Reps will have information somewhere on the event web site for obtaining media access.
  • Do your best to find all the required information from the event web site. It is usually in a Media area or Press area of their site. Fill the event template out as completely as possible.
  • If they have press releases on their site, send us the link to those releases so we can post them. You can also send the PR Rep an email asking them to add IPA to their media list. 
  • Once you have added their event to our site and/or asked us to publish some of their press releases, it will be much easier for you to gain the access you will need.
  • If you have an IPA email address, now is the time to use it. Send the PR Rep an email to inform them that you listed their event or release on our web site and include the links. In this same email, you can let them know that you would appreciate access to their event so you can review or cover it for our web site.
  • Once the PR Rep sees you have given them advance publicity and coverage on our site, gaining the access is that much easier. If their event warrants a press release or doesn’t fit into the criteria for an IPA event listing (we usually reserve these for major events or shows), you may simply want to write an article on the topic or subject and then point them to your article. The idea is always to show the PR Rep the benefits of granting you the access.

And we always, I mean always, deliver what we promise to those PR Reps that gave us access.

That means if any IPA member promises to write a review of someone’s show or event, they must do it in a timely manner and email the PR Rep when the work is published.

If it is a review of a product or service – again – they should email the PR Rep with a link to that article or review and thank them for the opportunity given them to review the item for IPA.

It is all about integrity and honesty, and of course, your ability to deliver what you promised. Follow-up is critical to your reputation and ours.


How IPA Can Help You Succeed

Platinum IPA members receive a more personal level of support than Gold members and this also includes a profile review and help in writing your profile and articles. Our team will review many articles and correct errors in wording or grammar when they find them.

We can’t do this for each member, but we do try to look at many and edit them when time permits. If you need some help, let us know or post to this blog. There are members who will help you if you need it. In fact, we recently posted a blog entry on creating your profile – “Your IPA Profile is the Key to Your Success”for ideas for your own profile.

Watch for upcoming blog entries that cover more tips and tricks, and for a special Member Only area where we will post template emails that will help you properly ask for access.

If you follow our suggested guidelines and always deliver what you promise, you will find it easier to obtain the media access you seek.



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