Picture the scene, after a busy day behind your desk you’ve hazarded a sweaty, cramped journey on the tube into the centre of London, fought your way through meandering crowds of tourists and arrived, breathless and flustered at an event hosted by one of your favourite brands. But…after having your name ticked off the list and being offered a drink the PR disappears and you’re left alone in a crowded room, with music blaring and barely a hint of what exactly it is the event is supposed to be celebrating or what their latest product does.
After awkwardly sipping your Prosecco and scrolling through your phone, you attempt to make your way around the venue and have a look at whatever product is being launched, but there’s nobody to really tell you about it, and all the PRs in the room seem to be interested in is taking photos of their ‘VIP’ reality TV guests and shoving as much product as they can into their hands while ignoring everyone else in the room.
After half an hour, you give up and head for the door. There’s nobody to say goodbye to you, so nobody offers you a goody bag and you slip back into the night none the wiser about what the f*ck the brand wanted you to see or why you were even invited.
When I first began blogging, invites to events were like gold dust. I remember how incredibly excited I used to be to venture into London for the evening to meet fellow bloggers and learn about the latest beauty launches. On my journey home I couldn’t resist looking in the goody bag and the next day I would get to work snapping photos of each product before trialling them and sharing them on my blog.
In the past five years events have morphed into something I have to admit I rarely enjoy. They used to be an opportunity to meet the PRs you regularly emailed and learn a bit more about the latest products their clients were launching. More recently, they seem to just be an opportunity for brands to get as much free social media coverage as possible, regardless of how well it links to the product they’re launching or who the people attending are.
When it comes to influencer events in 2018, I think it’s safe to say they can be good, bad and sometimes pretty damn ugly.
The good ones are the ones where the brand clearly values every person in the room. Nobody is invited as ‘filler’, they know your name and they appreciate the content you create for the brand. The activity/event is well linked to whatever is being launched (for example, a neon-themed photoshoot with a professional photographer for the launch of new highlighter sticks), the PRs are on hand to make sure everyone is having a good time and they have ensured the event is set up in a way that means everyone will be able to create content from photos taken during it.
I tend to leave these events with a new-found excitement about the brand. I understand why they’ve launched the new products, and I know how to use them myself so I’m itching to get stuck into them and share them on my blog. These are the events that I tend to get the most content out of. I have lots of imagery to work with and I know whatever I do will be appreciated by the PRs who organised it.
The bad ones are the ones where is painfully clear that there’s a hierarchy to guests and the majority of people in the room were only invited to fill it and make it look ‘busy’. You tend to have to queue to get into the venue, it’s crowded and it’s difficult to get a look at the products or really learn anything about them. When you leave, you’ll be thanked for attending and handed a goody bag, but when you email the PR to thank them for inviting you and to send them your blog and social media posts there’s no response and you never hear from them again. These events tend to be tiring, and I sometimes do wonder if it is really worth a few hours of my time for an eyeshadow palette or serum I’m not even sure I want to write about on my blog.
I could take or leave these events. More recently, I won’t go unless I know 3-4 other people attending that I can catch up with. Otherwise, they tend to be pretty boring and I’ll find myself sat in the corner sipping Prosecco and checking my watch until I feel I can leave.
The damn ugly ones are, quite frankly, a shambles. They’re dimly lit, there’s nobody checking off names and nobody greets you. People are getting pissed at the bar, clearly nobody cares about the products being launched and it’s just an excuse for them to drink at the brand’s expense. You wander around wondering why on earth the PRs invited you, and although you look for them, there’s nobody to talk you through the new products. You leave and don’t say goodbye. You don’t get a goody bag, so don’t get to test out the products for yourself and it all just feels like a massive waste of time. Time that you could have spent writing blog posts or, y’know, tucking into a box of 20 chicken nuggets in front of the latest Netflix Original…
In fact, I think one of the worst events I went to was a drop in one, where I turned up around lunchtime only to walk in on a sit down lunch with editors from traditional magazines and newspapers. I’ve never felt more mortified and uncomfortable in my life! I was awkwardly shown round the new launches by one of the PRs (who looked confused as to why I was there) and hastily left. I really wish the PRs had told me they were hosting a more intimate event during lunchtime so I could have avoided that situation.
Another instance that springs to mind is a launch for a new hair product that was hosted in a hotel. The goody bags were literally snatched up, and we only really got to see the products from a distance, as there was a constant crowd swarming the table with them on (which was, apparently, a station where you could customise the product yourself with stick on gems and letters). One attendee had come in assless chaps and a leotard and I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth she had navigated London’s transport system to get to the event. We left fairly quickly, without a goody bag, and I still to this day have no clue what was so special about the hair product they were launching!
The annoying thing about these ones is that you never really know which events it will be, and it’s just so frustrating when you turn up and suddenly realise it’s going to be a waste of your time.
So, as the title of this post suggests, I’ve had enough of poorly run events. The only reason I go to events is to learn more about the latest launches and to socialise with my fellow bloggers. Unless I’m being filled in on a new product, or given the opportunity to create some gorgeous content I’m really not interested. I could not care less about swigging Prosecco or going to fancy venues, I honestly do see it as a waste of time unless I can generate some content out of it.
From now on, I’m going to be super selective with what I attend. If I know the venue isn’t well lit, I most likely won’t attend. I would rather not waste my, or the brand’s, time by attending something I know I won’t enjoy just for the sake of having a full diary.
What do you think about ‘influencer events’? Which ones do you enjoy attending? Have you had any horror stories?