Make it Work
Make it Work
San Diego Comic-Con International is more than a gathering place of likeminded geeks who love to show off their obsession for comics, video games, movies, and TV shows. It’s a treasure trove of possible content for writers looking for their next big interview or news scoop.
If writers plan their convention time well they can gather enough material for dozens of articles while making crucial contacts with other journalists and editors.
“An event like Comic-Con can provide list of story ideas to last all year,” Lisa Hix, Associate Editor at Collectors Weekly said. “It’s also a great place to meet your audience and get their feedback. You make essential connections with other journalists, bloggers, publicists, as well as the artists, actors, and creators you want to write about.”
“An event like Comic-Con is where we meet our contributors and PR people,” David Bradley, Editor-on-Chief of SFX Magazine said. “This business is not just about contacts, it’s about relationships, and face-to-face meetings are the way to maintain them.”
“This is where grassroots fandom get together to celebrate, and being part of that is important so you don’t lose touch,” Bradley said. “Conventions have become venues where the studios make their big announcements. It’s the Cannes of the geek world. Actors, writers and directors come here too, precisely because they want to engage with the fans. That means there are unprecedented opportunities to gather news and interviews.”
Pack Like a Writer
Writers must give packing for Comic-Con a bit more thought that the usual fan, so plan ahead. Bring pens, a small notebook, phone charger, back-up phone battery pack, voice recorder, batteries, card reader, USB drives and of course, business cards.
“I carry a notebook, and if I’m covering panels, I bring my iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard so I can type during the panel rather than transcribing later,” IGN.com blogger Amy Ratcliffe said.
“Pack something to eat and drink in your bag,” Bradley said. “There’s lots of waiting in meeting rooms for your interview to arrive. There’s always something going on so back-to-back meetings and panels are common. If you’re not careful, you’ll have to survive all day on coffee kiosk cookies. Keep a bottle of water on you and if you’re lucky enough to get invited to a meeting where sandwiches are provided, take ‘em.”
At the convention, writers have endless panels and events to choose from. Planning ahead helps writers determine who to interview and what panels to cover. Staying flexible helps prevent unneeded stress.
“Before I leave, I have an Excel schedule of all the panels I must attend and I purposely schedule time for just walking around the exhibit hall for product and cosplay pictures,” Ratcliffe said. “I add parties to that schedule. I keep that print-out with me for the whole convention.”
“Things happen at the last minute, schedules change all the time; sometimes this means you’ll have to run out of an event before it’s finished in order to do something else, if you’re not careful,” Bradley said. “So don’t try to do everything. Keep your eyes open for the important opportunities and resign yourself to missing a few things.”
Everyone is late to something,” Coming Soon Contributing Editor Jenna Busch said. “Everyone misses something. It’s normal for the con. Don’t let it shake you. Make friends with your fellow reporters. You can always get someone to send you a recording if they like you and you miss the beginning. That’s why you need to get cards. Exchange info right on the site so you can send a follow up email.”
While writers may be eager to attend back-to-back panels and fill their spare time with interviews, it’s a good idea to plan breaks and downtime in order to stay sane.
“Walk away from the exhibit hall and find a quiet place to recharge,” Ratcliffe said. “I seek out the quietest part of the convention center I can find and chill out for a few minutes. You really have to let go of a fear of missing things, or you’ll constantly be stressed.”
“Don’t deny yourself alone time,” Bradley said. “Make time for breakfast. Take a coffee break in the afternoon. Get some fresh air by the sea between panels if you can. Go over your notes for your next interview quietly in the Starbucks opposite the Convention Center before heading back into the throng. Grab those moments when you can and don’t feel guilty about it: your energy levels will benefit from just a few moments quiet preparation.”
“Remember to have fun,” Bradley said. “You’ll become drained if it feels like a chore. People come to Comic-Con because it’s a blast and it can be easy to lose sight of that if you’re stuck behind the scenes running between pressrooms. Get out there and enjoy the convention a bit too. Go get some autographs or buy a Star Wars t-shirt. You’ll be more energized if you remember why everybody is there.”