How to minimize gatecrashing (a.k.a. Gatecrasher Prevention 101)

If you follow the strange but true(?) events happening on the Pinoy blogosphere, no doubt by now you’ve heard about the latest incident. In case you haven’t, here’s the short version: Blogger punches PR person during an event.

Merriam Webster Online

The long version is, please take note this is based on what I’ve heard because I was not there. Blogger supposedly goes to the event but is denied entry because she isn’t invited. In short, she’s a gatecrasher. In a fit of rage (I assume that’s what it is) she hits (accounts vary — some say slapped some say punched) the PR person. PR person allegedly does not retaliate. Of course, this is all just hearsay at this point.

Provided this account is accurate, I feel sorry for the PR person. She’s just doing her job in not letting the gatecrasher through. After all, she has to protect her client’s interest. If she were to accommodate every Tom, Dick, and Harry that would show up it would seriously affect her client’s event in terms of logistics. Some guests would have to go without food, seats, and press kits because you can never prepare an unlimited number of them. The venue would get overcrowded, and so it wouldn’t be comfortable anymore. I don’t know why some people don’t understand that. Personally, I find it so degrading to have to practically beg for invites or to show up uninvited hoping for accommodation. If they wanted you there you would have been invited. If not, good grief, please get a life and move on!

Gatecrashers seem unavoidable when it comes to press and blogger events. I have enough good friends in PR to know that bloggers aren’t the only guilty parties when it comes to this, some traditional media people gatecrash too. Anyhow, I’m not posting to discuss the merits of gatecrashing (or the lack thereof). I just want to share some tips on how to minimize gatecrashing in events based on my own experiences as a blogger and (sometimes) blogger event organizer:

  1. Read before you invite.

    Laughable, yes? Believe it or not, this very basic thing is actually NOT being done by a lot of PR people. Before you invite such and such blogger / columnist / writer etc. please take the time to read what they’ve put out. This will actually give you a VERY GOOD idea of who to invite and not to invite because you get an insight as to what kind of person he/she is, how she thinks, and so forth. Is his/her blog full of cut and paste material? Does he/she connect and interact with her readers? You will better be able to gauge if the person is a good fit for the brand or company you’re working with. You will also get a good idea of his/her ethics.

  2. Make it clear in your invitation that your event is strictly by invitation, non-transferable, and you are reserving one (1) seat for the invitee. 

    This is to discourage people from bringing companions when there is space for none. Likewise, if you are allowing plus one, indicate in the invitation that he/she may bring one (1) companion. This will minimize the chances of people bringing in a whole barangay. If plus ones are not allowed, feel free to say so.

  3. Follow up on an invitee’s RSVP if he/she does not commit.

    It will help if you get it straight from the invitee if he/she is coming or not. This will help avoid misrepresentation since there are unscrupulous people who would show up claiming to be so and so’s representative when in fact so and so never authorized anyone to proxy for him/her.

  4. Avoid posting anything about an event before it happens on public social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, etc.

    A lot of serial gatecrashers are constantly on the lookout for events to crash via social networking sites. They would follow and subscribe to PR people, media people, personalities. Let me explain. All it takes is a tweet, plurk, or FB status like “Who’s going to the Nike event at The Fort tonight?” and there you have it… a gatecrasher magnet. These people are very resourceful. They will find out where at The Fort and what time. So please, refrain from posting such details on social networking sites.

  5. If you can, refrain from accommodating gatecrashers.

    Accommodating them just encourages them to do it again and again. One of the reasons why they’re growing in numbers is because of the thought that they will always be accommodated if they show up. I attended an event wherein gatecrashers were allowed in. They had dinner just like everyone else. But when the time came for the tokens to be given out, they were told that “We’re sorry. You are not on the guest list and so we cannot provide you with a token since every single one is accounted for.”. 

Of course if you’re actually gunning for a high number of attendees and lots of warm bodies, you can actually make it an open event wherein anyone can just register for it. There are actually some brands and PRs who think that is the way to go.

I will admit that there are times I dread being referred to as a blogger because of all the negative connotations that it carries. I just want to say that not all bloggers are loot bag grubbing bottom feeders who would do anything for a freebie. Enough said.

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