As of this writing, the Technorati story covering the opening of DLD (Digital.Life.Design) in Munich is #1 on Google if you search the term "DLD Munich", and that even beats the BusinessWeek blog by a couple of positions, but to know what a miracle that is would be to know what the Technorati writer had to go through just to get the damn thing. Hearing about the conference from CNBC just days before, said writer, went immediately to the DLD website only to be told that reservations had been closed days earlier and press verification closed in December of 09. So why TF were they running ads the week before if reservations were already closed? Cause CNBC was a 'conference partner' and those were free slots? Good guess. Partner agreement partially satisfied.
But the writer was justifiably unsatisfied and justifiably so - so he set about instituting an 'Evil Plan' to get press creds to cover the event. Writer's Evil Plan detailed here:
1) Write Technorati Executive Editor and request approval to cover event
2) Write DLD press contact and apologize for being late and request to cover event
3) Read all 150 bios for speakers, find as many emails as possible, and write to speakers directly saying he was sorry you might not be able to see them at the event because press accreditation had closed.
4) Write to DLD affiliate Xing and see if contacts there could slide him into the event organized by their parent company.
5) Write blog post detailing said event and wonder if writer would be able to cover it or not due to late notice and closed registration. 5b) Suggest in blog post that writer might have to cover the event as Hunter S. Thompson covered the Pulitzer Divorce trial in the 80s from a bar down the street, if writer couldn't get proper press credentials . 5c) Circulate blog post liberally: Digg, Mixx, Facebook, DailyRadar, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Tumblr, FriendFeed et al. 5d) Forward blog post to DLD press contact.
6) Wait. Sharpen Gonzo quill pen just in case...
Evil plans like the one above are fun and take virtually all night to do but not a single one of the strategies above would be a sure bet because this particular writer was not only way late to the party, but didn't know one single person in the flesh who could help him. Maybe the sheer mass of shit thrown up against the wall would get something to stick.
1) Technorati returns mail inside of 10 minutes with message, "Go for it!"
2) Forward Technorati mail to DLD press contact
3) Mail from 2 speakers returned in 4 hours with encouragement
4) DLD affiliate Xing sends regrets but even some of them can't get into the event - Thinks Technorati affiliation should do it
5) Blog post gathers hits and messages of encouragement
6) Email from DLD press contact approves press pass (with conditions) in roughly 24 hours
Deal done, but there are conditions - the conditions being that it's a pass limited to only the first day of a three-day conference with the added bonus of a fairly posh party the following night with British singer Cheryl Cole taking the entertainment spot that Lady Gaga had occupied the previous year.
Our writer considers the conditions of the conditions and rightfully decides that negotiation is not a profitable option considering that this particular conference is considered to be particularly snotty and Munich itself has proven to have been particularly snotty on other occasions involving significant expense, celebrity, and corporate snottiness. Take the deal he says. It might be the best one can get during a global economic crisis. But crisis, it turns out to be, would be the farthest thing from people's minds at the actual event. Entry fees were reported to have been around $3k for three days so if the writer got in for 1/3 of that, that's a grand in market value for a night's worth of writing and emailing and at least one story. Fair enough.
But is it fair to either the writer or the event to try to cover a three-day event in a third of the time? That would remain to be seen. Anticipating that all the other early-vetted journalists would have plenty of time for interviews and proper story submission the intrepid Technorati writer spends the next couple of days preparing an interview form and posting it on the web in hopes of engaging the speakers early and getting interview commitments early. (Technorati DLD Interview) He gets one commitment so that's a go, right? Almost.
Day one at the conference proves to be a complete and total media circus. 800+ guests, 100 speakers and who knows how many journos. If they weren't carting a camera it was either a laptop a palmtop, iPhone or next generation Dick Tracy watch. The place needed signs warning people with pacemakers. It was a digital madhouse and decked out with enough German security to bring back fond memories of Steve McQueen in 'The Great Escape' - but these guards weren't in the business of keeping people in - their job was to keep people out and they were good at it. All on the inside sported neck lanyards and plastic ID badges with blue for journos, red for participants and a bit of a fusia colour for speakers, making it a real challenge to tell the interview subjects from the hoi poloi, and looking for expensive Italian loafers wasn't going to help either. There were more of those on the guests than there would have been on the panelists or presenters. The writer pauses, considers the waters, checks the packed schedule, and realizes he'll be lucky to cover the main event, let alone interview anyone.
A check in the press room reveals a live video stream for the event and a pack of writers just phoning it in from the Starship Enterprise bridge of the place. If our writer had half a brain he might have considered the same thing - it all came down to which half he would bring to the event that day. Luckily he had used up the left in pre-planning and only had the right left. Creativity and serendipity became his journalistic hemispheres for the day. The spirit of the good Dr. Thompson was indeed a felt presence. "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
In conversations that day and continuing on to the lalapalooza Red Bull and liquor sucking festival the next evening, the writer tells his tale of getting into the whole shebang in the first place. "That's an amazing story", exclaims one attendee, "You've got to meet Peter Hirshberg. He was chairman of Technorati!". "No shit", responds the writer, "They got me here, maybe he got me here." On meeting Hirshberg the writer regales him with the story of how he came to cover the event and drink enough Red Bull to get an Iggy Pop physique in under 4 hours. Hirshberg, nonplussed simply responds, "Only a day pass? You should have told them you were flying in from New York to do it and they would have laid on the full package."
But a blogger that no one at all had known just a few days prior had worked, cajoled and snagged himself a legal invite the most sought after event in Europe, short of the econ summit in Davos on the last week of January in the year of 2010.
When asked how he felt about the whole affair, the writer responded, "Forget DLD next year. I'm going to start working on Davos now - and get them to do it with all bills paid - Clinton and Gates."
Had the organizers seen fit to have given him more than a one day pass they could have gotten so much more than the brief rundown they received. But then again, had that happened the writer wouldn't have had near as fun on those stories as he did on this one. Long live the Blogosphere.