When is it appropriate to share bad news? This is a question I found myself thinking about a lot this weekend. I attended the “Cover Talk” event for Woe Magazine and during the Q&A session, I asked Claire Sulmers, “What do you do if attend an event with a press pass but do not enjoy it? Are you obligated to blog about it?” It was like a cold freeze went through the room. I do not understand why, I felt like it was a valid question. So before I tell you Claire’s response, I want to share an experience that I had with you.
(Photo retrieved from Fashionbombdaily.com)
Last year I attended a very popular event in NYC. I took a 3 hour bus ride to NYC with a couple of my friends and throughout the entire ride our excitement was building. We were so happy to be attending an event that we thought we missed out on the previous year. So we arrived at the hotel that the event was being held in a little early and went to the bar in the lobby to have a drink while we waited until it was time for the event to begin. As we were checking in, one of the host of the event told the women checking us in that we were not allowed in the bar because we did not have a VIP pass. That was annoyance number one. Fifteen minutes later, someone came to us in the lobby and told us we were actually allowed to buy a drink. Ooookay.
About ten minutes before the event starts, we line up to go upstairs to the event. We ended up standing in line for an hour before anyone was allowed into the event. Yes, we were not allowed to start going upstairs in the one working elevator until one hour after the event started. If you are counting this is annoyance number two.
After repeating some positive affirmations, my friends and I decided to try to just enjoy the event. We found our seats and started taking our pictures for Instagram. It was all good for about an hour. Apparently the event was overbooked and the fire marshall separated the party into two areas. Whatever room you were in when the fire marshall arrived is where you had to stay for the remainder of the event. Unfortunately for me, I was on the side without the dj, bar, food, or bathroom and one of my friends was stuck on the other side. It took a lot of arguing for her to be able to join us. In addition, the other patrons that were waiting downstairs were prevented from getting into the party even if they had tickets. Annoyance number three.
A few days after the event, I saw so many people on Instagram saying that they had such a good time at the event. Maybe they did but what I found most interesting is that no one seemed to complain about not getting in or just the overall disaster that the event turned out to be. And then I realized, most of the people that attended the event wanted to be in the position of the hosts of the event. They wanted to obtain a sponsorship from a big company so that they could host events in their name. This was an industry party.
This year, one of my friends, who didn’t attend the event last year, contacted me about buying tickets for the event. I described how awful it was and told her that I was not going to attend.
If you are wondering why I didn’t share the issues that occurred at the event before my friend asked me to attend this year it is because truthfully I really struggled with whether I should. I felt like people should be forewarned about the possibility of a disaster if they attended the event in the future because that is the type of information that I would like when I am deciding which events I should attend, especially if I have to travel across multiple states to get there. But I could not figure out what I would gain from spreading bad news. In the end I just decided that I would only tell my friends or people who specifically asked me about it and I would not attend anymore events sponsored by them.
That was a good plan (I think) for a party that I paid to attend but I wasn’t sure that would work for an event that I attended with a press pass. It was my understanding that if I attended an event for free with a press pass that it was my obligation to write about it. That is what makes it a “win win” for the host of the event. The issue arises when I do not enjoy myself at the event due to things under the control of the host. Do I owe it to my readers to share both the good and the bad information so that they could be informed? Do I owe it to the host to only share positive things about the event? I was in such a tug a war with myself, I decided that I just would not apply for any more press passes because I did not want to feel obligated to “fudge” the truth about an event. Although I knew that wasn’t ideal because as a blogger, it is important for me to attend various events and share my experiences and it would not be realistic for me to pay to attend all of them nor would it allow me the type of access that I need to maintain an interesting blog.
Therefore, the question that I asked Claire came from a real source of confusion for me. I was not trying to be negative nor was I trying to offend anyone. Whether anyone understood that or not, I do not know but Claire did give me a response. According to Claire, a blogging icon and Harvard graduate, I am not obligated to write about an event unless I sign a contract. She told me that she likes to be positive so if she attended an event that she did not enjoy she would just move on without writing about it.
I breathed a sigh of relief because that is how I would like to handle it but I’m still pondering my responsibility to my readers.
What do you think? Am I overthinking this? Would you like to know about the good and the bad news? Help!