Get Access to Events to Write Reviews
For the entertainment journalist, writing reviews is a staple means of earning money, but it's not nearly so profitable if you're having to buy tickets - and why should you do so when your work is a form of promotion?
Whether you're in sports writing or you're covering arts events, getting free review access is essential to your work. It's also essential to your status. Who's going to take seriously a so-called professional who has to pay?
If you're working for a particular publication, your editor will normally take care of review access for you, but if you're working as a freelancer you'll have to do it for yourself, and that can be a lot trickier.
Go to the TopThe first rile of getting review access is that you should never try to negotiate with the people in the box office. They'll have no authority to issue free tickets for you, and they can do without the hassle. Start making your arrangements well ahead of time and find out who is in charge of the event you want to go to.
In some cases there will be a press officer who can take care of things for you. In the absence of this, talk to the organisers themselves. Explain how you plan to cover the event and what your coverage will be worth to them.
Where most events are concerned, you will not be able to get press access if you don't know where your review is going to be published. If you can't arrange a buyer before you go in to do the review, there are two ways to handle this situation. The first is to work with a press agency, so that you can confirm that experts handle the placing of your reviews.
The second is to place your work with an organisation (such as a student newspaper or a well known fan website) which can't pay you but which won't take your copyright, so you remain free to sell your work to any publication which doesn't mind it having appeared in that context. Some such organisations will agree to let you use their name in return for only those reviews which you don't manage to sell elsewhere.
If you're taking photographs to illustrate your reviews, you will normally need to negotiate a photo pass as well as review access. In many cases, photo passes are strictly limited or not available at all, but in these instances you can usually arrange to use official photos taken by the venue's own photographer, at no cost to you or your publisher.
Regular EventsIf the event you plan to cover occurs on a regular basis, such as a weekend sports match, you won't need to guarantee that you can sell all your reviews in order to arrange access. Providing coverage on a frequent basis will usually be sufficient to get you a seasonal press pass.
Entertainment venues which run regular events specifically for the press (such as cinemas providing preview screenings of upcoming films) will usually be quite relaxed about giving you ongoing access even as a freelancer without an established publisher.
You can also work towards building up a relationship with particular venues. This is often easier with independent venues which place a higher value on press coverage because the events they host are less likely to be covered elsewhere. This can also give you the opportunity to get interviews or to get early access to non-performance events like art exhibitions.
FestivalsAccess to arts, film and music festivals is often organised months ahead of time, so you'll need to be highly organised to take advantage of these review opportunities. It also tends to be strictly limited. You'll need to be able to provide impressive examples of your previous (published) work, and you'll normally need to be endorsed by a particular newspaper or magazine. Freelance access is occasionally available, but only if you have an established reputation and proven track record of being able to place your work well.
Other EventsWith many small-scale and one-off events, it's possible to get press access simply by declaring your intention to review. A professional card from a press organisation helps but the most important thing is that you be confident and self-assured.
Remember that the organisers of smaller events are often delighted by the prospect of any coverage at all. Negotiate with them to find out what they're looking for and try to work with them in a positive way. This can generate good word of mouth which will make future access much easier for you.